Portugal Travel Guide

Portugal Travel Guide

Nestled along the sun-drenched Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is home to historic cities and photogenic towns, rolling hills covered with vines and cork trees, and some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.

Start your journey in Lisbon, wandering the narrow streets in Alfama, visiting the iconic Belém Tower, and day tripping to the fairytale land of Sintra. Then, venture north to Porto and the Douro Valley, sipping on wine and port. And not to be missed is the Algarve, a dramatic coastline with golden beaches and sea caves to explore. Throughout mainland Portugal, there are also small towns to visit, castles to tour, and hidden gems to uncover.

Whether you are drawn to the large, bustling cities, the smaller medieval towns, the wine regions, or Portugal’s picturesque coastlines, there is something here for everyone.

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Explore the palaces in Sintra, taste port wine in Porto and the Douro Valley, go beach hopping along the Algarve, walk the Portuguese Camino de Santiago, and visit the Azores and Madeira…these all top the list of things to do in Portugal.

Get the full list in our Portugal Bucket List.

Portugal Itineraries

If you have 10 days in Portugal, we have five great ideas for how you can spend your time. Spend 10 days visiting Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve, a classic trip for first-timers. Or, take your pick from itineraries that include other great destinations, such as the Douro Valley, Óbidos, and Monsanto.
For first timers to Portugal, Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve typically top the “must-see list.” With 10 days in Portugal, you have enough time to visit these three places and add on a day trip to Sintra. This itinerary can be done using public transportation or by rental car. 


Lisbon is the largest city and the capital of Portugal. Built on seven hills, visit the historic neighborhoods, the famous landmarks such as Jerónimos Monastery and Belém Tower, and São Jorge Castle. Lisbon also makes the perfect home base to day trip to several nearby destinations, such as Sintra and Cascais.

Sintra & Cascais

Both Sintra and Cascais are located near Lisbon, making them fantastic day trip destinations from Lisbon or a nice place to stay, if you prefer smaller towns over busy cities.

Sintra is a land of fairytale palaces, with Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, and the Palace of Monserrate being must-sees. Cascais is a small coastal town that is home to several picturesque beaches and a charming historic city center. You can also visit Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe and the small towns and beaches that dot the nearby coastline.

Central Portugal

Central Portugal is a large area that covers the midsection of Portugal, from the Atlantic Ocean to the border with Spain. Visit the coastal towns of Nazaré and Aveiro, drive to the top of Serra da Estrela (the tallest mountain in continental Portugal), and visit the charming cities and towns of Óbidos, Fátima, Tomar, Monsanto, Sortelha, and Coimbra.

Northern Portugal

Porto, a city famous for its port wine, is the largest city in northern Portugal. From Porto, day trip to nearby Guimarães and Braga, and climb the historic steps of Bom Jesus do Monte. Venture east into the stunning Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must for wine aficionados. Finally, explore the mountainous Peneda-Gerês National Park, which sits on the northern border of Portugal with Spain.


The Algarve is the southernmost portion of continental Europe. Famous for its golden beaches, stunning cliffs, and sea caves, this is one of the most beautiful areas of Portugal to visit. Walk the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail, marvel at Benagil Cave, dine on seafood fresh from the ocean, and relax on some of the most picturesque beaches in Europe.
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Europe Travel Inspiration & Practical Info

Do you dream of visiting world-class cities like Paris, Barcelona, or Venice? Or would you rather hike the Alps, go on a scenic train ride, explore the beautiful beaches and coastal towns in southern Europe, visit fairytale towns and castles, island hop in Greece, or go on an unforgettable road trip in northern Europe?

In this article we list 25 ways to spend one week in Europe. 

Top Experiences in Portugal

Lisbon. Explore the largest city in Portugal. Visit Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery, wander the streets of Alfama and Bairro Alto, photograph the city from its elevated viewpoints, and ride or photograph historic tram 28.

Sintra. Sintra is the place to go to explore whimsical castles and palaces, with Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, the National Palace of Sintra, the Castle of the Moors, and the Palace of Monserrate topping the list. You can also visit Cabo da Roca and few stunning beaches.

Porto. Famous for its port wine production, Porto is a gorgeous city in northern Portugal. Go port tasting in Gaia, stroll across Dom Luis I Bridge, visit the most beautiful bookstore in the world, and try Porto’s local foods.

Douro Valley. This terraced region is where port wine originates. The Douro Valley can be visited on a day trip from Porto, but wine lovers should plan a few days and nights here, to immerse yourself in this stunning region of Portugal.

Algarve. The Algarve makes up the southernmost portion of mainland Portugal and it is famous for its beaches, dramatic coastal cliffs and pillars, and sea caves. Beach lovers can easily spend a week here and never run out of things to do.

Óbidos. This walled, hilltop town is a joy to explore and looks and feels very much like a hill town in Tuscany, Italy.

Nazaré. Famous for its monstrous waves, Nazare is one of the world’s top surfing locations. The best time to visit is November through March, when the largest waves make an appearance.

Coimbra. This city is famous for its university, the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world.

Guimarães. This lovely town, with its charming historic city center, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located near Porto.

Braga. In Braga, visit the oldest cathedral in Portugal and climb the steps of Bom Jesus do Monte. Like Guimaraes, it is located near Porto.

Monsanto. This is another hilltop village in Portugal. In Monsanto, stone houses are sandwiched between and under colossal boulders, making this one of the most unique villages to visit in Europe.

Évora. Located in Alentejo, this small city is dotted with ancient historic buildings, including a Roman temple, making it another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Portugal.

Castles of Portugal. One of the best things to do in Portugal is to explore its long list of castles, which can be found in the country’s largest cities, dotting the hillsides of eastern Portugal, and dotting the coastlines.

Fátima. Fátima is an important pilgrimage site in Portugal. Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three children reported seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary. The Chapel of Apparitions stands on the place where this occurred. Also in Fátima are the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity.

Batalha Monastery. This Dominican convent was constructed between 1386 and 1517, in commemoration of the 1385 Battle of Aljubarrota. It later became a burial church for Portuguese royalty. It is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Alcobaça Monastery. The Alcobaça Monastery is a Gothic monastery that was built by monks of the Cistercian Order in 1178. It is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Azores. The Azores are an archipelago that sit in the Atlantic Ocean. Hiking, whale watching, relaxing in thermal pools, swimming, snorkeling, and surfing all top the list of things to do here. The Azores are still on our bucket list.

Madeira. Sitting off the coast of Morocco, this archipelago is famous for its Madeira wine, forests, and wildlife. It is a year-round destination, staying warm through the winter months. Madeira is still on our bucket list.

How Many Days Do You Need in Portugal?

At a bare minimum, plan on spending seven days in Portugal. This gives you enough time to visit one or two cities and do a day trip or two. Or, spend the entire week relaxing in the Algarve.

The more time you can add, the more places you can visit. On a 10-day trip to Portugal, visit Lisbon and Porto, with the option to explore the Douro Valley, a few towns or historic landmarks in Central Portugal, or tack a few days on in the Algarve.

Those with two weeks have enough time to quickly explore mainland Portugal from top to bottom or slow things down, immersing yourself in one region of this beautiful country.

If Madeira is on your list, we recommend 7 to 10 days here. And for the Azores, 10 to 14 days gives you just enough time to visit several islands.

Best Time to Visit Portugal

Portugal is a year-round destination.

Summer is the busiest time to be here. Expect hot temperatures, big crowds, and the most expensive prices for flights, hotels, and rental cars.

The best time to visit Portugal is in the spring and fall (late April into early June and mid-September through October), as temperatures are pleasant and crowds are lower than during peak season. We visited Portugal from early September through mid-October and had a fantastic experience and really enjoyed being in Portugal in October.

Winter can be chilly with increased clouds and rain chances. However, compared to much of Europe, this is one of the warmest places to visit. Tourism in the winter is increasing in Portugal, particularly for those who want to explore a portion of Europe without dealing with snow and freezing temperatures.

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