Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Portugal is known for its stunning coastlines, vibrant cities, and delicious cuisine. Whether you love history, sandy beaches, or charming coastal towns, there’s something for everyone in Portugal.

To help you plan your trip, I’ve put together a 10-day Portugal itinerary that will take you to some of the must-see destinations in this charming country.

This itinerary starts all the way in Northern Portugal and it finishes all the way in the South, with some relaxing beach days in the stunning Algarve.

There’s no need to rent a car for this itinerary. I’ve been to Portugal multiple times and love the affordable public transportation system there.

1. Stop on this 10-Day Portugal Itinerary: Porto

The first stop of this Portugal 10-day itinerary is Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. The city situated along the Douro River is famous for its production of Port wine, but there’s so much more to explore in this charming city.

3 days in Porto gives you enough time to get settled in, explore this beautiful city, and do a day trip of your choice.

 

Porto sign in front of city hall
Porto sign in front of city hall

Day 1: Arrive in Porto

It would be best if you could catch a flight directly to Porto. If that’s not possible you can take the high-speed train from Lisbon to Porto which takes about 3 hours from Lisbon city center and 3.5 hours from Lisbon airport.

Once in Porto, take your time strolling through the narrow streets of Porto’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can find many charming cafes and restaurants serving traditional Portuguese dishes as well as delicious vegan food.

After lunch, take a boat tour along the Douro River to enjoy the beautiful views of Porto from a different perspective. The boat tours set off right in the famous Riberia district, next to the iconic Dom Luis I Bridge.

Finish your first day with a Port wine tasting in one of the city’s Port wine cellars. I usually don’t drink alcohol, but even I had to try a sip of Port wine. It’s such a unique thing to do in Porto when you’re above the legal drinking age of 18.

 This boat tour includes a welcome drink and little snack!

View of the old town of Porto and a steel bridge spanning a river, the best view of any 3 day Porto itinerary
View of Ribeira and the bridge

Day 2: Explore Porto

Start your first full day in Porto by visiting Livraria Lello, one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores. Its stunning architecture and intricate details are rumored to have inspired J.K. Rowling while writing Harry Potter. For a true Harry Potter experience, you need to head to London.

Next, head to the Clerigos Tower for a beautiful view of the city. Afterward, head to the Porto sign and take some Instagram-worthy photos.

 Don’t miss any of the best places in Porto with this walking tour!

In the afternoon, you can either explore Porto’s art scene by visiting the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, visit the Bolsa Palace, or take the historic tram to the beach and soak up some sun.

Inside the historic tram in Porto
Inside the historic tram in Porto on the way to the beach

If you stay in the city, enjoy the sunset from Jardim do Morro in Vila Nova de Gaia. It’s one of the most popular sunset spots, so make sure to arrive early and get a good spot.

Day 3: Day Trip from Porto

On your third and final day in Porto, take a day trip from the beautiful São Bento railway station to one of the nearby cities or the stunning Douro Valley. All of the day trip destinations are great but since time is limited you have to pick one that interests you the most.

Two boats on a canal next to a palm tree in Aveiro Portugal
Day trip from Porto to Aveiro, Portugal’s Venice
  • For wine lovers, visit the Douro Valley. It’s best to take a day tour as public transport options are limited. Explore vineyards, enjoy wine tastings, and take a boat ride along the Douro River in this beautiful wine region.
  • History lovers, don’t miss Guimarães, the “birthplace” of Portugal. Just 1 hour from Porto by train, it boasts a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site with a beautiful historic center.
  • For boat lovers, Aveiro is a must-visit destination. Known as the “Venice of Portugal,” it offers charming canals and colorful boats. And you can add some beach time in Costa Nova.
  • Braga is known for its historical center and stunning churches such as the Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary. It’s about 1 hour away from Porto by train, making it another great day trip option. It’s also a great stop on a Porto and Lisbon itinerary.

 Combine a day trip to Guimarães and Braga to make the most out of your time!

2. Stop on this 10-Day Portugal Itinerary: Lisbon

After exploring the North, it’s time to head down to the capital city of Lisbon. The city is known for its colorful streets, delicious food, and lively atmosphere. It’s a must-visit destination on any Portugal trip itinerary and even every Spain-Portugal itinerary.

 

A yellow tram going up a small street in Lisbon; it's a must-visit stop on any 10 day Portugal itinerary
One of the best things in Lisbon is just to stroll around the narrow streets

Day 4: Arrive in Lisbon

The best way to travel from Porto to Lisbon with cool stops along the way, without renting a car, is a one-way tour. Popular stops between the two cities in Portugal include Aveiro, Coimbra, Fatima, Nazare, and Obidos. It’s amazing to visit all these places in just one day without needing a car!

 Check Prices and Availability for a One-Way Tour from Porto to Lisbon!

The most budget-friendly option to get from Porto is Lisbon is a bus, you can get tickets for under €10. A train from Porto to Lisbon is another great option, train tickets average between €15 and €20. I prefer taking the train because it’s faster and more comfortable.

Once in Lisbon, get settled into your accommodation and head out to explore the city. You can take a free walking tour, do a TukTuk tour, or do some self-guided sightseeing. Don’t forget to try one of Portugal’s most famous pastries, Pastel de Nata!

 

A vegan pastel de nata on a plate in front of a poster of one
You have to try Pasteis de Nata when you’re in Portugal

Day 5: Explore Lisbon

Start your first full day in Lisbon by heading to Belém, a beautiful district known for its stunning architecture and delicious pastries. Here you can find some of Lisbon’s most famous landmarks, such as the Jerónimos Monastery and the Torre de Belém.

In the afternoon, explore the charming neighborhood of Alfama and get a feel for the city’s unique atmosphere. You can also visit the São Jorge Castle and enjoy breathtaking views of the city.

For dinner, head to one of Lisbon’s many vegan restaurants to try some delicious Portuguese or international dishes. Afterward, have a drink at the waterfront near Praça do Comércio and enjoy the stunning views of the Tagus River.

 Tuk Tuk Tours are really popular in Lisbon because the streets are so steep!

Day 6: Day Trip from Lisbon

On your third day in Lisbon, take a day trip to one of the nearby destinations. The two most popular day trip options are:

  • Sintra: Known for its fairytale castles and palaces. it’s the most popular day trip from Lisbon but because of that, it’s extremely overcrowded in the summer months.
  • Cascais: A charming seaside town just 30 minutes from Lisbon by train. It’s known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife.

 On a guided tour you can see Sintra, Cascais, and Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe, all in one day!

The outside of a gothic building, very detailed facade
The main building at Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra

Whichever day trip you choose, make sure to return to Lisbon in time to experience the city’s lively nightlife. From street parties to rooftop bars, there’s always something going on in Lisbon after dark.

3. Stop on this 10-Day Portugal Itinerary: Algarve

No trip to Portugal is complete without a visit to the stunning Algarve region. With its stunning coastlines, clear blue waters, and picturesque towns, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind.

This region looks completely different from the rest of Portugal and I was really surprised to find out that the east of the Algarve looks so different than the west of the Algarve.

 

The coastline near Lagos with wooden steps leading down to the beach. This stunning coastline makes you answer the question: Is Lagos Portugal worth visiting? with yes
Coastal walk in Lagos: Best views of the stunning cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean

Day 7-8: Explore West Algarve

The best way to get from Lisbon to the Algarve is by taking a high-speed train to Faro, the biggest city in the Algarve. The train takes about 3 hours and offers stunning views of the countryside along the way.

From Faro catch a connecting regional train to Lagos, the most beautiful city in the Algarve in my estimation. You can also catch a bus directly from Lisbon to Lagos, this option is not as comfortable as the train but it’s usually even cheaper.

Spend two days in Lagos, exploring the stunning beaches and sea caves. Don’t miss a boat tour to Ponta da Piedade, where you can see breathtaking rock formations and crystal clear water.

 See the stunning sea caves near Lagos on a boat cruise!

A cave with a circular opening at the top and green water at the bottom; those are the famous Benagil caves in the Algarve
The famous Benagil Cave

Other great things to do in Lagos include visiting the local markets, wandering through the charming streets of the old town, and doing a half-day trip to the famous Benagil Caves.

On the way to the Benagil Caves, you might even see some dolphins. I saw some on my boat tour and it was so cool!

 I love this Benagil Caves boat tour! You see the stunning caves and dolphins

Day 9: Explore Faro

On your last full day in the Algarve, take a trip to Faro and explore the charming old town and its many historic landmarks. Make sure to check out the stunning Sé Cathedral and the Arco da Vila gate.

A wooden path on a white beach at Praia da Culatra
Beautiful beach near Olhão in the East Algarve

In the afternoon you can either do a boat trip from Faro to the Ria Formosa Natural Park, relax on Praia de Faro, or catch the train to Olhão.

There are plenty of cool things to do in Olhão and I really like that it has a more authentic feeling compared to the touristy West Algarve.

Day 10: Goodbye Portugal

Your activities on your last day in Portugal depend on what time your flight is and if you fly back home from Faro, or if you need to make your way to Lisbon first.

In case you have some more time, you could take a quick trip to Tavira, a picturesque town known for its beautiful architecture and traditional atmosphere. It takes just 45-minutes by train to get there, so it’s a perfect day trip destination from Faro.

 

Tina in a boat with a straw hat, in the back are impressive cliffs; a boat tour is one of the best things to do in Lagos Portugal
I really loved the boat tour to explore Lagos’ coastline

How Many Days in Portugal Do You Need?

Overall, this 10-day itinerary covers the must-see destinations in Portugal and allows for a good balance of city exploration, beach time, and cultural experiences.

However, if you have more time to spare, I would recommend adding on a few extra days in each destination to really immerse yourself in the area and take things at a slower pace.

For example, you could spend more time in Lisbon to explore different neighborhoods and do multiple day trips, or extend your stay in the Algarve to visit other towns along the coast.

If you have less than 10 days it won’t be possible to see all 3 major stops in Portugal, you’ll need to skip either Porto, Lisbon, or the Algarve.

 

inside a train station in Porto
São Bento train station in Porto with traditional Azulejo Tiles on the wall

Do You Need a Rental Car in Portugal?

While a rental car can be convenient for exploring more remote areas or small towns, it is not necessary for this Portugal travel itinerary. All of the destinations mentioned can easily be reached by public transportation.

The train system in Portugal is very efficient and also very affordable. Usually, you can choose between a cheap slower train and a bit more expensive high-speed train.

I only had to skip one Algarve attraction: This itinerary doesn’t include the famous Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, as it’s challenging to reach by public transportation. This stunning hiking trail begins near Benagil caves and is easily accessible from Lagos or Faro with a rental car or taxi.

Overall, a rental car is not necessary for this itinerary but can be useful if you’re planning on exploring more of the country beyond the main stops listed. Just be aware of potential tolls on highways and parking fees in cities.

 

Expansive view of Lisbon's cityscape under a dramatic sky, showcasing colorful buildings, terracotta roofs, and the distant 25 de Abril Bridge over the Tagus River.
View of Lisbon from the castle walls

Best Time to Visit Portugal

The best time to visit Portugal is during the shoulder seasons of spring (March-May) and fall (September-November). During these times, you can expect pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices.

Summer in Portugal can get extremely hot, especially in the Algarve where temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius. It’s also high season, resulting in higher prices and overcrowded destinations. For example, I wouldn’t visit Sintra in the summer months, it’s just too overcrowded.

Winter is also a good time to visit, with mild temperatures and fewer tourists, but be aware that some attractions may have limited hours or may be closed during this time. And it will be too cold to really enjoy the beautiful beaches.

 

A colourful castle you can see on a Sintra day trip from Lisbon
The colorful Pena Palace in Sintra
Source:https://veganderlust.com/

By Lala