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Located on the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe and has been a popular holiday destination for decades thanks to its timeworn charm. From the golden beaches of the Algarve on the southern coast to the terracotta capital of Lisbon on the west coast, this spectacular country has a little something for all traveler types. Whether you’re interested in maritime history and medieval castles or jungle trekking and surfing the Atlantic Ocean, the list of things to do and see in Portugal is as versatile as they come. Get ready to venture to the lush mountains and meandering rivers of the central Alentejo region, visit one of the most beautiful libraries in the world in Coimbra and admire brooding volcanic landscapes in the Azores (an autonomous region of Portugal and an archipelago located off the country’s west coast). Whether you have a few days to explore, or you’re after a three week Portugal trip itinerary, there’s plenty of experiences to enjoy across the country!
Any Portugal travel itinerary should be a minimum of seven days long to ensure you can immerse yourself in the local culture, customs, and traditions. Those with more time can enjoy traveling further afield or staying longer in one destination to scratch beneath the surface. The best Portugal itinerary is around 10 days — the perfect amount of time to explore Lisbon and the Algarve, the rustic towns found on the Spanish border, or the central regions without feeling rushed.
If you’re visiting Portugal for a week there’s plenty of Portugal itineraries to consider including those that stay solely in one major city such as Faro, Porto, or Lisbon and those that venture along the coastline to smaller towns and villages.
If you’re the kind of person that gets itchy feet in one destination, then we’ve got just the Portugal vacation itinerary for you, a seven-day road trip beginning in Porto and ending in Faro! Starting in Porto you’ll visit the Rua Santa Caterina church, stroll along the Douro riverbank, and admire the Dom Luis I Bridge. Take a cruise through the Douro Valley before driving 3-hours to Lisbon. Spend the late-afternoon getting your bearings before a full day in the city the following day. Attractions include Castelo Sao Jorge, Lisbon Market, and the UNESCO listed Jeronimos Monastery. This itinerary then heads onwards to Evora, the capital of the Alentejo region famous for its Roman Temple and Gothic baroque architecture. Make sure you indulge in local Alentejo cuisine (including Porco Preto ‘black pork’) before departing for Faro. Spend your remaining time hiking on Ria Formosa island, bird-watching on Barreta Island, and exploring the cobblestone streets of Faro’s Old Town on foot.
Alternatively, opt for a holiday amidst nature on a week-long trip to the Azures where you’ll explore Sao Miguel Island, admire green pastures en route to Capelinhos volcano, and embark on a whale watching tour around the archipelago.
If you’ve got 10 days to create the best Portugal itinerary, you can let loose when it comes to exploring multiple destinations. Consider starting your travels in Lisbon where you can dine on fresh seafood delights, climb the Tower of Belem, and ride the famous yellow trams around the city. From here head to Evora, Obidos, and Coimbra where you can visit the oldest university in the country, learn about medieval history at the gothic monastery of Santa Clara, and take a walking tour over the Pedro e Ines Bridge for panoramic views of the city. This route continues through the Douro Valley to Porto and on to Sintra where you’ll finish with a bang as you enjoy Portuguese delicacies at any of the city’s popular tasting restaurants.
Alternatively, extend the seven-day road trip and turn it into a 10-day road trip by adding the towns of Cascais, Sintra, Albufeira, and Vilamoura. While Albufeira is a charming former fishing village, Vilamoura has a little more sparkle to its surface and is found next to a string of sandy beaches.
Portugal itineraries that are two weeks in duration allow you to arrive and depart the country without feeling rushed and ensuring you have plenty of time to enjoy the destinations you visit.
Another exciting way to spend two weeks in Portugal is by heading to the Azures and spending your time hopping from one paradise-like island to the next! Your time on the islands can be spent hiking, biking and sailing your way from one attraction to the next including the Sete Cidades Crater, the Sao Jorge Cliffs, and Angra do Heroismo Lovely UNESCO World Heritage Site; a popular town bursting with culture. The main stops on this itinerary are Madalena, Faial, Horta, Angra Do Heroismo, Biscoitos, and Praia Da Vitoria.
Alternatively, extend the 10-day road trip by adding Tavira and extending your time in select towns or cities along the way.
21-day Portugal itineraries could include a few stops in Spain to plump out the itinerary, but rest assured this isn’t mandatory as three weeks can easily be spent soaking up the very best of Portugal without running out of things to do!
Kick start your three-week itinerary in Lisbon where you’ll spend four days soaking up the highlights, exploring by yellow tram, and dining on fresh seafood. From here, hire a car and head to the Algarve where you’ll spend a further four days by the ocean soaking up the very best of Portugal’s southern coast. Get ready to enjoy lounging on soft sand beaches, swimming in turquoise water, and visiting small villages home to whitewash buildings and terracotta roof tiles. Faro, Albuferia, and Tavira are popular stops along the coast, but don’t miss Cacela Velha; an authentic Portuguese hilltop village.
Spend the next four days driving north through central Portugal, a popular wine region home to multiple vineyards. The small town of Viseu makes a good base for exploring the local vineyards and winery tours, you’ll also enjoy spectacular views of the Douro Valley from here! Onwards and upwards to the bustling city of Porto, one of the country’s most iconic destinations home to a picturesque harbor, impressive architecture, and magical back-streets. Spend four days in the city before moving on to Aveiro, a quaint Portuguese town famous for its gondolas. Wrap up your three-week itinerary with a trip to Nazare (a popular surfing town) before returning to Libson for two more days.
Travelling to Portugal? Chat with a local travel specialist in Portugal who can help organize your trip.
Sean O'Rourke Travel Expert in Portugal & Spain
Renato Santos Travel Expert in Portugal
Mariana Afonso Travel Expert in Portugal