Are 10 days enough for a Portugal itinerary? No. But I promise that I will tell you how to make the most out of this Portugal trip.
Are 10 days enough for a Portugal itinerary? No. But I promise that in this guide, I will tell you how to make the most out of this Portugal trip, and you won’t feel like you’ve missed anything.
By the time you get back home, you’ll look back and realize just how much you explored in Portugal and how many wonderful experiences you had.
Please take this guide as your starting point for your 10-day Portugal itinerary. I try to add as much info as possible without making it boring or hard to understand. Of course, there will be things that you will discover as you go, but that’s the beauty of travelling, and I don’t want to spoil it for it. By the end of it, one thing is for sure – You’ll have the most incredible stories to tell, and you’ll be planning your next trip to Portugal.
Why travel to Portugal?
Portugal is a beautiful country which has been blessed by the gods with some of the most magnificent cliffs in Europe. By many Europeans, especially the Western ones, Portugal has been a cosy haven for the winter months since the 70s.
Portugal is where it all started, remember? The great navigators of the world were all Portuguese. Think of Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, and many other great explorers, who we have to thank for today’s globalisation.
Don’t act too surprised (as I was) when I was exploring the Algarve and noticed the never-ending high0rises and villa villages that were sitting empty in February because their German, English, and Swedish owners weren’t there yet.
But who can’t blame them? Every corner of Portugal is gorgeous, and after seeing the ocean on all sides, it’s easy to understand why you could never have had enough of it. My only personal remark is that Portuguese people know this too well and put less effort into upgrading services because they’ll always have tourists from all over the world. Can’t blame them either; it’s a tourism phenomenon that happens all over the world.
That’s why I wanted to create this 10-day Portugal itinerary and give you my best tips to make the most out of your Portuguese adventure.
What to see in Portugal?
- Lisbon. The capital city is a fascinating mix of old and new, with historic neighbourhoods like Alfama and modern areas like Parque das Nações. Don’t miss the iconic Tram 28 and the Belém district, home to the Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém.
- Porto. Known for its port wine and picturesque riverside, Porto offers a unique blend of architectural styles and a rich cultural scene. Explore the historic Ribeira district and visit Livraria Lello, one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world.
- Sintra. Just a short trip from Lisbon, Sintra is famous for its romantic 19th-century architecture, including the colorful Pena Palace and the mysterious Quinta da Regaleira.
- Douro Valley. This is the oldest wine region in the world, known for its terraced vineyards alongside the Douro River. A river cruise or a train ride through this valley is a must.
- Algarve. Renowned for its beautiful beaches and charming towns like Lagos and Faro, the Algarve is a paradise for sun-seekers and water sports enthusiasts.
- Madeira and Azores. These Portuguese archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean are perfect for those who love nature and outdoor activities. From hiking to whale watching, both offer stunning landscapes and unique flora and fauna.
- Évora. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Évora is a museum city with Roman, Moorish, and Portuguese history intermingled. Its most unsettling attraction is the Chapel of Bones.
- Coimbra. Home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, this city is rich in medieval architecture and is considered the medieval capital of Portugal.
- Obidos. This charming medieval town is known for its whitewashed buildings and cobblestone streets. It’s also famous for “ginjinha,” a cherry liqueur.
- Guimarães. Often called the birthplace of Portugal, Guimarães is another UNESCO World Heritage site with a well-preserved medieval city centre.
- Cork Forests. Unique to Portugal, these forests produce half of the world’s cork. Tours often include a traditional stripping demonstration.
- Live Fado Show. Experience Portugal’s traditional music, Fado, in Lisbon or Porto for an unforgettable emotional journey conveyed through songs.
Planning a trip to Portugal
Planning a trip to Portugal is an exciting prospect, as the country offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. Here’s what to consider:
Budget and when to travel to Portugal
Portugal is relatively affordable compared to other Western European countries. However, prices can soar in peak season (June-August), so consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring or fall for a more budget-friendly trip.
I visited for over a month in February and March and it was just perfect. I like to avoid crowds when I can, and Algarve was great to visit at the beginning of spring. Lisbon had some crowds, but it was totally manageable, and Madeira was perfect.
Start by listing the cities and regions you want to visit, as Portugal offers diverse experiences. Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve, and the Douro Valley are popular choices but don’t overlook gems like Sintra, Coimbra, and the Azores. Factor in travel times between locations, especially if you’re considering train or bus travel.
Book accommodations well in advance, especially if you’re travelling during peak season. Options range from luxury resorts and city-centre hotels to charming guesthouses known as ‘pousadas.’
Portugal will not be cheap when it comes to hotels and any other type of accommodation. I booked an apartment in Algarve for a month, and it was not as cheap as the internet led me to believe (1,200 EUR in February 2023). Then I was in shock to discover that hotels in the centre of Lisbon were more expensive than luxury hotels in Oslo (I checked, and I also know for a fact).
The only trick I have here is to book in advance and try to find the best option for your budget, considering the length of your stay, location of the hotel and facilities. There’s no secret here, but you’ll need a bit of luck or a larger budget. Expect to pay around 100 EUR per night for a double room. It could be cheaper but don’t count on it.
Portugal has an extensive and reliable public transport network.
Renting a car can offer more freedom, especially in rural areas, but remember that Portugal has a lot of toll roads. The 2 highways (North-South and East-West highways) have 2 separate toll systems. And they’re not cheap.
If you want to see as much as possible during your trip to Portugal, I highly recommend renting a car to get out of Lisbon. I rented a car in Algarve, which I also used to drive all the way to Lisbon a few times and also to Spain, all the way to Gibraltar.
However, if you don’t drive or simply want to avoid all the hassle, then know that there are plenty of options to get around Portugal. For instance, I arrive in Algarve with a bus from Seville, Spain, for under 20 EUR.
Food and Drink
Portuguese cuisine is a treat. Seafood is a staple, and you must try dishes like “bacalhau” (salt cod) and “pasteis de nata” (custard tarts). Port wine is famous in Porto, while Lisbon is known for its ginjinha, a cherry liqueur.
While many people speak English, especially in tourist areas, learning a few basic phrases in Portuguese can go a long way and is often appreciated by locals.
Safety and Health
Portugal is generally safe, and healthcare standards are high. EU citizens should carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for free or reduced medical costs.
However, travel insurance is advisable for all visitors.
Tipping is not mandatory but is appreciated. A service charge is often included in restaurant bills, but it’s common to leave small changes.
Prepaid SIM cards are readily available, and Wi-Fi is widespread, making it easy to stay connected. Just make sure your phone is unlocked if you plan to use a local SIM. But to make things much easier, I’d recommend getting an Airalo eSim.
How many days in Portugal?
The number of days to spend in Portugal depends on what you want to see and experience. Here are some general guidelines for deciding how many days you need in Portugal:
- Short Trip (4-5 Days): If you’re short on time, you can focus on either Lisbon or Porto and include a day trip or two. For instance, Lisbon and a day trip to Sintra or Porto with a day trip to the Douro Valley.
- One Week: A week gives you enough time to explore Lisbon and Porto and include day trips. For instance, 3 days in Lisbon, a day in Sintra, and 3 days in Porto with perhaps a day trip to the Douro Valley or Braga.
- Ten Days to Two Weeks: With 10-14 days, you can include the highlights of Lisbon, Porto, and also the Algarve or central Portugal (like Coimbra and Aveiro). Alternatively, you could explore one of the archipelagos like Madeira or the Azores.
- Three Weeks or More: With this much time, you can have a comprehensive experience covering north to south, including Lisbon, Porto, the Algarve, the Azores or Madeira, and even some off-the-beaten-path spots like Évora or the cork forests.
Consider your interests—whether they’re in history, food and wine, outdoor activities, or beach time—when planning the length of your stay. Of course, there’s something for everyone, and each region has its own unique attractions and pacing. But it’s mostly up to you and what you’re looking for to decide on your Portugal itinerary and, ultimately, decide the length of your Portugal trip.
10 Days Portugal Itinerary
A note before getting into the itinerary: Regardless of where you’re starting off, start your 10-day Portugal itinerary from there and continue as if it’s a circuit.
It’s fairly simple to swap days in this itinerary. But if you want to make sure you’ll see the most of Portugal, it would make sense to make the most out of your time and renting a car would allow you to be extra flexible with your schedule and see more places than you would if you choose to travel by bus or by joining a tour.
It makes no sense to rent a car to see Lisbon, but consider renting a car after you finish exploring Lisbon.
Day 1: Arrival in Lisbon
Depending on the time of your arrival, you might have some time to explore in the evening after checking into your hotel. From the airport, you can easily reach the city centre by metro or taxi.
I’d recommend finding a hotel in the centre of the city, which will allow you to explore the area on foot. Some cool places to stay in Lisbon are the Alfama or Bairro Alto neighbourhood.
Day 2-3: Explore Lisbon – Alfama, Baixa & Belém
Use this day to explore the Alfama and Baixa neighbourhoods. Use the second full day in Lisbon to explore the Belém District, where you will find the famous Pastéis de Belém cafe.
This will involve a lot of walking.
Use my Lisbon itinerary to guide your stay in Lisbon.
Day 4: Sintra and Cabo da Roca Day Trip
Cost: €70 including entrance fees
Start the day with a visit to the Westernmost point in continental Europe. After seeing the Northern, Western and Southern extremities of Europe, I can say that Cabo de Roca is my favourite, so don’t miss it if you’re in Portugal.
Then, continue your day trip with Sintra. A day trip to Sintra from Lisbon is like stepping into a fairytale world. This charming town, nestled in the hills of the Serra de Sintra, is just a 40-minute train ride away from Lisbon’s Rossio Station.
The main attraction is the Palácio da Pena, a whimsical palace perched high on a hill, blending Romantic, Gothic, and Moorish styles. Take a bus or hike up the steep path to reach it. The palace offers breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and, on a clear day, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
After exploring the palace, you can either walk or take a short bus ride to the centre of Sintra to explore the town itself.
I’d recommend that you start this day early, so you can have enough time to enjoy other places in the area, such as the Sintra National Palace, in the heart of the city, and the Monserrate Palace (less visited, but gorgeous).
Take a break and enjoy some Travesseiros, a local puff pastry filled with almond cream, at Piriquita, a well-known pastry shop.
If time allows, you can head to Quinta da Regaleira to wrap up your day. It’s a 20-minute walk from the town centre and features enchanting gardens filled with hidden passages and the famous Initiatic Well.
Day 5: Porto
Cost: €30-€40 train ticket
Getting There: Train from Lisbon to Porto or drive
For the rest of this super-packed Portugal itinerary, I’d recommend renting a car.
This will allow you the most flexibility.
I would recommend renting a car from Lisbon airport from an international company so that you can drop it off in a different location, in this case, Faro, to save some time and depart from there.
For the next couple of days, you’ll be exploring Porto.
In two days in Porto, you can experience a blend of its historic charm and contemporary cool.
Here’s an itinerary for day 1 in Porto:
- Start your day at the Livraria Lello, one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores.
- From there, head to Torre dos Clérigos for panoramic city views.
- Make your way to the Ribeira district, Porto’s historic heart. Stroll along the Douro River and perhaps grab a light lunch at one of the many riverside cafes.
- Visit the Church of São Francisco for its lavish baroque interior.
- Head to one of the city’s famed wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia for a tour and tasting of Porto’s famous Francesinha sandwich—a local speciality.
Day 6: Explore Porto
- Visit the Mercado do Bolhão, Porto’s bustling food market.
- Walk off your meal by visiting the Porto Cathedral, one of the city’s oldest monuments.
- Take a boat tour along the Douro River. This is a great way to see the city’s six bridges, including the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge.
- Visit the Serralves Museum and Gardens for a dose of modern art and beautiful landscapes.
- For dinner, try a seafood restaurant in Matosinhos, an area known for its fresh fish.
- Finally, enjoy a nightcap at one of the bars in the Galerias Paris district to see Porto’s vibrant nightlife.
If your Portugal itinerary allows, aim to spend more time in Porto, as there are also some awesome day trips you can do from there. Here’s a fantastic 3-day Porto itinerary to help you prepare.
Day 7: Douro Valley Day Trip
Cost: €100 (including wine tasting and boat). Book here
Getting There: Organized tour from Porto or by car
A day trip to the Douro Valley is a delightful journey into one of Portugal’s most scenic and historic regions, renowned for its terraced vineyards alongside the Douro River. The valley is about a 1.5- to 2-hour drive from Porto, and there are also organised tours that include transportation, which can be a convenient option.
During this day trip from Porto, you’ll learn about the age-old process of winemaking. You can either visit a small family-run estate or a larger, more commercial vineyard.
Expect to pay around €20-€50 for a wine-tasting session, depending on the quinta (estate) and the variety of wines you choose to sample. Since this day is all about wine tasting, I recommend joining a tour so you won’t have to drive back. Driving after drinking is not only dangerous but also illegal!!
Lunch can be an event in itself, as the Douro Valley offers a range of gastronomic delights, often paired with local wines.
After lunch, take a rabelo boat ride along the river. These traditional wooden boats were once used to transport wine barrels from the Douro Valley to Porto. A one-hour boat trip will give you a unique perspective of the terraced hillsides and might cost around €10-€20.
If you have some extra time, you might also visit the Douro Museum in Peso da Régua, a town that serves as a sort of gateway to the Douro region. The museum offers informative exhibits about the history and culture of wine production in the area.
A Douro Valley day trip encapsulates the essence of Portuguese wine culture and offers stunning natural scenery that is sure to leave you spellbound.
Day 8: Coimbra
Getting There: Train from Porto to Coimbra or drive
In Coimbra, start your day with a visit to the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in Europe, to see the beautiful Joanina Library and the Royal Palace.
Head to Conímbriga afterwards to explore well-preserved Roman ruins. Spend your afternoon strolling through the Jardim Botânico, an extensive botanical garden perfect for relaxation.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Convento de Santa Clara-a-Nova, known for its breathtaking views and historical significance. In the evening, explore the winding streets of the old town, stopping at a local café for a taste of regional pastries.
Finish your day by enjoying traditional Fado music at a local venue to experience Coimbra’s unique Fado culture.
Day 9: Algarve (Lagos or Faro)
Getting There: Train from Coimbra to Algarve, bus or drive
In the Algarve, whether you’re in Lagos or Faro, you’re in for a day filled with sun, sea, and rich culture.
Start your day early with a visit to one of the stunning beaches, like Praia Dona Ana in Lagos, for a morning swim or just to soak up the sun. In the afternoon, take a kayak or boat tour to Ponta da Piedade to see the impressive limestone cliffs and caves.
If you choose to visit Faro, consider a boat tour to the Ria Formosa Natural Park to explore its unique lagoons and diverse marine life. There are plenty of tours you can also join that will include stops for lunch at traditional restaurants on one of the small islands. But if you only go for a couple of hours on the island, then by midday, find a local restaurant for a seafood feast, perhaps trying some Cataplana, a traditional Algarve stew.
In Faro, a visit to the Arco da Vila will offer you insights into the town’s history and a lovely view from the top.
As the sun sets, wander through the old town in either city: Lagos, with its vibrant art scene and charming squares, or Faro, with its cobblestone streets and medieval architecture. Wrap up your day at a waterfront restaurant, enjoying local wines as you relish the sunset.
Day 10: Departure
Depending on the time of your departing flights and airport, you might still have some time to explore the Algarve. If so, check out the top things to do in Algarve.
It would be great if you would depart from the Faro airport. However, if you need to get back to the Lisbon airport, you’ll need to reserve at least 3 hours to drive back to Lisbon, or more if you depend on buses to get there.