Europe in a Van Part 14 – Portugal: Alcoutin, Aljustrel, Lisbon, Tomar and Nazare

After our lovely couple of months in Spain, we took a detour into Portugal. Starting in Lisbon, we travelled north, partially along the N2 before veering out to the west coast. So far, Portugal is up there as one of our favourite countries to visit. Good food, friendly people, fine weather, amazing views – what’s not to love!

Highlights and Lowlights


  • Portugal is really inexpensive. Everything from camp fees to food, and even eating out is really reasonable.
  • The Portuguese people are really welcoming and friendly. Everywhere we went we were met with open arms and a smile
  • We were at the seaside again, staying at one of the most incredible beaches that is home to the biggest waves in the world!


  • Can someone explain to me why there are so many barking dogs in Portugal? They bark all day, every day. Constantly.
  • I’ve had a few calls about returning to work later this year. There is nothing like a call about work to bring you back to reality
  • We officially booked our ferry home for end of April 2023. I have really mixed feelings about this. I’m excited to see my family and my bed but I could keep travelling for another year!

Below, I have listed some of the extra facilities available at the campsites we’ve stayed at. Each campsite also had the basics – toilets, showers, sinks for dish washing (a god send as we don’t have running hot water), laundry facilities, bins, grey water disposal, chemical toilets and fresh water.

A Hilltop Retreat in Alcoutin

Campsite Shamwari Hilltop Retreat
Cost – €23 per night for two people including electricity
Facilities – a pool in summer, snack bar and 3 gorgeous dogs!
Accessibility score – 4 / 5

See here for further detail on my accessibility scoring system.

GO HERE. One of the best places we stayed since we left Ireland. Its hard to describe why, it was a mixture of the location with stunning scenery, the three wandering and super friendly dogs, and just the overall chill vibes of the place. The owner was incredibly friendly and made us feel so at home.

It was a small site, set on a few different levels, with ramps or steps in between. The toilets and showers were well signposted and the owner was so friendly, that I knew if I had an issue regarding accessibility, she would sort it out. We had our choice of pitches, so we were right beside the bathrooms and snack bar, which was really handy.

We spent three lovely nights here, doing yoga, relaxing and doing a bit of work. Highly recommend!

Another Lakeside Parkup in Aljustrel

Campsitethis wild camping spot
Cost – free
Facilities – no facilities
Accessibility score – N/A

There’s a pattern emerging here, we gravitate towards large bodies of water when we go wild camping. Something about water is just so magnetic and relaxing. We parked up here for one night and enjoyed a peaceful stay.

This spot was right beside a sheep farm so we got a lovely visit from a friendly sheepdog once we arrived. The ground was horrendously uneven and full of lumps and bumps. Given that the ground all looked the same, it was hard to navigate. I didn’t go far as I was firstly, exhausted and secondly, afraid of twisting and ankle.

Our view of the lake in Aljustrel

A Weekend with Friends in Lisbon

Accessibility score – 3/5

Three friends of ours came over for a really enjoyable weekend in Lisbon. As there was a group of us, we booked an apartment for the few nights. The van was left to fend for itself in Lisbon Airport (Spoiler, it survived).

As a city goes, Lisbon was OK accessibility wise. The metro stations had fully tactile ticket machines, well edged steps and easy to read signs. However, walking around the city itself was a bit more complicated. None of the pedestrian crossings had an audible signal. The pavements were very uneven and delineation between the steps was poor.

Things to see an do – we did a 3 hour free walking tour on the first day to get our bearings. This was well worth doing to figure out where we were, what to see and where to visit. On day 2, we got the metro out to LX Factory and Time Out market which were really cool to see. Apart from that we just chilled out and enjoyed the space!

A Farm Stay in Tomar

Campsite Quinta das Lameiras
Cost – €20 per night
Facilities – a farm shop and free roaming farm animals
Accessibility score – 3/5

A cute little find in the middle of the Portuguese countryside. It is a working family farm with sheep, chickens, a horse (who roamed around the property), guinea pigs, a dog and a few cats. We were immediately welcomed in with open arms and were given our choice of spots, as well as a tour of the property.

As it is a family home, I feel that there is a limit on how much I can say regarding accessibility. It was small, with just one toilet that we were shown to. The path and steps to this area weren’t very easy to see or traverse, and I stumbled a few times. As well as walking into a few tree branches. Overall it was fine! I would still recommend a stay here as we had a really peaceful time here.

The free roaming horse in Tomar

Nazare, Home to the Biggest Waves in the World

Campsite this wild camping spot
Cost – free!
Facilities – no facilities
Accessibility score – N/A

Next to Courmayeur in Italy, this was our favourite place we’ve stayed so far. It was STUNNING. We ended up staying for 4 nights instead of 1 because it was so nice. When we arrived first, we got a spot further down the road away from the beach. On the second morning, we woke up to find one of the beachside spots was free so we made a quick dash for it.

This was a popular spot for vanlifers like us so we met a few like minded people here. We shared a campfire and some strawberries with them and made some more travel buddies. We even got to share in the joy of a newly adopted dog, that our Dutch neighbour rescued only 3 days beforehand.

Things to see and do – as we were running out of water by day 3, we took the bikes off and cycled into Nazare itself. After a short wander around this seaside town, we sat down for some lunch at the town square. During our hunt for water, we stumbled across an ice cream shop and treated ourselves to some sorbet.

It was a real struggle to leave that beachside spot in Nazare. We really needed a shower and to recharge the van batteries so we had to leave unfortunately! Thankfully, we headed to the Douro region next to spend a weekend tasting wines and travelling from vineyard to vineyard. It wasn’t the worst thing to move on to I suppose!

Thanks for reading! Aoife x

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