Lisbon and Seville. Seville and Lisbon. Perhaps they aren’t the two most natural city combos, like London and Paris or Vienna and Prague. But when I was planning my trip in October, they seemed like the perfect pair, and I was right. Lisbon and Seville were just a four-and-a-half-hour drive apart, which sounded great since we were traveling with a 10-month-old and wanted to avoid another plane ride (NYC-Lisbon is enough!) and couldn’t fathom dealing with all of our luggage and baby accessories on the train. The ideal solution was a Lisbon car hire.
Well, a lot of places are four-hour (or less) drive from Lisbon, so why else did we want to go to Seville? We figured it would have better late autumn weather, and we were right, as it was high 70s and mostly blue skies. We wanted to eat tapas. And we wanted to see the Alcazar. Three pretty good reasons to start, and we found a lot more to like about Seville.
So even though Seville sounded like our idea of a good time, driving with a 10-month-old is pretty much no one’s idea of a good time. Especially not the 10-month-old’s. We needed a roomy four-door car, so we could easily get the baby in and out of the backseat, where I would also be sitting to entertain him. We also needed an automatic, as opposed to a manual stick-shift. Everyone in Europe drives stick, but being American we wanted automatic.
It’s not easy to rent an automatic, four-door car rental in Europe, and we were searching for this week-long rental only about 10 days in advance of needing it. Fortunately it was ArgusCarHire.com to the rescue! Their booking engine searches 550 of the world’s top car rental suppliers and 22,000 worldwide locations, which is just what you need when you need to find a reasonably-priced automatic car. They connected us with a black four-door Peugeot 308 automatic from Auto Jardim.
On our fourth day in Lisbon, my husband went to the airport to pick up the car. We had free parking at our Lisbon apartment rental, which was very convenient — not to mention unusual. We weren’t planning to drive to Seville until the next day, but we were so excited to have a car that we had to go somewhere. So we decided to take a fun day trip to Cascais, the Hamptons of Lisbon. Having a Peugeot felt pretty cool in itself because they’re not very common in New York.
The next day it was time for the big drive to Seville, and it was pouring. There are two routes you can take from Lisbon to Seville: a faster, major highway route or a scenic, slower mountainous route. Because of the baby, we had planned on taking the faster route, but the inclement weather confirmed that this was the right choice. We drove due north for 234 km on A2. There’s not much to see there, and because the baby was sleeping we didn’t even stop for three hours, until we were on the Algarve Coast.
At that point, we were so hungry that we decided to get off A22 (the main Algarve highway) in search of food. October is the off-season in the Algarve so we were worried about finding an open restaurant, especially as it was 4pm and we wanted lunch. We headed to Faro and ended up in the Forum Algarve, a nice open-air mall that we would have enjoyed more if it hadn’t been raining. It then took us about an hour to get to Seville.
Four days later, we took the same route from Seville to Sintra (as Sintra is just 30 minutes northwest of Lisbon) for our final leg of the journey. But there was a big difference this time: the weather. It was a gorgeous 80F day! So we planned a stop that was a little more exciting than the mall… We went to the beach at Albufeira, which is one of the most popular beaches on the Algarve. With its rock formations, golden sand and turquoise water, it’s easy to see why. We walked along the beach and enjoyed having it mostly to ourselves. I would love to come back and spend a week there.
The next three-and-a-half hours to Sintra were very uneventful, until we got onto the 25 de Abril Bridge (which reminds me of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco). I finally got a good view of Cristo Rei, the statue of Christ the Redeemer that overlooks the Tagus River. I could barely see it on the way to Seville because the fog was so thick. But this time, I got a great view and even a photo (see above). And I was able to tick one more Lisbon landmark off my list.
Comped But Never Compromised: I received a complimentary car hire from ArgusCarHire.com but I am free to write whatever I want.