Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal, in addition to being the region where there is the greatest variety of innovations in the areas of restaurants, bars and clubs. However, the Portuguese territory is not just its capital. A complete experience in Portuguese lands is only possible traveling from the north to the south of the country, and the A1 road can be a perfect way to get to know the center and north of Portugal, from Fátima to Coimbra.
The A1 road, also called North Highway, began to be built in 1961 and its main objective was to shorten the distance between Lisbon and Porto. Several sections were inaugurated in different years, but the road was only fully completed in 1991. Since then, the connection between the two largest cities in Portugal has become smaller, with a route being created that crosses the center of the country. It's a way for those who want to know more beyond Lisbon's neighborhoods.
This route can be done by bus, as there is no shortage of companies that offer trips using the A1, but, in fact, the best experience is only possible with a car or a motorbike. The reason is that during the road it is possible to take detours to visit some cities in the center and north of Portugal. The good news is that there are several options to achieve this, and at Lisbon airport it is possible to rent a car that has the perfect profile for the trip, be it a van for a larger family or even a more economical city model for just two passengers .
But which cities deserve a break during the A1 experience? Let's talk a little more about these destinations.
Santarém, Torres Novas and Fátima
Right after leaving Lisbon, and before completing the first 100 kilometers, it is possible to visit two historical cities in Portugal. The first is Santarém, where there is a link between Greco-Roman mythology and the Christian religion. The place had in the past the title of "Capital of the Gothic" and still has a lot of architecture that goes back to this style. The Torre das Cabaças and the various churches in the city are mandatory visits. The second city is Torres Novas, which has less than 35,000 inhabitants, but offers an opportunity to visit a traditional medieval castle.
Torres Novas, which has less than 35,000 inhabitants, but offers an opportunity to discover a traditional medieval castle.
Following the road, the next stop is in the city of Fátima. The place is considered one of the holiest territories in Portugal and is one of the “must-see” stops for anyone traveling around the country. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima is one of the most important heritages in the country and is on the list of places to visit throughout Europe.
Coimbra, Aveiro and Espinho
At the end of the A1, located in the north of Portugal, there are three cities that offer different experiences. Coimbra is the largest city in the center of the country and is world famous for its prestigious university. Because of this, it is a place that offers attractions for any tourist, such as bars, restaurants and a very busy nightlife.
On the other hand, Aveiro and Espinho, the last two cities on our list, offer something opposite. The first is considered the “Venice of Portugal”, while the second has one of the most popular beaches for tourists and Portuguese. In other words, they are two cities that can be good options for a rest when detouring from the A1.
Portugal may not be a big country, especially compared to our neighbors Spain and France, but that doesn't mean there are few places to visit. Then, after discovering the charms of Lisbon, explore the North Highway and visit other places as pleasant as the capital.