This weeklong Portugal itinerary includes stops in Lisbon, Porto, Sintra, Cascais, and Portimão.
I loved Portugal so much when I went on a solo trip two years ago, I convinced my sister and husband to come back with me! Portugal is an ideal travel destination because it is more affordable than in most other countries in Western Europe. When you are paying less for your meals and hotels, your money goes further and you can afford to vacation longer.
We flew into Lisbon and then rented a car and drove to Porto, Cascais, and Portimão. If you want to skip Portimão, which was our least favorite part of the trip, you can easily take the train from city to city and not bother with renting a car.
Day 1: Lisbon
Arrive and Check-in
Fly into Lisbon and then check into the Fontecruz Lisboa. I have stayed at three different hotels and an Airbnb in Lisbon and this hotel is my favorite since it is affordable, chic, and in a prime location.
Ride the Elevador de Santa Justa
For one of the best views of the city, ride these Neo-Gothic elevator designed by a student of Gustave Eiffel.
Walk around and get the lay of the land. See the Praça do Comércio and Rossio (Dom Pedro IV Square), two of the prettiest squares in the city.
Stop into the prettiest sardine shop
The Fantastic World Of Portuguese Sardines in Dom Pedro IV Square is so beautifully and whimiscally decorated that you need to see it. It shows you that successful graphic and interior design can make even sardines cool.
Shop for Pottery at Cerâmicas na Linha
This beautiful shop is the best place to buy ceramics. Find bowls, plates, mugs, and platters in all shapes and sizes and in a wide variety of colors.
Try Pastel de Nata
For an afternoon snack try pastel de nata, a custard tart that is one of the foods that Portugal is known for. Pasteis de Belem has been serving up the tarts since 1837, but Kelly and I thought that every tart we tried was delicious.
Watch the sunset over the city
If you want to watch the sunset, head to the Limão Rooftop Bar at the H10 Duque de Loulè hotel.
Dine at Tasca da Esquina
This small restaurant is anything but touristy. It’s located in a more residential part of the city, but very quick and easy to get to if you take an Uber. We dined on local seafood like shrimp and cod plus an incredible dish of roasted potatoes and tender beef cheeks. The cuisine modernizes traditional Portuguese ingredients and dishes.
Day 2: Lisbon
Ride the Tram
While there are many different routes, #28 is popular with tourists since if goes to Alfama.
This hilltop neighborhood has views of the city and sea below.
Visit St. George’s Castle (Castelo de São Jorge)
This Moorish castle sits on a hill above the Alfama neighborhood. The first structures date back to the 1st century BC and the castle was a royal palace and a military barrack before becoming a national monument and museum.
Go to Torre de Belém
This small fortress on the bank of the Tagus River protected Lisbon’s port in the 1600s and is one of Portugal’s most iconic landmarks. If you are interested in architecture, you will appreciate the beauty of the limestone tower that incorporates many architectural styles.
Have an afternoon snack
For an afternoon snack have chocolate cake at Landeau Chocolate or gelato at Gelateria Nannarella.
Time Out Market
Have dinner at the Time Out Market, a large food hall with mini versions of Lisbon’s top restaurants. It’s the perfect place to try lots of different things. I recommend making a stop at Felicidade.
Day 3: Porto
Drive from Lisbon to Porto and check in to the NH Collection Porto Batalha. The drive will take about three hours, or you can opt to take the train.
See the train station
The São Bento train station’s interior is decorated with mosaics and needs to be seen even if you don’t arrive via train.
Located on Rua Santa Catarina, a popular shopping street, Cafe Majestic is one of the most beautiful cafes in the world. It first opened in 1921 and is glamorously decorated with mirrors, chandeliers, and wood carvings. We stopped in for a snack while we were there, they also offer afternoon tea if you want something more than just a snack.
Walk to the Ribeira and admire the tiled buildings
Check out the tile-covered buildings as you walk through the city to the Ribeira, the street that runs along the Duoro River. You might want to stop for a drink at one of the many cafes along this street.
Ride the Funicular
Going down the hill to get to the Ribeira is easy, going up isn’t as fun. Luckily there is a funicular that will take you back to the top of the hill.
Dinner at Patio do Duque
The food and the service at this restaurant are both exceptional. Try the savory cheese-filled profiteroles, something that the chef is known for creating. Then try Portuguese specialties like bacalhau, local sausage, and slow-cooked pork.
Day 4: Porto
Visit Livraria Lello
This bookshop is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Porto since word got out that it was a source of inspiration for J.K. Rowling when she was writing Harry Potter. A twisting wooden staircase is the centerpiece of the space which is filled with intricate woodwork and stained glass windows. Get there early – the line to enter can go down the block, and be prepared to pay a small 4 euro entrance fee which gets refunded if you buy something.
Brunch at Do Norte Café by Hungry Biker
This cafe is the place to brunch in Porto. The health conscious food is served up in hearty portions.
Go to Gaia
Walk across the Dom Luis I Bridge to Gaia and spend the day tasting port and going for a boat ride up the Duoro River. There are small boats docked on the river that give sightseeing cruises, and a port tasting at a wine shop is included in the ticket price. I recommend also going to do a tasting and a tour at one of the wineries, it’s best to make a reservation in advance.
Happy hour at Rei dos Queijos or Wine Quay Café
In the evening this cafe whose name translates to “king of cheese” has a great happy hour where glasses of wine are served with small cheese boards. It’s a great deal and a fun way to try local cheeses. If you want to have happy hour with a view of the river, go to Wine Quay Café (pictured).
Watch the sunset from the top of the Dom Luis I Bridge
This is the best place to watch the sunset over the city and it is something you must do in Porto. Make sure to go to the top level of the bridge to see the city from above.
For dinner either go back to Rei dos Queijos or try Gazela
We went back to Rei dos Queijos (because the food looked amazing and the staff was so friendly) and had croquettes drizzled with honey, a salad topped with goat cheese, almonds, and a cherry vinaigrette, and slow-cooked pork shoulder. Contacts on Instagram highly recommended Gazela if you want to try another restaurant.
Day 5: Cascais
Drive from Porto to Cascais, this will take about 3 hours. Check into the Farol Design Hotel, a hotel beside the sea with lighthouse views. For clarity, the hotel is to the right of this building but has a view of the lighthouse and is right on the ocean.
As you walk to the downtown from the Farol Design Hotel you will pass the Santa Marta Lighthouse. Downtown Cascais is absolutely charming, the streets are paved with black and white mosaics and there are lots of shops to explore.
Grab a bite or a drink
If you need an afternoon pick-me-up stop at Cafe Galeria House of Wonders a restaurant with a large patio and a rooftop at serves vegetarian fare and fresh smoothies, in addition to cocktails.
Bike to the Boca do Inferno
This rock formation beside the beach is worth a quick visit and photo opp.
Dinner at Hifen
This casual restaurant was our favorite in Portugal. We loved everything we tasted.
Day 6: Cascais
Drive to Pena Palace in Sintra
This palace that looks like something out of a Disney fairytale is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Portugal, so you want to get their early. Because we arrived early, we had no problem finding free parking near the entrance to Pena Palace. Some people opt to just explore the grounds of the palace since the line to enter the palace itself can be hours long.
Note: Sintra is less than 30 minutes from both Lisbon and Cascais. If you travel there from Lisbon you can take the train.
See more palaces in Sintra
Pena Palace is just one of six palaces in Sintra. If you want to see some more palaces, I recommend stopping at the Moorish Castle which is a castle that dates back to the 8th and 9th centuries when the area was ruled by Muslims. It is more of a stone fortress than a palace and has no interiors to visit. If you want to visit a palace with grand interior design, visit the National Palace of Sintra which is in the downtown of the village. I would allocate about 90 minutes of time to visit each of these castles.
Relax at the beach or pool
Cascais is known for being a place to relax by the sea so make sure you get to enjoy the beach or the hotel at the pool.
Dinner at 5 Sentidos or Visconde da Luz
Porto is known for seafood and these restaurants are the best places to try it. (photo from Visconde da Luz)
Day 7: Portimão
Drive to Portimão and check in to Vila Lido, a villa turned bed and breakfast across the street from Praia da Rocha. Jackie Kennedy spent a week here in the 70s, and we loved the large rooms with outdoor terraces.
Hit the beach
Praia da Rocha is a massive beach and the center of activity in the town. Find a beach club and rent beach chairs and an umbrella for the day and relax.
Drive to Sagres to see the sunset
Sagres is the westernmost point in Europe to watch the sunset over the steep oceanside cliffs.
One of the best viewpoints is across the street from Terra Restaurante.
Dinner at Terra
Once the sun has set, have dinner at Terra a casual restaurant with a big menu of local specialities that is inclusive of meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes. You might want to make a reservation.
Day 8: Portimão
Relax on the beach, go on a boat ride, or try watersports
Spend one final day of vacation relaxing or seeking adventure.
Dinner at Squash
If you like seafood, try the massive seafood platter for two.
Have you been to Portugal? Share your Portugal itinerary suggestions in the comments!