Exploring Portugal: A Week-Long Adventure

how many days to travel portugal

How long you should spend travelling Portugal depends on your interests, budget, and method of transportation. If you're using public transportation and are short on time, Lisbon and Sintra can be explored in 3 days. If you have 6 days, you can add the Algarve (Salema, Lagos, Cape Sagres) to your itinerary. With 8 days, you can add Coimbra and slow down, and with 10 days, you can add Nazaré and nearby sights (Óbidos, Alcobaça, Batalha, Fátima). If you have 2 weeks, you can add Évora and the Douro Valley to your trip.

If you have a car, you can follow a similar itinerary but modify it to fit your preferences. For example, you could fly into Porto and out of Lisbon, or vice versa, to avoid backtracking.

When planning your trip, keep in mind that July and August are the hottest, busiest, and most expensive months to visit Portugal. May, June, and September usually have hot weather but are less crowded and more affordable. Even in the cooler months, it's possible to have sunny days.

To make the most of your time in Portugal, consider the travel times and distances between places. It's often better to explore one area properly than to spend your holiday travelling between destinations. If you're short on time, flying between Faro and Porto can save you a few hours compared to taking the train or driving.

Additionally, research how you'll get from the airport to your accommodation, and consider pre-booking an airport transfer if needed. Having a local SIM card can also be helpful for staying connected and ordering rides.

Finally, Portugal offers a variety of accommodation options, including hostels, mid-range hotels, luxury hotels, and Airbnb. The cost of food and attractions is generally affordable, with meals costing around $30 per day and attraction prices ranging from free to a few Euros.


Lisbon and Porto


In Lisbon, there are many historic neighbourhoods to explore, culinary delights to sample, and a vibrant nightlife to enjoy. The ideal length of time to spend in Lisbon is three days, which gives you ample time to see the main attractions. However, if you are short on time, you can condense this to two days.

  • Day 1: Explore the Alfama and Baixa districts, including the Lisbon Castle, the Praça do Comércio, and a ride on the 28 tram.
  • Day 2: Spend the day in the Belém district, visiting landmarks such as the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery, and then explore the LX Factory and the Estrela district.
  • Day 3: In the morning, discover the Príncipe Real district and the Avenida da Liberdade. In the afternoon, visit the Parque das Nações, with its impressive architecture and waterfront views.

If you have more time, you could also take day trips to nearby towns and beaches, such as Sintra, Cascais, or the Praia de Carcavelos beach.


Porto is a fascinating, traditional Portuguese city with a wide variety of activities, tourist attractions, and lively nightlife. It takes about two days to discover Porto, but if you want to explore at a more leisurely pace and visit museums, three days is ideal.

  • Day 1: Explore the historic centre of Porto, including the Se, Baixa, and Ribeira districts. Visit the Igreja do Carmo, the Se Cathedral, the Livraria Lello bookshop, and the Torre dos Clérigos. You could also take a 90-minute boat ride along the Douro River.
  • Day 2: Visit Vila Nova de Gaia, the city on the southern side of the Douro River, where you'll find the Port cellars. Take a Port tasting tour, ride the cable car, and enjoy the friendly atmosphere. In the afternoon, head to the Foz district, which offers pretty riverside walks and small beaches.

If you have more time, there are several interesting day trips you can take from Porto, such as Guimarães, Braga, the Douro Valley, and Aveiro.

So, for a trip to both Lisbon and Porto, allowing for a couple of days in each place and some time for day trips, a week in Portugal would be a good length of time.



Getting There

There are a few ways to get to Sintra from Lisbon. You can take the train from Rossio station or Estação do Oriente, which takes about 40-47 minutes and costs €4.80 for a return ticket. Alternatively, there is a direct bus service from the resort towns of Cascais and Estoril. The bus from Cascais takes 30 minutes and costs €4.25 for a single ticket, while the bus from Estoril takes the same amount of time and departs from the train station.

What to See and Do

  • Palácio Nacional da Pena: Known as one of Europe's finest palaces, with a vividly painted exterior and an interior that has been restored to its 1910 glory.
  • Quinta da Regaleira: A neo-Gothic mansion with mystical gardens that conceal secret passages, symbolic features, and even a Knights of Templar initiation well.
  • Palácio Nacional de Sintra: The original medieval palace of Sintra, which was a favourite among early Portuguese rulers.
  • Castelo dos Mouros: The ancient ruins of a Moorish castle that once guarded the entire region from its craggy peak.
  • Palácio de Monserrate: An Arabian-inspired villa with intricate latticework stone carving and tranquil gardens, offering a respite from the tourist crowds.

Beyond the typical tourist routes, Sintra reveals a different side with dense forests, rugged coastlines, secluded religious sites, and breathtaking viewpoints. If you have a car, there are also some stunning drives to be had in the hills of Serra de Sintra, such as the N247 between Almoçageme and Almuinhas Velhas.

How Many Days to Spend in Sintra

Most tourists visit Sintra as a day trip, but there are enough attractions to easily fill two or even three days. If you plan to spend multiple days in Sintra, it is recommended to stay within the town to avoid the hassle of travelling back and forth from Lisbon each day. This also gives you the opportunity to explore the town once the day-trippers have left and to take advantage of the extended opening hours of the key monuments.

When to Visit

Peak season in Sintra can get very crowded, resulting in long queues for admission tickets and tourist buses running out of space. To avoid the crowds, it is best to start your day early or visit during off-peak hours (11 am to 3 pm). You can also purchase admission tickets in advance to skip some of the queues.

Where to Stay

Where to Eat

Some popular restaurants in Sintra include Incomum by Luis Santos, Cantinho do Picadeiro, and Restaurante da Adraga.


If you're looking for a more organised way to explore Sintra, there are several small group tours available. These tours can be a great way to eliminate the hassle of public transport and provide valuable insights from knowledgeable local guides.

With its wealth of historic sites, natural beauty, and cultural attractions, Sintra is a must-visit destination on any trip to Portugal. Whether you're spending a day or multiple days, Sintra is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.



The Algarve is a sun-drenched region in Portugal, boasting over 300 days of sunshine a year. It is famed for its pristine beaches, dramatic cliffs, and extensive Atlantic coastline. The region offers a diverse range of attractions, from natural wonders to cultural delights. Here is a guide to help you make the most of your time in the Algarve.

Natural Wonders

The Algarve's coastline boasts soaring cliffs, sea caves, golden beaches, and scalloped bays. The west coast, in particular, is a surfer's paradise, with its undeveloped landscape. The region is also home to the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, a vast system of lagoons and islands stretching 60km along the coastline. For a unique perspective, head to Foia, the summit of the Monchique mountain range, offering panoramic views of the rolling hills and lush forests below.

Cultural Delights

The Algarve has a rich history and cultural heritage. The town of Silves, with its Moorish castle and city walls, offers a glimpse into the region's past. The whitewashed fishing villages, with their decorative chimneys and terracotta roofs, are a testament to the region's Moorish influence. The Algarve is also known for its delicious cuisine, including fresh seafood, cataplana (seafood stew), and Frango Piri Piri (spicy roasted chicken).

Outdoor Activities

The Algarve offers a wide range of outdoor activities to suit all interests. From surfing at Praia da Arrifana to hiking the Seven Hanging Valleys Walk, there is something for everyone. Golf enthusiasts will enjoy the 35 top-notch courses in the region. For a more relaxed experience, explore the rural bike routes through the region's smaller villages.

When to Visit

The Algarve is a year-round destination, with something to offer in every season. Peak season is in July and August, but spring and autumn offer milder temperatures, wildflowers, and fewer crowds. Even in winter, you can still enjoy alfresco lunches, with temperatures sometimes warm enough.

Where to Stay

When deciding where to stay in the Algarve, consider your preferences for a quiet holiday, ease of transportation, or a walking-themed trip. Ferragudo is ideal for couples seeking a tranquil escape, while Lagos offers a convenient base for those without a car. Carvoeiro is perfect for a walking-themed holiday, and São Brás de Alportel provides an off-the-beaten-path experience.



A Stylish and Sophisticated Seaside Town

A Historical Seaside Town

Historically, Cascais was the summer retreat of the Portuguese nobility, including King Dom Luís I. The town elegantly combines its regal and fishing heritage with modern tourist facilities. The grand 19th-century villas, imposing fort, fascinating museums, lively bars, and outstanding restaurants create a buzzing atmosphere.

Golden Bays and Sandy Beaches

Cultural Attractions and Day Trips

For day trips, Cascais is conveniently connected to Lisbon by a direct train service. The fashionable town of Estoril, the Boca do Inferno cliffs, and the Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe, are also easily accessible by scenic coastal walks or public transport.

When to Visit

Late spring (May-June) and early autumn (September) are ideal times to visit Cascais, offering glorious weather without the extreme crowds of summer. The beach season extends from mid-May to the end of September, but the sea temperature remains cold year-round. Winter months (November-February) tend to be wet and mild, making Lisbon a more suitable base.




During the Moorish rule from 715 to 1165, the town slowly prospered again and became an agricultural centre with a fortress and a mosque. In 1165, Évora was taken from the Moors by Gerald the Fearless, and it came under the rule of the Portuguese king Afonso I in 1166. The town flourished as one of the most dynamic cities in the Kingdom of Portugal during the Middle Ages, with palaces, monuments, and religious buildings constructed.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Due to its well-preserved old town centre, medieval walls, and monuments from various historical periods, Évora was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The Roman Temple of Évora, also known as the Temple of Diana, is one of the town's most famous landmarks. Other notable sites include the Cathedral of Évora, considered one of the most important Gothic monuments in Portugal, and the Chapel of Bones, located within the 15th-century church of São Francisco.

Food and Wine

The cuisine of the Alentejo region is renowned in Portugal, known for its hearty dishes and wine production. Popular dishes to try in Évora include local cheeses paired with Alentejo bread, açorda (a bread soup with garlic and poached egg), and migas com carne de porco (a breadcrumb dish made with local pork). For dessert, queijadas de requeijão (small cakes made from egg yolks) and bolo de mel (honey cake) are local favourites.

Wine enthusiasts will enjoy visiting nearby wineries to learn about the winemaking process and taste local varieties. Quinta Amoreira da Torre, the first organic vineyard in the Alentejo region, offers unique whites and reserva reds.

Activities and Attractions

In addition to exploring the historic sites, there are several other activities and attractions in and around Évora:

  • Stroll through the cobbled streets within the city walls and admire the whitewashed houses and pretty tiles.
  • Visit the Cadaval Palace, a 14th-century palace with impressive tile work.
  • Shop for local ceramics, cork souvenirs, and wooden trinkets in the shops along Rua 5 de Outubro.
  • Relax in the Jardim Público, a public garden designed in the 1800s by Italian architect José Cinatti.
  • Take a hot air balloon ride over the vast plains of the Alentejo for a unique perspective of the region.
  • Tour local wineries and taste the region's renowned wines.

Accommodations and Restaurants

Octant Évora, located about 20 minutes from the city centre, is a highly recommended hotel that showcases the best of Alentejo. The property features contemplation pools, including a heated pool, and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

For dining, Cavalariça, housed in the courtyard of the Palace of the Dukes of Cadaval, is a must-visit restaurant. With a colourful and vibrant atmosphere, both indoors and outdoors, the restaurant serves inventive dishes inspired by local cuisine with an international twist.

Travel Tips

When planning your trip to Évora, keep the following in mind:

  • Évora is best explored on foot, but consider joining a guided walking tour to gain a deeper understanding of the town's history and cultural nuances.
  • Set aside at least two or three days to fully enjoy what Évora has to offer without feeling rushed.
  • If travelling by public transportation, note that some services may finish early or not run on weekends.
  • October can be a great time to visit, but the weather may be unpredictable, with a mix of sunny days and cooler temperatures.

Frequently asked questions

This depends on your travel style and the places you want to visit. If you want to visit Lisbon and Porto, spending 3 days in each city is a good starting point. If you also want to visit the beach, allow for 3-4 days in Cascais or Lagos. So, for these places, a 10-day trip is a good option.

For Lisbon, 3 days is a good amount of time to see the main sights.

For Porto, 2 days is enough to see the main sights, with 1 additional day for a cruise on the Douro River.

This depends on your preferences. If you want to visit multiple beaches, allow for at least 3-4 days. Lagos is a popular beach destination, offering a mix of beaches and cultural sites.

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