When we booked the flights for a 10 day trip to Portugal, we had a very different trip in mind than the one we ended up doing. At first we thought to visit Lisbon and Sintra, then head to the beautiful beaches of Algarve and all the way to Faro. After a little research, however, we quickly realised that we would be missing the most interesting places in Portugal. And so we decided to leave Algarve and the beaches for the next trip, and to visit the main highlights, most beautiful places of Portugal instead.
10 days in Portugal. Our trip itinerary featuring the main highlights of Central Portugal from Lisbon to Porto
- Day 1: Lisbon (sleep in Lisbon)
- Day 2: Evora (sleep in Evora)
- Day 3: Obidos and Alcobaca (sleep in Alcobaca – Nazare area)
- Day 4: Batalha, Grutas de Mira de Aire, Nazare (sleep in Alcobaca – Nazare area)
- Day 5: Conimbriga and Coimbra (sleep in Coimbra)
- Day 6: Buçaco forest – Costa Nova – Aveiro (sleep in Aveiro)
- Day 7: Douro Valley (sleep in Porto)
- Day 8: Porto (sleep in Porto)
- Day 9: Sintra (sleep in Sintra)
- Day 10: Sintra and fly home
- Portugal trip itinerary for any duration
Portugal in 10 days – trip itinerary and map
Day 1: Lisbon
We arrived in Lisbon late in the evening, so I’m not going to count this travel day. We stayed in the heart of Lisbon, close to Rossio square, and the location was perfect for dining and sightseeing.
While one day isn’t enough to see everything that Lisbon has to offer, you can still do a lot. We focused on the city centre, Alfama district, and did a sailing cruise on Tagus river. Here you can find all our tips and recommendations on what to see and do in Lisbon in one day.
Tip: If you have two days in Lisbon, make sure you also visit the Belém district as well. The main highlights there are the Jeronimos monastery, Belem tower, and the Discoveries monument. Count at least half a day.
Day 2: Evora
We had planned to visit Belem in the morning before leaving Lisbon. Unfortunately, one of our kids didn’t feel well and so we decided to leave Lisbon and head straight to Evora.
Driving time from Lisbon to Evora – 1,5 hrs.
Evora is a small cozy medieval town. The main sights in Evora are: Chapel of Bones, Templo Romano, and the Cathedral (tower). Other highlights include the Public Park of Evora, Church of Nossa Senhora da Graça, the Town Square, Evora Aqueduct and the City Walls.
Practical information for visiting Evora:
- Evora is perfectly doable as a day trip from Lisbon, but I suggest you spend a night there. Hotels are much cheaper than in Lisbon, there are many good local restaurants, and very few tourists.
- Book a hotel just inside the city walls. We stayed at the centrally located hotel M’AR de Ar Muralhas. I would have loved to stay 2 nights in Evora just for this hotel.
- Leave your car outside the city walls (or at the hotel parking) and explore Evora on foot.
Day 3: Obidos and Alcobaca
Driving time from Evora to Obidos – 2hrs.
The absolute must do in Obidos is walking the city walls. It’s really fun and the views are spectacular; just watch your kids! The biggest part of the wall has no railings or any other kind of protection on one side.
Make sure to taste the specialty of the area – Ginja de Óbidos – sour cherry liquor.
Practical tips for Obidos:
- Park your car at one of the many big parking areas outside the city gate.
- Count 2 to 4 hours to visit Obidos. We spent 2 relaxing hours sightseeing; this didn’t include time for lunch.
Driving time from Obidos to Alcobaca – 30 minutes.
Our next stop for the day was Alçobaca monastery. Alcobaca is one of the oldest convents in Portugal, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Practical tips for visiting Alcobaça Monastery:
- Count 1-1,5hrs for a visit.
- Take a sweater with you. Despite the fact that it was really warm outside when we visited, it was quite chilly inside the church and the cloister.
Where to stay for visiting Alcobaça, Batalha, Tomar monasteries and Fatima
To visit the monasteries I recommend staying in Alcobaca – Nazare area. There is so much to see and do that you can easily spend several days here.
We spent two nights at the beautiful hotel Vale d’Azenha, just a few kilometres outside of Alcobaça. This modern hotel has amazing views, an infinity pool and a really nice spa area. On top of that, they have a very good restaurant that uses fresh local ingredients; it was one of the best meals we had in Portugal.
Alternatively, you might find bigger choice of accommodation in the nearby coastal resort Nazaré.
Day 4: Batalha monastery, Grutas de Mira de Aire, Nazare
Another top day in Portugal today!
Driving time from Alcobaca to Batalha – 30 minutes.
If you visit just one monastery in Portugal, make it the Batalha! Do not miss the Unfinished Chapels, it’s an absolute must!
We chose to visit just two monasteries – Alcobaca and Batalha. Tomar seems to be worth a detour if you have an hour or two to spare. As for Fatima, I had read in several books and also hear from people who visited that it’s not really worth it from the touristic point of view.
Practical tips for Batalha Monastery:
- Count 2 hrs for a visit.
- Arrive early to avoid big groups.
- Carry a sweater.
Grutas de Mira de Aire
Driving time from Batalha to Grutas de Mira de Aire – 30 minutes.
Our second stop today was Parque Natural de las Sierras de Aire e Candeeiros, and in particular the caves – Grutas de Mira de Aire.
We have visited many caves all over the world during our travels. However, I cannot remember that any of them would have been as big and as impressive as Grutas de Mira de Aire. We were a bit uncertain whether these caves were worth the detour, but yes, they absolutely are! It was one of the highlights of our Portugal trip for the whole family!
Practical information for visiting Grutas de Mira de Aire:
- The caves are a bit outside the main tourist routes. You can find all the practical information on their official website.
- You can only visit the caves with a guide. There is one tour hourly, at 40min after the hour.
Driving time from the caves to Nazaré – 50 minutes.
A charming little coastal town of Nazare is a mix of old traditions and a busy beach destination. Don’t miss the O Sitio district up on the cliffs overlooking the city. Nazare also holds the record to the world’s largest waves. Even in calm weather, they were impressive!
Here you can read more about the charming fishing village of Nazaré.
Tip: If visiting in summer, consider spending an extra day in Nazare and enjoy the beautiful beaches in the area.
Practical information for visiting Nazaré:
- Park your car in the city centre and explore the town on foot.
- You can reach the O Sitio district by funicular (recommended). Alternatively, you can take a car.
Day 5: Roman Ruins of Conimbriga and the city of Coimbra
Roman Ruins of Conimbriga
Driving time from Alcobaca to Conimbriga – 1hr.
Our first stop today was the ancient Roman city of Conimbriga. It’s one of the best-preserved Roman towns in Portugal, with lots of very impressive mosaic floors. A small adjacent museum is also worth a short visit. Plan to spend about an hour.
Driving time from Conimbriga to Coimbra – 20min.
Coimbra is the biggest town of Central Portugal and the ancient medieval capital of the country. The compact city centre of Coimbra is best explored on foot, just be prepared to do some serious climbing. Don’t miss the University of Coimbra and in particular the library and the Saint Michael’s Chapel.
Tip: Just on the other side of the river you can find Portugal dos Pequenitos – a park with miniature buildings of Portugal and the former colonies. Check it out if visiting Coimbra with kids.
Practical information for visiting Coimbra:
- Book a centrally located hotel and explore on foot.
- We stayed at hotel Oslo in the city centre. The terrace/bar had the best views of the old city you could wish for.
Day 6: Mata Nacional do Buçaco – Costa Nova – Aveiro
Mata Nacional do Buçaco
Driving time from Coimbra to the forest – 30min.
Just 30km North of Coimbra lays the beautiful Bussaco forest (Mata Nacional do Buçaco). It’s a true hidden gem! Not to be missed is the beautiful Palace Hotel, the gardens, but also the staircase of Fonte Fria and the Via Sacra.
Practical information for Buçaco forest:
- Entrance fee: 5 EUR/ car
- Ask for a map at the entrance. The forest is huge and without a map you’ll quickly get disoriented.
- Pack a picnic and plan to spend at least 3-4 hours. Alternatively, you can have lunch at a small cafe close to the hotel.
- Leave your car at the Palace Hotel and explore the forest on foot.
- If I were to go back, I’d spend at least one night at the beautiful Buçaco Palace Hotel.
Aveiro and Costa Nova
Driving time from Bussaco forest to Aveiro – 45min.
Aveiro (50km drive from Bucaco) is a nice little town, also called the Venice of Portugal. One of the musts here is a boat ride on the canals. Aveiro is a nice place to spend a couple of hours, but then you have seen it all.
Tip: visit the nearby town Praia da Costa Nova with its colourful striped houses.
Day 7: Douro Valley and the vineyards of Porto and to Porto
Driving time: depends on the route you choose. Count at least half a day.
Because we were traveling with kids, we chose to visit the Douro Valley by car. If you stay in Porto, consider one of the many available organised day tours to Douro valley, that way you can actually taste Porto wine too. There are also boat trips you can take from Porto, from Peso de Regua or from Pinhao. Furthermore, there is also a possibility to explore the wine region by train. Take a look below for the best Douro Valley tours and experiences.
If you drive by car, don’t miss the scenic road from Sabrosa to Pinhao – in this direction, as you’re driving down and have incredible views all the time. Other highlights include Solar de Mateus just outside Vile Real, Casal de Loivos viewpoint near Pinhao, and also the towns of Amarante and Guimaraes.
Day 8: Porto
Porto is a beautiful city with a really nice atmosphere. You can easily spend more than a day in Porto. However, Porto isn’t as big as Lisbon and we found that one day in Porto was enough for the main highlights.
Practical tips for visiting Porto:
- Stay in the city centre of Porto so that you can explore it on foot. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Vitoria Village right in the old city centre, and I would highly recommend it. You can find the best deals for Porto accommodation here.
Day 9: Porto to Sintra. Visit Pena Palace and Castle of the Moors
Driving time from Porto to Lisbon (Sintra) – 3 hours.
Sintra is a well known UNESCO World Heritage Site area, just outside of Lisbon. It has a lot to offer, but most visitors only come for one day. We had a day and a half, but it still felt rushed.
On the first day we visited the Pena Palace (see the featured image all the way on top) and the Gardens of Pena. We then walked to the nearby Moorish Castle. Palacio Nacional right in the town centre is also worth a visit.
Here you can find our suggested Sintra itinerary for one, two, or three days.
Day 10: Sintra: Quinta de Regaleira and the Palace of Monserrate
On our second day in Sintra we visited Quinta de Regaleira and the Park and Place of Monserrate.
Tip: If you have more time in Sintra and have a car, you can drive to the nearby Cabo da Roca or the coastal town Azenhas do Mar.
Practical information for visiting Sintra:
- Sintra is a popular day trip from Lisbon, but I would recommend spending at least two days here.
- The best way to reach Sintra is by train from Lisbon. It takes about 45 minutes.
- Accommodation is very limited, so book well in advance. You can find the best deals for Sintra accommodation here.
- For more information about the parks, gardens, and monuments of Sintra, take a look at the official website of Parques de Sintra. For practical info regarding Quinta de Regaleira, check this website.
Portugal trip itinerary for any duration
The above is our trip itinerary for 10 days in Portugal with kids. The distances in Portugal are quite small, so you can easily adapt this itinerary to your interests and any trip duration.
If you have two more days in Portugal, visit the beaches of Algarve as well.
If you have less time, skip the places that don’t interest you, or try to squeeze more in a day.
We traveled to Portugal with kids, so our days were not fully packed with sightseeing (although the kids would probably disagree :)). We found that this itinerary left quite some free time to explore deeper, have long meals, take a dip in the pool, etc.
P.S. We used Michelin Green Guide Portugal to plan this trip. It’s a great resource containing lots of practical information for each of the locations described in this post.
Update 2018: We loved Portugal so much that we returned a year later to visit the Algarve region, as well as Madeira island. You can find more information about all these places in our Portugal travel guide.
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