One week in Portugal is just enough to catch a glimpse of this vibrant country. Below are two 2 different travel itineraries for those with 1 week in Portugal! They will include tips & advice and the must-sees for each city. You’ll also find a cost estimate to help you plan your trip!
From the best cities in Portugal to the beautiful palaces of Sintra, from the lovely Douro Valley to the golden beaches of the Algarve, some of the best sights in Portugal can be experienced within a week.
If you enjoy coastal life with an urban twist, the first Portugal travel itinerary comprising of Porto, Douro Valley, Lison, and Santa may be suitable for you. If you perfer a more laid-back environment while still getting a kick of the country’s most well known cities, the second Portugal itinerary comprising of Porto, Lison, and Algarve might be a better choice.
Highlights of Spending 2 days in Porto:
Sunrise at the Dom Luis I Bridge
Cruise on the Douro River
1 Day in Douro Valley
Highlights of Staying in Lisbon for 2 days:
Discover the Alfama district and the Belem district
Explore Lisbon city center
1 Day in Sintra
1 Day in Porto
1 Day in Lisbon
Explore Lisbon city center
Highlights of Spending 4 Days in the Algarve
Chill on the incredible golden sand beaches
Ride a boat through the hidden caves of the coast
Visit traditional villages inland
The first step of our travel Portugal itinerary is Porto, the second biggest city in Portugal. While there are plenty of interesting things to see north of Porto, this is the furthest north we’ll go in Portugal due to time constraints.
Experience: I arrived in Porto late at night from Paris and drove my rental car straight to the hotel for some sleep. I spent the next 2 days exploring Porto, pretty much empty from tourists in April.
Visit the old town and spend the day walking around & discovering the city. Here’s the list of the most interesting things to see in Porto:
- Sé do Porto: the main cathedral in Porto, 2h for the visit
- Ponte Dom Luís I Bridge (catch a sunset here!): the iconic bridge in Porto, 1h to explore the surroundings
- Clerigos Tower: a tall tower where you can climb to get a great view over the city, 1h for the visit
- Ribeira Square: pretty colorful houses on the riverfront, 2h to explore the Ribeira neighborhood
- Episcopal Palace: a huge palace that you definitely need to visit, 2h for the visit
- Livraria Lello: a library that was used as inspiration for Harry Potter’s library, 1h for the visit
I recommend heading out of town on the second day to watch the sunrise on the beach just south of the town, at the Capela do Senhor da Pedra. Then come back to the city and enjoy a cruise on the Douro River, before going for a traditional Fado show.
Day 3 & 4 in Douro Valley
After exploring Porto, it’s time to head out of the city towards the Douro Valley!
Experience: I still had a few things I wanted to explore in Porto, and as a result I left for the Douro Valley late in the day, around noon. I didn’t have much time at Douro Valley since I drove to Lisbon at the end of the day (4h drive). For those that enjoy nature-escapes, do plan for an extra day.
The Douro Valley is home to many vineyards, and it’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It looks absolutely amazing, and driving there is a blast, so much so that is has been named as one of the best roads in the world!
Drive around on the switchbacks roads, and enjoy the magnificent views over the Douro River. If you’re a wine lover with a week in Portugal, this will be the perfect spot for you. You can spend lots of time visiting some of the most beautiful vineyards and tasting delicious local wine.
Day 5 & 6 in Lisbon
Get to the capital city of Portugal from Douro Valley; the city has plenty to offer!
Experience: I drove from Douro Valley to Lisbon at night, and went straight to sleep when I reached my hotel. Since I had a car, I chose a hotel in the suburbs to save money. In hindsight, I should probably have taken a hotel in the center of the city, making it easier to explore the city.
Below is a Lisbon travel itinerary if you have one week in Portugal:
Day 1 in Lisbon:
- Lisbon Cathedral: the main church in Lisbon, allow 2h for the full visit
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol: a great viewpoint, 20mn
- São Vicente de Fora Church: beautiful church worth exploring, 1h
- National Pantheon: final resting place of Portugal public figures, 2h for the full visit
- Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte: another viewpoint over the whole city
- Castelo de Sao Jorge: castle on the hill with a great view, 2h for the full visit
Day 2 in Lisbon:
- Santa Justa Lift: a famous ironcast tower with great view over the city center, plan 30mn there
- Convento do Carmo: an ancient covent, now in ruins but worth exploring, 1h
- Arco da Rua Augusta: a magnificent triumphal arch where you can climb up, 30mn
- Praça do Comercio: one of the most beautiful squares in Lisbon, 30mn
- Ascensor da Bica: the best place to see the iconic yellow tram and snap some great photos, 30mn
- Basilica da Estrela: a beautiful church slightly off center, you can climb on the roof and have great views over the river, 1h for the full visit
- Amoreiras Panoramic View: a very tall tower (also shopping center) with a panoramic rooftop view! 1h for the visit
Day 7 in Sintra
Right next to Lisbon is our next destination, Sintra. It’s a place where you’ll find plenty of palaces & castles. You’ll also find splendid beaches on the coast.
Experience: I left early from my hotel in Lisbon and drove to Sintra. I made sure to arrive at Pena Palace at 9:30am when it opens, to be the first one in the palace and avoid the crowds.
There are plenty of things to see in Sintra, and it was one of my favorite parts of Portugal to discover. You could spend 2 days in Sintra, but you’ll be able to see the main sights in 1 day, including:
- Pena Palace: a massive red & yellow palace on a hill, 3h for the visit
- Castelo dos Mouros: a medieval castle in ruins, 1h for the visit
- Quinta da Regaleira: a huge domain with a castle and many other things to discover, 2h for the visit
- Sintra Palace: the main castle in the city, you’ll need to go inside to truly enjoy it, 1h for the visit
- Cabo da Roca: the westernmost point of Europe, beautiful cliffs in front of the ocean, spend 2h there
- Praia da Ursa: my favorite beach in Portugal and probably Europe, spend 2h there
- Azenhas do Mar: a coastal village built on top of a cliff, with an oceanside pool at the bottom; watch the sunset there, plan 1h
In addition to the 2-day Portugal itinerary for Lisbon above, you can opt for another day sight-seeing the following:
- Cristo Rei Statue and Ponte 25 de Abril: a tall Christ statue offering the best view over the Lisbon bridge, 1h30 at the spot
- Torre de Belém: a medieval tower in the middle of water at high tide, that you can visit, 2h for the visit
- Padrão dos Descobrimentos: a huge statue offering a great view over the Belem district, 30mn
- Jardim de Belém: a nice garden to stroll and chill after lunch, 1h
- Mosteiro dos Jéronimos: a gigantic monastery with a sumptuous convent, 2h for the full visit
- Igreja Santa Maria de Belém: the church next to the monastery, step inside you won’t regret it! 1h for the visit
Day 3 & 4 in Sintra
Sintra is known for its beautiful beaches, gorgeous castles, and breathtaking palaces. There are numerous sights to see, and lots of ocean access for those that love a good swim. If you have 7 days in Portugal, I’d recommend you to spend 2 days here and experience a serenity unlike any other.
I left Sintra at night, and drove a bit towards Algarve; I stayed for the night around Ourique, in between Lisbon and the sea. The next morning I got up early, and drove to the secret beach of Cao Raivoso: the perfect place to watch the sunrise without anyone around!
Day 5, 6 & 7 in Algarve
And finally, the last part of our 1 week in Portugal, Algarve. Algarve is a region located in the south of Portugal, and it’s mostly famous for its golden sand beaches.
Algarve was nominated as the best place in the world to retire in 2016; easy to see why, with the warm weather, cheap cost of life, and beautiful beaches!
While the main thing to do in Algarve is to explore the different beaches, tan and swim in the ocean, there are also traditional villages to discover away from the coast.
3 days is a great length for your stay in Algarve, allowing enough time to see different parts of this coastal region.
Here are the best places in Algarve:
- Sagres and the Fortaleza de Sagres: a beautiful outdoors area with a medieval fortress, 2h for the visit
- Ponta da Piedade: huge rocks in the middle of the sea with caves to explore, 1h
- Praia do Camilo: a stunning beach that you can access by going down a long flight of stairs, definitely worth it!
- Lagos: one of the main cities in Algarve, the place to have lunch and walk around, 2h there
- Carvoeiro: another beautiful city in the Algarve, 2h
- Benagil Cave: the most famous attraction in Algarve, a cave with a beach that you can only access by the sea: 1h to visit
- Albandeira Beach: a stunning beach with a natural arch, 1h there
- Praia da Falésia: a beach with red cliffs, pretty unreal and different from the other beaches in the area
- Faro: the main city in the Algarve with Faro airport
- Parque Natural de Ria Formosa: a natural park where you’ll find plenty of animals, perfect if you want peace & quiet: spend 2h there
- Estoi: a traditional village inland
- Loulé: another traditional village inland, spend 2h there
If you are wondering how many days to spend in Portugal, I believe that a minimum of 7 days in Portugal would do the country justice. With this timeframe, you can at least grasp the charming cities and coastlines that this small European country has to offer.
If you have a week in Portugal, here are a few other tips and advice that you may find helpful!
Best Time to Vist Portugal
The best time to visit Portugal is in June or September; it’s still warm enough to enjoy the beach, and the popular places will be less crowded than in the main travel months, July & August.
If you can time your flights to & from Portugal during the week to avoid weekends, you’ll most likely have cheaper prices.
Estimated Cost for Portugal
I spent around EUR 370 for 10 days in Portugal. Most of the budget was spent on hotels. I stayed in nice hotels or Airbnbs with a private room and private bathroom most of the time, for around EUR 25 per night, for a total of EUR 225 for the 10 days. I could have spent way less if I had stayed in a hostel (probably around EUR 90), but I like having my own room.
The rest of the budget was for the car rental: around EUR 12 per day for a total of EUR 120.
For 7 days in Portugal, I’d say the estimated cost would cost EUR 350 for room and car rental. Food may be an extra EUR 10-20 a day, depending on where you eat.