If you’re like me and always looking for new places to explore, then Portugal is definitely a destination to add to your list. This beautiful country is home to stunning coastal towns, awe-inspiring landscapes, and my personal favorite—tasty food and drinks. If you’re wondering how to spend an epic week exploring and eating your way through Portugal, read on for my suggested 7-day Portugal itinerary.
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Our 7-Day Portugal Itinerary Route
Take this outline and make it yours. Head north to Porto. Or opt for Madeira instead of the Azores. Whatever you do, just do you and enjoy yourself.
- Tour downtown Lisbon for a couple days.
- Take a day trip to Sintra and Cascais.
- Take another day trip to Obidos and Tomar.
- Fly off to the Azores and live the island life!
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Arriving in Lisbon For Your 7-Day Portugal Itinerary
If you’re arriving by plane, you’ll likely be landing in Lisbon. Congratulations! You’ve made it to Portugal’s vibrant capital city. Now it’s time to figure out how to get from the airport into the city center so you can start your vacay.
There are a few options for getting downtown—and they’re all fairly easy to navigate—so the method you choose really just depends on your personal preferences. You can take the Metro, bus, taxi, or Uber—all of which will get you into the city center in about 20–40 minutes traffic depending. (Sorry, no trams from the airport.)
- Take the Metro: The Metro runs directly from the airport to downtown Lisbon. A ticket will cost you a whopping €1.45, though you’ll need to get a Viva Viagem or 7 Colinas card (which can then be recharged as needed).
- Take the Bus: A few direct buses go from Lisbon’s airport to the city center, and they’re easy to figure out. A one-way bus ticket costs around €1.80, and the ride to the center takes about 40 minutes. You can buy your ticket on board the bus or purchase a Viva Viagem card in advance.
- Take a Taxi: A taxi is the most expensive option, but also the easiest. (And it’s still relatively cheap, all things considered.) This will cost you €10–15, depending on the time of day and traffic. Just make sure you take a licensed taxi from the official taxi stand.
- Take an Uber: One of the best tips I received about visiting Lisbon was to just use Uber. Uber is alive and well in Lisbon and it’s inexpensive. Yes, the Metro and the bus are super cheap, but Uber is just plain easy, amiright?
- Rent a Car: You probably don’t want a car for your entire vacation, but if you’re planning on doing day trips from Lisbon, it might be worth a rental for a few days. Just know that driving in Portugal can be challenging (to start, most rentals are manual) and be sure to check on parking where you’re staying.
Where to Stay in Lisbon When You Visit
Hotel Mundial is a decent option if you’re looking for a place to stay in Lisbon. It’s located right in the middle of the Alfama, Baixa de Lisboa, and Bairro Alto neighborhoods and is within walking distance to all the major downtown sights. You can literally go out the front entrance and start your hike up to Castelo de São Jorge.
There are restaurants and lounges in the hotel. There’s an interior courtyard. There’s free breakfast every morning. And there’s an epic rooftop terrace with stunning city views. (Supposedly one of Lisbon’s top rooftop bars, actually.) I’ll be honest that I didn’t love their room service, but everything else was pretty solid. Clutch location.
PHOTO CREDITS: HOTEL MUNDIAL VIA HOTELS.COM
Day 1: Alfama, Baixa & Bairro Alto
What is a Portugal itinerary without visiting the historic Alfama district? Start the day with a hike up to Castelo de São Jorge, a literal castle on top of a hill. Touristy, yes, but it’s still one of the best things to do in Lisbon.
Head downhill to Time Out Market for lunch. Even a non-foodie like me loved this place. You can sample all of the absolute best of Portugal’s various cuisines in this one location. They’ve got everything from steak to sushi to beer, and all at a really good price, to boot.
From there, head on over to Rua Nova do Carvalho, a little place colloquially known as Pink Street. Once you get there, you’ll see right away where it got its nickname, because the street is painted a solid rose pink. This area is also well-known for its nightlife, so you can have a drink or two at one of the many bars and clubs. Or catch a show at the world-famous Teatro Nacional de São Carlos.
On the way home, check out some colorful displays of street art at Elevador da Glória in Bairro Alto. You can find street art all over the city, but this particular area has a nice concentration of it. You might want to also check out Carpe Diem Arte e Pesquisa, a free-to-visit contemporary art center.
Day 2: Belem
Belem is a little bit further out from the other neighborhoods, but it is a must-visit in any Portugal itinerary. First thing in the morning, head to Pastéis de Belém for some must-try pastéis de nata (AKA egg custard tarts). People line up around the block for these things, so you want to get there early to avoid the worst of it. Afterwards, visit Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a famous monastery with truly stunning architecture.
Afterwards, take a leisurely stroll through the beautiful gardens of Jardim Botanico da Ajuda. It’s not the biggest, but it’s a lot less crowded. If you’re lucky, you might even get it all to yourself.
Close the day with a visit to LX Factory and Village Underground. They’re right next to each other and are perfect for discovering some alternative art.
Um belo dia passado em Lisboa, indeed.
Next Stop: The Fairytale Towns of Sintra & Cascais
After two full days exploring Lisbon, it’s time to add a splash of color to your Portugal itinerary with a trip to some palaces with a side of sea views.
Getting There from Lisbon
My recommended sights for the day aren’t that close together, so transportation for the day is key. I vote for a day tour or renting a car, but have included train and bus details if you decide to go down and spend more time there.
- Buy a Tour: Use Lisbon as your home base and get outta town for a day!
- Rent a Car: The most flexible option outside of a tour. Expect a drive of about 35 minutes. Hop the A5, then N117 towards Sintra’s ring road.
- Take the Train: A much better option than the bus I hear. Literally show up at the Rossio train station in Lisbon and pick “Sintra” on the ticket machine. 5€ roundtrip.
- Take a Bus: Departs from Marques de Pombal. 15€ roundtrip. Do not recommend. But it’s here if you want it.
Day 3: Day Trip to Sintra & Cascais
Absolutely stop at Peña Palace. You won’t regret it. Definitely one of the coolest castle/palaces/whatever I’ve ever been to. An Instagram dream. But it does get really crowded, so I’d go first thing in the morning.
Now, everyone knows about Peña Palace with its insanely bright colors, but don’t forget Quinta da Regaleira. It’s no snooze. You also might recognize its famous staircase (see below). 27 meters down, this well was never a water source, rather a ceremonial spot linked to Tarot mysticism, Freemasonry, and Knights Templar rituals.
Top off your day with a stop in the dreamy seaside village of Cascais. A great spot to catch some rays and wander shops. The Cabo da Roca cliffside isn’t too far away either, so stop for a quick photo there.
Next Stop: The Medieval Towns of Óbidos & Tomar
After the first three days exploring Lisbon, it’s time to add a splash of color to your Portugal itinerary with a trip to the countryside. Namely, two medieval towns called Óbidos and Tomar, both of which come gift-wrapped straight out of a fairytale. You can knock both off your bucket-list in one go as a day-trip.
Getting There from Lisbon
Both Óbidos and Tomar are pretty small, so you don’t need to worry about transportation inside the town proper. Just make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes. As for how to get there…
- Buy a Tour: You’ll have to book ahead of time, but you don’t have to deal with the stress of organizing transportation. Plus, you get a guide to give you some background information.
- Take a Bus: The buses are clean and cheap – fare to Óbidos is only 8 euros, and about the same from there to Tomar.
- Rent a Car: Hop into your rented car and drive down the A8 motorway. Turn off at Exit 15 and follow the signs to Óbidos. You won’t be able to bring the car into the town itself, so you’ll have to leave the car in a carpark outside the city walls. But hey, you’ll have an easy ride once you’re ready to go to Tomar.
Day 4: Day Trip to Medieval Portugal
Óbidos is surrounded by a tall stone wall. Inside those walls, flowers and white houses with colorful trim line the streets. It’s a photographer’s dream – serious eye candy. Once your eyes are done feasting on the town itself, explore the castle and check out the Mirador de San Pedro views.
In Tomar, definitely visit the Convent of Christ, which was built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century. After, take a walk around the town square and snap a shot of the Templar Castle.
On the way back to Lisbon from Tomar, I would also recommend visiting the Sanctuary of Fátima. It’s one of the most important pilgrimage sites in all of Portugal (and indeed, all of Europe).
Connect with Nature in the Azores
The Azores are a group of nine stunning volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They’re known for their dramatic landscapes: mountains, cliffs, and black sand beaches. It’s the perfect place to soak up the sun and enjoy a bit of rest, relaxation, and #selfcare.
These islands make for a great trip all on their own, but an even better addition to a Portugal itinerary. You can balance life on the mainland with a taste of what it’s like in the tropics. (Okay, technically subtropic, but you get the idea.)
Getting to the Azores was an adventure in itself when I flew from Boston to Ponta Delgada, but that’s a story for another time. Luckily for you, there are direct flights from Lisbon to the Azores, as well as ferries if you’re feeling adventurous.
- Rent a Car: My personal recommendation. Make sure to book several months in advance, since this is the option most travelers go with, and you want to guarantee yourself a ride!
- Take a Ferry: Great option if you plan to go island hopping. Ferries are reasonably priced and pretty quick, though you might want to consider a plane instead if the island is far enough away.
- Literally Any Other Public Transportation: It… exists. But unfortunately, it’s few and far between. Buses are inconsistent, taxis are expensive, and… that’s it. These islands are pretty small, so you’ve gotta take what you get.
Where to Stay in the Azores When You Visit
I stayed on the island of Sao Miguel during my visit, and the Octant Ponta Delgado was great. I absolutely loved the free breakfast they served – croissants, marinated mushrooms, and some very nicely brewed coffee. Fancy and filling, all in one. Great location on the main drag and right on the water!
PHOTO CREDITS: OCTANT PONTA DELGADO VIA HOTELS.COM
Day 5: Explore Downtown Ponta Delgado
There’s are lots of things to see downtown. Stroll the promenade, see the city gates, and visit some gardens and churches. And don’t forget to hop on a whale-watching tour while you’re at it.
Make sure to try some of the local food at Mercado da Graca, too – some places dish up local specialties like peppered goat cheese and even grilled shark (yes, an actual shark). Definitely worth trying if you’re brave enough.
Day 6: Go West
A must-see when on Sao Miguel is Setes Cidades twin lakes. Hike the path to the viewpoint if you have the energy. On the way there, you’ll pass an old, kinda creepy but also cool abandoned hotel, Monte Palace. Eerie to the max, but the fun kind since you’re not actually in any danger. After your hike, relax those tense muscles by taking a dip in the Ponta da Ferraria geothermal springs.
Day 7: Go East
Take the next day to head see the other half of the island. Lagoa do Fogo is a gorgeous lake worth a stop and you can see the ocean on either side of the island on the drive up. Come back down the mountain and go snorkeling at Vila Franco do Campo, a horseshoe-shaped island just off Sao Miguel. Further east, the resort town of Furnas boasts an incredible spa, the sweetest chapel you’ll ever see, and a lovely walk to a hidden waterfall. For jaw-dropping views, take a leisurely (and curvy!) drive to the northeast coast of Nordeste.
7-Day Portugal Itinerary: The End
Don’t think the traveling ends here. This Portugal itinerary is just the beginning – and I hope that it inspired you to plan your own trip to this beautiful country. Be sure to follow me for more travel tips and itineraries. Boa Viagem!
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