Exploring Portugal was the experience of a lifetime. We truly fell in love with the culture, atmosphere, architecture, food, people and everything it had to offer! For the country being so small, it has an endless variety of things you can do! From exploring castles, to watching “football” (soccer) games, to having the best port wine in the world, and roadtripping to the cutest small towns; We promise you Portugal will not disappoint!
Here is the breakdown of where we stayed overnight and how long we stayed in each location! There were multiple day trips and road trip stops in between, but Lisbon, Porto, and Lagos were our 3 home bases for the week. If you are looking for more detail on the places below, you can check out our other blog posts on Portugal: The Best Things to do in Lisbon, and Planning your Lisbon Trip: A First-Timer’s Guide to Portugal
DAY 1: LISBON
- Fly into Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS) and Uber to accommodations near Bairro Alto district of Lisbon (20min drive away)
- Grab food at Padaria Portugeusa– cutest spot to have a delicious brunch/lunch!
- Walk around the corner to the amazing lookout point at Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara which is across the street from The Decadente for reference. This spot has beautiful views overlooking the entire city!
- Walk to Rossio Square – one of the main squares in Lisbon & where the main train station is located. Enjoy the gorgeous cobblestone streets, cute market (Get the sangria!!), statue in centre & more
- Get on Tram 28 (the famous tram!), get off at the Castle de Sao Jorge stop. Here you’ll walk up the steps to go to the castle (Note: There is a 10 Euro entrance fee, so worth the money!) Walk around the castle grounds and watch the sunset here with some wine, most stunning view of the whole trip!
- Go to The Decadente for dinner! Around the corner from our accommodations and SUCH a great restaurant!
DAY 2: LISBON – Sintra & Belém Day Trip
- Grab some breakfast at a cute corner cafe – there is a cafe at every corner and they’re all family-run and amazing.
- Walk to the Rossio train station and take the train to Sintra, about 30mins.
- Get an Uber to take you to the top of the hill near Pena Palace (it’s too far to walk). It is $14 euros per person to enter. GO EARLY – it can get very crowded, but WOW this was the most unique castle & piece of architecture we’ve ever seen. So breathtaking.
- Then get a car/Uber to take you to Quinta da Regaleira – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The grounds to this place are huge! Explore some underground tunnels & caves, and admire the gothic architecture. There is a nice cafe here to grab a coffee.
- Walk about 15mins to Sintra’s City Centre – SO cute! There are little shops and restaurants everywhere and a famous palace in centre to look at. We ate at Casa Piriquita for lunch on a balcony and had “Ginja” shots which is a cherry liqueur in a chocolate shot glass that Portugal is known for.
- Head to Belém. Take the Line 18400 train and Line 113 bus, or taxi/Uber to get there.
- Check out the Belém Tower, Padrão dos Descobrimentos statue, Jerónimos Monastery, Ponte 25 de Abril (Golden Gate Bridge look-a-like) AND finish off by visiting the famous Pastéis de Belém to taste their Pastéis de Nata. OMG they are to die for!!! Such a delicious pastry with a warm and crunchy outside and creamy inside. This was the first location to open in 1837 and still has the original recipe!
- Sleep, that was a long day!
DAY 3: LISBON
- Go to Nicolau for breakfast! It’s a cute brunch spot off of Rua Augusta (Main downtown area with shops and food places) delicious!
- Walk around Rua Augusta – you will see the main Arch in the Praca de Comércio Square.
- Shop! The streets are filled with high-end stores and regular stores to buy anything you’d need.
- Head to the Time Out Market for lunch. Endless options and a cool place!
- Depending on what time of year you visit, go to a Benfica Game, the atmosphere and energy from the crowd was incredible! We bought tickets at the door and for decent seats they were $27 euros each. European soccer is much more intense than ours and so entertaining to watch!
- Head back to your accommodations and grab drinks and food at the rooftop heated bar called Insolito – it’s home to the oldest lift in Lisbon.
Things we missed in Lisbon that we wanted to do: Thieves Market, Alfama Tour, Elevator, Caiscais Day Trip & Ponta da Rocca (end of the world- Europe’s most western point).
DAY 4: PORTO
- Take the Train to Porto. It was 30 euros each for us but fluctuates depending on time of year, and is about a 3 hour train ride. Go from the Santa Apolonia Station in Lisbon to Campanhã Station in Porto.
- When you arrive, take the Metro for 1 euro to Sao Bento Station, which is the central core of Porto. This is where our Airbnb was and was walking distance to everything. We LOVED our Airbnb! The perfect size for 2 people and central to everything.
- After checking in, go on a lovely stroll to Ribeira Square. This is the main square on the waterfront. While walking there stop at Igreja dos Clérigos or Clérigos Tower which is a famous clock tower, Porto Cathedral, see buildings with the well known white and blue tiles, Monument Church Of St Francis, the “Porto” sign, and the Luís I Bridge.
- Be sure to grab some lunch and order a Francesinha. It’s a Portuguese sandwich that originated in Porto, Google it, you’ll drool, or you’ll think it’s really weird, Shawn liked it!
- Time for a Port Wine Tour!! If you’ve never tried Port Wine, it’s a bit sweet, but we loved it! Port Wine is basically Portuguese fortified wine produced with distilled grape spirits exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. So, fancy.
- Best wineries to tour: Sandeman Porto, Porto Cálem, Burmester, Ferreira
- Went to the waterfront for dinner at Chez Lapin, it’s on the main street is Rua Santa Catarina
- Ended the night at a cute picturesque gelato place called Santini– yum!!
DAY 5: PORTO
- Go to Livaria Lello, the famous bookstore where JK Rowling got her inspo for the Harry Potter book series. GO EARLY, it gets SUPER packed. It opens at 9:30am and there was a line even at that time to get in and it was March. *Note* You have to go to the store on the corner 2 shops down from the bookstore to buy tickets which were 5 euros each to enter. Then wait in line, definitely worth the wait. We are not avid readers but loved the architecture and beauty of the place and it’s famous staircase! You can get 5 euros off a book inside with your entrance ticket.
- Go to the Majestic Cafe for brunch- the oldest cafe in Porto with all its original finishings. It was a little pricy but so classy and gorgeous inside!
- Head to Jardins do Palácio de Cristal – An elegant Victorian Gardens with paths to walk along. So pretty!
- Rent a motor boat at the Marina, or take a river cruise along the Douro River. There’s a long tour that takes most of the day, and a short 1 hour tour which is what we did. It passes by all of Porto’s 6 bridges and cute villages up the river.
- Have dinner at ODE Porto Winehouse. Such a cute spot with traditional Portuguese meals and the best Port Wine selection!
- Stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the views and live music that is played before settling in for the night.
DAY 6: ROAD TRIP TO THE ALGARVES
- Wake up and get your rental car, it’s an exciting day! We got ours at Hertz which was down the street from our Airbnb so it worked out nicely. Just BE CAREFUL driving out of Porto, the side streets are so small, and so easy to scratch your car. Once you’re outside of Porto you’ll be fine, there are regular roads and highways!
- Your first stop is the town of Aveiro– we heard it was like a mini Venice with canals. We went to Costa Nova and saw these cute beach houses with stripes called haystacks, as well as a gorgeous beach strip! Could’ve stayed here all day! Seems like the perfect summer vacation spot!
- Next up is Coimbra – home to a beautiful riverfront city, a medieval old town, and the historic University of Coimbra. Check out the Sé Velha church and the University of Coimbra for sure. You could also spend a night here if you have the time!
- The next stop is Fatima– I’m catholic so my entire family wanted me to stop there and bring back Holy Water, I was very surprised with how large the grounds of it were. It felt special entering, it reminded me of a mini Vatican, (the circular architecture). There is a sanctuary where Mary appeared to the shepherds that everyone was praying at, along with museums with her crown and the bullet that shot Pope John Paul – amazing stuff to see even if you aren’t Catholic!
- Now the long drive (about 3.5 hours from Fatima) to get to Lagos– such a beautiful open road, there were barely any cars (probably because it was a toll road but still lol).
- It was dark when we arrived but it was gorgeous & had Italy vibes with the houses lit up all along the hills.
- We stayed at this Airbnb and really enjoyed it! The host met us and gave us tips on things to do during our stay.
- Check into your accommodations and head out for a late dinner! The Green Room is Mexican and has great tacos and drinks or Giovanni’s for pasta and pizza.
DAY 7: LAGOS
- Our goal for this day was to take a boat tour of the Grottos, especially the Benegil Caves, they are very touristy, but breathtaking. Unfortunately the weather was too rough for us to go out onto the water so our tour was cancelled. If you have the chance to do this, DO IT! We will be back to do this one day! We were recommended to do the tour of the Lagos grottos that takes you around multiple caves instead of just 1.
- In Lagoes, be sure to have lunch at Chico Ze – highly recommend- such a cute gem of a restaurant that’s on a farm where you can walk the grounds. It’s very quaint and has delicious meat and seafood that is very cheap!
- Go on a scenic drive along the coast to the most western point in Europe – Cabo de Sao Vincente
- Drive along M537, the backroads and not the regular highway to get to Salema– made some pit stops for pictures because it is so pretty and scenic! The Salema beach was stunning! If you’re here when it’s warm, stay on this beach and relax! There are a bunch of cute restaurants on the water, we stopped for a drink. Don’t forget to step your feet into the Atlantic Ocean!
- Continue to Sagres– stop at the Sagres Fortress. Then drive to the St. Vincent Lighthouse for sunset – we were so high up, it was so pretty with the waves and cliffs and ocean and sun setting ahh! You can choose to watch the sunset there, or you can continue to Praia do Amado. Just beyond this beach on the cliff top, is a restaurant called Sitio do Forno, soak in the views while having a meal.
- Go back and get dinner at O Antonio’s which was on the water. Known for its seafood, Shawn got octopus, and I got peri peri chicken and it was delicious!
Lagos Beaches: Praia Dona Ana, Praia Porto de Mos, Praia do Camilo (Restaurant at the top is a nice place to have a meal/drink), Meia Praia, Praia da Batata (downtown beach…walk along the beach, through tunnels to discover more beach!)
DAY 8: LAGOS TO FARO AIRPORT
- *Cry because it’s your last day*
- Drive to the Faro airport – drop off rental car, tell Portugal you’ll be back again soon!
Hope you have the best time!
S & S