Portugal was a real surprise for us. As a matter of fact, the country encompasses all sorts of adventures. From beaching to sightseeing to walking town walls, Portugal has many sights that are worth the view. So, if you can’t decide where to start from and what to visit, then this Portugal itinerary of 10 days is for you.
It includes major regions like Algarve, Porto, Lisbon, and Evora and will help you trace some of the most mesmerizing places. But, before we start, let us give you some tips to make your trip smoother.
Best Time to plan your Portugal itinerary
Portugal usually has sunny weather most of the year. Winter is not that cold if there is no wind. We planned our road trip in December, and the weather was almost perfect. The temperature was around 18°C. Also, not many people visit at this time, making it easy to find cheap hotels and cars.
In general, avoid visiting the country during summer’s high season (from June to August). However, anytime between September to May should be perfect. Just look for a cheap flight opportunity anywhere in that period.
Practical Things You Should know about Portugal.
Portuguese is the official language of nine countries! The list includes Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Equatorial Guinea. That’s why learning some Portuguese words will be worth it.
Honestly prefer using GPS while exploring the cities as the road signs can be confusing.
Even that credit cards are accepted at many places, always carry cash with you as many small restaurants do not accept cards.
Besides, Portugal’s standard practice is to serve olives, bread, and cheese before every meal. But remember, they are not free. Seafood restaurants often let you choose a fresh fish from the catch of the day and grill it for you, so keep in mind to ask the estimated price of the fish while selecting to avoid an unpleasant surprise in the end.
Driving in Portugal
Driving in Portugal is relatively easy. Just keep in mind that you will drive around countless roundabouts. However, the roads are well maintained, and drivers are relatively calm.
The longest drive that you could do is, for example, from Porto to Lisbon. It takes around 4 hours. Other than that, all attractions are a maximum of 2 hours far away from each other.
Transportation Advice for your Portugal itinerary
The best way to travel in Portugal is by taking a rental car. It would give you the flexibility to travel at your own comfort and ensure the optimum use of your time. Furthermore, renting a car is really cheap. It cost around 11 EUR a day.
Nevertheless, the local buses are a more affordable option if you are on a tight budget. Trains are also a good and pocket-friendly way for traveling between stations as the rail network is pretty developed there.
Cities in Portugal are also not massive. Walking is usually enough to visit the main attractions.
Accommodation during your Portugal road trip
There are various options for accommodation like Hostels, Hotels, Pousadas and Small-Inns. They all are relatively affordable except for the Pousadas as they are luxurious.
Whereas hostels are a good option if you don’t mind sharing rooms with other people, we mostly went for Airbnb and 2-room apartments on Booking. They cost us around 10 to 15€ per person, and we had our own kitchen to prepare breakfast and sometimes dinner.
We will suggest some of the properties where we stayed later in our itinerary part.
Budget to plan for your 10-day itinerary
You can plan for a midrange budget of 50-60 EUR per day. However, if you want to backpack, the budget can be around 35-45 EUR per day.
Rental Cars – They are sufficiently convenient for a midrange budget. Also, booking them in advance can be even cheaper. Therefore, you can expect rental cars to be in the range of 10-20 EUR per day.
Accommodation – It is very affordable in Portugal. Most dorm rooms cost around 10 EUR per night. Economic hotels are also available at approximately 20 EUR per night. If you are in a group, look for city apartments.
Food – You can easily find bakeries serving snacks for 2 EUR. Light meals and sandwiches would be around 7-8 EUR. If you want a full meal with drinks, it can cost you 10-12 EUR. You can also cook food which is relatively cheaper than eating outside. That’s what we sometimes did.
What you should know about culture and people
- Portuguese culture is the result of an influx of people from different civilizations.
- People are pretty straightforward in conveying themselves and believe in saying the truth politely.
- Portuguese is people very warm-hearted and talk directly. Vendors are honest, and people always smile at you, especially in small villages.
- Some hand gestures have different meanings in Portugal. Although Portuguese tend to use many gestures while talking, don’t be afraid of asking what a motion means if you don’t understand it.
Portugal itinerary 10 days – the stops
We landed in Lisbon. However, we started our road trip right away and left the beautiful capital of Portugal to be our last stop. So we drove directly to the south, to the district of Algarve.
Read this if you need an inspiring guide about your stay in Lisbon
Day 1-2 South Algarve
Algarve offers many beaches, clifftops, and spellbinding coves that leave you longing for more. The region has many beautiful spots, such as the Benagil Cave. However, you don’t need much time to visit them all. That is why we stayed there for 2 days. The first place to chase in the Algarve is the beaches of Lagos.
If you have more spare time, you wanna check those things to do in Tavira, one of the cute cities in the region.
Lagos is a small town, and it maintained its charm throughout the years. It boasts of alluring beaches and stunning landscapes. However, the most iconic attraction of the area is the Benagil Cave. If there is one thing you need to visit in Lagos, it’s the Benagil cave.
It is a village in Algarve and historically known for fishing but has recently started to attract tourists. Rua Dos Pescadores is a beautiful street lining the fishermen’s houses. Many of these houses have turned into restaurants serving the seafood of Portugal.
The sea of Salema is suitable for swimming thanks to its clear and calm water. In addition, Salema is famous for its octopus fishing and octopus pots which inspired us to visit this peaceful village.
If you are more interested in going further West and discover misknown places about Portugal, think about visiting Azores islands in the Atlantic ocean.
Where to stay in Salema
I would recommend Apart Hotel Villa Luz. This place is not only affordable but also perfectly located with a breathtaking view. Breakfast is included in the stay, and the rooms are well furnished.
Cape Sagres is yet another beautiful place for your Portugal itinerary. Sagres is primarily considered a surfing destination, and people seeking adventure and thrill love to visit Sagres. Prince Henry, the navigator, established his school for navigators here. This school of Prince Henry provides historical importance to the place.
Don’t forget your camera while in Cape Sagres! The views here are just stunning.
Though people usually skip Faro, we wanted to visit it to know what the place offers. Faro is actually a small town. Don’t plan more than 3 hours for it. The highlight in Faro was Cidade Velha, a tranquil and refreshing place with solitary restaurants that offer a lot of self-time. Another place in Faro that moved us was the Ria Formosa Cruise. This place is a storehouse of natural splendor that abounds with birdlife, including flamingos, razorbills, spoonbills, storks, and much more.
Where to stay in Faro
If you are planning to spend a night in Faro and discover it by night. We recommend Hotel Sol Algarve by Kavia, it is in a traditional building in the city’s heart.
From Faro, we went to Evora, which is in the North. It is a two and a half hours journey from Faro.
Day 3-4 North Algarve
Evora stands for its striking architecture, like the beautiful Tempola Romano, medieval cathedrals, and cloisters. Temple Romano is one of the must-visits. Actually, It is one of the best-preserved Roman monuments in Portugal. It is also known as the Temple of Diana. What surprised us the most about Tempola Romano is that it has managed to stand through almost 18 centuries.
We reached Obidos in the afternoon. It is one hour and fifty-four minutes journey from Evora. Obidos is a charming city with narrow cobbled streets and painted houses. Actually, it is a small example of a traditional Portuguese town. We walked the town walls here, and the experience was enriching.
It is a 32 minutes journey from Obidos to Nazaré. The Big Waves is the major tourist attraction of the place. This is what made us add Nazaré to our list for our Portugal itinerary, and it was worth it. Nazaré hosts one of the world’s big waves surfing contests. This place is an absolute must for all you adventure-loving people.
Don’t miss the sunset on the famous cliff there. It was one of the best ones I watched. The cliff itself gives you a panoramic view of the city and the ocean combined.
Where to stay in Nazaré
Staying in Nazaré is really worth it if you are a beach and sunset lover. We recommend this lovely hotel called By the Sea. It offers excellent views and a delicious breakfast.
Alcobaca is just 19 minutes drive from Nazaré. The best place to visit in Alcobaca is the Alcobaca Monastery. This Monastery is the first-ever Gothic Building in Portugal. The craftsmanship is fascinating throughout the area. Don’t plan more than 2 hours for this city, including a coffee in their sunny main place.
Batalha was the next place on our list. It is a 24 minutes journey from Alcobaca. Mosteiro da Batalha has to be a must on anyone’s list planning to visit Portugal. The Monastery is a stunning example of Filigree stonework. It is Gothic in style, with magnificent archways, chambers, and chapels.
After a 30 minutes drive from Batalha, you reach Fatima. Fatima is famous for its Sanctuary, which is a collection of Catholic religious buildings and structures. The shrines of the Sanctuary of Fatima are dedicated to the Lady of Fatima.
Coimbra is 55 minutes away from Fatima and a famous student city thanks to its known university. It is also a must for your Portugal itinerary. The Fado performance of Coimbra is a very famous variance of fado.
Coimbra’s most important church is Igreja de Santa Cruz. Although it is beautiful and authentic, Coimbra is not a place where you need to give a lot of time. However, just one day is enough for various sightseeing experiences.
Santa Cruz is the church that is definitely worth the visit. The ambiance of it is soothing. Unfortunately, we could not visit many places because we were running short on time, so we attended the Fado performance.
Where to stay in Coimbra
Book a stay in the city center to have the best of views and easily explore the town. For example, Hotel Botanico de Coimbra.
Day 6-7 Porto: a must in your Portugal itinerary
Porto is one of the major tourist places to include in your Portugal itinerary. We began our exploration of Porto from Fluss Duoro.
Read this if you want a perfect Porto itinerary plan
Fluss Douro is a river that has its origin in Spain and flows through Porto. It is one of the major rivers of the peninsula. The walk at the river is great, and there are many hidden spots for photography lovers.
It is a great experience for people who are not afraid of heights as you can pass the bridge from a higher level, which is more spacious. After passing the bridge, you must head to Porto Cathedral and enjoy the sight of all the monuments and statues on the way.
Cable car viewpoint of the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar
Vila Nova de Gaia is another famous landmark of Porto. Again, the cable car ride plays an important part in the landscape. The cable car ride provides a majestic view of Vila Nova de Gaia. After climbing the banks of Gaia, the car takes you to a panoramic view of Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar. You can also go on foot to the Mosteiro, but the view the cable car provides is stunning.
Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar
The Monastery of Serra do Pilar is located on the opposite side of the Duoro River. It is situated on an outcrop overlooking the Luís I Bridge. Along with these two, Serra do Pilar is considered a historic site.
Ribeira is a famous restaurant serving famous Portugal dishes. One of the most famous is the Francesinha which is a famous Portuguese sandwich. There are many variations of this sandwich, but the one served in Ribeira was one of the best we came across.
It is a church built by Nicolau Nasan. The appearance of the church is stunning and mesmerizing. The interior of the building is of granite and marble with wood carving, which is proof of fine architecture.
Sao Bento Train station
It is a railway station in Porto. It has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and as a National Monument of Portugal. The architecture is strong and It wonderful.
It is a famous bookstore in Porto. The rumor is that J.K. Rowling thought of writing Harry Potter in Porto, particularly in this library. The building is magnanimous. I suggest you go there and buy a book.
Palácio da Bolsa
It is a famous building in Porto. Situated next to St. Francis Church, it is enclosed by a glass structure which allows the natural light to fill the palace. The granite staircase leads to a huge room that is decorated with wood. This is one of the most interesting landmarks in Porto.
Where to stay in Porto
Porto is hilly, and you wanna have a nice view of the city if you are a photography lover. We recommend this authentic aparthotel called Musica Guest Apartment.
Day 8-10 Lisbon: a must in your Portugal itinerary
There is so much to do in Lisbon in it was the city we were the most excited about. It offered so much to us. We started our exploration of the city with one of its most iconic monuments, the Cresto Rei.
The statue of Christ stands high above the bank of Tejo Estuary. Cresto Rei is an important pilgrimage destination for tourists. The Brazilian Statue of Christ was the inspiration of Cresto Rei. It has become a major religious center for the diocese of Setubal.
The next place we visited was Saint Domingos Church. This Church is the most unique sight of the city, and the atmosphere there is chilling and saturnine at the same time.
The Church’s interior is dull and haunted, with small alcoves containing disturbing and gross depictions of Christ’s death and the decaying of his body. The stone pillars are baked from the fire in the church. In fact, it still smells like burning.
Castelo de São Jorge
This is the next monument that we visited. The castle is one of the most sought-after tourist attractions of the city. This is because it has witnessed several battles. For tourists on a Portugal itinerary, it is an enchanting exploration, but it symbolizes their history for the residents.
It is a kind of a maze of ancient houses and cobbled streets. This feature of Alfama makes it a fascinating place to be in. The appearances of the houses are eye-catching as we don’t see the kind of architecture anymore.
Elevador de Santa Justa
It is a unique tourist attraction. It transports passengers up 45m from the Baixa district to the Largo do Carmo. The Elevador de Santa Justa is an art form. It is decorated with stunning neo-gothic arches and patterns from the outside, which amazed us. Santa Justa used to be a transport facility, but now it is a tourist attraction.
Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
It is a rhetorical monastery in Lisbon. It is associated with Vasco da Gama, who spent his last night here before starting his journey towards the east.
It is one of the most absorbing and enchanting churches of Portugal for tourists because of its wonderful decorations.
Belém Tower, located very near to Jeronimos Monastery, is considered to be an architectural jewel. The tower has five floors. Each one is connected by a narrow staircase. The floors are divided from bottom to top as The Governor’s Hall, The King’s Hall, The Audience Hall, The Chapel, and The RoofTop.
Padrao dos Descobrimentos
It is a 52-meter high monument. The viewing platform provides a broad view of the district.
Staying in Lisbon
When in Lisbon, you should stay in the old quarter. We managed to find a free slot in the great Alfama River Apartments.
Tips for visiting Lisbon
Try giving your stopover in Lisbon enough time because there are many places, small and big, that are worth your time. Lisbon is one of the most important steps in your Portugal itinerary.
Lissabon is hilly, and you will need to walk quite a distance while visiting the city attractions. Make sure you wear comfy sneakers.
You can skip some of the places we visited if you do not want your schedule to be packed. In our opinion, it is great to visit as much as you can on this trip. Also, the Portuguese seafood is delicious, so don’t let go of any opportunity of eating at a good restaurant.
If you are in a hurry, try visiting Lisbon in one day. You will then see most of the city attractions in a short period.
What to pack for Portugal itinerary
Comfortable and non-slippery shoes are a must for the cobbled pavements of Portugal, mainly Lisbon and hilly Porto.
Before you leave for your trip, pack a universal charger/adapter.
During spring autumn, the weather tends to become snappy in the evening, so don’t forget to pack scarfs or cardigans.
Women should avoid packing skirts during this time. Jeans and trousers are a better deal for this weather.
Try packing thin layers as they are more suitable for a changing season. Furthermore, they help you travel light during your Portugal itinerary.
Portuguese words that will save your life
Although the people here are very friendly, language becomes a barrier at times. This is why you should learn some common expressions. Portuguese people see this very positively.
What to eat while in Portugal
Pastel de nata is the most famous Portuguese dish. Besides, there are some other dishes as well that are a must-have while during your Portugal itinerary.
Bacalhau or Portuguese Cod Fish – It is yet another must-have. To explain, Bacalhau is prepared in different styles, including fried, baked, grilled, and canned, so you can easily find your favorite. It is made with thin strips of codfish mixed with potatoes, onions, eggs (optional), garlic, and olives and topped with chopped parsley.
Chicken Piri-Piri – Chicken Piri-Piri is a popular national dish. The chicken is covered in Piri-Piri and served with chips, lettuce, and onion salad. You can find it easily throughout the country.
Final thoughts about Portugal itinerary
Portugal is not that famous as a travel destination. Yet it has one of the best landscapes and food I’ve ever seen.
Although it’s part of the European Union, where there is also a lot to do, the country is relatively cheap, and you can enjoy it to the fullest without spending a lot.
If you have any suggestions or questions, let us know in the comments, and we will reply right away.
Best! Ash & Rym