Itinerary 1: Southern Portugal
Days 1 & 2: Lisbon
Begin your trip to Portugal in Lisbon, the country’s capital, where you will be greeted by its colonialist history. Wander the streets and see the Torre de Belem, St. George’s Castle, and the Monastery of Jeronimos. Grab some local fare at the Mercado da Ribeira and roam through the Alfama district, the oldest part of Lisbon, where you can shop traditional goods.
Ascend the steep streets in the Santa Justa Elevator, while delighting in panoramic views of the city, and continue your sightseeing journey. Visit the National Museum of Ancient Art or the National Tile Museum. End your evenings listening to traditional Fado music while delighting in Bifana sandwiches and Pastéis de Nata.
Day 3: Sintra
Situated at the foothills of the Sintra Mountains, this lush municipality of Portugal will leave you breathless. Sintra is filled with magical forests, outlandish gardens and palaces scattered throughout the town. Whether you prefer nature or the liveliness of a city, Sintra has it all. Sintra is only 30 minutes northwest of Lisbon – here you can visit the astonishing Palace of Pena, meander through the botanical gardens of Monserrate Palace, or hike through Sintra-Cascais Nature Park.
Day 4: Ericeira
This seaside district is known for its surfing and was announced as a World Surfing Reserve in 2011. Just 40 minutes north of Lisbon, you will fall in love with 2.5 miles of coastline, the quaint small-town feel, walkable city center, and its numerous restaurants and cafes. Unwind at its two beautiful sandy beaches or take a short drive to many other nearby beaches. This small town evokes the essence of Portuguese charm.
Day 5: Evora
Drive over the Ponte Vasco Da Gama bridge on your way to Evora. After a comfortable two-hour drive from Ericeira, you will be inside the city’s ancient walls. Explore a Roman Temple, The Bone Chapel, and climb to the top of the gothic cathedral. You will love the pretty cobble-stoned streets and the architecture will take you back to when Evora was occupied by royalty. Find your way to the prehistoric standing stones of Cromeleque dos Almendres before you wind down in the historic city center.
Day 6: Monsaraz
Nestled next to Spain, this countryside village will captivate you. Monsaraz’s hilltop setting is adorned with whitewashed cottages scattered throughout. The medieval village overlooks Alqueva Lake, which offers serenity or fishing excursions. Due to its location, it has impeccable views for nighttime stargazing. You will find centuries of history in Monsaraz be it in art, monuments, or its famous olive groves.
Days 7 & 8: Tavira
Tavira is situated on the Algarve Coast. Here you will find lagoons, parks, beaches, and medieval buildings. The town is separated by the Gilao River and offers a wonderful seaside getaway. Delight in the flamingos and spoonbills, sunbathe on world-class beaches, or take pictures of the colorful tiled houses. This fishing town will have you craving more. Tavira is known for its Moorish history, which can be seen interlaced in the buildings and the culture.
Be sure to visit the old water tower in town and use the camera obscura to capture a 360º view of the city. While there admire the many shops, gardens, city squares, and churches throughout Tavira. Don’t forget to try the fig ice-cream!
Day 9: Faro
Faro is known for its beaches and golf resorts. Enter the city through the Arco da Vila gate, once part of its ancient Moorish city walls. Inside the city center you will discover a variety of historic monuments. Reach the beaches by boat, stroll around the lighthouse, or take a secluded hike at Praia de Faro while walking the coastline. End the trip with a delightful seafood stew or locally produced clams and mussels.
Day 10: Journey Home
Fly out of Faro airport. Have a safe flight home!
Itinerary 2: Northern Portugal
Days 1 & 2: Porto
Arrive in this coastal city in the Northwestern region of Portugal and fall in love with its medieval allure. Get lost in Porto’s “Old Town,” Ribeira, where can explore cafes, take picturesque photos of the colorful tiled houses, and capture glimpses of gilded carvings throughout town. The Douro River offers stunning views of the port, as well as options for river cruises. Porto has numerous bridges that bicyclists are often seen navigating. Wake up and head to the famed Livaria Lello bookshop, make a reservation for the freshest seafood caught right off the coast, and climb the Clérigos Tower. Don’t forget to take a Porto wine tour and savor the taste of Port wine. Porto will not disappoint.
Day 3: Braga
Head 40 minutes north to one of the oldest towns in Portugal. Climb the hilltop to see Bom Jesus do Monte be entranced by the breathtaking view of the cathedral, the Plaza Republica, and the fountain that sits in the busy square. Visit the vivid colors of flowers in the Garden of Santa Barbra, become mesmerized by the buildings that line the street, and even catch a soccer game. Braga has festivals throughout the year, wine tasting tours, and is celebrated for its lively nightlife.
Day 4: Guimaraes
Guimaraes is a charming city deemed as the birthplace of Portugal. There are gothic-style facades, attractive plazas, and enchanting hiking trails in Penha Park. Guimaraes has Roman and Moorish style castles and palaces, a cable-car to visualize the city from above, and shops lining Largo do Toural. Peek at souvenirs, see tapestries in the Duke’s Palace, and taste elegantly presented dishes at some of the local restaurants.
Days 5 & 6: Viseu
Viseu is filled with granite monuments, historical houses, and archeology museums. It has been elected several times as the “best city to live in” in Portugal. The town feels like a labyrinth at times with white houses sprinkled throughout. When you find yourself on Rua Formosa, a pedestrian-only street, many baroque and Roman-style fixtures will await. Use Viseu as a chance to recharge while unwinding in Parque do Fontelo or get active and ice-skate in the year-round ice bar at the shopping center in Palacio do Gelo. Viseu is home to the biggest cycling path in Portugal, which you can bike to several area wineries. Viseu hosts a strong wine trade and is known for its bold reds, which pair well with the local fare at the Michelin star restaurant Mesa de Lemos.
Day 7: Coimbra
Portugal’s former capital, Coimbra, is a riverfront city featuring beautiful sunset views from various terraces across the town. Coimbra is small and quaint, which allows for self-guided tours through its colorful alleys, cobblestone paths, and stunning archways. The historic University of Coimbra, a former palace, has a bell tower offering views for miles. One cannot forget the Baroque library that maintains a colony of bats that are kept to eat the insects that may ruin the books!
Day 8: Aveiro
Aveiro is a maritime city that sits next to a lagoon called Ria de Aveiro. Colorful boats, canals, and pastel-colored homes welcome you. Take a city tour on one of the moliceiros to see stylish homes in the Rossio area, the Forum Aveiro, and the outskirts of town that you might otherwise miss. Head to the beach to see the Praia de Barra Lighthouse, taste the Ovos Moles, and visit the bustling morning fish market. Aveiro is known as the “Venice of Portugal.”
Day 9: Porto
If there is something you missed on Day 1 or Day 2, now is the chance! Don’t forget to see the Sao Bento Railway Station with its ornate tile work that has a story of its own.
Day 10: Journey Home
Fly out of Porto airport. Have a safe flight home!