See the best of Portugal in 10 days with this detailed road trip itinerary

10 Days in Portugal – Trip Itinerary from Lisbon to Porto

In Europe, Portugal, Trip itineraries by Jurga64 CommentsTHIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS

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

Portugal in 10 days – trip itinerary and map

See the best of Portugal with this 10 day itinerary

 

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.

See the best of Lisbon in one day with this itinerary that brings you to the most beautiful places in Lisboa, Portugal

Lisbon

 

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.
Chapel of Bones in Evora Portugal

Chapel of Bones in Evora

 

Day 3: Obidos and Alcobaca

Obidos

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.
Kids walking on the city walls of Obidos in Portugal

Obidos

 

Alcobaça Monastery

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.
Alcobaca Monastery in Portugal

Alcobaca Monastery

 

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!

Batalha Monastery

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.
The Unfinished Chapels in Batalha Monastery - one of absolute highlights of our 10 day trip in Portugal

The Unfinished Chapels in Batalha

 

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.
Grutas de Mira de Aire in Central Portugal

Grutas de Mira de Aire

 

Nazaré

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.
View over Nazare in Central Portugal from funicular

View over Nazare from funicular

 

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.

Floor mosaic at Conimbriga Ancient Roman Site in Central Portugal

Floor mosaic at Conimbriga

 

Coimbra

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.
Coimbra old town at sunset

Coimbra old town at sunset from our hotel’s bar

 

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.
Bussaco Palace Hotel at Mata do Bucaco Portugal

Bussaco 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.

Depending on how much time you have and on your other plans, you can either spend a night in Aveiro, or drive to Porto (less than 1hr drive).

Aveiro in Portugal

Aveiro

Praia da Costa Nova in Portugal

Praia da Costa Nova

 

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.

Douro Valley Portugal

Douro Valley

 

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: 

View over Porto old town centre

Porto

 

Day 9: Porto to Sintra. Visit Pena Palace and Castle of the Moors

Driving time from Porto to Lisbon (Sintra) – 3 hours.

Sintra

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.

Exploring the Castle of the Moors in Sintra Portugal with kids

Castle of the Moors

 

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:

Initiation Well at Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra Portugal

Initiation Well at Quinta de Regaleira

 

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, visit 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.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions or share your experiences by leaving a comment below.

Find the best deals for rental cars and hotels for your trip here. And don’t forget your travel insurance!

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 read about some of our favourite places here: Benagil Cave in Algarve and The Hidden Gems of Madeira.

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How to see the best of Portugal in 10 days. Detailed itinerary and map for the best places of Portugal from Lisbon to Porto

How to spend 10 unforgettable days in Portugal. See the best of Portugal with this trip itinerary and practical tips...
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Comments

  1. Hello Jurga,
    Your web site and comments are most useful. Thank you so much for putting this together. My wife and Iwill be in Portugal from Sept. 12 to 24, 2018. We have already booked 4 nights in Lisbon. During one of those four days, we plan to take a day tour to Sintra . Other than that, we would like to spend the rest of our trip visiting most of the ares you are suggesing, except mayber the Evora region. We plan to travel by train and other public transportation means and take several organized tours for half or full-day trips. My big question mark right now is to find some base points where we could stay several nights,in the same location to avoid hotel changes to the extent possible.. Do you think it would make sense for us to spend a full week in Porto and organize all our day trips from there? Or would it be better for us to maybe spend 4 nights in Porto, and another 4 nights in the Alcobaça area, to facilitate day trips from closer locations? If you think the second alternative would be best, which city or area would you recommend as the best base point to visit such places as Alcobaàa, Coimbra, Batalha, Nazaré and Obidos? Thank you in advance for your kind attention.

    1. Author

      Hi Raymond, sorry for a late reply as I was away from my desk last week. I think that Porto is not an ideal base for Central Portugal. It’s ok for a few days to see the city, the Douro region (there are organised day trips available, so it’s easy), etc. But I think that Alcobaca/Nazare area is a better region for some of the other landmarks. However, we have no experience traveling in Portugal by public transport, so I honestly have no idea how easy it is to get from one place to another, especially in smaller towns, monasteries, etc.
      So sometimes it might still be easier to base yourselves in Lisbon and Porto only and try to book organised day trips to the locations that aren’t easily accessible otherwise. BUT – accommodation cost in Lisbon and Porto is really very high compared to the rest of the country (+ the cost of day trips), so it might be cheaper and easier to stay in a smaller town and just rent a car.

  2. Jurga,

    Thank you for the detailed review! There is a lot of useful information. My boyfriend and I are spending two nights in Porto, and then are planning on taking three nights to get down to Lisbon. We don’t want to rent a car, and have no specific itinerary planned, except for the fact that I would like a little beach/r&r time between cities. Any recommendations as to where we should go/stay?

    Best,
    Dan

    1. Author

      Hi Dan, I really don’t know how easy it is to get to all these places by public transport. I know you can take a train between Lisbon and Porto, and also to Sintra. But no idea how it is with all these other places we visited in Central Portugal.
      If you like beach, Nazare is quite nice and there is a lot to see nearby, but then again – no clue how easy to do all this without a car… Sorry I can’t help you further as we had a car and never researched public transport in Portugal.

    2. Thank you so much for this information, Jurga. I can certainly understand that you cannot be glued to your computer all the time, as you do have a life too. 🙂

      Since I last wrote to you, I have done my own research on train routes and schedules. If you don’t mind, I would like the share some information which may hopefully be useful to some of your readers. It is my understanding, that train service is actually quite good and inexpensive. There are frequent fast trains every two hours (or so), each day of the week between Lisbon and Porto, as well as slower ones that stop iin smaller communities along the routes between these two cities. Coimbra is the most important connecting point between Lisbon and Porto.

      As far as day trips are concerned, many on-site agencies in each of these three cities provide multiple options for all-inclusive tours / excursions. I have therefore opted for 4 nights in Lisbon (which was already booked), four nights in Porto and four nights in Coimbra. In each location, I have managed to book some nice one-bedroom apartments. It turns out that prices were quite reasonable in each location, certainly much cheaper options than conventional hotel rooms. Guest reviews are extremely positive — e.g. quietness, cleanliness, ideal location near train stations and walking distance to bars and restaurants, as well as town centres and various points of interest.

      I trust that some of this information will be of some use. Thank you again for your kind attention. Cheers!

      Raymond

      1. Author

        Thank you so much for sharing all this information, Raymond. I am sure it will be very useful to other travellers looking to explore Central Portugal by public transport.
        And since you go to Coimbra anyway, don’t miss the University Library. 😉
        As for accommodations, yes, absolutely, apartments are often much better price/quality than most hotels. We tend to book many serviced apartment stays when we travel as well – it’s much better than squeezing in a small hotel room with the whole family.
        Enjoy your trip!

  3. Hi. I’ve been working on my 17 day w/car for 4 weeks so far and only have my arrival in Porto on 6/28-7/1 staying in Pestano vintage 7/1-7/3 Coimbra unsure of the rest of trip and flying out of Lisbon 7/15 eve. Please Help!!

    1. Author

      Hi Deborah, follow my recommendations in this post for the most highlights of Central Portugal. You could add a day in Nazaré if you like beach, add a day in Sintra to have more time to explore the castles and the beautiful coast there. You could also drive South to the beautiful Algarve coast and also Alentejo coast. Can easily spend 4-6 days there. We’re just back from that region and I didn’t have much time to write about it yet, but I highly recommend e.g. boat tour to Benagil caves – we loved it!. We also only spent one day in Lisbon, you could easily spend 2-3 days there. Hope this helps to give you more ideas.

  4. Thank you for a fabulous itinerary. I’ve planned my 9 day trip to Portugal (June 8-17, 2018) based on your trip. My husband and I are going in June and my plan is to arrive in Lisbon, stay for 2 nights, 2 nights in Sintra, 2 nights in Alcobaca, 1 night in Coimbra and 2 nights in Porto. We leave from Porto. I’ve reserved all hotels and am surprised some places are already sold out.

    My questions to you are:
    1) At which point should I rent the car? From Lisbon to Sintra or from Lisbon airport? Our hotel in Porto has parking so I can keep the car there and return it to the airport.
    2) Is two nights in Alcobaca worth it to explore the surroundings? I booked the same hotel you did, Vale d’Azenha.

    Thanks in advance

    1. Author

      Hi Tesa, good to hear that you found this useful in planning your own trip.
      1. You don’t need a car in Lisbon and in Sintra, so maybe rent it afterwards. If you stay in Lisbon and make a day trip to Sintra, just take a train and pick-up the car when you leave Lisbon city for the rest of your trip. Rent a car as soon as possible too – prices go up and availability is limited too.
      2. Alcobaca area is really nice. I included all the places we visited in this itinerary and I found the monasteries definitely worth a visit, also Nazare was really nice. Definitely, two nights is not too much at all. You’ll find plenty to see and do.

  5. Hi Jurga,

    Thanks so much for writing this post. It’s super helpful! I would love to go to Portugal with my 2 year old, 9 mo old and 10 year old so I’m hoping to have as few hotels as possible. Would it make sense to book a hotel in Lisbon for 3 nights and 4 nights in Porto? We could rent a car and do day trips from there? Would we need a car for Lisbon? From what I’m reading it seems like a pretty busy city. Are there other cities better suited to “set up shop” and use that as a “home base”. Thanks for your input!

    -Erica

    1. Author

      Hi Erica, I wouldn’t stay in Lisbon or Porto for day trips by car. The traffic in the cities is really busy and parking may be difficult too. Better option is to stay outside the city, not too far from the main roads, so that you can easily make day trips from there. Accommodation in Lisbon and Porto is also much more expensive than outside these two towns.
      As for where to stay, first try to figure out which places you want to see. And then look for a location that is centrally located for those places. We found that Alocbaca/ Nazare area is quite good to do some day trips. People say that Cascais just outside of Lisbon is a nice area to stay for visiting Lisbon and the area. But as I said, it depends on what you want to do. The distances aren’t really that big in Portugal, so if you plan well, it’s definitely possible to stay at just 2 hotels and travel around.
      Hope this helps.

  6. Thank you Jurga. It would be just my husband and I so I just wanted a rough idea of full total costs all expenses for the 10 days. I guess as a family it is way more expensive. If it was for 2 people what would costs per day be?

    1. Author

      Dear Kelly, I really cannot tell you how much your trip will cost. There are hotels at 40 EUR/night and there are hotels at 400 EUR/night. As with any destination, you can make the trip as expensive or as cheap as it fits your budget and your travel style. I think you should count around 700-1000 EUR for nice mid-range hotels for 10 days (not if you spend all the time in Lisbon though – there it is much more expensive), plus rental car 200-300 EUR, plus toll roads 100-200 EUR, plus food and some activities 800-1200 EUR/10 days. So very roughly I think you can have a rather comfortable trip for 2000 EUR/ 2 people. But it will mostly depend on your hotel choices. The very best way to know this is to just check accommodation for the places/ dates you want to visit.
      You can find the best deals for accommodation here.
      Check this website for the best car rental deals.

  7. Hi.i am solo traveller.i intend to visit Portugal in march.i want to know,is it a good idea that I book a 10days tour thru some traveling agency in Portugal for whole tour, including hotels , transport and sight seeing tours.can u plz recommend any .

    1. Author

      Hi Shahida, we travelled on our own so I can’t recommend any specific company. Here you can find quite some guided tours in Portugal for a variety of places and duration. Check it out.
      Also, if you are interested in small group travel, you can find some nice trips with Intrepid.

  8. Hi Jurga, great tips and looked amazing. Can you give me an idea on how much the whole trip cost. Including all expenses like meals. A rough idea woukd would be helpful. Thanks Kelly

    1. Author

      Hi Kelly, I was trying to find the receipts, but we only found the total cost. But as you probably know it’s very difficult to compare budgets as every family travels differently, prices vary a lot per season and location, etc. For example, we stayed at the hotels with big family rooms (5p). With just 4 people it could often be half the price… And it also depends so much on the kind of accommodation that you choose. Hotels was by far the biggest cost of the trip and the prices were ranging from +-120 to 380 EUR/night. On average, we spent about 330 EUR/day/5p (hotel, car, and meals plus other small expenses). Hope this helps you a bit.

  9. Thanks for your tips! I am looking to book our tickets in the next few days. We plan on getting a car and open to driving and exploring what we in 10 days with our 2 kiddos.. I’m just not sure if we should fly in and out of Lisbon or fly into one city and out of another….flight cost could make a difference. What just curious.
    Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Jen, the distances in Portugal are not big and there are highways between all major cities, so it really doesn’t matter much where you fly. Just look for the cheapest flights (for us it was Lisbon), rent a car there and do the trip you want to do. I really don’t think you will save anything by flying in and out from different airports, but you can always check.

  10. Hello. Could you please comment on driving. How are the roads, driving, parking? I read somewhere the roads are not very good.
    How did you communicate in small towns? Is English enough?
    Thank you.

    1. Author

      Hi Greg, we were also worried about the roads and driving in Portugal. But all the roads we followed for this itinerary were really good. Mainly highways or nice paved country roads. In some villages the streets can be quite small (especially Sintra is a real nightmare by car). At first, we were hoping to rent a 7-seat van for our family, but the biggest regular car we could find was a 5-seat full size vehicle and in the end we were really glad we didn’t have a bigger car.
      One thing that surprised us were the highway toll costs. You don’t pay them on the spot – it gets registered by the system in your rental car, and the bill we received for the toll roads was around 150 EUR for this 10-day itinerary if I recall well. Quite expensive for a country like Portugal, we found.
      As for communicating with the locals, we never had any issues with using English. Even if they don’t understand you, people are very friendly and helpful, and they’ll find somebody else who speaks English for you if need be.

  11. We just booked our 9 days trip to Portugal and are so exited!! We are flying to Lisbon and flying out from Porto. I really like the itinerary that you had, but the only thing that concerns me is number of hotels you’ve changed throughout your trip. We will also be traveling with kids and we want to have as little hotels as possible so we wont have to pack and unpack every time. we are thinking to stay in Lisbon for 4-5 days and use it as a base to explore Lisbon and surrounding areas (Sintra). We are not planning to have a car during our stay at Lisbon. Then, we want to go down south for few days to relax and visit Algarve region ( we will planning to rent a car) and maybe use one of the towns as a base and will explore surrounding areas. Any recommendations? What would be an ideal town to stay for few days? What are the most see places in Algarve? And for the last portion of the trip we will drive to Porto and spend few nights there before flying back home.
    Any advise on our itinerary are appreciated! We might fit one extra night between Algarve and Porto if there is a must see place where we can stop for a night.

    1. Author

      Hi Dmitry, I understand your concern about changing hotels when traveling with kids. No need to worry – in Portugal distances are so small that you could easily do day trips from just a few more central locations.
      In Lisbon, depending on how much you like cities, 2-3 days in the city itself is more than enough (we only stayed one). Add one more day for Sintra – you can easily get there by train (you can find some ideas for Sintra itinerary here). If you want to stay longer, I hear that Cascais area is really nice.
      We haven’t been to Algarve yet, but are going there for a few days in spring. We booked a hotel in Sagres, close to Cabo de Sao Vicente and Ponta de Sagres – supposedly the most beautiful places there. If you like busier towns, then Lagos seems to be very well located for sightseeing. And of course Faro, but for us it’s too busy and too touristy and a bit too far from the places we want to visit.
      If you head towards Porto, try to at least see Obidos, Alcobaca, Batalha, Nazare, and Bucaco forest along the way. You could try and see Obidos and one or two monasteries in one day, then stay nearby and then stop in Bucaco on the way to Porto. A good area to stay is close to the monasteries: Alcobaca/ Nazaré. We found one full day sufficient in Porto, but then again it depends on your travel style.
      Hope this helps? Enjoy your trip. We loved Portugal so much that we already booked a trip for 2018.

      1. Thank you for your feedback! Very helpful! Will do additional research on suggested places. So far, I was thinking after we arrive to Lisbon, spend 4 night there, including one day trip to Sintra and then drive down to Lagos area with the stop in Evora on the way. Then spend 3 days in Lagos as a base in the nice resort by the Ocean with daily trips exploring the area, and then drive up north to Porto for the last two nights with the stop for few hours in Aveiro -“little Venice”. Of course this could all changed as our trip in July and I have lots of research to do 😉

        Thank you again for all your suggestions! Looking forward to your next posts. You have a very interesting and informative blog!

        1. Author

          Thank you Dmitry. And success with the planning. It will be hot in July so keep that in mind when planning sightseeing, especially in the cities and with kids.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Jessica. I hope you can visit Portugal, it’s such a beautiful and underrated country. We are going back next year again. 🙂

  12. Hello Jurga!
    I loved your post and itinerary! It convinced my husband that Portugal might be a great trip for our family next year. 🙂
    We are from Canada, and have never driven in Europe. Could you tell me more about the roads on your itinerary? Is it easy highways or cliffside roads?
    If we skip Porto, do you think we could see the rest (or most of it) by renting 2 different villas or apartments? I was thinking 5-6 days in a villa in the Lisbon/Sintra area, and then somewhere up north. Do you have any recommendations?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Author

      Hi Caroline, its’ a good choice, you will love Portugal! We liked it there so much that we already booked a trip for next spring again (to Algarve and Madeira this time).
      As for the roads. Driving in Portugal was better than we had expected. Mostly highways (often toll, which is handled automatically by the car rental company and you get the bill afterwards) and decent countryside roads. But once in a while the roads were quite narrow. No cliffs or such in this itinerary, just a bit narrow for two cars. We were glad that our car was not too big or too wide. So don’t rent a mini-bus. 🙂
      In Sintra itself driving is not a good idea at all – it’s so busy there and the roads are narrow too. You can read more about visiting Sintra here.
      As for hotels, yes I think you could do all of this from just two places. The only problem if you don’t stay in Lisbon or Sintra is that you will need to actually to drive there in order to visit. It’s doable, but it’s much easier to visit Lisbon if you don’t have a car there. In Sintra you could just leave the car outside the centre and take a taxi. Maybe you could do the same for Lisbon too… Taxis are really cheap, just make sure they switch on the meter and don’t charge you a special tourist price.
      Anyway, for the second location I would suggest the area around Alcobaca/Nazare. It’s quite central for many day trips in the area and the beaches are nice. On the other hand, it is quite close to Sintra/Lisbon. So it depends on what you want to see. If you want to travel further North, maybe the area around Coimbra or Aveiro is better in that case. You could even visit Porto as a day trip from there. The distances are really not that big in Portugal.
      I don’t really have any specific recommendations for a place to rent, except for the hotels where we stayed and which I already shared in this post. We always use Booking.com – it’s so handy that you can see all the locations on the map too. It helps a lot with planning a trip.
      Hope this helps.

  13. Thanks so much for your sharing your ideas. I am Portuguese and I am trying to pick fun things to do with my kids, who get bored very easily. Your ideas are amazing, as they focus in different things no solo on nature or monuments. I have thought of most of those ideas,but because I don’t know how they will feel,I hesitate. I have been very fortunate in knowing most of Portugal, so I must say if you happen to ever go back, include Geres National Park, my favourite of all Portugal. Lots of waterfalls, wonderful views and if you are lucky you might see wild horses. Thanks

    1. Author

      Thank you for your feedback and suggestions, Susana. We are actually going back to Portugal next year, because we liked it so much. But that National Park will have to be for yet another time, as we will spend most of the time in Madeira, with just a few on the mainland, probably in Algarve. But I will keep this in mind!

  14. Great post! I am Portuguese and use to go back every Summer, but have not gone back in 15 years. Now we are heading over in a couple weeks. We have lots of family and friends in Algarve and plan to spend most of our time there, but I want to take my 4 kids (1st time overseas) to visit the rest of the county which i am shammed to say i have not seen too much of either. I know there is tons to do but keeping 4 little ones (ages 4-10) interested and not whining that they are tired is always a challenge. LOVE your post because it gives me the perspective of travelling with little kids. We will use this guide for sure to plan our 3-4 days up north ( being from Algarve… everything is north 🙂 ). Thank you for sharing your experience of our beautiful little county.

    1. Author

      Thanks for your feedback, Veronica. 3-4 days up North is actually not much, but I am sure you will find plenty of inspiration in this itinerary, depending on your interests. Not sure if you saw our other posts about Portugal, if not check it out: 16 Fun Things To Do in Portugal with Kids, How to See the Best of Lisbon in One Day and with Kids in Tow, and just published – Best Sintra Itinerary for One, Two, or Three Days. Have a nice trip to your home country! I know how it feels – I am from Lithuania originally, but when we go there with kids, we usually end up visiting family and friends, so my kids still didn’t see much of my home country either…

  15. Hi Jurga,
    Thank you for this article! I am travelling with my four year old twin boys to Portugal this summer (end of August). We are staying in a house about half an hour north of Sintra in an area called Baril de Baxio for four days, and then Lisbon for four days. Im trying to plan some fun activities for us to do (my boys are very adventurous) but Im having a hard time telling what is near there and what will be too far to drive to. Do you have any suggestions on places nearby that I should consider? Thank you!!

    1. Author

      Hi Miriam, nothing is really far in Portugal. Just some places (like Sintra and Lisbon downtown) have terrible traffic. But for the most parts the roads are actually really quiet and very easy to drive (just don’t rent a big car, as the roads can be really narrow). My best suggestion is to choose a few places that really appeal to you and use Google maps to figure out if it’s doable – it always give you a very accurate idea of driving times.
      As for suggestions, I have a post on Lisbon and also one with some of the family-friendly places we really liked in Portugal. So take a look there. In Lisbon you can do a lot in 4 days in addition to things mentioned in my post, e.g. visit a zoo, take a longer sailing cruise, take more time in beautiful Alfama, explore Baixa, Belem district… On the other hand, the city might be too much for 4-year olds in summer heat. Maybe try a little beach town Cascais, just close to Lisbon, it looks really nice (we haven’t been though). Sintra is definitely worth a visit, but it’s a nightmare by car. But you are staying so close that maybe you can manage if you get there very early in the morning. Sintra has so much to offer, you can easily spend two days there. Also the coastline is beautiful.
      If you want to go further North, Obidos is not far and one of our favourites. Just watch the kids on those walls! We loved the Bussaco forest, not sure if that’s not too far for you, and also not sure how the situation is there now with all the forest fires of the last weeks…
      Hope this helps. August will probably be hot. My suggestion for you would be to plan short half-day sightseeing trips followed by a couple of hours by the pool. And then in the evening you can go out for dinner, and maybe see a few other villages or little towns at the same time.
      We loved Portugal so much, that we’re actually already planning another trip there next year.

  16. My wife and I will be traveling with her three-year-old daughter to Portugal in the fall. This was an immensely helpful article for us to decide what we can cover on our trip as we were torn about the different regions of the country. Thanks!

    1. Author

      The map is made with photoshop, Alexandra. I always use it for all my pictures, pins, etc. There might be other ways to do it, but that’s how I do it.

  17. I have not yet visited Portugal for some reason! When I do I shall keep this itinerary in mind. It does seem like a lovely country to visit – my daughter had a short break in Lisbon and throughly enjoyed it! I can see why!

    1. Author

      We were so positively surprised with Portugal, Tracy. It’s a great destination that really has it all. I think you can compare it with Italy in terms of things to see, food, friendliness of people; and that says it all. 😉

  18. Boy, you travel at quite a pace – I know these places and you must’ve been exhausted by the end of it! I think I’d squeeze some beach/pool days in between some of these sights. I do love a good road trip though and this is certainly a good itinerary. Nice one Jurga!

    1. Author

      It was actually quite relaxing, Alex. 😉 The distances in Portugal are so small and traffic was so quiet everywhere that it didn’t feel rushed at all. If traveling in summer, I would definitely foresee some extra time for the beach/ pool. I can’t imagine doing so much sightseeing in the heat of the summer with kids…
      Actually we had plenty of time for the pool, but the pools were still too cold everywhere. Lucky for us they had spa areas with a jacuzzi in some hotels ;).

  19. Jurga,

    I love reading post about my own country, it actually makes me smile to know that travellers usually know or visit more places that the locals hahaha Like when we travelled in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, India, etc.
    We are heading to Portugal for the summer, not the best time of the year, but can’t really complain. Portugal is gorgeous!
    I see you didn’t visit the south, perhaps one day if you go back you should. It’s beautiful! 🙂

    Telma @ Blank Canvas Voyage

    1. Author

      I know exactly what you mean, Telma. It’s always the new, the unknown that appeals to us the most…
      As for the South of Portugal, Algarve in particular, as I said in the post, we decided to leave it for the next time. One of the reasons was the uncertainty about the weather in April. We booked this trip months in advance and could have never expected that we could have such a beautiful summer weather the whole time. But we will be back for the beaches for sure.

  20. I’ve been to Portugal twice, but never for more than a few days. I sooo want to go back and spend more time there, so this is really helpful. I especially love castles, and the ones you show here look great. Hopefully I’ll get back to Portugal in the next year or so!

    1. Author

      Hope you get to explore more, Ali. I also really hope that we can return to Portugal and visit the places we missed this time. I really fell in love with the country!

    2. I’m going to Portugal next week for ten days and plan to visit many of these same places. This post was very helpful and has some great links to great information. I will be traveling solo, so I wonder how much ground I can cover without three kids in tow. This is a really impressive itinerary for a family with three kids! Ali and Jurga, my goal is to write a post as helpful as this and get some equally great pictures! Thanks for the info, Jurga.

      1. Author

        Thank you and have a nice trip, Mary. I’m sure you can see much much more if traveling alone! As I said, our days were not fully packed, but plenty enough to tire the kids out every day 😉

  21. This is such an excellent article, Jurga! I’m actually planning a roadtrip in Portugal this autumn, so I might just bookmark this and base my itinerary on it 🙂 Thank you!

  22. Is there any way to do this itinerary with public transportation? I don’t drive when I travel (or at home , for that matter).
    Thinking of Portugal for our next wedding anniv (2018), as we go to Greece this year.

    1. Author

      You can certainly see a lot of Portugal by taking just public transport, Cris. There are good train connections between the main cities, and you can take busses as well. You can definitely visit Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, Coimbra and several other bigger places, but you won’t be able to explore everywhere, unless you prepare very well, study bus schedules, etc. Alternative is to travel to big towns and look for organised day trips to the nearby places that are not as easy to reach on your own. Taxis are also very cheap.
      Since you don’t drive, this won’t interest you I guess. But renting a car in Portugal is so cheap that it’s almost not worth it to even consider other options, especially if you are traveling with a partner or a family. We rented the biggest 5-p car we could find for just 18EUR/day.

      1. Please tell me where you rented a car so cheap. With the insurance it seems like the cost is more like $50 a day.

        1. Author

          Hi David, for the best deals for car rental, please check the car rental links on our travel resources page (Momondo or RentalCars.com). For Portugal we rented the car through one of these links, with Avis in Lisbon. The price was better than direct. We had a category F (Medium Station Wagon), as it was the biggest station wagon available at that time, and we paid 178EUR/10 days. Also, we travelled in April which is probably not as high season as summer, so the prices might be different now. And we rented our car 6 months before the trip, which is also probably much cheaper than if you would be looking for a car only a few weeks in advance.
          As a general rule, we always use search engines as the ones in the travel resources, as booking directly is often more expensive, and we always book a car as soon as we know where/when we will be traveling. Hope this helps.

  23. I love an itinerary so detailed. Thank you for including a lot of information. Although I have been to Portugal twice I have never traveled around the country so I am bookmarking this 🙂

    1. Author

      From what we saw, most of Portugal is still very much underrated. It was so busy in Lisbon and in Sintra, also in Porto, but for the rest it felt really authentic and quiet. In most places in Central Portugal we met very few foreign tourists, more Portuguese traveling around. I’d say go for it before it gets flooded with tourists, it’s such a beautiful country to explore deeper!

  24. Nice and extensive post! I enjoyed Portugal during my visit a year ago. My favorite was Lisbon. I wanted to love Oporto as a lot friends are enchanted by that place. However I couldn’t. I think the dull and rainy weather played a huge role in this. Sintra was fun too! The Palacio de la pena (Vale la pena ;))is a wonder!

    1. Author

      You’re not the first person who tells me that they couldn’t love Porto. So I guess it’s a hit or miss a bit… We found it very enjoyable. Beautiful weather helped for sure, but also the atmosphere was really nice. So maybe give it a second chance? 😉

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