Portugal easily ranks as one of Europe’s top travel destinations. From historical architecture, pristine beaches and delectable food to the comfortable year-round climate and affordable costs, travelers to Portugal have so much to look forward to.
Payal from Canada knew she had many options and wanted to know how to spend a week in Portugal. She asked:
We will be flying into and out of Lisbon and have about 7 days. What do you recommend we see, eat and experience while in Portugal?
We love to experience the culture of the city- so walking tours or historical sites. I would like to spend time relaxing on a beach and would love to try some great food!
Another Trippy user Ken had 10 nights and had a similar question:
So the wife and I will be taking my parents to Portugal in Feb. Will be a first for all of us. We got 10 nights and most likely rent a car. I’m debating to either A) fly into Lisbon and out of Porto OR B) drive clockwise from Lisbon along the coast to Porto and take the inland back. The first option would mean missing places like Monsanto. Also, my parents are not the most mobile folks (i.e., no hiking) and not beach people. For now, we’re thinking:
Lisbon: 4 nights
Coimbra: 2 nights
Porto: 3 nights
Evora: 1 night
Not sure if Feb weather should play a part in the decision. For now, it seems like a very nicely paced itinerary but would love to hear your expert feedback. Thanks in advance!
Both users received more than they asked for. Here’s how to spend seven days in Portugal:
Lisbon food tour
Before you plan on doing anything else in Lisbon or head out to other parts of the country, consider taking a food tour that introduces you to the best foods and drinks in Lisbon. We recommend joining Taste of Lisboa’s four-hour Downtown-Mouraria food and culture walk.
The tour starts at 3 pm and 3:45 pm (May to November) at Largo de São Domingos, a 5-minute walk from Rossio Square. Tours are available daily except on Sundays. I had an enjoyable experience with Taste of Lisboa. I discovered more about the history of Fado, the Mouraria neighborhood and I tried the following food and drinks:
- Portuguese olive oil
- Portuguese red and green wine
- Portuguese cured ham
- Pasteis de Bacalhau (codfish cake)
- Portuguese cheeses
- Ginjinha (cherry liqueur)
- Portuguese beer
- Pastel de nata and coffee
The tour ends at around 7 pm giving you enough time to get to one of the viewpoints (miradouros) to catch the sunset in Lisbon followed by a light evening meal and drinks. Check out Miradouro da Noussa Senhora do Monte.
Visit Belem and Alfama
Trippy user Maria wrote:
Lisbon is a great city with lots to see and do. It’s very walkable, albeit hilly! Be sure to see the Alfama region with its wonderful views of the city and check out a Fadò club. Visit Chiado and Bairro Alto There are plenty of options for walking tours of the city or take Tram 28 which stops at all of the essential places that you’ll want to visit. (watch out for pickpockets on the tram) Lisbon is a cracking city for nightlife too (Bairro Alto is the most lively area after dark) Take Tram 15 to Belém to see Jerónimos Monastery Torre de Belém Worthwhile day trips from Lisbon by train, or car includes Sintra Cascais or some of the beautiful beaches on the Lisbon coast.
Don’t leave Lisbon without visiting Belem, an important historical center in the capital of Portugal. Check out these major tourist spots:
- Torre de Belem, a UNESCO listed site (Belem Tower)
- Monastery of St Jerome (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos)
- Monument to the Discoveries
- National Coach Museum (Padrao dos Descobrimentos)
End the tour at the most famous bakery, Pasteis de Belem for the iconic pastry and coffee.
In the evening head over to Alfama for a traditional live Fado performance and dinner in one of the Fado houses. Clube de Fado and Casa de Linhares are two famous Fado houses in Alfama. Alfama is the birthplace of Fado, and it is also the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon.
Sintra and Cascais
Either join a guided tour from Lisbon to Sintra and Cascais or make your way to Rossio train station for your half-hour trip to Sintra. You may have to wait in line to buy tickets over the counter and at the ticket machines at Rossio station.
Sintra is picturesque and is home to ancient castles and palaces. Castelo dos mouros (The Moorish Castle), Pena Palace and Countess D’Edla Chalet are some of the unmissable attractions in Sintra. Make sure you carve out some time to discover the historic downtown’s narrow alleys and try out the traditional queijada (Sintra’s dessert).
Spend a night at a beach resort like Hotel Cascais Miragem Health and Spa in Cascais overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Trippy user Drew said:
Outside of Lisbon, Cascais is a great option to stay, as it has excellent public transportation into Lisbon (if you don’t want to drive) and is a spectacular place in and of itself, with a charming marina, beaches, cobblestone streets with great restaurants, etc.
Trippy user Antonio from Lisbon recommended a day trip to Sintra and Cascais. He wrote:
Well, I’m not a tourist, but I’ve always lived in Lisbon. This is a great city to travel in. Besides having a mild climate, we have excellent gastronomy; it is a beautiful and wonderful historical city to explore with children. Regarding the place to stay, I would recommend a hotel in downtown Lisbon, because it will allow you to know much about the city on foot. You only have to take public transport, taxi or Uber to visit Belém and the most nostalgic zone of the city, Parque das Nações. Then I recommend a day trip to Sintra, another to Cascais and, if the trip is in the summer, enjoy the beaches around Lisbon. It sure will be a great trip. Walk around Lisbon; it’s the best way to meet.
Avelino suggested the following for the third and fourth day:
If you decide to skip the beach, then, use the third day in Lisbon to visit Sintra, Mafra, and Cascais, the fourth for a day trip to Évora, Monsaraz, Sesimbra, and Arrábida, and forget Algarve, going up north. You may visit Obidos, Nazaré, Alcobaca, and Batalha in a single day (the 5th), before driving one more hour to sleep in Coimbra.
Visit Coimbra and proceed to sleep in Porto.
Use the remaining days in Porto and around. Driving back to Lisbon will take about 3 hours, but Porto is served by the low-cost companies, maybe you can fly back home from Porto and save money.
Coimbra and Porto
Lisbon resident Antonio recommended the following stop when traveling to Coimbra:
On your way to Coimbra, you should pass in Óbidos Municipality and Alcobaca. See the beaches of Sao Martinho do Porto, Foz do Arelho, Nazaré, beautiful. I think the Costa Oeste of Portugal is one of the hidden treasures of Portugal.
Coimbra, Portugal’s ancient capital is home to the oldest university in the country. Some sources said the university might have inspired J.K. Rowling to write the Harry Potter series of books.
As suggested by Avelino, spend the night in Porto after your tour of Coimbra.
Taylor from New Orleans loved Porto. He said:
While in Portugal, do not miss Porto! The port wine is enough of a reason to go, but you will also discover a city filled with beautiful old buildings and views of the water along with lots of art and culture. Here’s a picture of a beautiful stairway leading down towards the river.
There are enough cellar tours to fill up an entire weekend, but two of my personal favorites included Caves Sandeman & C., and Ramos Pinto. You can try all of their different types of port wine and learn about how they make it. Here’s a picture of port tasting at Ramos Pinto.
It’s also important to note that you can take a cable car over the river to the port cellars & you should definitely do this for beautiful views over the city like this one!
I will definitely repeat that you must see and experience Porto. In 1-2 days you can do quite a bit of port tasting. I’d recommend starting your tasting time in Porto stopping at Taylor and GRAHAM’S Port Lodge were our favorites, but the options are endless. Just start walking through Vila Nova de Gaia, the town just opposite Porto, and you’ll find more Port tasting rooms than you have time for, many perched on the hill with beautiful views of Porto across the river. You can walk from this side, across the bridge to Porto itself and enjoy the old town and good food. I like Restaurante Chez Lapin, but the options are endless.
Evora or stay another day in Porto
The historic center of Evora is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a history that dates back to the pre-Roman tribal times. The Romans were there too, and they left behind the old medieval walls, baths, temple, and cobbled squares. Evora is a destination for you if you like history and want to learn more about Roman architecture in Portugal. Some of the highlights of your stay in Evora will include visiting the following:
- The granite and marble Roman Temple
- Praca de Giraldo, the main square
- San Francisco Church’s Church of Bones
- Rua da Mouraria (Moorish Quarter)
- Rua 5 de Outubro (artisanal shopping street)
We recommend staying a night at Convento do Espinheiro, a luxury hotel housed in a restored 15th-century convent.
If relaxation and drinking port are your priorities, we suggest staying in Porto on Day 6 instead of going to Evora. Perhaps visit Douro River Valley. Justin wrote:
If you drive through the Douro River Valley, I highly recommend staying a couple of days at Casa Do Visconde De Chanceleiros just outside of Pinhao. It’s my favorite place to stay in the Douro and probably the world: a beautiful villa with spectacular views, an exquisite but laid back atmosphere, and absolutely amazing breakfast and dinners with delicious local wine. It’s not exactly “cheap,” but it’s a great value. There are also wonderful less expensive places to stay in the area as well depending on your budget. Pinhao is an excellent base for exploring the vineyards, small villages, river tours and hiking trails of the Douro.
Tiffany felt likewise. She said:
Take time to go down the Duoro River if you can to stop at a few Quintas where they actually grow and harvest the grapes on steep hills. We particularly like the ports and friendliness of Quinta do Tedo. They also have lodging there now on their little lake so that you can stay a night there. It’s beautiful.
North of Porto, visit Guimaraes, the birthplace of Portugal with an old castle. See the Bom Jesus in Braga and shop for souvenirs and try new foods at the market in Barcelos. The beaches are beautiful. We enjoyed Esposende.
Return to Lisbon for another night before flying home. Perhaps take the short time you have in Lisbon to check out the souvenir shops like A Vida Portuguesa at either one of their locations: Largo do Intendente, Chiado or Mercado da Ribeira.