The Perfect 10 Days in Portugal Itinerary (+ Travel Tips!)

Colorful, vibrant, diverse, delicious, and surprising: after working your way through this 10 days in Portugal itinerary, those are just a few adjectives that you may find yourself trying–and failing–to sum up this gorgeous country with.

Despite its small size and somewhat isolated position in the far southwestern corner of Europe, the sheer variety of things to do and see on a trip to Portugal is astounding.

And–thanks to the aforementioned small size–you can sample a decent portion of the best places to visit in Portugal in 10 days.

We’ve now been living in Portugal as American ex-pats for about a year, and with every beach town, historic monastery, cozy restaurant, and quirky museum visited, we find something else that we love about traveling in Portugal.

And, thanks to having family and friends come to visit, we’ve had the opportunity to test-drive much of this suggested itinerary for Portugal on our various loved ones, too.

If you are planning your first trip to (mainland) Portugal and are hoping to see as much as possible, we have you covered!

Here’s how to enjoy an incredible 10 days in Portugal.

kate storm jeremy storm and ranger storm overlooking azenhas do mar, a fun addition to a itinerary for portugal in 10 days
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How We Structured This 10 Day Portugal Itinerary

We’ve intentionally structured this Portugal itinerary as a loop beginning and ending in Lisbon.

In addition to the capital city, we’ll cover stops in Sintra, Porto, the Douro Valley, and the Algarve.

While a quick glance at a map is enough to tell you that starting and ending your trip in Lisbon isn’t the most geographically sensible thing to do, it’s what most visitors end up doing simply because Lisbon has–by far–the biggest international airport in Portugal.

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If you happen to get a good flight deal, starting your trip in Porto and ending in Faro (home to the Algarve’s international airport) is another option.

However, unless you’re flying to and from another destination in Europe, it’s unlikely to make sense for your vacation.

While there are plenty of modifications you can make to this itinerary (and we’ll cover many of them below), this Portugal itinerary as written goes like this:

  • Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon.
  • Day 2: Lisbon
  • Day 3: Sintra
  • Day 4: Take the train to Porto.
  • Day 5: Porto
  • Day 6: The Douro Valley
  • Day 7: Travel to the Algarve.
  • Day 8: The Algarve
  • Day 9: The Algarve
  • Day 10: Travel back to Lisbon and head home.
kate storm in stone tower at quinta da regaleira in sintra portugal
Sintra’s unique palaces are a must-see in Portugal!

Getting Around During Your 10 Days in Portugal

This itinerary for Portugal is best accomplished with a mix of transportation.

Within Lisbon and Porto, traveling on foot, via public transportation, and via taxi are sufficient.

To travel from Lisbon to Porto, we recommend taking the train, and we break down the details of that process in this Lisbon to Porto travel guide.

For train tickets, we recommend checking prices and timetables via Omio.

kate storm in front of igrejo do carmo azulejos, one of the best places to visit in porto in a day

In the Algarve, your life will be much easier with a rental car, though–with some modifications–you can get by without one in a pinch.

We recommend searching for your rental car through Discover Cars, which will allow you to sift through all your options and choose the right car for you based on price, the reputation of the company that is renting it, and the terms of the rental contract.

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The trickiest travel day on this route is between Porto and the Algarve, when, depending on your travel style, you may prefer to fly, take the train, or drive, and we’ll go into more detail on that below.

Shop rental cars and train tickets for your trip to Portugal today!

jeremy storm and ranger storm at porto campanha station between porto and lisbon train

The Ultimate 10 Days in Portugal Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon and start exploring the city.

If you’re traveling to Portugal from North America, odds are very high that you’ll arrive early in the morning, exhausted, jet-lagged… and excited to see the city.

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Head into the city by cab or metro (cab is the fastest and most comfortable), drop your luggage off at your hotel and enjoy your first round of pasteis de nata over coffee.

From there, it’s time to explore the city–starting with one of its highest points.

yellow tram passing throuh alfama, one of the best things to see on a lisbon itinerary

Morning: Alfama + Castelo de São Jorge

For your first morning in Lisbon, start by heading to the city’s very highest point: the remains of Castelo de São Jorge, which boasts one of the most stunning views of Lisbon.

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Keep in mind that not much is left of Castelo de São Jorge–there are walls, ramparts, views, history, and peacocks.

Even so, it’s consistently ranked one of the best things to do in Lisbon, including by most of our visitors (and the lines get ridiculous, so nab skip-the-line tickets online before you go).

kate storm and jeremy storm during winter in lisbon portugal standing on the walls of castelo de sao jorge

From there, head downhill to explore Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood and one of the only parts of the city that wasn’t destroyed in the infamous 1755 earthquake.

Here, you’ll see many Lisbon postcards come to life, including the views from the Miradouro das Portas do Sol and the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, the famous Tram 28 (though we don’t recommend riding it–just snap photos from outside) and the Lisbon Cathedral.

Wander your way through the tiny streets of Alfama, vaguely making your way toward the Praça do Comércio.

Book skip-the-line tickets to visit Castelo de São Jorge today!

view of lisbon portugal cityscape from miradouro de santa luzia

Afternoon: Baixa + A Food Tour

When you find yourself at the Praça do Comércio, you’re in Baixa, the heart of Lisbon’s downtown that was reimagined and rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake.

You’ll no doubt be able to feel the difference in architecture as compared to more medieval Alfama!

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Enjoy the square and accompanying views of the river, and then head inland, through the beautiful Arco da Rua Augusta and up through Lisbon’s shopping district.

Make your way past Rossio Square, and check out the Church of São Domingos.

rossio square in baixa lisbon as jacaranda trees start to bloom
The jacaranda trees surrounding Rossio Square are beautiful in May!

At this point, you may be completely burned out with jetlag–but hopefully not.

If you can rally, we highly recommend signing up for this food tour, which we loved and is one of a few that we have taken in Lisbon.

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We had a great time on the tour and found it to be a great quick introduction to Portuguese cuisine.

In other words, it’s the perfect activity for the beginning of your first trip to Portugal (and it will save you from having to figure out where to eat dinner your first day, too).

Sign up for your Lisbon food tour today!

bifana and beer on a table in a snack bar in lisbon portugal

Where to Stay in Lisbon

We recommend basing yourself in Lisbon for your first 3 nights in Portugal.

While there are plenty of excellent neighborhoods to stay in throughout Lisbon, we recommend picking somewhere central with good transportation connections around the city.

Alfama, Baixa, Chiado, Principe Real, and Barrio Alto are great names to keep an eye out for when browsing places to stay.

For a budget-friendly hostel experience (with private rooms available), the Sunset Destination Hostel is a great, centrally located option.

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At a mid-range price tag, you can’t beat the location or rave reviews for Tempo FLH Hotels Lisboa.

Looking for a splurge?

The Lumiares Hotel & Spa is part of the much-acclaimed Small Luxury Hotels of the World Collection, and offers stunning views that you won’t forget anytime soon!

Check rates & book your stay in Lisbon today!
colorful buildings with iron balconies in graca lisbon, as seen when traveling portugal

Day 2: Enjoy more of Lisbon’s highlights.

The second day of your Portugal itinerary is all about continuing to get to know Lisbon, covering a mix of the capital’s top attractions and cultural delights.

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Morning: Bairro Alto + Chiado

Start your morning in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto (high town) and Chiado, exploring a corner of the historic center that you didn’t get to see yesterday!

Highlights include the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara, the overwhelming Church of São Roque, the Carmo Convent, and a stop at Livraria Bertrand, the oldest still-operating bookstore in the world.

If you’re a fan of glitzy cafes, consider also grabbing a coffee and pastry at A Brasileira.

kate storm overlooking a mirodouro in lisbon portugal

Afternoon: Belém + The Jerónimos Monastery

Next up on your Portugal itinerary, head down to the popular riverside neighborhood of Belém.

Here, you’ll find the famous Jerónimos Monastery and accompanying church (the church is free to enter, the monastery is not), the gorgeous Belém Tower (you don’t need to go in, but it’s worth seeing the exterior), the Monument of the Discoveries, and stunning views of the Tagus River.

You’ll also find the wildly popular Pastéis de Belém, which serves up the original pastéis de nata.

flatlay of pasteis de nata and coffee at pasteis de belem lisbon portugal

Yes, they are worth the long line (hint: the table service line is often much shorter than the takeaway line!), but if standing in line for carbs isn’t your thing, Manteigaria, another popular Lisbon bakery, has a location just down the street.

Meanwhile, the Jerónimos Monastery, while a must-see, is home to some of the longest lines for any tourist attraction in Portugal! Pre-book your ticket and, since you’re visiting Belém in the afternoon, consider going close to closing time (we took the photos of the monastery that are included in this post on a September afternoon close to closing time).

Grab your Jerónimos Monastery tickets today!

If you’re a speedy sightseer, you might even be able to squeeze in an extra offbeat museum (we love the National Coach Museum) or viewpoint while visiting Belém–here’s our guide to the neighborhood.

kate storm in a blue dress overlooking jeronimos monastery, one of the best things to do in lisbon portugal itinerary

Evening: Sunset Boat Tour or Fado Show

In the evening, close out your day with a sunset boat cruise on the Tagus River, soaking in some of the best views of Lisbon, the Tagus, and the Ponte 25 Abril Bridge from the water.

We absolutely loved our sunset cruise experience in Lisbon and highly recommend it–kicking back and relaxing with beautiful views is the perfect way to end a busy sightseeing day.

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Not into cruises? Alternatively, you could opt to attend a Fado show instead, to experience a different side of Portuguese culture.

If you prefer to enjoy a Fado show, we recommend reversing this day’s itinerary, starting with Jerónimos Monastery as soon as it opens and then ending your day in Chiado.

Book your sunset boat cruise or Fado show today!

4 Days in Lisbon: Sunset Sailing Tour with Marlin Tours

Day 3: Take a day trip to Sintra (and beyond).

Set in the hills just outside of Lisbon, the beautiful town of Sintra–complete with several fantastic palaces–is easily among the most popular places to visit in Portugal.

From the beauty of the distinctive yellow-and-red Pena Palace to the quirky Alice in Wonderland vibes of Quinta da Regaleira to the stunning views from the Moorish Castle and beyond, visiting Sintra is incredibly memorable and worth the effort.

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… But, its popularity also has another side effect: the palaces of Sintra are among the most crowded places included on this travel itinerary, so be prepared for that.

With 10 days in Portugal, you’ll want to visit Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon, and that essentially leaves you 2 options: travel by public transportation, or on a guided day trip like this.

This day trip is one of the most popular tours in Portugal and includes visits to Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira as well as Cabo da Roca (long believed to be the westernmost point of mainland Europe, now simply a stunning viewpoint), and a short stop in the resort town of Cascais.

view of coast from cabo da roca, a fun stop during an itinerary for portugal in 10 days
The views from Cabo da Roca are absolutely incredible!

The pros of taking a tour are simple: as the palaces in Sintra are far enough apart that you can’t walk between most of them and parking is very tricky, it saves you time and allows you to see more.

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The cons are simple too: with so many stops to make, you won’t have much time to linger.

If you’d rather travel independently, you can absolutely do that as well, though we recommend nabbing your tickets for Pena Palace and other popular places in advance.

Pena Palace in Sintra, an excellent day trip from Lisbon Portugal

The train takes about 40 minutes from central Lisbon.

Once you arrive in Sintra, you’ll board one of 2 buses that will take you to your first palace, and then (depending on which palaces you choose to see) another to your second and maybe third, depending on how fast you explore.

When you’re finished, you can head back to Lisbon via train or simply call an Uber (we tend to do this).

Book your Sintra day trip today!

famous well of sintra portugal shot from the inside looking up

Alternative Day Trip: Obidos + the UNESCO Monasteries

Not into touring palaces (and fighting crowds to do so) or admiring views of the sea?

I can’t say I entirely understand, but I do have an excellent alternative for travelers more interested in small towns and historic architecture: instead of heading to Sintra and the coast, head to Óbidos and (some of) the nearby UNESCO monasteries of Alcobaça, Batalha, and Tomar.

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I’ll describe these destinations in a bit more detail in the “other destinations” sections below, but if 700-year-old monasteries and medieval castle walls you can climb on for free sound like your idea of a good time, you’ll love them.

For this day trip, you’ll want to either rent a car for the day or sign up for an organized day trip like this to handle the transportation and logistics.

Honestly, these are some of my favorite places in Portugal, so it pains me not to include them in the full itinerary–and they’re certainly worthy of a day of your time.

Book your UNESCO monasteries + Obidos day trip today!

kate storm at alcobaca monastery with renaissance fountain

Day 4: Head north to Porto.

This morning, it’s time to check out your hotel and head north to Porto!

Morning: Train to Porto

The easiest way to travel from Lisbon to Porto during your 10 days in Portugal is to take the train, which travels directly between the 2 cities and takes about 3.5 hours.

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Most trains leave from Lisbon’s Santa Apolonia Station and run consistently throughout the day.

We go into more detail on managing the journey between the 2 cities in this blog post.

We recommend booking your train tickets for the earliest time you feel comfortable with–the sooner you get to Porto, the better!

Shop train tickets from Lisbon to Porto today!

sao bento train station, your first glimpse of porto after traveling from lisbon to porto train

Afternoon/Evening: Porto’s Historic Center

Once you arrive in Porto, drop your bags off at your hotel (if it’s not time for check-in yet, they should be able to hold them in the lobby for you) and get ready to explore!

If you’re looking for a quick lunch, the roast pork and soft cheese sandwich at Casa Guedes is a great place to start.

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From there, we recommend checking out some of Porto’s attractions that are further from the river, such as the Chapel of Souls, the Church of Saint Ildefonso, and Rua Santa Catarina.

If you have time, head over to the Church of Carmo, as and soak up the view from Miradouro da Vitória.

And, of course, you can’t forget the very first attraction you’ll see as you arrive in Porto: the interior of the São Bento train station is magnificent!

kate storm jeremy storm and ranger storm at miradouro da vitoria in portugal travel

Where to Stay in Porto

We’ve visited Porto several times now, and have made a habit of staying at Pestana Porto – A Brasileira or NH Hotel Porto Batalha during our visits.

Both hotels are beautiful, with excellent customer service and incredibly central locations that both make it easy to explore Porto on foot and easy to check in when arriving by train.

(They both also welcome Ranger, a must for us).

If you’re traveling Portugal on a budget, the Zero Box Lodge Porto gets excellent reviews.

We recommend spending 3 nights in Porto during your Portugal vacation.

Check rates & book your stay in Porto today!
bed in pestana porto a braisleira hotel with door to balcony open, best places to stay in porto portugal

Day 5: Explore Porto in-depth.

While day 4 of this itinerary involved traveling from Lisbon and day 6 will include a day trip, day 5 is all about diving deep into the city of Porto.

Morning: More of Porto’s Historic Center

After a leisurely brunch (we can heartily recommend Floresta Cafe and Esquires Coffee, both of which we’ve eaten at many times), make your way to Clerigos Tower to enjoy one of the most stunning views of Porto!

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From there, check out the Porto Cathedral–while the church is free to enter, it’s well worth forking over a few Euro to explore the cloisters and attached museum, too.

Meander down toward the gorgeous Bolsa Palace (if you want to go inside, you’ll need to book a 30-minute guided tour) and the Church of San Francisco, which is home to a downright stunning interior!

cloister of porto cathedral in porto portugal
The Porto Cathedral’s cloisters are absolutely beautiful.

Afternoon/Evening: Ribeira + Vila Nova de Gaia

When you wrap up with the Porto attractions above, you’ll be very close to the Ribeira district: Porto’s colorful, vibrant riverside.

Once the haunt of fishermen and sailors, and now the haunt of tourists, the Ribeira district is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy views of Porto.

Like many picturesque neighborhoods around the world, the restaurants here tend to be expensive and mediocre, but you can find occasional gems (we enjoyed our meal at Grupo Desportivo Infante D. Henrique, which has a great view but is a bit out of the hustle and bustle).

From Ribeira, make your way across the (lower level of the) Dom Luis I Bridge, to Vila Nova de Gaia.

kate storm and her grandparents in the ribeira district during a 10 day portugal itinerary
My grandparents had a blast in Porto when they came to visit us in Portugal!

This charming riverfront is technically a separate city from Porto, but it’s also home to all of the port lodges, and no trip to Porto is complete without a port tasting!

This port cellar tour and tasting will give you a good idea of what to expect from a typical tasting, and you can either opt for an organized tour or a build-your-own adventure experience (Quinta dos Corvos is a personal favorite lodge of ours).

This is also where you can hop on a 6 Bridges Cruise to experience Porto from the water for an hour–a delightful experience in and of itself.

Once you wrap up exploring Vila Nova de Gaia, ride the cable car back up to the top of the Dom Luis I Bridge, where you’ll be treated to gorgeous views over the city and an easy walk back to your hotel.

view of cable car in front of bridge and monastery, a must during a one day in porto itinerary

Day 6: Take a day trip to the Douro Valley.

Today, set off from Porto to visit one of the most dreamy destinations in Portugal: the Douro Valley.

Set a couple of hours east of Porto (give or take), the Douro Valley is the origin of the famous port wine and the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.

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Here, the wine grows on dramatic terraces leading to the Douro River and, due to how steep the terraces are, the grapes are still harvested by hand.

And, as beautiful as the photos of the Douro Valley are, I have to say: this is one part of Portugal that photography simply sells short.

It is even more stunning in person!

kate storm holding up a glass of port in the douro valley portugal

On a day trip to the Douro Valley from Porto, you’ll have time to take in a few mesmerizing viewpoints, attend a port tasting or two at the source, and possibly take a cruise along the Douro River.

While you can rent a car and drive out to a quinta or two yourself, this is one day where a guided tour makes absolute sense.

The best viewpoints in the Douro Valley, while stunning, can require a bit of tricky driving, and for obvious reasons, port tastings and driving on tiny, winding, unfamiliar roads don’t mix well.

collection of port glasses at a tasting in porto portugal

With only 10 days in Portugal to work with, this is an area where it’s easier to let experts deal with the legwork.

There are many excellent tours out there, usually offering some combination of a couple of port tastings, a lunch, and a river cruise in the town of Pinhão (if you get a chance to check out the azulejo-covered train station while you’re in Pinhão, be sure to take it).

This day trip is an excellent option for those who want to focus exclusively on the Douro Valley, and this tour is a fun alternative who want to combine the Douro Valley with a stop in the charming small town of Amarante.

Book your Douro Valley day trip today!

kate storm jeremy storm and ranger storm at a douro valley viewpoint

Day 7: Make your way from Porto to Lagos.

Without a doubt, traveling from Porto all the way to the country’s southern shores in Lagos is the longest travel day on this 10 day Portugal itinerary.

You essentially have 3 options: first, rent a car and drive, which will likely incur a one-way rental fee (they’re usually quite reasonable, but double-check).

The drive is about 5 hours (360 miles/575 kilometers), not including stops.

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Alternatively, you could take the train (6.5 hours and 1-2 changes), or fly to Faro (about an hour of flight time, then another hour to drive to Lagos).

All of the options have their pros and cons, you can price rental cars via Discover Cars here and check train and flight tickets on Omio here. Personally, we’d rather drive or take the train, as we generally consider flying more hassle than it’s worth for distances this short.

Regardless, once you arrive in the Algarve, you’ll likely want a car–so if you don’t pick one up in Porto, you’ll want to grab one once you arrive!

kate storm at ponta da piedade , one of the best lagos attractions

Evening: Lagos’ Historic Center + Ponta da Piedade

Once you arrive in Lagos and get checked into your hotel, you’ll potentially still have a bit of daylight left to work with! Start getting to know the town by wandering the historic center and waterfront.

Fort Ponta da Bandeira is always worth a look and, if it’s still open when you arrive, the Church of Santo Antonio is a must-see.

Ponta da Piedade, one of the most stunning viewpoints in all of Portugal, is a 10-minute drive or 45-minute walk from the center of town and is an excellent place to be at sunset.

golden decor in igreja de santo antonio, one of the top things to do lagos portugal

Where to Stay in Lagos

Lagos is one of the most beloved beach towns in the Algarve and makes an excellent final base to round off your 10 days in Portugal.

Look for hotels within walking distance of the historic center, ideally with on-site parking, and you’ll be well-positioned to explore the region.

We adored our stay at Tivoli Lagos and would be thrilled to return to enjoy the beautiful property, gorgeous pool, restaurants, and delicious included breakfast again.

view of gardens at tivoli lagos restort, one of the best places to stay in lagos portugal

With free parking (almost) on-site, comfortable rooms, and incredibly easy access to Lagos’ attractions, Tivoli Lagos is a fantastic place to stay.

Hotel Lagosmar is another excellent nearby option, and Dream Lagos B&B is a fantastic place to stay when visiting Portugal on a budget.

We recommend staying in Lagos for 2-3 nights.

Check rates & book your stay in Lagos today!
view of Fort Ponta da Bandeira with water in the foreground

Day 8: See the best of Lagos + nearby towns.

Today is all about enjoying the best of the Algarve, both from land and sea!

Morning: Boat Tour From Lagos

Start your morning with a boat tour from Lagos, which will show you Ponta da Piedade and the coastline of the Algarve from a whole new level.

With any luck, you may spot a few dolphins, as well (though if that’s your focus, a dolphin spotting cruise might be more your speed).

If you’re looking for something more physically active than a boat ride, there are kayaking options as well!

Book your Ponta da Piedade boat tour today!

front bow of a boat entering a grotto at ponta da piedade, one of the best activities lagos portugal

Afternoon/Evening: Algarve Town-Hopping

Lagos may be a wonderful place to visit in Portugal, but it’s surrounded by plenty of other gorgeous, white-washed towns that also deserve to be explored.

Albufeira (busy, beautiful, known for its nightlife) and Ferragudo (charming, laid-back) are both a short drive away and worthy of a visit.

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Looking for something a bit more out of the way?

Sagres (yes, like the beer!) is located on the southwestern tip of mainland Europe, about a 40-minute drive from Lagos, and is also a gorgeous option.

It’s best known as a surfing destination, but the town center and scenic views from its 15th-century fortress are also worth checking out.

beautiful beach in sagres portugal at sunset as seen from above

Alternative: Beach Time

Of course, after more than a week of intense sightseeing around Portugal, the idea of even more tours, towns, and attractions may sound more exhausting than invigorating!

If that’s you, don’t worry: the Algarve has plenty of beaches ready to help you relax as long as you need.

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Praia Meia, Praia do Camilo, Praia dos Estudantes, and Praia do Pinhão are just a handful of the many dreamy beaches in the immediate vicinity of Lagos (some within walking distance) that are excellent places to relax.

Fair warning, though: if you hail from a hot climate like us, the beaches of the Algarve don’t have particularly warm water, even in the height of summer.

colorful umbrellas on meia praia, one of the best beaches lagos portugal

Day 9: Hike the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail and kayak to Benagil Cave.

Hiking, kayaking, and coastal views are what your last full day in Portugal is all about!

Of course, there’s also the perfectly valid option of relaxing on (or continuing to relax on) one of the Algarve’s many legendary beaches today instead–more on that in a bit.

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Morning: Bengail Cave + Carvoeiro

If you’ve seen photos of a sea cave in Portugal, odds are it was of the stunning Benagil Cave.

This absolutely gorgeous cave is an iconic spot in the Algarve, and experiencing it yourself is one of the best things to do in Portugal!

In order to access Benagil Cave, you’ll need to do so from the water–and kayaking (or SUPing) the 200m required is the perfect option.

Don’t want to kayak or SUP?

You can still visit Benagil Cave, but here’s the catch: regulations prevent boat tours like this popular one from letting participants disembark in the cave.

kayaks and sup boards at the edge of the beach in benagil cave algarve portugal

If you want that iconic view of Benagil Cave from standing on the small beach inside, you’ll have to sweat a bit to get it!

However, a boat tour has its benefits as well, including more time to visit several other sea caves in the area.

Once you wrap up visiting Benagil Cave–or if you’d rather not–the town of Carvoeiro, where the cave is located, is well worth a wander (and its beach is a wonderful place to enjoy some time on the sand).

Book your Benagil Cave kayaking tour or small boat tour today!

cliff overlooking sandy beach in carvoeiro portugal

Afternoon/Evening: Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

Often considered one of the best hikes in Portugal, the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail stretches 6 kilometers each way and runs from Praia da Marinha and Praia de Vale Centeanes.

This out-and-back trail is absolutely stunning and one of our favorite places in Portugal, and the very top photo of this Portugal blog post was snapped when we were hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. Featuring magnificent views all the way through, every step of this moderate trail is a delight.

You’ll even hike right over the Benagil Cave, though a fence prevents you from being able to see into the cave very well.

kate storm and ranger storm sitting along the seven hanging valleys trail, one of the best things to do in algarve portugal

Alternative: Beach Day

If you’re looking for a beach to enjoy as you get ready to wrap up your 10 day Portugal itinerary, you can’t beat the iconic Praia da Marinha.

Situated at one end of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, the Praia da Marinha is absolutely stunning and a fantastic place to either enjoy the sand or admire from above.

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Countless publications, including the Michelin Guide, have ranked Praia da Marinha as one of the most beautiful beaches on Earth over the years, and to see it in person is to fully understand why.

There’s parking near the beach, and if you’re not up for a full hike, you can always hike however much of the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail you would like from there, and then double back to the beach when you’re ready.

praia da marinha from above, one of the most beautiful beaches algarve portugal

Day 10: Make your way back to Lisbon and say goodbye to Portugal.

… over one more pastel de nata, probably!

Honestly, depending on what time your flight leaves, you may need to return to Lisbon on the evening of day 9 instead.

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But, since Lagos and Lisbon are less than 3 hours apart by car, you can still have a full day of exploring and then drive back the evening of your 9th day.

If you have an evening flight out and wake up in the Algarve this morning, we recommend getting one last glimpse of the sea if you have time!

ranger storm overlooking the sparkling sea at the ponta da piedade in portugal

Other Portugal Destinations to Add to Your Itinerary

It’s very tempting to simply use this section to make a list of all the incredible places that we love in Portugal–but that’s not particularly helpful!

However, if you have more than 10 days to work with–say, around 2 weeks in Portugal or so–here are the destinations we’d strongly consider adding to your itinerary.

You won’t have time for all of them, even with a full 14 days to work with, but some will likely catch your eye more than others.

And, all of these places are within around 2 hours of Lisbon, Porto, or both, making them smooth additions to your route.

kate storm sitting on a wall overlooking azenhos do mar in central portugal

Obidos

One of our absolute favorite small towns in Portugal, Obidos lies about an hour north of Lisbon and is completely surrounded by the intact walls of its medieval castle.

And, one of the best things to do in Obidos is to simply stroll along the tops of those walls!

Check our our guide to the best things to do in Obidos!

kate storm walking along the castle walls, one of the best things to do in obidos portugal

Alcobaça + Batalha + Tomar

The monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha, plus the Convent of Christ of Tomar, are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are located within fairly short drives of each other, only 1.5 hours or so north of Lisbon.

They also happen to be typically uncrowded and are some of my favorite places in Portugal!

Tomar, and the Convent of Christ of Tomar in particular, has 12th-century roots in the Knights Templar.

All 3 destinations have absolutely mesmerizing architecture and are well worth visiting.

(Entrance to all 3 is also included with the Lisbon Card, so if you plan to purchase the card, try to structure your visits here so they’ll be covered).

kate storm standing in the doorway to the unfinished chapels at batalha monastery portugal

Cascais

As Lisbon’s most convenient beach/resort town (less than an hour by train or car), Cascais is a local and tourist favorite!

From relaxing on the beaches to checking out fun attractions like the Boca do Inferno and the Castro Guimaraes Museum (well worth the 4 Euro entry fee), Cascais is a fun addition to any Portugal itinerary.

It also doesn’t take long to see: whether you have 2 hours or 2 days, you’ll have fun in Cascais.

Here’s our guide to taking a day trip to Cascais.

lighthouse and swimming hole on the sea in cascais portugal

Braga

Braga, located northeast of Porto, is best known for its famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bom Jesus de Monte.

Exploring the city center, and visiting the many other historic churches in the city (including the Braga Cathedral), are also well worth your time.

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Évora

As the capital of Portugal’s Alentejo region, Évora makes a fantastic day trip from Lisbon or an overnight addition to a Portugal itinerary.

While you’re there, don’t miss the 12th-century Gothic Cathedral, the spooky Chapel of Bones, or the remains of a 2000-year-old Roman temple that you can find in the center of the city.

Check out our guide to the best things to do in Évora!

close up of column of skulls inside bone chapel evora attractions

Guimarães

Known as the “birthplace of Portugal”, Guimarães is located in the north of the country, not far from Braga and within day-tripping distance from Porto.

The 10th-century Guimarães Castle and the 15th-century palace of the Duke of Bragança are among the best things to see in town, but don’t miss the chance to explore the historic center, either!

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Coimbra

Home to the UNESCO World Heritage-recognized University of Coimbra, Portugal’s “third city” is incredibly beautiful and mixes ornate architecture and lengthy history (it was the capital of Portugal from 1139 to 1385) with youthful energy.

Note that Coimbra is located along the train route between Lisbon and Porto, and is a very easy stop to add between the two.

cityscape of coimbra portugal as seen from the river, a fun stop on a lisbon to porto drive

Tips for Making the Most of Portugal in 10 Days

Choose your day trips based on your travel style.

We’ve structured this 10 day Portugal itinerary to cover the country’s biggest highlights in a short amount of time–which, realistically speaking, means visiting some places (Sintra, for example) that tend to be crowded.

If you know that you’re a fan of quieter, more offbeat destinations, Lisbon and Porto both have an overwhelming number of options!

Instead of Sintra, for example, you could head to Évora or Tomar.

Instead of the Douro Valley, you could visit Braga and Guimarães.

There are no wrong answers, and there are far more incredible things to see in Portugal than you can cover in less than 2 weeks.

architecture details of knights of the templar in tomar portugal

Don’t overextend your itinerary.

Given Portugal’s compact nature (it’s about the same size as Indiana) it can be very tempting to add on “just one more!” destination to your travel plans. Try to resist the urge, though!

This itinerary for Portugal is already very fast-paced as written, and you don’t want to end up spending all of your time in a car or on a train instead of enjoying the country.

view of crowd overlooking lisbon at a miradouro da santa luzia

Carefully consider how you’ll get from place to place.

While Portugal’s train system is very useful in some areas–like traveling between Lisbon and Porto–it can get a bit more complex on other routes.

Even traveling between Lisbon and Lagos via train, for example, requires making a change.

And taking a day trip to Évora from Lisbon via train, while it looks simple on paper, requires some careful planning, as there are only 2 trains per day.

Rental cars can come in handy here, and for places very close to a major city (like Cascais and Sintra), so can taxis and/or Ubers.

Check train routes + schedules in Portugal today!

kate storm boarding a train to sintra from lisbon portugal

Bring shoes with an excellent grip.

Portugal’s traditional pavement, or calçada portuguesa, is one of the most distinctive features of the country’s cities and towns (though you’ll also find it in many of the places Portugal once colonized).

These walkways are beautiful, distinctive, and quite slippery–especially in the rain.

Watch your step, especially on hills, and opt for shoes with some grip on them!

kate storm walking across wavy portuguese pavement in cascais, a fun addition to an itinerary portugal 10 days

Be prepared to climb lots of hills.

Most of the places included on this 10 day Portugal itinerary, including both Lisbon and Porto, are famous for their steep hills!

Be prepared to get a workout when exploring both cities, as well as in places like Sintra.

view of lisbon portugal from the roof of the monastery of sao vicente

The Best Time of Year to Visit Portugal

Portugal is the epitome of a year-round destination, and this itinerary for Portugal in 10 days is equally viable in January and July.

There will be a few things that change with the seasons, of course–the Algarve in January will mean more pleasant hiking but no swimming, and you’ll certainly fight more crowds at Pena Palace in August than you would in March–but the overall structure of the route is solid at any time of the year.

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Portugal’s winters are extremely mild but can be wet, especially in the north.

Plan for rain if you’re visiting in the winter, but that’s no reason to cancel your trip.

After all, you could just as easily end up with January weather in the Algarve that looks like this:

kate storm standing on praia do camilo in the algarve in january

If we had to pick our absolute favorite times to recommend for visiting Portugal, we’d recommend April/May (the jacaranda trees blooming in Lisbon in May is a special bonus!), and September/October.

In other words, shoulder seasons that offer plenty of sunshine and mild weather, while avoiding the worst crowds of July and August.

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What to Pack for Your Trip to Portugal

Our summer packing list for Europe will cover the vast majority of what you need to bring to Portugal–but here are a few essentials to keep in mind!

jeremy storm and ranger storm sitting along the douro river in ribiera porto portugal

Travel Adapters for Portugal — If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll need adapters for your electronics.

Dry Bag — Want to keep your electronics safe during a beach day, kayaking tour, or boat trip?

Securing them in a dry bag is the perfect low-cost solution!

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Sunglasses — Remember how I mentioned that the beautiful calçada portuguesa is incredibly slippery?

Well, there’s another hazard: it’s also incredibly bright!

You’ll want to wear sunglasses even more than usual during your 10 day Portugal vacation.

kate overlooking the sea in cascais, a fun stop during 10 days in portugal itinerary

Camera — We absolutely adore our Sony a7R III, but whatever camera you’re comfortable with works.

Just make sure you have something with you to preserve your memories!

Hand Sanitizer — We carry this everywhere, and have never been sorry to have it floating around in our day bag.

Reusable Water Bottle — Cut down on plastic waste and save money by bringing a reusable water bottle along for your 10 days in Portugal!

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4 photos of portugal attractions, porto lisbon douro cabo da roca, black and red text reads "how to spend 10 days portugal itinerary"
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

49 thoughts on “The Perfect 10 Days in Portugal Itinerary (+ Travel Tips!)”

  1. Thanks for the treasure trove of information. We are going on 10 day trip to Portugal in early March and your travelog is very helpful in planning our trip. One question: after 3-4 days in Lisbon, what would you think of renting car for the rest of the trip to Porto and Algarve? Is parking in Porto a hassle to be avoided? Thanks
    Kam

    Reply
    • Hi Kam,

      If you’re hoping to make a day of the journey and stop somewhere between Lisbon and Porto (Alcobaca Monastery, Batalha Monastery, or Obidos would be a few of our top picks), you can absolutely do it that way!

      With only 10 days in Portugal, you’d likely be trading extra time in Porto to be able to do so, but if that sounds like a fair trade-off to you it’s workable.

      You definitely won’t need a car when sightseeing in Porto, but parking isn’t too bad. There’s a garage right down the street from the NH Hotel we used when we decided to drive up one trip, and you can get in and out of the city fairly easily from there.

      Reply
  2. Many thanks for your reply, it was very helpful. Apologies for my late response, was out of pocket for some time. On further checking and deliberation, I think we will do the train and rent a cart only in Algarve, to make it easy on ourselves driving wise in a new country. Our plan now looks like the following (4N Lisbob, 3N each in Algarve and Porto):
    2/28: Arrive Lisbon 3:10 pm
    3/1: Lisbon
    3/2: Lisbon
    3/3: Lisbon
    3/4: Morning train to Lagos arriving noon-2 pm (depending on which train)
    3/5: Algarve
    3/6: Algarve
    3/7: Train to Porto arriving 1:30-3:30 pm (depending on which train)
    3/8: Porto
    3/9: Douro valley
    3/10: 2 pm train to Lisbon
    3/11: Early morning flight out of Lisbon to Houston

    Reply
  3. Thank you for this wonderful deep dive into a country we’ve been so excited to visit for a long time. Just booked our flights for this July, and we’ve constructed an itinerary very much based on your guide! Leaning Lagos for our Algarve stay as it seems central to explore the coast in both directions. Here’s our plan!

    • Fri Jun 30: fly to Lisbon PM
    • Sat Jul 1: arrive Lisbon AM / Lisbon PM
    • Sun Jul 2: Lisbon
    • Mon Jul 3: Sintra tour
    • Tue Jul 4: train to Porto AM (3.5hrs) / Porto PM
    • Wed Jul 5: Porto
    • Thu Jul 6: Douro valley tour (port tasting!)
    • Fri Jul 7: drive to Lagos/Algarve (5hrs) / Lagos PM
    • Sat Jul 8: Algarve
    • Sun Jul 9: Algarve
    • Mon Jul 10: Algarve / Lisbon
    • Tue Jul 11: fly home

    Reply
    • Hi Yaron,

      Sounds like an excellent trip! You guys are going to have a fantastic time.

      So glad we were able to help with your planning. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Hi Kate,
    thank you for such great ideas.
    What do you think of this itinerary:

    fly into Porto – 2-3 days (river cruise)
    then train/bus Coimbra – 1 day
    then train or bus to Lisbon – 5 days (Sintra/Obidos/Evora/Fatima)
    then train or bus to Algarve – 2 days
    then train or bus to Lisbon – fly home

    too much for so little time?
    is it worth doing a multi-city airline ticket?

    thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Christine,

      Sounds like you have about 13-14 days to work with, right? If so, that’s doable, but I’d mix it up a little bit.

      I’d recommend trimming one day from Lisbon to add an extra day in the Algarve.

      While in Lisbon, you can easily visit Obidos and Fatima on the same day. You might also look into visiting Alcobaca Monastery or Batalha Monastery that day as well.

      Personally, if it fits into your budget I’d definitely consider the multi-city airline ticket. If you can save a day of doubling back it’ll buy you more time to explore!

      If you plan to do that, be sure to check rates from the Faro Airport as well–it’s much smaller than Lisbon’s but worth checking prices for as that could save you doubling back to Lisbon as well.

      Hope that helps and that you guys love Portugal!

      Reply
  5. What did you have to do to take your dog to Portugal?
    Is there doggy day care for excursions that do not allow dogs?
    Do you find English speakers everywhere in Portugal? Any issues with language?

    Reply
    • Hi Richard!

      We spent over a year living in Lisbon, so we moved Ranger to Portugal with us via plane. We took him to the vet when we arrived to confirm his rabies vaccine and have him examined and got an EU Pet Passport that way.

      There are doggy daycares in Portugal, especially in the cities, but I’m not sure how usable they are for visitors versus regular users. We never took Ranger to one.

      English is widely spoken in Portugal, though not ubiquitous. You don’t need to speak Portuguese to get by, though learning simple phrases is of course polite and very appreciated! We’ve never run into any issues with language in a travel setting in Portugal.

      Reply
  6. Hi Kate, great info. Is it necessary to rent a car in Algarve/Lagos? Is the taxi system not very good? And if we did get a car is parking difficult to find?

    Reply
    • Hi David,

      I’d say it depends on your expectations–it’s possible to rely on a combination of buses, taxis/Ubers, and tours, but it would require a lot more planning and managing of your time.

      Lagos is a fairly small place, as are most of the other places first-time visitors want to see in the Algarve. You won’t find the easy-to-access taxi stands you find in Lisbon or anything like that.

      Parking is fairly easy, especially if you visit outside the peak summer months and/or get up early (we know people who live in the Algarve who say you can have any beach to yourself early in the morning). Most of the beaches have parking at or near them, and there’s metered parking in towns. It’s nothing like parking in cities!

      Reply
  7. Hi Kate, Jeremy,
    Thanks for the detailed notes .. am bookmarking this for our trip. We plan to travel to Portugal with this itinerary. Any recos if this makes sense? What would you change, if anything?
    4 – reach Lis by 10am, sightsee (Lis)
    5 – Sintra (Lis)
    6 – 1/2 day Lis, Leave for Algarve (Lagos)
    7 Algarve (Lagos)
    8 Algarve (Lagos)
    9 Algarve – Porto travel day (Por)
    10 Porto (Por)
    11 Porto (Por)
    12 Porto (Por)
    13 – Fly out
    I am traveling with my family – 2 kids (10 & 7). Would you recommend I book a car from Lisbon, keep it for my Algarve leg and return it to Porto? I am a North American driver – how easy is it to drive here? Would you recommend that over public transport?
    Thx

    Reply
    • Hi Vikram,

      Personally, I’d take one day off of Porto and add it to Lisbon! Porto is a much smaller city, you can easily see the majority of its top attractions in 1 to 1.5 days. I’d also recommend considering a day trip out to the Douro Valley from Porto, it’s wonderful!

      The driving is pretty simple in Portugal, I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to book a car. You don’t need one in Lisbon or Porto, but it will definitely come in handy in the Algarve.

      Lagos is definitely doable without a car but it’s more flexible with one.

      Trains are definitely a solid option for getting between cities, but there aren’t any direct trains from Lagos to/from Lisbon or Porto.

      Reply
  8. Thank you so much for the gold mine of information! We always travel with our small dog too, coming from Washington DC. We generally bring him everywhere on our travels and have a comfortable bag pack to bring him into some buildings/restaurants if they don’t allow a dog out of the bag but are okay with him being in the bag- which he happens to love. Im curious if any of the tours or castles, monasteries, kayak tours, boats etc take dogs? What was your experience? We’re going in mid December along your route. Hopefully weather is good. It’s our only school break where the whole family can travel together. We’re hoping to find some Christmas markets too!

    Reply
    • Hi Melanie,

      Absolutely, I’m so glad you found it helpful!

      Portugal is reasonably dog-friendly by European standards (which is very friendly compared to most of the US), but dogs aren’t generally allowed in most attractions like castles or monasteries. You’d need to ask on a case-by-case basis, but I wouldn’t count on it. (If you were going to France or Italy… that’s another story).

      Boats you might have a bit more luck, but again, you’d have to ask.

      Ranger didn’t visit any attractions with us in Portugal, though he was universally welcome on outdoor dining patios.

      The good news about visiting in the winter like you are is that many of the beaches that don’t allow dogs during the high season are more lax about furry visitors during the winter!

      Reply
  9. Hi Kate! I saw that you commented to another traveler that there are not direct trains from Lisbon to Lagos. How do we do the train from Lisbon to the Lagos which is in the Algarve…correct? I think I read there is a train to somewhere near the Algarve? To Faro? And then rent a car in Faro to take Lagos. We were planning on staying Lagos and the going the most popular/beautify beaches in the Alarve.
    Just wanted to verify as the correct plan on getting to Lagos. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Kate
      We are planning a trip to Portugal mid April for 10 days. We are going to fly into Lisbon, spend 2-3 days there, then go to Porto for 2-3 days. Looking at flying from Porto to Faro, getting a rental car there, and make our way back to Lisbon, where we depart from. Is this too much for 10 days?

      Reply
  10. Hi Kate! Whoops! I looked on the map and going to Faro is wrong. So from Lisbon to as close to Lagos as possible, where is the closest train destination and from wherever that is how do we get to Lagos since train doesn’t go to Lagos, which I’m Not sure why. But we then plan to rent a car in Lagos. I assume we can rent a car in Lagos. Maybe you can give us some guidance on doing this. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi David,

      Lagos does have a train station, but you’ll need to make a change when traveling from Lisbon, as there’s not a direct route between the 2 cities.

      Yes, you can definitely rent a car in Lagos! However, since it’s faster to drive between Lisbon and Lagos than to take the train, you may want to consider renting a car in Lisbon and driving it south, since you plan to rent one when you arrive anyway.

      That’s down to personal preference and your plans before and after Lagos, but it’s an option!

      Reply
  11. Hi Kate. Do you know the approximate cost per day to rent a car in Lisbon in order to drive to the Algarve. Assume an average size car. I see on the internet it says $6 to 15 US dollars which seems really cheap. And do you recommend a particular area or town in the Algarve to stay that is central to all the beaches and things to stay? Not sure if you mentioned this in the 10 day itinerary. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi David,

      That does sound very cheap–we’ve definitely never paid that little, though if you got an online deal and didn’t buy the extra insurance (we always do) I suppose it may be possible. I suspect that number is a bit out of date, though. We use Discover Cars to compare prices (they’re an aggregate that searches multiple companies at once).

      As far as towns go, there’s definitely some flexibility. We personally like Lagos (it’s very convenient and small without being tiny), but Albufeira and Carvoeiro are also lovely.

      Reply
  12. Hi Kate, would you suggest going to Faros from Lagos rather than returning to Lisbon. We will be heading to London after Portugal so we can get a direct flight from there.
    Best wishes Judy

    Reply
    • Thanks, Smidge!

      Here you go:

      Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon
      Day 2: Lisbon
      Day 3: Day Trip to Sintra
      Day 4: Head to Porto
      Day 5: Porto
      Day 6: Day Trip to Douro Valley
      Day 7: Travel to Algarve
      Day 8: Algarve
      Day 9: Algarve
      Day 10: Travel back to Lisbon and head home

      Reply
  13. The advice here is a lot of help. Could we stay in Lisbon and take day trips or is it recommended to split the vacation between Lisbon and Porto? Should tours be booked in advance or at the hotel? In Italy we booked our train travel the day that we traveled and did not have reserved tickets. Any advice would be appreciated. My wife wants to see the Fatima. Is this a church, place etc.? Thanks for any advice.

    Reply
    • Hi Richard,

      Happy that you found our site helpful!

      If you want to visit Porto, we highly recommend splitting your time. If you’re flexible about what you see, you can definitely have a wonderful vacation based in Lisbon, but it’ll look very different from this itinerary (which also includes staying in the Algarve).

      We personally always book our tours online and recommend our readers do the same, but it’s personal preference. Some hotels (4* and higher especially) would be happy to help, but we recommend doing price comparisons to the online options.

      Fatima is a city that’s about an hour and a half north of Lisbon by car, but the major reason people visit is to see the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and surrounding buildings, which are a major Catholic pilgrimage site. To get there, you’ll want to either drive, take a bus, or book a tour.

      We talk more about Lisbon day trip options, including Fatima, here: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/best-day-trips-from-lisbon/

      Reply
  14. Hello Kate!
    I came to say how grateful I am to you for this itinerary. We followed it to the letter and it was one of the best trips in our lives. We decided to go to Portugal for our 20th anniversary and it was nothing short of amazing.

    Fellow travellers, we tried every single activity in this itinerary and can’t recommend all of them enough. You will not be disappointed.

    The only two suggestions I have – do your own research on hotels. To me two out of three hotels were not ideal, but that’s totally on me. I should have read the reviews first and choose for myself.

    And another one for all the art lovers out there- if you have some free time then add some museums and art galleries to your itinerary. In Lisbon Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga and Calouste Gulbenkian Museum blew my mind. They have world class collections comparable to the best world museums.

    Again, thank you Kate. What a wonderful vacation I’ve had all thanks to you.

    Reply
    • Hi Daria,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and share!

      So glad you had a wonderful trip to Portugal! Happy 20th anniversary, as well. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Hello Kate,
    My wife and I are from Florida, and we plan to visit Portugal in November. Would the 10-day itinerary still work in November since it is a low season and cooler month? Any adjustment or change will you recommend? Any special advice for traveling Portugal in November? Thank you!

    Your website is wonderful and very helpful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

    Best Regards,
    Ken

    Reply
    • Hi Ken,

      Yes, as long as you’re prepared for a higher risk of rain, this itinerary works perfectly well year-round!

      If not being able to swim at the Algarve is a dealbreaker for you, you could consider trimming that portion and spending more time further north instead–but we happen to think that the hiking and coastal views are even better down there during the low season, when the crowds and temperatures are both smaller.

      Hope you guys have an amazing trip!

      Reply
  16. Hi Kate, so looking for some advice. We are in Portugal for 11 days at the end of March 2024.
    We fly into Lisbon but thought it made more sense to take the train to Porto to start from there and then end in Lisbon.
    We would like to visit Braga, Sintra, Fatima and the Algarves.
    Do you think that those places are doable in the time we are there?
    Very deceiving looking at a map, so hoping since you are so experienced with living there you could help.
    Thanks and appreciate any feedback you are willing to give.

    Reply
    • Hi Paula,

      Assuming you’re wanting to experience both Lisbon and Porto too, in addition to Braga, Sintra, Fatima, and the Algarve, I think you’ll find that’s a bit much for 11 days! This itinerary covers 10 days and includes fairly short visits to both Lisbon and Porto–but doesn’t include either Braga or Fatima.

      Fatima itself tends to take less than a day to see, but getting there and back from Lisbon requires either a drive or bus ride, and organized tours tend to combine it with other nearby (lovely) places that you don’t really have room for in your itinerary.

      If Braga and Fatima are priorities for you, I’d recommend considering skipping the Algarve, and getting your fix of the coast in Cascais, at Cabo da Roca, or both as part of a combination day trip with Sintra.

      That will trim off a decent amount of travel time that you can then use toward additional day trips.

      Hope you guys have a great time!

      Kate

      Reply
  17. Dear Kate, Bravo! Thank you for all of the fabulous information! My husband and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and we are planning a trip to Portugal in July. We had initially considered a tour but we prefer to plan it ourselves as we have always done in the past. Your itinerary is everything we were looking for! Thank you for all of your recommendations. All of the hotels look lovely and appear to be centrally located. If you have any other hotels that you have admired along the way please share! We will probably add one or two more nights to the itinerary. Any suggestions? Look forward to hearing from you! Best, Gabby

    Reply
    • Hi Gabrielle,

      Happy anniversary! And thank you so much. 🙂

      Personally with a couple of extra days I’d consider adding on another day trip or two instead of fully changing destinations! Visiting Evora, Obidos + the UNESCO monasteries, or Cascais from Lisbon, or Braga and Guimarães from Porto, is an easy way to dive deeper into the country without having to transition to a new place to stay.

      If you’re more interested in the coast, spending another day in the Algarve, either hiking, swimming, or town-hopping, is a great choice.

      Hope you guys have a wonderful anniversary trip!

      Reply
  18. Thank you Kate (and Jeremy)! Your site is a wealth of information! I have passed it along to family and friends! We are just beginning our planning process! I am sure I will be reaching out again. Happy and safe travels! Gabby

    Reply
      • Hi Kate!
        Happy to say we booked our flights and have begun planning our trip to Portugal!
        3 nights Porto
        4 nights Lisbon
        3 nights Lagos

        We are flying into Porto and out of Faro.
        I have a question about lodging in Lagos. We are considering the Tivoli or Hotel Marina Rio. (which one do you recommend between these two?). However we then stumbled upon some hotels by the coast such as the Carvi Beach Hotel or the Clube Porto Mas. Which areas do you recommend? We love the beach but obviously want to do some of the tours that you recommended on your itinerary. In addition, what is the best way to reach lagos from Lisbon? Thank you again Kate. Your site is the best! Gabby

        Reply
        • Congratulations, that’s exciting!

          As far as lodging in Lagos goes, the main thing to consider with all of them is location. The first two are both located more or less in the town center, so you’ll be right by plenty of shops, restaurants, etc. We loved staying at the Tivoli and haven’t stayed at the Hotel Marina Rio, the only note I can make there is that the marina definitely feels like a newer and more “modern” area whereas the Tivoli feels a bit more integrated into the Old Town (though on a quiet street). Both are very conveniently located.

          The second two are better for accessing the beaches, and you could technically stay at the Carvi Beach Hotel and walk back and forth to the Old Town each day, though it’s a bit of a slog–definitely feels more like walking for transportation in that area, rather than meandering through a town.

          If you have a car and appreciate beautiful views on your doorstep, you may love the second two options. If you’d rather prioritize pedestrian access to the town center, I’d choose one of the first two. 🙂

          As far as transportation goes, we tend to recommend driving from Lisbon to Lagos because you have to make a change on the train to get there, you don’t save time, and most people want a car once they get to the Algarve anyway. If you don’t want to drive on your trip, though, the train works just fine!

          Reply
  19. Hi Kate,

    Wow, thank you SO much for this, the itinerary looks fantastic and has me really excited to go! I do have a question. We are a family of four with teen boy (16) and teen girl (14). We’re thinking of going for 14 days at the beginning of July and spending the extra few days at a beach. Activities like the kayaking / SUP or perhaps body boarding or snorkeling would be fun for the kids, and we would also like to be able to walk to a village with restaurants, etc. Is there a beach town you would recommend for that? Bonus points if it isn’t too crowded or crazy touristy… We plan to rent a car so could travel a little off the beaten path. Oh, and if there are any other activities that go over especially well with teens, I’d love to hear about that, too. Thank you!

    Christina

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Christina!

      You’ll have lots of beach town options for that! Albufeira and Lagos are the classic choices, but I think you guys would also love Carvoeiro (you can kayak to Benagil Cave from there, and there’s a great mix of water, hiking, and town activities all located very geographically close together).

      Tavira, on the eastern side of the Algarve, is a bit more offbeat if you’re looking for something quieter. Sagres, on the western edge of the Algarve, is very quiet and more of a surf spot, but you guys might enjoy a day trip there.

      Hope you guys have a fantastic time in Portugal!

      Reply
  20. Dear Kate,

    Thanks so much for your response! It’s so great to be able to communicate with someone who really knows these places!
    I hope you don’t mind a couple more question. Between Lagos, Albufeira, and Carvoeiro, which would have the least crowds on the beaches? And just how crowded are we talking in beginning of July? Hoping to avoid a Cancun type vibe. And if we chose Tavira, are there still opportunities for water sports, etc?

    Thanks!
    Christina

    Reply
    • Hi Christina,

      Anytime!

      As far the beaches… honestly, all of those places are going to be very busy in July. Maybe Lagos, simply because even though it’s very popular, there are lots of beaches in the immediate area to choose from, including some large ones? But really, there’s not going to be an offbeat/relaxed feel in any of those towns–the Algarve in general just gets busier every year!

      There are definitely water sports in Tavira, but it’s a bit of a different experience as the popular beaches are a (short) ferry ride from town (or in the case of Barril Beach, a short drive followed by a walk).

      Hope that helps a bit!

      Reply
  21. Loved your info! We are traveling to Portugal in late March with plans to visit Lisbon, Porto and some smaller towns. We figured the Algarve might be cool that time of year and were planning to take a flight to Madeira instead for a few nights. Have you been to Madera? Do you think this is a good choice? I am sad about not having time for both, so I’d love to know if you think we will get the same beauty out of Madeira that we would get from the Algarve region?

    Reply
    • Hi Traci,

      Sadly haven’t been to Madeira yet, but it looks beautiful and we have many friends who have fallen in love with it.

      It’s very different from the Algarve–lush and volcanic, while the Algarve is more arid and “beachy”, for lack of a better word. Think Hawaii versus the coast of California along the PCH Highway, for example (not a 1:1 comparison but it’s a good way to get an idea what to expect). Both are beautiful and technically have beaches, hiking, etc, but in very different forms.

      That being said I don’t think you’ll regret either one, they’re both extremely popular for a reason!

      Reply
  22. HI Kate,
    I really enjoy your blog as you are a wealth of information for a first time traveler like me to Portugal. I would like to know your thoughts on Peniche and if you think it would be worth spending a day or two in that town. I will be traveling with my husband, my 21 year old daughter who is up for anything and my 19 year old son who might be up for seeing castles and museums and churches and the beautiful landscapes at first but will likely become bored. We are planning a 10 day trip and I’m wondering where we should go that would appeal to both personalities. I would appreciate any advice you may have.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Tracy,

      I can only speak for myself, but I would’ve loved Peniche in my late teens/early 20s! Heading out to the Berlengas Islands is a great way to break up the castles/museums/churches aspect of the trip, though that’s definitely worth it too.

      A day in town + a day at the Berlengas Islands is more than enough to get a good taste of the immediate area, though if you want to use Peniche as a base for visiting nearby spots like Obidos and/or want extra time to relax on the beach, you can certainly stay longer!

      Reply

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