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10 Perfect Days in Portugal: An Itinerary From the North to the South Coast

February 4, 2023

Aerial view of Porto. Image by vwalakte on Freepik.

Experience ten perfect days in Portugal with our action-packed, curated itinerary. Whether you are traveling by car or train, this small Iberian destination is the ideal location for a cross-country adventure. Travel from the UNESCO Heritage city of Porto and the wine-soaked Douro valley down to the bustling capital city of Lisbon and the sun-kissed beaches of the Algarve. This carefully crafted guide will take you to all the best places in Portugal

With so much to see and so little time, reach out to our network of local travel planners—Heroes—to make the most of your trip! No matter your interest, they can build unique, personalized trip plans just for you. 

Table of Contents

Day 1: Inside Porto 

Wander around a charming UNESCO Heritage City 

Begin your excursion in the northern city of Porto, a colorful cityscape brimming with history and culture. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city center is a window into the rich history of Portugal. Head to the Ribeira District, home to some of the city’s most iconic sites. This riverside area is the perfect sightseeing neighborhood, from the elaborate Palacio de Bolsa to the famed Ponte de D. Luís bridge. Wander the time-worn cobblestone streets and admire grand architecture that dates back thousands of years. Ask one of our local Heroes for a personalized walking tour to make the most of your day.

Go souvenir shopping in the art district

It’s never too early in a trip to search for souvenirs. Stroll over to Cedofeita, the art district of Porto, to find authentic handmade gifts from local artists. If shopping isn't your thing, this trendy area also serves as a hub for art galleries and eclectic street art. Treat yourself to the artistry and talent the city has to offer.  

Grab a bite and bar-hop with locals 

The buzzing Baixa district is where Porto locals come to let loose. Avenida dos Aliados is the neighborhood’s main boulevard where you can find bars, restaurants, and clubs. For dinner try an authentic Portuguese seafood dish and top it off with a glass of regional Port wine. 

After you eat, join in on the late-night fun. Following last call, the party continues after hours on the plaza and streets of Aliados. For more recommendations on the best spots in Porto connect with one of our local Heroes

Day 2: Outside Porto 

Drink wine in the Douro Valley 

Hopefully, you didn’t drink too much on night one because today is all about wine. Just a couple of hours from Porto sits the lush Douro Valley, Portugal’s world-famous wine region. The region has exported its signature Port wine since the 18th century and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

For non-drinkers, the Douro Valley has more to offer than vineyards. Take a boat tour and soak up the picturesque landscapes and charming villages that line the riverbanks. 

Lamego is one example of the idyllic cities found in the area. The town attraction is a striking blue and white tiled set of stairs that lead up to the Shrine of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. The Baroque-style shrine dates back to the 18th century and houses a gilded altar.

The Douro Valley offers incredible nature sites. Experience the Vale do Coa Archaeological Park, an open-air rock art gallery, and the International Douro Natural Park, one of the largest protected areas in Portugal.

The Douro Valley can be reached by road, train, boat, or helicopter. With so much to see, talk to a local to help you plan the best route and way to get there. 

Day 3: More to do Outside Porto 

Admire the architecture of Braga 

Despite being the third-largest city in the country, Braga is still a bit of a hidden treasure. One of the best places in Portugal, this boisterous city melds history and modernity. Settled 2,000 years ago, the area is home to notable historical landmarks, like the Braga Cathedral, which is the oldest in the country. 

Roam around the old-world city center and visit fascinating sites such as the D. Diogo de Sousa Archaeological Museum, which houses remains of Roman ruins; or the grandiose Palácio do Raio, famous for its ornate design. In the afternoon, stop for lunch on the Avenida Central and follow it up with a stroll along the colorful gardens that line the boulevard. 

Visitors find there is a youthful atmosphere in Braga, thanks in part to the student population from the University of Minho. If you stay in town for the evening you will surely enjoy the nightlife. 

Return to medieval times in Guimarães

If small towns are more your vibe, our locals rank the charming settlement of Guimarães as a top Portugal destination. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical significance, it is often called the "birthplace of Portugal.” A common belief is that it is the birthplace of the first king of Portugal, Afonso Henriques. Over time the city has maintained its authentic medieval architecture. Strolling around the town feels like a glimpse into the past, and for a small city, there is plenty to see and do in Guimarães. The town also has a rich cultural life and was even named the 2012 European Capital of Culture.

Day 4: Route to the capital

Tour one of the oldest universities in the world

Today set your sights south to the colorful city of Coimbra. One of the oldest cities in the country, it served as the capital of Portugal during the Middle Ages. The authentic town offers the cultural richness of Lisbon on a smaller scale. Meander the narrow streets of the old town, through lively markets, and past charming cafes. The main stop on a visit to the city is the University of Coimbra. Built in the 13th century, the university is one of the 10 oldest in the world that's still in operation. And in 2013 the establishment was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Browse the book collection at the Biblioteca Joanina, considered by many as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. The gilded interior of the baroque-style library was one of the inspirations for the Harry Potter set designer. Coimbra is a walkable city so meet up with a local who can take you to all the sites on foot. 

Day 5: Óbidos


Picturesque city view of Óbidos. Credit: Lacobrigo via Wikimedia Commons

Take a detour to a postcard-worthy Portuguese hamlet 

Before Lisbon, stop in the fairytale town of Óbidos. The idyllic medieval settlement features a well-preserved castle and winding streets lined with quaint houses in shades of yellow, blue, and white. Modern developments are prohibited by the government and give the appearance that the city has been trapped in time. Not quite the sleepy town you might imagine, Óbidos draws in a crowd with popular cultural festivals, seasonal markets, and concerts. Some of the most popular include the Medieval Market, the International Chocolate Festival, and the Opera Festival. One day in this dreamy city and you will see why it is included among the best places to visit in Portugal

Day 6: Inside Lisbon

Throw on your walking shoes and explore the capital 

Ranked by travel mags as one of the best European cities, Portugal’s capital Lisbon boasts exquisite monuments, eclectic neighborhoods, colorful nightlife, and a rich cultural scene. A local walking tour is the best way to sample what this mesmerizing city has to offer. Hit the historic Alfama neighborhood, the oldest district in Lisbon. A maze of cobblestone streets and iconic landmarks it offers an authentic atmosphere. In recent years, Lisbon has earned a name for itself as an artistic city. Head to the historically bohemian neighborhood of Bairro Alto. One of the best places to visit in Lisbon, visitors come here to soak up the eye-catching street art. 

Taste the local nightlife 

For adventurers seeking out the local nightlife, the artsy area of Bairro Alto comes to life after dark. The district is chock full of bars and clubs ranging from jazz joints to glittering clubs. If you get the chance, check out Tasca do Chico to enjoy live fado performances, the traditional music of Portugal. 

Day 7: Outside Lisbon

Escape the city to the oasis of Sintra 

If you managed to hit all the best spots in Lisbon on day six, our Heroes recommend a day trip to the scenic landscapes of Sintra. Just 15 miles from Lisbon the town once served as a summer resort for the aristocracy of Portugal. Characterized by whimsical castles, rugged mountains, and verdant valleys, the romantic scenery of Sintra makes it one of the best places to visit in Portugal. As a former retreat destination for Kings, the city’s glittering castles are some of the most iconic sites in Sintra. Each palace is designed with features of its time period, with fascinating stories embedded into the architecture. Link up with a Hero to learn more about this dreamy city. 

Day 8: Explore the Algarve 

Dive into the history of an ancient Arab kingdom

While the Algarve is most renowned for its golden beaches, the inland town of Silves is one of its most scenic spots. The history-rich city was once the regional capital and offers a window into the ancient Arab kingdom of Portugal. Explore the time-worn citadel and its exhibitions, where you can learn about the previous empires. The red-brick Silves Castle is the crown jewel of the town. It is regarded as one of the most beautiful relics from Islamic Portugal and is the largest castle in the Algarve. After a walk of the castle, break for some lunch on the patio of Café Inglês. A cultural institution in town, the cafe regularly hosts live music. 

Day 9: Inside Lagos

Explore the jewel of the Algarve 

Lagos is an enticing seasonal locale for locals and travelers alike. This seaside escape offers pristine stretches of coastline, a charming old town, Michelin-star restaurants, and a vibrant social scene. The popularity of the city has not altered its authenticity. Its appeal comes from its small-town vibe, which blends the old with the new. Wander around the pedestrian-friendly historic center and admire the ornate architecture of its monuments and churches. For people-watching and top-notch coastal views stroll down the famed Avenida dos Descobrimentos, a bustling marina flanked by the Atlantic ocean. This scenic route leads to the area’s world-renowned beaches. Get to know Lagos from top to bottom by asking a local Hero to plan your day. 

Day 10: Outside Lagos

Soak-up ocean views from Europe’s southwesternmost point

For your final day, enjoy some rest and relaxation on the far-flung shores of Sagres. This remote coastal town offers magnificent ocean views and unspoiled natural scenery. Visit the stone-washed Fortaleza de Sagres, where you can walk along the jagged sea cliffs. Legend has it that Sagres was where Prince Henry the Navigator established his school for sailors. Today the cozy town is a haven for nature and adventure lovers. Its crashing waves and pristine beaches have become very popular among surfers. Just a short ride down the coastline, head to Europe’s southwesternmost point, Cabo de São Vicente. On the rugged cape sits a lone lighthouse that overlooks the vast Atlantic Ocean. Whether you spend the day surfing, sightseeing, or catching some rays, end your day by enjoying some of the town’s renowned seafood. 

Before your trip, be sure to check out: 


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