The Best Portugal Itinerary

Plans to visit Portugal? Lucky you! Portugal is one of my favorite countries in the world and a spot I find myself frequently returning to time and time again. The perfect Portugal itinerary is a mixture of visiting cities in Portugal and also some more low-key seaside towns — the essentials of any Portugal trip.

Portugal is lovely for so many reasons, one of which is its affordability. Compared to other major cities it is incredibly inexpensive, which I have especially noticed when it comes to accommodations. It’s also incredibly gorgeous and photogenic, with tons of culture, delicious food, and countless outdoor adventures to be had!

The below Portugal itinerary will help you come up with a trip that is perfect for you - whether you need a Portugal itinerary 7 days, Portugal itinerary 10 days, or more or less. Each Portugal destination includes a recommendation for amount of time spent there and you can pick and choose destinations as you wish depending on how much time you’ve got.

 

The Best Portugal Itinerary:

How to get to Portugal

Before we get into the itinerary, let's first talk about how to get Portugal. Depending on where you are coming from, you will likely need to fly in. When booking flights I use Skyscanner because they find you the cheapest flights by comparing millions of options from airlines and travel agents. I have found them to be the best. Click here to search Skyscanner.

The largest airports in Portugal are Lisbon (LIS), Porto (OPO), and Faro (FAO), all of which are recommended stops on my below itinerary. If you follow my itinerary then you will want to fly into Faro and out of Porto. If not, make changes accordingly!

 

How to get around in Portugal

The easiest way to get around in Portugal is via train. For Portugal train travel I recommend using Rail Europe, the #1 distributor for European train tickets and rail passes. I like that you can create an account with them which helps keep all of your tickets and info in one central location. Click here to search Rail Europe. Trains in Portugal can and do fully sell out so I recommend buying your tickets at least a day or two in advance.

However, unfortunately trains do not go to many wonderful parts of Portugal, such as Nazaré. If you are open to driving in Portugal, renting a car is a great option. According to the Portugal tourism site, to rent a car in Portugal you must:

  • be over 21 or 25 years old, depending on the company’s rental policy;

  • show identification (identity card for EU citizens or a valid passport for other nationalities)

  • have had a driving license for more than one year

I personally rent all of my cars through Avis, both while at home in America and also while in Europe, New Zealand, Canada, or elsewhere. This is because after many years of using them and countless rentals I personally trust them, they are available almost anywhere, and I have preferred status with them. Because of my preferred status I find it to be incredibly easy to rent a car through them. Often their mobile app will tell me the stall number of my rental, eliminating the need to even wait in line at the airport or wherever I am renting from. Click here to see the latest prices and reserve your car.

If you do not want to rent a car, you can easily see the beautiful places trains don’t go on a day trip via Get Your Guide, my preferred tour company! They offer plenty of day trip options from Lagos, Lisbon, and Porto which I will cover in more detail below.

There are also buses that run throughout Portugal. If you get car sick, I would not recommend taking a bus (which I can unfortunately say from personal experience).

To get around while in city, I recommend walking, using public transit, or Uber if it's available. In the places it is available, like Lisbon for example, Uber is dirt cheap. If you are new to Uber, use code "kbae3" to get your first ride for free. You can also use it on Uber Eats!

 

The Best Time to Travel to Portugal

The best time to travel to Portugal depends largely on where you plan to visit. Many Portugal destinations are great year round, like Lisbon for example. I have visited in summer and loved it and also in January and loved it. The weather will of course vary between the two but it’s lovely either way.

The resort towns, on the other hand, are best visited in the summer. If you show up to Nazare or Lagos in the winter I don’t think you’ll find much to do, just as you wouldn’t if you showed up to the Amalfi Coast then.

Below I will cover more specific weather averages for each of the cities in Portugal I recommend. For each of them August is the warmest month and January the coldest. Summertime will also be the busiest time, as it is for the rest of Europe, so beat the rush by going outside those months if possible.

 

What to Pack for Portugal

COMFORTABLE SHOES. You will likely (hopefully) be doing a lot of walking and the hills in some cities like Lisbon and Porto are huge so this is very important! My very favorite are M. Gemi’s white leather sneakers. I literally never travel anywhere without them. Click here to see latest prices and use code "CHRISTIE40" to get $40 off!

More details: click here for why they're the most comfortable and stylish walking shoes for travel!

CHIC BOOTS. Same as above — they must be extremely walkable! After countless years testing all over the world, my two recommendations are these (I own 5 pairs and could run a marathon in them) and these which I’m hoping to buy a second pair of! Click here to see a full list of my travel shoe recommendations.

LIGHTWEIGHT TRAVEL CARDIGAN. Barefoot Dreams’ circle cardigan is honestly one of the best travel-related purchase I have made. So warm and absolutely necessary, I’ve brought mine on every single trip since purchasing it. Also great for transit days and hotel lounging! Click here to see the latest prices.

CONVERTER ADAPTER. This one is universal and works no matter where you’re going so it’s a must. When going to the EU I also bring along this very inexpensive 6 pack so that I have extras. So much to charge these days! Need other recommendations? Click here to see my list of 20 must have travel products from Amazon Prime.

WARM NEUTRAL COLORED SCARF. & Other Stories’ oversized wool scarf is my absolutely favorite and comes in so many beautiful colors. Portugal can get cold this time of year — you’ll need one! Click here to see the latest prices.

STYLISH CAMERA BAG… if you are bringing a camera! You can’t go to Europe with anything that isn’t chic ;) I bring GATTA’s Christie camera backpack (named after me) because it’s hands free, has a zipper AND a buttoned flap, and fully protects my camera yet is so cute no one will ever know it’s a camera bag. Click here to see the latest prices. Want to see more options? Click here for the most stylish camera bags for women!

AN INSTAGRAMMABLE HAT. Good for both avoiding doing your hair and also to help make photos pop! This time of year wool is the best option. Click here for the one I just bought.

Click here for a full packing list + free printable packing checklist.

 

Best Places to Visit in Portugal

In my opinion the best Portugal trip is a mixture of visiting cities in Portugal and more laidback seaside resort towns. You can easily achieve this whether you have 7 days in Portugal, one week in Portugal, or more. The best cities in Portugal to visit are Lisbon, my very favorite, and Porto. For laidback beach towns, Lagos in southern Portugal and Nazare in central Portugal are the best.

 

How Many Days in Portugal is Enough?

Honestly how many days you spend in Portugal is tough to answer because it is an entire country with a lot to offer :) The below itinerary is for 11 days, but if you add on some of the additional cities or day trips you could easily make it longer. If you need to make it shorter, you can do that too! I would recommend spending at least a week in Portugal.

 

Lagos — 3 nights

A great place to start your Portugal travel itinerary is in Lagos. Lagos is located in the Algarve region on the southern coast of Portugal. It is known for its high quality sandy beaches and dramatic golden cliffs and caves. I have visited the Algarve twice and stayed in Lagos each time. I recommend that you do the same!

To get to Lagos you will fly into Faro. From the Faro airport you can take a bus to Lagos, or you can go into the city of Faro to catch a train. The easiest way, however, is via private transfer. Click here to see the latest prices.

While in Lagos there are many things to do. Don’t miss the beautiful beaches Praia da Batata, Dona Ana, Pinhão, and Camilo. Take an Uber if they aren’t within walking distance - it is very inexpensive! The best way to see Lagos is on the water. I have included a few highly recommended ways to do this below, my favorite of which is the kayaking cave tour. Click here to see the latest prices.

Make sure to give yourself time to walk around the beautiful old town, too! I recommend eating at Nah Nah Bah, Coffee & Waves, and Abigail’s.

WHERE TO STAY IN LAGOS: Casa Mae. Click here to see the latest prices.

WHAT TO DO IN LAGOS:

WEATHER IN LAGOS: In Lagos August is the warmest month and January the coolest. The averages per season are as follows:

  • Spring: lows 48, highs of 72.3

  • Summer: lows of 60.3, highs of 83.8

  • Fall: lows of 51.6, highs of 80.1

  • Winter: lows of 45.9, highs of 62.1

Travel by train: Lagos to Lisbon train, duration ~4 hours.

 

Lisbon — 3+ nights

Lisbon is one of my favorite places in the whole world and a spot I frequently visit. It is home to some of my favorite restaurants, cafes, bars, streets, alleyways, etc., and you will more likely run out of time than you will of things to do here. It is one of the best cities in Portugal and one that you should definitely not miss while visiting.

Speaking of time: how many days in Lisbon is enough? It’s tough to say, but I’d say at a minimum you should spend 3 days in Lisbon. You could also spend much more. For example, I visited last January for a week or two and then again during the summer for a few weeks. I have yet to run out of things to do there and I doubt you will either!

If you’re wondering what to do in Lisbon, I have got you covered! First, the restaurants are to die for. The seafood is great, the wine is local, and every single place seems to be designed with Instagram in mind. Aesthetically pleasing would be an understatement. Click here for where to eat and here for the best coffee shops and cafes.

As with most big cities, I recommend starting your visit with a tour of the city. This way you can get a feel for the city, see all the main sights, and decide early on which ones you want to go back to to spend more time at. The tour I recommend in Lisbon is the “Lisbon Essentials Tour”. Click here to see the latest prices.

Other than that, I have detailed all of the Lisbon must-sees in my 8 Things You Absolutely Cannot Miss in Lisbon post! Click here to read that.

WHERE TO STAY IN LISBON: In Lisbon I highly recommend staying in an Airbnb. Click here for 8 Lisbon Airbnbs I recommend.

WHAT TO DO IN LISBON:

  • Visit LX Factory and stick around for sunset drinks at Rio Maravilha

  • Eat your way through Time Out Market

  • Roam around Bairro Alto, Chiada and Alfama with a camera in hand

  • See the main sights via the Lisbon Essentials tour. Click here to see the latest prices

POSSIBLE ADDITIONS: if you have the time there are many great day trip opportunities from Lisbon, like Sintra, Coimbra, Obidos, Aveiro, etc. If you will be renting a car you can stop by many of them on your way to Porto. If not, the easiest way to do so is via these tour options:

WEATHER IN LISBON: In Lisbon August is the warmest month and January the coolest. The averages per season are as follows:

  • Spring: lows of 49.8, highs of 71.1

  • Summer: lows of 60.1, highs of 82.2

  • Fall: lows of 52.2, highs of 79.5

  • Winter: lows of 46.8, highs of 60.1


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

 

Nazare — 2 nights

If you are traveling by car or are ok with taking buses, I highly recommend stopping by Nazaré on your way to Porto. I had never heard of Nazare before a friend invited me to meet him there last summer and it by far exceeded all expectations. It is truly beautiful and pretty off the beaten path (at least for Americans) which is always nice. It is a popular tourist destination for Europeans, though.

Beautiful Nazare is home to the world’s biggest waves ever surfed! In the winter they are ginormous, while in the summer when I went they are basically nonexistent. It is located on the sea with a huge beachfront as far as the eye can see.

Don’t miss the Port of Saint Michael the Archangel where the famous Nazare Lighthouse is also. While there stop by the Church of Nossa Senhora da Nazare in the center of town.

If you have the time, also visit Alcobaca nearby. Even just walking through the center of town on foot is something I highly recommend. The Alcobaca Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and even their City Hall is in a pink castle!

WHERE TO STAY IN NAZARE: Fatima House. Click here to see the latest prices.

WHAT TO DO IN NAZARE:

WEATHER IN NAZARE: In Nazare August is the warmest month and January the coolest. The averages per season are as follows:

  • Spring: lows of 47, highs of 70

  • Summer: lows of 58, highs of 79

  • Fall: lows of 47, highs of 77

  • Winter: lows of 43, highs of 60

 

Porto — 3 nights

Porto, Portugal is yet another coastal city, this time located in Northern Portugal. The Porto to Lisbon train takes just 2.5 hours, making it a very convenient addition to any trip including Lisbon! There’s also a Lisbon to Porto bus but I would urge you to save time and go via train.

Have a car? The Lisbon to Porto drive takes a little over 3 hours. And while I recommend spending more time here if possible, you could even do a Lisbon to Porto day trip if that is desired.

How many days in Porto is enough? I recommend for all cities a minimum of three days if possible. However, one day is better than zero days, and I personally only visited for one due to lack of time. I missed out on many things, of course, but was still happy I was able to make it there and spend a full day running around nonstop.

After Lisbon, Porto is Portugal’s second largest city. It sits on a river, the Douro, and is surrounded by vineyards where its famous Port wine is produced. Port wine is named after Porto, by the way! And despite being one of the world’s leading wine regions, it’s still affordable.

Porto’s historic city centre is one of the oldest in Europe and was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO back in 1996. It’s a beautiful place to spend some time exploring on foot. Also don’t miss the chance to visit Luis I Bridge, a great photo opp both of the bridge itself and of the city from it.

Below I have uncovered the best things to do while visiting the beautiful town of Porto. I recommend first starting with a tour of the city. This way you can see the highlights and make note of things you want to spend more time on later. My preferred way of doing this is via bike because it is much faster than walking so therefore you see more, plus it is great exercise! This tour includes biking AND biting (i.e. eating), so how could you not? Click here to see the latest prices.

Note: if you are coming from the airport or need a ride to the airport, you should arrange your transfer in advance. Click here to reserve a transfer.

WHERE TO STAY IN PORTO: NH Collection Porto Batalha is in the perfect location and has excellent reviews on both HotelsCombined and Booking.com. Click here to see the latest prices. For a less hotel-y option, I recommend Cocorico Luxury Guest House. Click here to see the latest prices

WHAT TO DO IN PORTO:

PORTO DAY TRIPS:

WEATHER IN PORTO: Porto has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild but rainy winters. August is the warmest month and January the coolest. Not a fan of rain? Don’t visit during the winter, as Porto is one of the rainiest major cities in Europe.

The averages per season are as follows:

  • Spring: lows of 44.2, highs of 67.3

  • Summer: lows of 56.3, highs of 77

  • Fall: lows of 46.2, highs of 75.2

  • Winter: lows of 41.2, highs of 57.7

 

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