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

10 Days in Portugal – Trip Itinerary from Lisbon to Porto

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Are you looking for ideas for Portugal itinerary and are not sure where to start? In this article, you can find our 10-day itinerary for Portugal, covering all the most beautiful places between Lisbon and Porto. Take a look!

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 realized 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, the most beautiful places in Portugal instead.

Good to know: Because it was cheaper for us to fly in and out of Lisbon, we started this trip in Lisbon, visited all the nicest places of Central Portugal, drove all the way to Porto and the Douro Valley, and ended our trip back in Lisbon area (Sintra). Because driving distances in Portugal aren’t that big, it was perfectly doable. You can adapt this itinerary a bit and start in Lisbon and end in Porto or vice versa. At the bottom of this article, we also have some alternative itinerary suggestions for your trip to Portugal. Read on!

READ ALSO: Best Cities & Towns in Portugal


Portugal Itinerary with the Main Highlights of Central Portugal from Lisbon to Porto


Portugal Trip Itinerary and Map

Below, you can find a detailed day-to-day Portugal itinerary, exactly as we did it. We also included some practical tips for the most important landmarks and day tour suggestions for some places that you could potentially also visit as a day trip with an organized tour. Take a look!

To help you get a better idea of where everything is located, I also included a map indicating all the places mentioned in this article. See below.

Portugal 10 day itinerary map

Day 1: Lisbon

We arrived in Lisbon late in the evening, so I’m not going to count this travel day. In addition, we spent one full day in Lisbon. 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 center, Alfama district, and did a sailing cruise on the Tagus River. Below you can find all our tips and recommendations for what to see and do in Lisbon in one day. Check it out for more details!

TIP: If you have two days in Lisbon, make sure you also visit the Belém District as well. The main highlights here are the Jeronimos Monastery (book tickets in advance!), Belem Tower (also best to book in advance), and the Discoveries Monument. Count at least half a day for this part of town – that’s if you buy tickets in advance. Otherwise, you’ll probably need even more time.

LEARN MORE: One Day in Lisbon

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

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. We rented a car starting on this day and we picked it up in the city center.

TIP: Here you can find the best deals for car rental – it’s the car rental deals searching engine that we always use and recommend to our readers.

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 if you are renting a car for your trip anyway, I suggest you spend a night there. Hotels are much cheaper than in Lisbon, there are many good local restaurants and there are very few tourists.
  • 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

After leaving Evora, we drove to one of the most picturesque little towns of Portugal, Obidos. It’s a very popular day tour from Lisbon and you can expect it to be busy. I recommend getting here as early as possible. After visiting Obidos, we also visited the famous Alcobaca Monastery.

TIP: So many of our readers are asking how to visit these stunning places in Portugal without a car. While you can’t see everything from this itinerary without a car, it is possible to visit places mentioned in day 3 and day 4 of this itinerary with a tour.

You can see Obidos, Batalha Monastery, Fatima Sanctuary, and Nazaré village with an organized small-group tour from Lisbon in one day. In that case, I recommend that you go with a small-group tour like this one or with a private tour like this one. Without any doubt, this is one of the best day trips that you can do from Lisbon.



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 here; this didn’t include time for lunch.
Kids walking on the city walls of Obidos in Portugal

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 the Alcobaca – Nazare area. There is so much to see and do that you can easily spend several days here.

We spent 2 nights at the beautiful hotel Vale d’Azenha, just a few kilometers 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, if you prefer to stay closer to the action, you might find a 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! We had another fantastic landmark in our planning – Batalha Monastery. In addition, we visited stunning underground caves, and one of our favorite coastal towns of Portugal – Nazaré. Below, you can find more details about each of these places. Read on!

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


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!

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 center and explore the town on foot.
  • You can reach the O Sitio district by funicular (recommended). Alternatively, you can take a car.

LEARN MORE: What to Do in Nazaré

View over Nazare in Central Portugal from funicular
View over Nazare from funicular

Day 5: Roman Ruins of Conimbriga and the City of Coimbra

On this day, we visited some lesser-known places in Central Portugal, as well as Coimbra – the biggest town of the region. Take a look!

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


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 center 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 the city on foot. We stayed at hotel Oslo in the city center. 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

Day 6: Mata Nacional do Buçaco – Costa Nova – Aveiro

This was another amazing day discovering a hidden gem of Central Portugal – Bussaco Forest. We also visited Aveiro and – one of the most picturesque towns in Portugal – Costa Nova. Take a look below for more details!

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 colorful 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
Praia da Costa Nova is one of the most charming little towns you should visit 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.

TIP: If you stay in Porto, consider one of the many available organized day tours to Douro Valley. That way you can actually taste Porto wine without having to drive. 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 to the Douro Valley by car, don’t miss the scenic road from Sabrosa to Pinhao. Make sure you do this road from Sabrosa and not in the other direction because driving down you’ll 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: 

  • Stay in the city center of Porto so that you can explore it on foot. We stayed at the beautiful Flores Boutique Hotel & Spa right in the old city center, and I would highly recommend it (although, getting there by car and parking a car in their secure parking place was quite an adventure). Here you can find the best deals for Porto accommodation.
View over Porto old town centre

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 CastlePalacio Nacional right in the town center of Sintra is also worth a visit.

LEARN MORE: 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:

  • Sintra is a popular day trip from Lisbon, but if you are coming by car anyway, I would recommend spending at least two days here.
  • Without the car, the best way to reach Sintra is by train from Lisbon. It takes about 45 minutes. Or you can take an organized tour. Some tours visit the places outside of Sintra too – places you can’t see if you don’t have a car.
  • Accommodation is very limited in Sintra, 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.
Initiation Well at Quinta de Regaleira in Sintra Portugal
Initiation Well at Quinta de Regaleira

Portugal 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.

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.

  • If you have at least two more days in Portugal, visit the beaches of Algarve as well. If you are driving to Algarve, you could do this at the end of this trip, after returning to Lisbon. That way you leave the more relaxing beach stay for the end of your trip.
  • If you have less time than 10 days, skip the places that don’t interest you, or try to squeeze more in a day. As I said, the distances aren’t big and you can see a lot in a short time.
  • If you don’t want to rent a car in Portugal, please take a look at our suggestions for day tours that I included where possible. For a bigger distance, like Lisbon to Porto, you can take a train.

TIP: Find the best deals for rental cars and hotels for your trip here. And don’t forget good 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: 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.


Best Time to Visit

Portugal is a year-round destination. If you are planning to visit towns and cultural landmarks, then you can plan a trip at any time of the year, but I would suggest avoiding the hottest summer months. If you are planning to visit the beaches, then come from May to October. July and August are the peak months when it’s very busy everywhere.

If you want to explore Portugal to the fullest, then visit in April – May or in September – October. That’s when the weather is really nice but not too hot for sightseeing, it’s not too busy, and accommodation prices are lower.

READ ALSO: Best time to visit Europe

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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


  1. Hi Jurga,
    Really enjoyed this itinerary – it has inspired me to go forth to discover Portugal! Wondered if you had a rough costing of your ten day trip, to mostly include the hotels and petrol. We are just two adults. Thanks in advance!

    1. Author

      Hi Sandy, glad to hear that this inspired you to visit Portugal. You’ll love it!
      As for the costs, I always find it difficult to say as so much depends on the season when you travel, how much in advance you book, and on your choices (hotel, car, tours, etc.). In general, Portugal is one of the cheapest destinations in Western/Southern Europe. In smaller cities, you can find really nice 3-4* hotels for about 100 EUR/ night for 2 adults, breakfast included. In Lisbon or Porto, it might be more expensive, but you also have more choice of budget accommodations. Check the hotels I linked to in the article for the dates when you think of traveling, and you’ll quickly get a good idea what’s available and how much it costs. I’d say if you budget 1000 EUR for 10 days, it’s possible if it’s not the highest season. If you travel in low season or choose more budget hotels, you can even make it cheaper than that. If you want somewhat nicer hotels or are traveling in summer, then you should probably count at least 1500 EUR for 10 nights for the two of you.
      As for car rental, we only paid 180 EUR for 10 days for this trip, but we booked well in advance and that was crazy cheap. On our other trips, we sometimes paid about twice that price, which is still very cheap compared to most other places. Here you can find the best deals for car rental. We always use this website now, especially in the current situation because they have amazing customer service and cancelation policies. We had to cancel two car rentals this year and got all our money back both times.
      Keep in mind that toll roads are (surprisingly) quite expensive in Portugal. Petrol prices are a bit like in other European countries.
      Hope this helps a bit. If you check the car rental and the hotels for your travel dates, you’ll quickly be able to come up with a good price estimate yourself.

  2. hi Jurga
    We are going to Portugal next July for 15 days. We will fly into Lisbon, pick up a car and drive to other parts of Portugal and end up in Lisbon the last week we are in Portugal. Can you recommend the places we should see/visit/stay?
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Author

      Hi Jun, most of our suggestions for the places to visit in Portugal are already mentioned in this article and also some accommodation suggestions. It’s going to be hot in July, so I would definitely advise driving down to the Algarve beaches for at least 3-5 days.
      Maybe start with central Portugal (monasteries, Nazare, Obidos), potentially Porto and Douro Valley, and then end in Algarve for a more relaxing time at the beach, before heading back to Lisbon to fly back home.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

      1. Thank you, Jurga. Your plan makes sense. Another question, are there any nice beaches in Porto?

        1. Author

          Hi Junaidah, there are some beaches north of Porto – try searching for Praia do Molhe, Praia de Gondarém, Praia do Carneiro and you’ll get a better idea what they look like or what to expect.
          Alternatively, Costa Nova beach (the town with the striped houses) is a really beautiful place and a nicer beach, and it’s not too far from Porto (about 1hr drive to the south).

          1. Thank you!

    2. Thanks very much, that’s really helpful! Just gives me a good starting point of what to allow ☺️

  3. I was wondering what you did with your luggage when travelling each place? Check in times aren’t usually until 3pm, and I’m not sure about leaving our luggage in our car. We were planning on parking in those areas that you described above.

    1. Author

      Hi Megan, in most cases, our luggage was in the car the whole time. We never found Portugal unsafe, but you never know, of course. I would never leave documents or expensive electronics/camera in the car and – if you can – put everything a bit out of sight.
      P.S. if you don’t have good travel insurance, you may want to look at World Nomads – they have excellent coverage for travelers and I think most plans include theft as well. You can quickly ask for a quote online and in a matter of a few minutes, you know what it would cost.
      Enjoy your trip!

  4. I’m planning a family trip for April 10-19, 2020 (me, my mom and 17-yr-old son). We only have 8 days and love to drive, so we will definitely rent a car. We went to Sicily a couple of years ago, so we don’t need to see anything that’s too similar (i.e. Roman ruins) unless they’re spectacular. We have been to Spain many times, but this is our first trip to Portugal. From your 10-day itinerary, what do you think we can skip and what do you recommend as a must-do for first-time visitors?

    1. Author

      Hi Francine, there are so many ways to plan an itinerary for Portugal. This is just meant for inspiration. You can also just focus on the highlights and drive past the other places without stopping if they don’t interest you. If you don’t mind driving bigger distances and just want to see the main places, you could also go down to Algarve for a few days…
      Your itinerary could be something like this: Porto (1 day), monasteries (1 day), Lisbon and Sintra (2-3 days), Algarve (2-3 days) and then back to Lisbon for your flight or so.

      1. Thank you! I appreciate your suggestions and will definitely see what most interests my family. I guess a second trip to Portugal will be in order.

  5. Wow, love this post! We just got back from 10 days in Portugal as well but we did the southern part – Lagos, Lisbon, and Ericeira. After reading this I’d say we need to plan a return trip ASAP, Thanks for the suggestions and inspiration! 🙂

    1. Author

      Oh, I know that feeling, Nicola! You come back from a trip and immediately start planning a new one 🙂
      Yes, Portugal is amazing. The whole country. So it’s definitely worth another trip (and maybe a few more). If you go, I can also highly recommend a few days in Madeira 😉 We have quite some articles for inspiration on our Portugal page.
      Happy planning!

  6. Beautifully written and photographed article. We’re heading to Portugal this weekend. Most of the trip is already planned with a cruise company but we’re trying to find things to do for 4+ days at the end prior to flight out of Lisbon. Your inspiration will certainly help. And, if we think it will benefit others in the future, we’ll contribute any relevant information dug up. Thank you very much!

    1. Author

      Hope you are having a wonderful time in Portugal! Enjoy your trip.

  7. Thank you so much for your blog post on Portugal. We basically planned our 2 week vacation around your post and included a few days in Lagos. Everything was absolutely amazing. We have 2 kids (4 and 2 year old girls) and they had a great time! They loved the boat rides (your recommendations were great and spot on) and the Algarve especially. Just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to do this. We love to travel especially with the kids and your guide was perfect!

    1. Author

      So happy to hear this, Mary-Ann. Happy travels!

    2. Hello, how did you integrated Lagos in this itinerary ?
      Thank you !

      1. Author

        Hi Lea, we actually visited Algarve on another trip. We just drove there from Lisbon (via E1), stayed in Sagres for a few days, and then drove back via the roads along the Alentejano coast.

  8. Loved your details to the hilt . you are very precise and amazing in your words that made me fall in love with the country even more,

    We are from Dubai travelling 10 days in spain before we reach for 9 days to portugal, mostly will fly into lisbon and fly out to Dubai from porto.

    We dont want to drive preferably but want to do every small town thats worth its experience, i read your comments above and understood that there is not much public transport option in the center thats convenient, Do you suggest any other alternate,

    Also can we skip anything that is there in your itinerary and add Algarve and Madeira within the 9 days,

    Moreover do you suggest any tips for clothing in october and we being vegans any food options

    Please do suggest when time permits

    1. Author

      Hi Rachana, if you don’t want to drive, then you can always take tours. For example, you can visit many of the places mentioned in this itinerary from Lisbon. Here are some options:

    2. Sintra and Cascais small-group tour
    3. Fátima, Nazaré and Óbidos small-group tour
    4. Fátima, Batalha, Nazaré & Óbidos: Private Full-Day Tour
    5. Evora day trip
    6. If you rather go to Algarve, I also don’t really know what you’ll be able to see/do there without a car or how you’d get there… There are so many beautiful beaches in Algarve and sea caves, but they are scattered along a very long coast.
      For that, Madeira is probably better. You can stay in Funchal, and then make day trips from there and see a lot that way. Here we have some suggestions for things to do in Funchal, including some popular day trips.
      So maybe split your time between Lisbon (3-4 days – do tours) and then Madeira (stay in Funchal for 5-6 days and take some day tours).
      As for clothing, it’s hard to say. It can be warm or it can be windy and rainy. Check the forecast a few days before your trip and pack accordingly.
      And the food – Portugal has amazing food, but I have no idea about how easy it is to find vegan options.

  9. Thank you so much! I’m traveling with a 21 and 25 year old in August for 8 days. Flying in and out of Lisbon. Headed north to Porto but really stuck about where to go in between and when to rent the car.
    Nervous about the heat and crowded touristy cities. The caves sound amazing. Wondering how far away they are?
    Thanks again

    1. Author

      Hi Sharon, yes, it will definitely be hot and busy in summer. If you can, book hotels with a pool or at the beach and do sightseeing early in the morning and then spend your afternoons by the water.
      For the caves, you can see them on the map here.
      If you are not sure where to go in between, I think that the monasteries and /Nazaré area is a good region to stay for a few days.
      I’d rent a car for the whole trip, except in Lisbon city.
      Hope this helps.

      1. Thank you so much. Your blog is excellent!
        Few more questions:
        Best way to get from hotel from airport?
        Have reservation at Casa Amora. Looks cute, but no pool. Mistake?
        Where in Lisbon is the best place to pick up a rental car? I see many locations.
        We’re flying in and out of Lisbon, so would it be best to make stops along the way to Porto or on the way back?

        So far our agenda is:
        3 days in Lisbon.
        Aug 10th 8:45 am
        Aug 11th
        Aug 12th Experitour wine tour
        Colares, Buckelas Carcavelis

        Tues Aug 13th rent car in Lisbon
        Wed Aug 14th
        thurs Aug 15th
        Friday Aug 16th
        sat August 17th Return car to Lisbon
        Depart August 18th

        Thank you so much!!

        1. Author

          Hi Sharon, sorry for the late reply. We’re about to leave for the summer as well.
          The best way to get to the city is probably by taxi. They aren’t that expensive.
          I’d see if you can still change the hotel to one with a pool, yes. Or maybe you can find a public swimming pool or a beach nearby…
          As for the rental car, we use this website to rent a car. You can check the exact locations using Google Maps. We rented from Avis and there was an Avis office in the city that wasn’t too far from our hotel. We took a taxi to get there.
          As for the stops in the direction of Porto or on the way back, it doesn’t matter much – there is a highway between Porto and Lisbon and you can get from one to the other in just a few hours. If you feel more at ease staying closer to the airport before your flight back, then it’s probably best to just drive straight to Porto from Lisbon and then slowly make your way back to Lisbon.
          Have a great trip!

  10. Thank you for your post! We are planning a 5 day trip to Portugal with a 1 1/2 year old and 3 1/2 year old before continuing on to Italy. Since we only have 5 days what is a MUST SEE in your opinion?

    1. Author

      Hi Angela, not sure what your interests are and when you travel, so here are two suggestions for 5 days:
      1. Lisbon (2d), Sintra (1d), Obidos, Nazaré and the monasteries (2d). This is a great option if you like sightseeing and history/architecture. More details in the article.
      2. Lisbon (1-2d), Sintra (1d), Algarve (2-3d). This option will require much more driving but is great if you like nature and beautiful beaches. More info here: Best beaches in Algarve.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

  11. Hi Jurga, thank you so much for having this information I am finding it very useful in planning our Portugal vacation. One question, we are planning to fly in and out of Porto but want to rent a car and get to Algarve stopping in several towns along the way. Do you know if its possible to rent a car from Porto and fly back from Algarve or would you take coastal route down from Porto and inland route back up? We have 10 days and 2 kids that just keep telling me to make sure the apartments or hotels have a pool. Thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi Michele, it’s definitely possible to rent the car one way. You can find the best deals here (don’t forget to select different drop-off location).
      I’m not sure I would drive from Porto to Algarve and all the way back in just 10 days. It’s doable, but if your flight tickets are not more expensive, you could fly back from Faro or alternatively from Lisbon, which will also save you a long drive…
      If you have just 10 days and want to see Algarve, then you’ll have to skip quite some parts of this itinerary. I think at least 2 days in Algarve is needed, so plan accordingly. You can find some inspiration here: best beaches in Algarve and how to see the Benagil Cave.
      PS book the car as soon as you know when and where you travel – the closer to your travel dates, the more expensive they get.
      Enjoy your trip!

  12. Dear Jurga,
    My husband and I along with our two children (age 4 and 8) are spending 7 nights in Portugal this upcoming mid-March. So far, I am planning the following:
    Saturday: Lisbon
    Sunday: Lisbon
    Monday: Sintra day trip, return to Lisbon
    Tuesday: rent a car to drive to Obidos, Alcobaca, and Batalha. Should I stay overnight in Batalha or drive to Alveiro?
    Wednesday: Drive to Conimbriga and Coimbra, then drive to and stay overnight in Bucaco Palace?
    Thursday: Explore Mata Nacional do Bucaco Park, then drive to Porto. Explore Porto and stay overnight in Porto
    Friday: half day trip to Douro valley, stay in Porto
    Saturday: leave to fly home to USA

    I know this seems like a lot, so I need your advise on which towns to omit. Is Alveiro worth driving to? even for dinner and a play to rest our heads until the next morning? or should I not make the effort to drive there and just stay in Coimbra? Or would you omit Obidos, Alcobaca, or Bucaco? Please help! The Douro valley seems beautiful so I would like to drive there or do a tour and see it for half a day. Is one day enough in Porto?
    thanks ahead of time for your advise!

    1. Author

      Hi Shimly,
      It looks ok to me at first sight, but I don’t understand why you’d drive to Aveiro first and then go back down again to Coimbra and Bucaco, to then drive back up again to Porto.
      I think your Tuesday will already be quite packed if you are trying to see Obidos, Alcobaca, and Batalha in one day. Make sure to check the opening times and see if you can make it. After that, either stay near Batalha or take a hotel in Nazare – it’s quite a nice place to walk around, see the sunset, have dinner.
      Then Wednesday you can visit Coimbra in the morning and Bucaco forest in the afternoon (I’d skip Conimbriga, unless you really like ruins and Roman history) and then you could either stay in Bucaco or drive to Aveiro or even straight to Porto. The distances aren’t huge.
      Thursday – spend the whole day in Porto. You’ll definitely want to spend a day in the city and yes, it’s enough to see the main highlights. If you don’t need it for Douro valley, return your rental car earlier, so you don’t have to pay for the parking and car rental when not using it.
      Friday – yes, there are many tours to Douro valley from Porto, so you can easily visit it as a day trip.
      As for what to skip if you have to skip something, I personally would probably skip Coimbra as we really loved the monasteries – so special! Also, Obidos is an interesting little place, so I wouldn’t skip that one. Douro Valley is nice, but keep in mind that in spring all the vines are dry and brown, so it doesn’t look quite as impressive as in all the summer pictures you’ve probably seen of it.
      Hope this helps.

  13. Hi-very helpful advice and itinerary! planning to go to Portugal this April during school spring break. This falls the week prior to Easter (April 20). Are many things closed during this week prior or just maybe Good Friday/Easter Sunday? Thank you

    1. Author

      Hi Swarna, we were in Portugal twice just before and during Easter and never experienced any issues due to things being closed. But yes, I’m sure some places will close at Easter itself, but in general I wouldn’t worry much about anything major being closed before that.

  14. Hi
    Just wondering… hows parking? Is it easy to park? Lisbon… Porto and other places? does it cost a lot?
    thank you

    1. Author

      Hi Rey, yes, parking can be quite difficult in bigger cities and towns. It didn’t strike me as being overly expensive, but I really don’t recall the exact pricing now.
      We didn’t rent a car until we left Lisbon and in Porto we left it at the parking of our hotel. Smaller towns weren’t an issue at all in April (might be very different in high season though). Sintra is a whole other story – don’t drive there by car if you don’t have to. It’s crazy busy, roads are narrow and traffic is standing still, and parking is very tough.

  15. Thanks for informative post! We are planning a 12 day trip mid October; starting at porto, finish in Lisbon, returning the car there. As it turns out we will spend the weekend at Sintra – is it still packed during October and better of to change our plans and visit Sintra by train form Lisbon at a weekday ?

    1. Author

      Hi Nessy, I think it will be ok mid October and I wouldn’t change all your plans just for that. I see that 5/10 is a public holiday in Portugal (Republic Day), so I’d avoid that weekend, but mid October should be much quieter. If it’s very busy, just leave your car at the hotel and take a taxi to go to Pena Palace. From there you can walk down to the Moorish Castle. After that, you can take a staircase that leads back to town. It’s actually really easy to visit if you don’t take the car there (even easier than by car because you don’t have to climb back up to where you left it).
      Here you can find more information and itinerary ideas for visiting Sintra.

      1. Hello
        I came to check tips about Amsterdam, and ended up checking what people say about my country (Portugal)
        It is always good to see what people say about our country 😀. Thank you! If you go to Nazare try to find Praia do Salgado, a little bit out of Nazare. It’s beautiful, but please be careful with the sea. Though I haven’t done yet, there is de N2 (national road 2), where you escape from main roads, and crosses the country from north to south. For those liking to walk there is a website with Portuguese walks of Santiago, with beautiful places.
        And thank you for the tips for one day in Amsterdam.

        1. Author

          Thanks, Leonor and enjoy your trip to Amsterdam.

  16. Hello Jurga,

    Wonderful blog! this is very helpful! We are travelling to Portugal by next month for 12 days and hoping to cover most of it. We are also renting a car when we go outside of Lisbon. I have a question though, is it alright to drive going to Sintra? How easy or hard is it to find a parking space? i read somewhere saying never to drive when going to Sintra. I am hoping its alright though.
    Thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi James, if you can, don’t drive to Sintra, or at least not to Pena Palace. It’s such a waste of your time and so frustrating as there is just one narrow road going to the castles and there are just a few spots to park your car there. Leaving a car down in town itself isn’t really a good option unless you have a hotel with car parking (which is what we did, still wasted more than an hour just to get to our hotel and were so glad to get rid of the car and take a taxi afterwards). I think, however, that there was a parking garage at the train station in Sintra, so maybe you could park there and either take a bus (cheap and slow), tuk-tuk (a bit faster, noisy, and quite expensive), or a taxi (not as expensive, has airco, and is fast) to the castles. This mainly applies for Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle; the rest, a bit outside the town, can be done by car. Still, traffic in and around Sintra is definitely the worst in Portugal, so you’ll need lots of patience.
      If you decide to drive, avoid weekends and public holidays and try to get there early in the morning before the castles even open. Late afternoon is nice for sightseeing as most groups are gone by then, but it’s not easy to get there.
      You can find more suggestions and practical information for Sintra here: Sintra itnerary suggestions.

  17. 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.

  18. 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?


    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!


      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!

      2. Hi Raymond

        Do you mind sharing those agencies as I’m planning my trip in Portugal and looking for tours as well..

        thank you

      3. Hi Raymond
        We are 2 ladies travelling to Portugal at the same time that you did in 2018 … from 7 th sept to17 th sept .2019
        We do not drive hence were wondering how to get around by public transport ..would appreciate if you could share your detailed itinerary along with the accommodation details and recommendations at the earliest
        Thank you

        1. Author

          Hi Anjali, the blog comments don’t work as forums and due to privacy regulations, we don’t forward questions to the other people. So the chance of Raymond seeing your questions and answering are pretty slim. Hope you figure out the best way to visit Portugal by public transport. Enjoy your trip!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. Thank you soooo much Jurga. Your help has been amazing. Appreciate your time x

  22. 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!


    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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

    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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. Thank you Jurga. Absolutely excellent blog – very informative.

    1. Author

      Thanks for taking the time to leave this feedback, Mary.

  30. Really nice post, I never visit Portugal.After reading your article, I can’t wait to visit Portugal. Thanks for sharing with us.

    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. 🙂

  31. 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 – 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.

  32. 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!

  33. 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…

  34. 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.

  35. 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

      Glad to know you found this itinerary useful, Vikram. Have a nice trip!

  36. What an amazing itinerary! I see that you enjoyed Portugal to a maximum. Just one question – how did you make the map, if it’s possible to know? 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.

  37. 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. 😉

  38. 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 ;).

  39. This is such an awesome itinerary! Thank you so much for sharing it. I really need to visit one day!

  40. 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.

  41. 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 😉

  42. 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!

    1. Author

      Great! Glad you found this useful, Christina.

  43. 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 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.

      2. I was just about to ask about public transport v hire car but thankfully checked the whole blog first! Did you find the driving easy? Our son will be 4 when we visit so I think having a car will be a heap less stressful than managing public transport schedules.

        1. Author

          Yes, Daayna, driving in Portugal was really easy. The only place where you probably don’t want to drive around for too long in Sintra – leave your car as soon as you can and do the rest on foot or by taxi/bus. For the rest – driving is definitely the best way to explore Portugal.
          You can check Rental Cars website for the best car rental deals.
          Enjoy your trip!

  44. 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!

  45. 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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