The Picture-Perfect Portugal Travel Guide

The Perfect Portugal Travel Guide.

Your one-stop travel guide for the perfect holiday in Portugal!

If you’re searching for your next holiday, consider Portugal. Its year-round temperate climate, affordability, and wide range of attractions and landscapes have been drawing visitors to the west coast of the Iberian peninsula for centuries. To help out your planning, here’s a 10-day Portugal travel guide for your trip to Portugal. It has information about food, lodging, the best places to visit in Portugal and some fun things to do. 

Day 1: Lisbon – Porto

Porto, Portugal.
Porto

After landing in Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, you’re going to immediately hop a 55-minute flight to Porto. This Portugal travel guide is going to bring you to three corners of the nation. Your Portugal trip will end in Lisbon.

Now, on to Porto.

Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal, is a sprawling city that is perched on top of a huge hill along the Douro River and one of the best places to visit in our Portugal travel guide. The city with small maze-like streets with old and colourful streets all around is the ideal place to go around on foot. 

Try to get a hotel in the old city. Near the Sao Bento Railway Station reach the hotel and take a rest for the later part of the evening.

Visit the Ribeira and the Douro River area

On the first morning start by visiting the Ribeira and the Douro River area, two of the best places to visit in Portugal. Ribeira Square, previously a marketplace, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a popular tourist attraction. From the Douro River, you’ll see the two sides of Porto connected by the Ponte Luis I Bridge, the Riberia side, and the Vila Nova de Gaia side. It gives a bird’s eye view and a wonderful place to get photographed. 

The Douro river in Porto, Portugal.
Douro River

After lunch don’t miss the “Natas do Cebu” or “cream from heaven”, a lovely homemade caramel and cream meringue combination for dessert. This is a fun place, with great food, an energetic atmosphere, and great prices. 

In the afternoon you need to go for another wine tasting session as you may know Porto is the home to the famous Port wine. Stay at the Vila Nova de Gaia side of Douro River and you may find many wineries for the tasting. You may indulge some hours into it and have a relaxed evening.

Day 2: Porto 

If you are lucky enough to be accommodated near the Sao Bento Railway Station, visit the station even if you don’t need to catch a train during your Portugal trip. The beautiful blue tiles show life in Portugal’s countryside and other important historical events.

Sao Bento Railway Station
Sao Bento Railway Station

After visiting the station, reach the city centre. You can either have a long walk or take the waterway. Visit the Monument Church of St. Francis. It’s Porto’s 15th-century Gothic church designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Just beside the Monument Church of St. Francis, lies Porto’s old stock exchange Palácio da Bolsa, which was built in 1832. You have to go in order to comprehend the richness of the sculpture, decorative carvings, plasterwork, frescos, chandeliers, and tiles. The stuccoed Moorish Revival Salão Árabe is almost overwhelming, while the monumental Pátio das Nações courtyard is lit by an octagonal metal and glass roof. It is open from Sun-Sat from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM. 

Casa da Música

The next part of the day is a must-see attraction in Porto, especially for those who appreciate architecture and music. Casa da Música is a concert hall designed by the famous Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Modern architecture adds a different edge to the city. The institution’s program is dynamic and very innovative, presenting “from classical music to the forefront of urban trends”. You should definitely treat yourself with a ticket for any concert and also join a guided trip conducted to explore the building’s architecture. The tours happen on a daily basis in Portuguese and in English, at 10 am and at 4 pm and it costs 7,50€ per person. You can also enjoy the restaurant on the top floor of Casa da Música or grab a coffee in the artist’s bar. Get back to the hotel and stay overnight.

Casa da Música
Casa da Música

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Day 3: Porto – Aveiro – Coimbra

Day 3 is all about the road trip that you are going to blend into your holiday plans. Of course, a rental car will be needed. 

Forty-five minutes after you hopped in the car, you will pull into Aveira. Because of its many canals, Aveira is regarded as the Venice of Portugal and one of the best places to visit in our Portugal travel guide. While in the city, experience the cultural delights and check out the innovative architecture. Shops, office buildings, and houses incorporated hallmarks of art nouveau style with elements of traditional Portuguese decorative elements, such as ornate tiles.

Boat ride on a Moliceiro

After that, go for a boat ride on a Moliceiro (a colourful, flatboat that looks similar to a gondola. The word moliceiro comes from the word moliço, which is an aquatic plant that fishermen used to catch and use as fertilizer.), one of the most popular and engaging activities of the place. Get the tickets on the dock.

Moliceiro in Portugal on the water.
Moliceiro

After the boat ride get yourself some lunch and make sure you do that from Aveiro as the cooking and food culture of this particular region is different from that found in other parts of Portugal. Find a good restaurant that serves fresh fish dishes which are available at the current time according to your choice. After lunch, make sure you try the ovos moles – a delicacy made from rice paper filled with egg yolks mixed with sugar.

In the evening head out for Coimbra. It’s a 65-km drive away. After the day of driving, a good night’s sleep will be welcome.

Day 4: Coimbra

Coimbra in Portugal.
Coimbra

Coimbra is a rather hilly city but one of the best places to visit in our Portugal travel guide. The old city and university are at top of a very high and steep hill where a castle once stood. Fortunately, all the most interesting sites are easy to reach. To keep things simple, book a hotel in the city centre. 

Here are a couple of Coimbra attractions:

  • O Portugal dos Pequenitos- a miniature world displaying scaled-down versions of some of Portugal’s most important monuments and buildings.
  • Museu Monográfico de Conímbriga – the home of a wealth of objects and artefacts from the Roman and pre-Roman eras of the city, Museu Monográfico de Conímbriga documents the lives and development of the region’s residents. It may take up to two hours to cover the entire site.

In the evening head out to experience the local markets of Coimbra. The narrow streets around Sé Velha de Coimbra (Old Cathedral) are the best places to visit in Portugal because they are full of independent shops selling locally-made souvenirs, crafts, and jewellery. On the off chance that you are looking for postcards, you will discover them here. Absorb this ancient city from one of the many bistros and cafés that dot the area.

Day 5 : Coimbra

Universidade de Coimbra
Universidade de Coimbra

On the second day in Coimbra, hop in your rental car or take the local bus for this full day in this university town. Universidade de Coimbra, one of the world’s oldest universities, was established in 1290. The university is brimming with examples of traditional Portuguese architecture. This distinction earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site dedication. This is the first stop of the second day in Coimbra. Two hours is recommended for exploration. 

The city, also known as the City of Students and has a myriad of cultural attractions, such as Coimbra’s Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro, one of the best places to visit in Portugal. You can see a fascinating art collection that runs the gamut from Gothic religious sculpture to 16th-century Flemish painting to ornate furniture. This tour requires about two hours. After experiencing the museum, have some lunch at restaurants like Loggia, which has an amazing view of the city.

Within a walking distance of the Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro sits Se Velha de Coimbra, one of Portugal’s best-preserved cathedrals and important Romanesque Roman Catholic structures.

End the day trip with a visit to the Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha (Old Monastery of Santa Clara), a bold piece of gothic architecture.

After a few hours of rest at your hotel, ramble around the town at your own pace. One good idea for exploring the culture is indulging in Fado music. This type of Portuguese music is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics usually about the sea or the life of the poor. Live Fado performances can be found in pubs, restaurants, and bars.

Day 6: Coimbra – Sintra

Sintra, Portugal.
Sintra

Ditch the rental car. After a two-and-half-hour train trip, you’ll be sitting in a palace-packed Sintra. A one-day trip to Sintra can include the exploration of the historic part of Sintra, which includes:

  • Palácio e Quinta da Regaleira
  • Lunch in the downtown Sintra
  • Castelo dos Mouros
  • Palácio Nacional da Pena
  • Jardim do Palácio da Pena
  • Hike Cruz Alta

After the day of sightseeing head to the centre of Sintra, the best place to sleep after a long day.


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Day 7: Sintra – Cascais

Cascais, Portugal.
Cascais, Portugal

Next stop in our Portugal travel guide is a 25-minute ride on the 417 bus (€2) brings you to Cascais.

The beach side urban village of Cascais has a lot to offer starting with Palácio da Cidadela de Cascais (Cascais Citadel Palace), which is located right in the center of the village, next to Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Luz and a Marina Cascais.

Visit the glamorous rooms

During your tour of the town, you can also visit the glamorous rooms for the former palace and a museum. The Arab Room was King D. Luis’ bedroom and, much later, the office of President Craveiro Lopes, and the museum. Apart from these Historic encounters, one should definitely have a look through the old architecture, art installations, and graffiti of the area. You can hike along the coastal highway and experience the flora and fauna of the region. After lunch from the neighbourhood market, you can go for a swim in the ocean and indulge in some beachside activities. In the evening, make sure to visit rooftop bars like Cafe Galeria House of Wonders and have an easy, relaxed time with friends, family, and even alone. Stay overnight at Cascais. 

Cascais mainly has luxury accommodations, which can drain your wallet. So if you are planning to stay out for the majority of the day, book for something economical in advance. If you want to have a luxury experience, there is an array of options. 

Day 8 : Cascais – Lisbon

Getting to Lisbon from Cascais is easy. There are trains about every 20 minutes to Lisbon’s Cais Do Sodre station; the journey takes 40 minutes.

Lisbon, Portugal.
Lisbon

Your holiday kicks off in Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. The charming city of Lisbon is a smooth blend of ancient heritage, innovative modern culture, natural beauty, and finger-licking delicious food. Here is some basic information that may help ensure visitors have a smooth experience. 

In Lisbon, you should slow down a little and allow yourself to explore the variety of attractions the city has to offer. The best time of the year to visit Lisbon is in the late spring (May-June) and September because the days are bright and sunny, but the temperature is not so high. Plus, these times are mainly Portugal’s off-season, so you can expect fewer crowds and more reasonable rates. You should definitely get a 24-hour pass for public transport, which can be bought at any metro station for €6.40 and covers the metro and all tram and bus services. 

Wine tasting experience in Alfama

In the afternoon, try the wine tasting experience in Alfama. For this, a local wine enthusiast leads wine enthusiasts through the maze of narrow allies to bars serving different Portuguese wines, from a crisp and aromatic Arinto white from the Lisbon region to the full-bodied Alentejo red. This will connect you to the local feel and old-world charm. Your host will recommend wines based on your preferences, Also ask for a few small plates of nibbles (petiscos)to try with your wine, just like a Lisbon.  After the wine tasting session, soak up the Moorish architecture that surrounds you on your way back to your hotel for the night.


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Day 9: Lisbon

Elevador de Santa Justa.
Elevador de Santa Justa

visit Elevador de Santa Justa.

Today your next stop in our Portugal travel guide will be flexible. Start your day early and visit Elevador de Santa Justa. You can get there on foot, on any public transport or tuk-tuk. Also known as the “Elevator of Carmo,” this extraordinary structure was designed by the Portuguese architect Raoul de Mesnier du Ponsard and built-in 1902 to connect downtown to Bairro Alto (the lowest and highest points of the city). From the observation deck at the top, the whole city stretches out before you. Visit earlier in the day to beat the crowds. The public transport ticket allows entry to the lift. Add more to your experience by having your breakfast at the Bellalisa Elevador, which is located on top of the Santa Justa Elevator, one of the most famous attractions in Lisbon’s downtown. Its panoramic view resembles a painting of Lisbon city. 

Hop on the 28 tram

After breakfast, hop on the 28 tram, which connects Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique and passes through popular tourist districts, which gives you the local feel of the city. This is a do-it-yourself hop-on, hop-off tour that is covered by your public transport ticket. Because both tourists and locals use this tram, you will definitely need to be industrious to get a seat (Be very aware of pickpockets). Wear comfortable shoes because a lot of the journey takes place on a slope. The tram takes you to popular spots, such as:

  • Graca – This stop has views of Lisbon rooftops and beautiful cafes.
  • Portas Sol (Alfama district) – Visit this stop to get the view of the Alfama rooftop and Tagus River, Statue of São (Saint) Vincent, and Castele de São Jorge.
  • Sé –  À Igreja de Santo António is 1-minute walk from this stop. O Castelo de São Jorge is 10 minutes away. These historical sites will take you on a journey to the past.
  • Chiado – The most happening stop the route with luxury shopping destinations, rooftop bars, upscale restaurants, boutique stores, and hotels. You may consider yourself grabbing some lunch and some retail therapy.
  • Jardim da Estrela – The next stop is a quaint park area. You can take a break and relax in the green space for a few hours in the afternoon. The park is bursting with fascinating plants and trees, a small duck-spotted lake, and a playground.

Return to the hotel on the 28 tram and get some rest for the last day of your Portugal trip. 

Day 10: Lisbon

Sadly, this is the last day of your holiday In Portugal. Check out Praça da Figueira, a large square in the centre of Lisbon and one of the best places to visit in our Portugal travel guide. You can stroll through the stalls while shopping for locally-made wares and enjoying some authentic Portuguese food.

Make sure you try the pastel de nata, a Portuguese egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon. 

Pastel de nata

Back at your hotel, have some dinner and get your packing done because you are leaving Portugal the next day to leave. Or if you are a night animal, you should definitely visit Pink Street (Rua Nova do Carvalho) for a taste of Lisbon’s nightlife. There are lounges, traditional bars, and speakeasy-style pubs to enjoy a good stiff cocktail. 

Leave Portugal next morning.


Hope you enjoyed this Portugal travel guide and found it useful. We left room for you to follow your heart and explore Portugal your way. Use this travel guide to make this trip your own. If you happen to not have any trips planned yet then check out JoinMyTrip to kick start your incredible adventure. Here you will find like-minded travel mates and many cool yet unique trips. Join already planned trips or lead your very own trip!

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Written by :

Jasmine

Sr. Travel Writer | Explorer & Coffee enthusiast

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