If you’re planning to spend one week in Portugal, but aren’t sure where to go or what to see, you’ve come to the right place!
In this Portugal one week itinerary I will list everything you need to know to spend seven amazing days in Portugal.
However let’s start with the premise that seven days in Portugal aren’t really enough to travel across the whole country.
As small as this European country may be, it’s hard to spend a week in Portugal and properly see everything that deserves to be seen.
But don’t worry, I have just the right solution for you! I spent almost a month in Portugal spread out across various trips, and am here to share with you all my top tips for making the most of your week in Portugal.
Instead of speeding across the country, I would suggest focusing your Portugal itinerary either in northern Portugal or southern Portugal.
In this guide I included two sample Portugal 7-day itineraries. I also included information on all the best things to do in each city, where to stay, tips on where to eat, the best tours and more.
Each itinerary has its highlights and focus points, as well as being better suited for specific types of travellers and seasons.
For example northern Portugal is best suited for a winter trip to Portugal, or for travellers who are more interested in history and nature.
Whilst southern Portugal is perfect for a summer trip and people who want to visit the beautiful beaches of the Algarve.
So if you want to discover the best way to spend seven days in Portugal for your interest and travel style, just read on!
- 1 Do you need travel insurance for one week in Portugal?
- 2 How to get around Portugal in one week
- 3 Northern Portugal One Week Itinerary
- 3.1 Day 1: Explore Porto
- 3.2 Day 2: Day Trip to the Douro Valley and its Surrounding Towns
- 3.3 Day 3: Road trip to Aveiro, Buçaco National Forest & Coimbra
- 3.4 Day 4: Discover famous Monasteries and stay in Nazaré
- 3.5 Day 5: Discover Obidos, Peniche, and Ericeira
- 3.6 Day 6: Visit the castles of Sintra & Cascais
- 3.7 Day 7: See the best of Lisbon
- 4 Southern Portugal 7-Day Itinerary
- 4.1 Day 1: Start in Lisbon
- 4.2 Day 2: Explore Sintra & Cascais
- 4.3 Day 3: Explore Evora and road trip to Mertola
- 4.4 Day 4: Road trip to the Algarve! Tavira, Faro & Albufeira
- 4.5 Day 5: Kayak to Benagil Cave & Relax at Praia do Marinha
- 4.6 Day 6: Discover the best Lagos Beaches & Ponta da Peidade
- 4.7 Day 7: Surf in Sagres & Chill
Do you need travel insurance for one week in Portugal?
After my personal experience spending two nights in a private hospital in Tenerife, and having to pay for it out of pocket (it wasn’t cheap), I always recommend getting travel insurance.
You might not end up needing it, but for a small fee you can travel without worries. Personally, I suggest getting your travel insurance with Heymondo.
Heymondo offers tailor made travel insurance, providing the best value for money for your specific trip. You can also buy it once you’re already abroad and have forgotten about it before flying (which, if you’re anything like me, is quite likely).
Besides the usual cancellation, medical expenses, luggage coverage and general travel insurance services, Heymondo also has a 24/7 doctor chat and instant assistance through their app.
Plus, as a Greta’s Travels reader, you get 5% off your Heymondo travel insurance!
How to get around Portugal in one week
The easiest way to travel around Portugal and see every stop on this itinerary is to rent a car and drive. Renting a car will give you the most flexibility both in terms of destinations and timings.
Portugal has a good public transport system, with trains connecting all the major cities and cheap buses that can get you almost everywhere.
However, if you want to visit some of the off the beaten track towns of this Portugal 1-week itinerary, a car is the easiest way to get there.
Especially if you’re planning a Portugal family vacation, a car will give you the most flexibility.
You won’t necessarily need it all the time, for example in the bigger cities like Porto and Lisbon it’s easier to get around on foot.
Or places like Sintra and Evora are most easily visited on an organised day trip to avoid driving in traffic. But overall, a car will give you the most freedom.
1 Week in Portugal Summary
As already mentioned, it’s nearly impossible to explore the nation from A to Z in just seven days. There are tons of things to do in all the different cities, towns, and regions.
You could speed from Porto down to Faro in seven days, just about touching on all the main highlights, but you wouldn’t be able to properly soak in the vibe of this gorgeous European country.
Which is why instead of only one Portugal 7-day itinerary, in this guide you will find two itineraries!
One itinerary focuses on northern Portugal, from Porto to Lisbon, whilst the other focuses on southern Portugal, going from Lisbon to the Algarve.
Each itinerary is best suited for different types of travellers and seasons. Read on to discover my two sample 1-week in Portugal itineraries!
Northern Portugal One Week Itinerary
This Portugal one week itinerary is best suited for travellers who have are more interested in history and nature, or who are visiting Portugal in the colder months from October to April.
Here’s what awaits during seven days in northern Portugal.
Day 1: Explore Porto
This northern Portugal 7-day itinerary starts in Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. Porto boasts picturesque views, delicious food and fascinating architecture.
Here’s a brief breakdown of how to spend a day in the city – I do have a more in-depth Porto 1-day itinerary if you’d like to check that out.
Explore the Ribeira district
This charming neighbourhood features narrow and cobbled streets lined with bars and restaurants ready to satisfy your taste buds.
This riverside district usually takes up most of the image results on Google when you search for “Porto”, and with good reason.
Cais da Ribeira, the riverfront street, features stacked 18th-century pastel houses reminiscent of a LEGO build. There are also cafes to take care of your coffee fix, and it is the perfect gateway to the famous Ponte Luis bridge.
Visit the many churches of Porto
Porto is packed with churches, many of which date centuries back. Apart from their religious importance, they’re also a marvel to witness thanks to their amazing architecture.
Some of the most interesting and famous that you have to visit include:
The Chapel of Souls is perhaps Porto’s social media darling, as its exterior boasts azulejos, traditional Portuguese blue and white tiles. Not only are they mesmerising enough to go viral on Instagram, but they also hold historical significance as they showcase how some saints lived.
The Clerigos Church is perched on top of a hill and features a 75.6-metre (248-foot) high tower offering scenic views of Porto’s skyline. Beware, though, you’ll have to climb 240 steps to this viewpoint in all its glory.
If you want to visit the top of Torre dos Clerigos, make sure to book your skip-the-line entrance ticket online beforehand. That way, you won’t have to waste time queuing!
Porto Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church located in the historical centre of Porto, close to Ribeira neighbourhood. It’s one of the most important Romanesque monuments, as well as offering gorgeous views over the rooftops of Porto.
Igreja do Carmo & Igreja dos Carmelitas are two church located right next to each other. And when I say right next to each other, I really mean it!
They’re incredibly detailed and beautiful churches, both for their azulejos exteriors and their intricate interior decorations.
Wander around Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
If you’re a flora enthusiast, there’s no better place to visit than this garden which dates back to the 19th century.
Even if you aren’t into flowers, it’s a great stop for relaxing after all the sightseeing you’ll be doing and also overlooks the beautiful Douro River.
Visit Livraria Lello
Suggesting a library might seem weird, but I’m sure you’ve heard of this library specifically!
Livraria Lello supposedly inspired JK Rowling for some of the scenery in Harry Potter, and once you explore the Neo-Gothic and Art Deco elements of it, you’ll see why.
There’s always a huge queue to visit it, so make sure to head there early in the morning! You will have to pay 5 EUR to enter the library, but this is then redeemable as credit for a book purchase.
Some popular Porto tours you can join
Porto is a fairly small city, and I personally think you can quite easily see everything Porto has to offer by walking around alone.
However, since this Portugal 7-day itinerary is quite packed and you will only have one day in Porto, you might want to do a guided tour instead.
That way you will have a knowledgeable guide showing you around and telling you about the local history of everything you see, as well as being sure you’ll tick off all the highlights. Here are some of the most popular Porto tours online.
Porto City Highlights 3-Hour Guided Electric Bike Tour – Discover all the most beautiful spots in Porto by bike (they’re electric bikes as well, so they won’t be too tiring)!
Porto: Guided Historical Centre Tuk Tuk Tour – If you don’t want to cycle, this tour is perfect to save energy and still all the beauties of the historical centre of Porto!
Porto Historical Centre Walking Tour – A classic walking tour, where you will learn the history of this gorgeous city.
Porto: Delicious Food and Wine Walking Tour – Because visiting a city is good, but learning about it while tasting the delicious local cuisine is better!
Where to stay in Porto
In Porto I stayed at Hotel do Norte. The hotel itself isn’t particularly grand, but it’s very affordable, the position is extremely convenient, and it even has great views over the azulejos of the Chapel of Souls just across the street.
It’s located right in the centre of Porto, and will be a great starting point for your Porto walking tour.
If you want something a bit fancier, I have listed below some of the best places to stay in Porto for higher budgets.
Mid-range – Vera Cruz Porto Downtown Hotel – This modern hotel is perfect for those who want something night, without breaking the bank. Centrally located, it has an epic terrace with Porto views.
Luxury – Oporto Home – River Front: If you want to treat yourself, this wonderful apartment is the place to do so. The huge windows provide plenty of light, as well as epic views over the river and Porto.
Day 2: Day Trip to the Douro Valley and its Surrounding Towns
The next part of your northern Portugal 1-week itinerary should be a day trip to the famous Douro Valley.
It’s one of the country’s most popular wine regions, but it has more to offer than just vineyards. Here are some of the best things to do in the Douro Valley and surroundings.
Do a wine tasting at a local vineyard
Would it be a trip to a renowned wine region without visiting at least one of the area’s wine farms? Probably not.
Enjoy a delicious lunch with views of the Douro Valley’s splendour while sipping on the region’s finest wines. Among the best wine farms to visit in the region include the Quinta do Crasto, Quinta da Pacheca, and Quinta das Carvalhas.
The sleepy town of Pinhão around the Douro Valley is famous for its natural beauty.
It also has other drawcards, including the Pinhão Railway Station, which draws in tons of visitors thanks to its beautiful azulejos. It also has the Casal de Loivos viewpoint, where you can take in the splendid landscape of the area.
Hike in the Douro Valley
The Douro Valley also offers many beautiful hiking trails. You can hike amongst the vineyards, taking in the gorgeous green rolling hills and sweeping river.
And after a tough hike, a vineyard visit and lunch is the perfect reward! There are many organised Porto day trips that will take you to the Douro Valley to hike, see epic viewpoints and taste delicious local wine.
We drove to the Douro Valley for our hike, but even if extremely scenic, the drive is very long and tiring. Joining an organised tour will allow you to sit back and enjoy the views, without having to worry about how to get there.
You’ll also be sure you won’t get lost amongst the vineyard trails, and that you will be visiting the truly best wineries. Here are some of the most popular Douro valley tours from Porto.
Porto: Douro Valley Hiking Tour & Boat Cruise with Brunch: This tour is a great choice as it not only includes the transfer and hike, but also food and another Douro iconic activity; cruising on the river!
From Porto: Douro Valley w/ Boat Tour, Wine Tasting & Lunch: This highly rated tour is the most popular wine tasting tour of the Douro Valley. With this tour you know you can’t go wrong!
Best of Douro Valley – Douro Valley Wine Tour – Private Tour: If you’re going on this Porto day trip for a special occasion, you might want to do so on a private tour, instead of sharing with other people.
Day 3: Road trip to Aveiro, Buçaco National Forest & Coimbra
On day 3 it’s time to properly hit the road! Next up in your 1 week in Portugal itinerary will be Aveiro and Bucaco National Forest, to then ultimately end the day by sleeping in Coimbra.
Cruise the canals of Aveiro
Known as the “Venice of Portugal”, this small city boasts fantastic waterways lined with colourful boats. Here, you can spend a few hours wandering through the streets while marvelling at the art nouveau architecture and street art.
To see the city from a different perspective, hop on a traditional Moliceiro boat and view Aveiro’s landscapes from its waterways.
You could also take a taxi or bus to the nearby Costa Nova beach town to view its quirky, striped houses and to enjoy a bit of beach time.
Aveiro: Traditional Moliceiro Boat Tour: This highly rated Aveiro tour will take you cruising along the canals in a traditional Moliceiro Boat, and is perfect if you plan to make your own way to Aveiro.
Aveiro: Guided Tuk Tuk City Tour: This option is perfect if you plan to make your own way to Aveiro, but still want a guided tour of the city.
Discover Buçaco National Forest
On your way to Coimbra, this nature haven is the ideal stop, especially if you’re a nature lover. This walled arboretum is home to over 250 trees and plants that eagerly await your visit.
Prior to visiting Portugal I hadn’t heard much about Bucaco National Forest, and we almost drove past it without stopping, but it actually turned out to be one of our favourite places in Portugal.
It’s still quite under the tourist radar, so you won’t find big crowds there. You can spend a few hours wandering around this green paradise, discovering the neo-Manueline Palace, small chapels and huge variety of flora and fauna.
You’ll want to plan your first two stops in order to arrive in Coimbra during the afternoon, so that you can visit the cities many attractions.
This includes the Machado de Castro National Museum, the Chapel of São Miguel, and Portugal dos Pequenitos.
Another must-see sight in Coimbra is the historic University of Coimbra, where you will find a unique baroque library. In Coimbra there are also countless striking churches, amongst which the 12th Century Romanesque cathedral Sé Velha.
Afterwards, you can enjoy a mouthwatering Portuguese fair at one of the many diners in the city before retiring to your hotel.
Where to stay in Coimbra
Here are some Coimbra accommodation options for every budget, perfect places to rest after your first long road trip day.
Budget: NN Guest House – This guest house is close to all the attractions and a very affordable place to stay.
Mid-range: JR Studios & Suites – Located on the opposite side of the river to Coimbra, this hotel has modern renovated suites and an epic view over the river and Coimbra. If you’re driving it’s also going to be easier to park and continue your road trip the following day.
Luxury: Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra – If you want to stay somewhere truly unique and treat yourself, this is the place to do so. Located in the heart of the old town, this hotel offers deluxe suites with exposed bricks for a rustic feel.
Day 4: Discover famous Monasteries and stay in Nazaré
On your way from Coimbra to Nazaré, you’ll have plenty of stops I recommend you make. On top of that list are the famous monasteries found between the two cities.
The Batalha Monastery is one of Portugal’s most important gothic sites, having played a significant role in evolving the country’s gothic style.
While its beauty is its main drawcard, it was built to celebrate the Portuguese victory over the Castilians in the 12th century.
If you’re not big on monasteries and only want to do one historic stop, I recommend you make it at Batalha. The intricate detail of its cloisters and architecture is stunning, with the unfinished chapels attracting most of the attention.
This UNESCO world heritage site isn’t as significant historically as the Batalha Monastery, but it has a real charm worth seeing.
Personally we only visited the interior of the church and burial site, without visiting the whole monastery and cloisters.
It’s a good place to break up the drive and soak in part of of Portugal’s history, without necessarily dedicating too much time to it.
Nazaré is famous for its golden sand and crystal-clear waters, although it has more to offer than just that.
Drive directly to the Faro de Nazarè, as besides being a main attraction in an of itself, it’s close to many other must-sees in Nazare.
The lighthouse of Nazare is the spot where some of the world’s biggest waves form. If you’re visiting in winter, you might even be able to see them!
Here you will also find a small museum dedicated to explaining how the big waves are surfed, as well as surf boards and stories from the big wave surfers who surfed in Nazare. You also get beautiful views of the coastline.
From here you can then walk along to another incredible viewpoint; Miradouro do Suberco. Perched on a cliff, from here you can enjoy splendid views of Nazaré town and its turquoise waters.
We already mentioned that Portugal has a ton of churches, and Nazaré follows suit. The Igreja Nossa Senhora da Nazaré is a must-visit thanks to its unique statue of Mary.
It’s located in the heart of the old town, so you can wander around the centre after visiting it.
Afterwards, take a tranquil stroll down the Avenida da Republica promenade, or enjoy fresh seafood at one of many seafront eateries. We had a delicious octopus dinner at Pangeia by the Sea.
Where to stay in Nazare
In Nazare we stayed at Paz & Amor Guest House. This guest house is very cosy and affordable, plus it offers a huge rooftop terrace with views over Nazare and the sea.
It’s not located right in the heart of Nazare, but it’s in a convenient position close to the main street, so that you can easily find parking and then continue your road trip the following day.
If you want something a bit fancier, I have listed some options for other budgets below.
Mid-range: Hotel Mar Bravo – Located right on the beachfront and by the main avenue of Nazare, this hotel is perfect if you want something nice and conveniently located, without breaking the bank.
Luxury: Miramar Hotel Spa & Apartments – If you want to treat yourself, this gorgeous property is the place to do so. With their spacious rooms and stunning pool with sea views, it’s the perfect place to relax after a long road trip day.
Day 5: Discover Obidos, Peniche, and Ericeira
After a day in Nazaré, you should make your way to Ericeira, with some stops along the way at Obidos and Peniche to experience what they have to offer.
This historic city boasts narrow cobblestone streets dotted with white houses and a number of diners with local delicacies.
A must-do here is to climb the city walls and enjoy panoramic views at the summit. Just beware that the cobblestones are slippery, and there are no guard rails, so don’t go out there acting like Spider-Man.
It’s one of the most beautiful small towns in Portugal, where you can walk around for a few hours and feel like you’re stepping back in time. The drive from Nazare only takes around 35 minutes.
A must-see sight in Obidos is Igreja de Santa Maria, a church famous for its beautiful interior décor of azulejos.
Relax in Peniche
Peniche is a seaside fishing city soaring in popularity thanks to its stunning beaches with calm waters. While everyone can take a dip in the ocean, you’ll find plenty of surfers taking on the relenting waves.
However the next stop of your Portugal itinerary will be the really famous surf spot, so don’t spend too long in Peniche. Personally, we only stopped as it was on the way and we wanted to have a nice seafront lunch.
Surf in Ericeira
Like Peniche, Ericeira is famous for its beaches and is a treasure trove for both experienced and beginner surfers. One of the most famous surfing beaches is Praia de Ribeira d’Ilhas.
If that doesn’t sound enticing to you, there’s more to do away from the many beaches. Although, I must stress that you shouldn’t miss the mesmerising sunset at one of them.
At the top of the list is exploring the charming old town with its blue and white houses, a quiet vibe, and narrow cobblestone streets.
There are also some local restaurants, cafes, and shops you can support in exchange for incredible goods. We had an amazing seafood dinner at Mar d’Areia.
Where to stay in Ericeira
In Ericeira we stayed at Casa Branca. This accommodation offers both dorms and private rooms, both ensuite or with shared bathroom. The rooms aren’t particularly fancy, but the place itself is incredible.
The hotel is in a historical building, and has a huge outdoors area. It’s located just outside the old town, so you can relax away from the crowds at the end of the day, but without being too far from all the action
If you’re looking for something different, I have listed below other options for other budgets.
Mid-range: Reserva FLH Hotels – The rooms in this hotel are spacious, modernly decorated and have terraces with epic views over Ericeira and the sea. It’s perfect if you want something nice without breaking the bank.
Luxury: Vila Gale Ericeira – This seafront hotel is perfect if you want to treat yourself after a long day of road tripping and surfing. Pair the great sea views with spacious rooms and you have a winner!
Day 6: Visit the castles of Sintra & Cascais
At the tail end of your 1 week Portugal itinerary, the charming municipalities of Sintra and Cascais await. The drive from Ericeira to Sintra is only 40 minutes, but make sure to hit the road early, as you have a packed day ahead!
Discover the castles of Sintra
Sintra boasts palaces, castles, historic villas, and a long history that garnered its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here’s a brief guide on how you can see the best of the town. Read this Sintra day trip for a more comprehensive guide.
Your first stop should be at the Palacio Nacional da Pena, a colourful castle that used to be home to the royal family. Perched on top of a hill, it’s worth a visit thanks to the panoramic views of Sintra it offers.
Right next to it you will find Castle of the Moors, an older and more historical castle with unparalled views, but less famous than Pena Palace.
It was initially built as a fortress to protect Moorish trade during Medieval wars. Personally I liked it better, as it felt more interesting and has considerably less visitors.
Next is Sintra Old Town, a small walkable centre with narrow streets and plenty of eateries for satisfying your palates.
You can also visit the Sintra National Palace, which showcases amazing artistry with an azulejo salon, painted ceilings, and walls with various paintings. Make sure to visit also Quinta da Regaleira, home to the famous Initiation Well.
Each palace has its own entrance fee and ticket prices vary, which is why I recommend joining a Sintra tour. That way you don’t have to worry about entrance fees, and will have a local guide showing and taking you around.
Relax in Cascais
After discovering the gorgeous castles of Sintra, you have one more stop before heading to Lisbon for the night. You can visit the beautiful town of Cascais, which is conveniently located on the way.
Initially a fishing town, the Cascais municipality stands out as one of Portugal’s wealthiest areas. While it’s dotted with grand mansions, you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy the plethora of sights here.
Your first stop should be Old Town Cascais, which boasts narrow streets and colourful houses like many Portuguese cities. The entire area is walkable, with plenty of restaurants and cafes selling Portuguese delicacies.
In Cascais, you can shop ‘til you drop at either the bustling Rua Frederico Arouca street or Praça 5 de Outubro plaza. At the latter, you can also hop into one of its many restaurants to grab food.
Afterwards, visit the breathtaking beaches to soak in the sun or dip into the turquoise waters. When the sun starts to set, drive over to Lisbon (around 30 minutes drive) for a fun night in the Portuguese capital.
Where to stay in Lisbon
In Lisbon I stayed at This Is Lisbon Hostel. They offer dorms and private rooms, both with ensuite or shared bathrooms. They also have a huge terrace where you can sit in the morning to enjoy your breakfast and sweeping views over Lisbon.
It’s also in a great position, located close to Alfama, central Lisbon and many of the beautiful Lisbon viewpoints.
If you don’t fancy a hostel, I have included other great places to stay in Lisbon below.
Mid-range: Alegria A Lisbon Boutique Hotel – This boutique hotel is perfect for those who want something nice, centrally located and cosy, without breaking the bank.
Luxury: Lisboa Pessoa Hotel – If you want to treat yourself, this is the perfect place to do so. With their spacious rooms and gorgeous rooftop terrace, it’s the perfect place to relax after a Sintra day tour.
Day 7: See the best of Lisbon
Fittingly, the last stop of your 7 days in Portugal is its capital and largest city. As a result of its size, Lisbon has many attractions to visit and activities to partake in, some of which you can find below.
Enjoy the view from Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
If you love viewpoints as much as I do, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy visiting the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. Once you’ve made your way to the top, you’ll be spoiled with splendid views of the city centre.
Shop at Rua Augusta
After taking in the views, go shopping on Rua Augusta, which is the main shopping avenue of Lisbon. The street also features various diners you can stop by to eat.
Praca do Comercio
At this large square, you can spend time wandering around marvelling at the incredible architecture, King Joseph I statue, and yellow walls. Then stop by one of the eateries in the square to recharge your batteries.
See the famous Elevador Da Bica
After filling your belly, get ready to enjoy the Elevador Da Bica, one of Lisbon’s most famous sights. The main attraction is a small, yellow tram that zips down a narrow street while offering passengers incredible views.
Alternatively, you can stroll down the avenue on foot for a slower-paced experience.
With tons of churches in Portugal, it’d be a crime to not visit one in Lisbon. This Roman cathedral is the oldest church in the capital and features several architectural elements as it’s been restored and renovated many times.
Wander around Alfama
Make sure to spend some time wandering around the streets of Alfama. This is Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, and is a trove of cute cobbled streets and unique corners. You will also find many beautiful viewpoints.
Some of the most famous viewpoints in Alfama (if not all of Lisbon) are Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. The latter is especially good at sunset, as you can enjoy a sweeping view over the rooftops of Lisbon.
Eat & drink at Time Out Market & Pink Street
If you’re in Portugal for the gastronomic experience, then you can’t leave without having visited this market. It features several food stalls selling Portuguese cuisine and international grub like sushi.
Nearby you will also find the famous Pink Street, a street lined with fun bars and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a bit of Lisbon nightlife and end your Portugal itinerary.
This is the end of my first Portugal 7-day itinerary suggestion. If you have longer you can spend a bit more time exploring the Portuguese capital, or maybe stop for longer at some of the previous road trip stops.
Southern Portugal 7-Day Itinerary
My second itinerary suggestion focuses on southern Portugal and the Algarve. If you’re a beach and nature fan, or are visiting Portugal in summer, here is how I recommend you spend one week in Portugal!
Day 1: Start in Lisbon
Or you if you want to see all the highlights of Lisbon with a local guide, you could also join one of these popular tours.
Lisbon: 2.5 Hour Hills Tour by Electric Bike – This tour will take you to all the famous spots and awesome viewpoints, with minimal effort since you’ll use an electric bike!
Lisbon: Daytime/Sunset City Cruise by Sailboat with Drinks – See Lisbon from a different angle! I suggest the sunset cruise for the most beautiful golden hour light.
Lisbon: Food and Wine Walking Tour – Because what better way is there to discover a city than eating your way through it?!
Lisbon Essential Tour: History, Stories & Lifestyle – The classic tour that will take you to explore all of the highlights of Lisbon.
Day 2: Explore Sintra & Cascais
Day two of this southern Portugal itinerary is the same as Day 6 of my northern Portugal itinerary, so you can follow the daily schedule I outlined above.
These two days are the same since, even though the rest of the itinerary will go on to explore entirely different regions of Portugal, the capital city and its surroundings are so famous and beautiful I couldn’t help but include them both.
One key difference however is that at the end of your Cascais visit, instead of driving to Lisbon for the night, you will be heading to Evora. The drive is longer (1 hour 44 minutes), but well worth it!
Where to sleep in Evora
In Evora we stayed at Burgos Guest House. The guest house isn’t particularly fancy, but it has clean and spacious rooms and is located in the heart of Evora.
For an affordable price you can stay close to all the attractions, as well as to convenient parking spaces.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, here are other accommodation options for other budgets.
Budget: Heaven Inn Suites & Terrace – This hostel offers a great option for budget travellers. It’s conveniently located in the centre of Evora, has spacious dorms and a terrace with views of Evora.
Luxury: M’AR De AR Muralhas – Located just outside the old town walls of Evora, this beautiful hotel with pool is the perfect place to treat yourself and rest after the long drive from Lisbon.
Day 3: Explore Evora and road trip to Mertola
Day three of your southern Portugal itinerary will take you to Mertola, however before ending your day there you will have the opportunity to visit some gorgeous historical Portuguese towns. Starting with Evora, where you spent the night!
Many travellers visit Evora on a day trip from Lisbon, without realising just how much they miss! This unique town is full of cute cobbled streets and quaint white houses lined with yellow borders.
The sleepy town of Evora is most famous for its Roman Temple, which has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also boasts the eerie Chapel of Bones, which is decorated with human bones, and the azulejo-tile Igreja dos Lóios.
You have to visit also Evora Cathedral, its cloisters and rooftop. From the top of the cathedral you will be able to enjoy stunning views over the rooftops of Evora and the surrounding countryside.
After spending a few hours exploring Evora, you can drive on to Mertola, breaking up the 2 hour drive with a stop in Monsaraz.
Visit the cute town of Monsaraz
Monsaraz is a quintessential stop on your way to Mertola. Sitting on a hilltop, it’s perfect for enjoying views of its quaint countryside.
Like in other Portuguese regions, the town’s cobbled streets are lined with white houses, providing a great opportunity to meet the locals.
You have to visit Monsaraz Castle. From the castle walls you will see the best views of the surrounding countryside, as well as enjoy the opportunity to learn of the castles history. This medieval castle is a must-see on any Portugal itinerary.
Stay in Mertola
Also perched on top of a hill, you can enjoy views of the town and its countryside from the medieval castle and city walls.
Located inside the Parque Natural do Vale do Guadiana, it’s the perfect place to visit for nature lovers as it’s an enclave surrounded by greenery.
Mertola is particularly famous for its scenic position, perched on the Guadiana River. You will end the day tired by the long drive and sightseeing, but will have the opportunity to relax in this quaint Medieval town.
Where to stay in Mertola
In Mertola we stayed at Casa Amarela and I can highly recommend it. Located on the opposite side of the river from Mertola, all the rooms have epic views over the river, town and castle of Mertola.
It will also be much easier to park, as there isn’t much parking space inside the old town of Mertola. From there you can easily walk across the bridge and into Mertola town in 15-20 minutes.
If you’re looking for accommodation of a different budget, here are other options.
Budget: Mertola Castelo Palace by Eden Lands – This lovely guest house is located in the heart of the old town. Set in a renovated historic building, it’s a great place to stay for travellers who want an authentic experience on a budget.
Luxury: Quinta do Vau – Located on the same side of the river as Casa Amarela, this beautiful property has an infinity pool with views over Mertola, the river and countryside. Do I need to say anything else?
Day 4: Road trip to the Algarve! Tavira, Faro & Albufeira
No one-week itinerary in Portugal would be complete without the historical Algarve province, which spans several cities and towns.
After spending the start of this itinerary learning about Portugal’s history and visiting beautiful castles and towns, it’s time to hit the beaches!
The rest of this Portugal itinerary will take you to the Algarve. So get bright and early on day four, hit the road and start the journey in Tavira!
Explore Tavira & its beaches
The Tavira coastline is its main attraction, with long, golden sand beaches waiting for you to soak in the sun. However the town of Tavira is also very pretty and worthy of a visit.
Here you’ll find more cobbled streets, cute white houses and pretty churches. Don’t forget to make your way to Praça da República, as the plaza has a string of bars and restaurants to dine alfresco during your visit.
I didn’t personally love Faro and wouldn’t dedicate it much time, but considering it’s the capital of the Algarve region, we figured we should do at least a quick stop there.
Historic cathedrals and convents, Moorish city walls, and the Castelo de Silves are the historic draw cards in Faro.
Faro Beach’s sandy shoreline is perfect for stretching your legs on the fun side. If you want you could also participate in watersports like kayaking or dolphin and marine life watching by the ocean.
However I would personally recommend to just do a quick stop, break up the drive and see the main sights of the old town. Then get back in the car and continue on to the prettier towns of the Algarve!
Beach & party in Albufeira
As your resting point, Albufeira is a holiday destination fittingly renowned for its buzzing nightlife, which is the perfect nightcap after a day of exploring.
If that’s not your vibe, there are various Blue Flag beaches with water-sports like a thrilling jet ski experience waiting for you.
Whether you choose to wander the white streets of the old town, relax on the beach, shop till you drop on the seafront avenue or go on a thrilling jet ski ride, Albufeira is the perfect introduction to the Algarve.
Make sure to go to bed early, as you have an early start and intense day waiting for you tomorrow!
Where to stay in Albufeira
Albufeira is one of the most popular places to stay in the Algarve. I have listed below some accommodation options in Albufeira for every budget.
Budget – Alfagar Cerro Malpique: This residence has lovely studios that are perfect for budget travellers. It’s located a bit outside the centre of Albufeira, but it has a huge pool and epic views over the sea and town.
Mid-range – Casa dos Arcos: This charming guest house is the perfect place to stay for those who want to treat themselves without breaking the bank. You can relax in their lovely courtyard after a long day of exploring the Algarve.
Luxury – Hotel Baltum: If you want to treat yourself, this is the place to do so. This hotel has modern rooms and a huge rooftop terrace with epic views over the white houses of Albufeira and the sea.
Day 5: Kayak to Benagil Cave & Relax at Praia do Marinha
This day was easily my favourite day of my whole Portugal trip. Today you will get to explore the gorgeous natural rock formations that make this part of Portugal one of the most famous beach destinations in the world.
Sunrise kayak to Benagil Cave
Benagil Cave is a popular sea-cave only accessible via the ocean. Inside the cave, which sits between the shoreline and the ocean, you can enjoy a picturesque setting and natural lighting thanks to the hole in the ceiling.
I was afraid this would be one of those Instagram vs Reality places, where it looks beautiful in photo but in reality it’s just overrun by tourist crowds. However I was very pleasantly proven wrong.
We did a 7AM kayak tour to Benagil Cave, and were the only group inside the cave at this time. This allowed us to spend half an hour in the cave, enjoying the stunning natural beauty, taking photos and just soaking it in without crowds.
The tour then took us to explore some more sea-caves and the Algarve coastline.
Since you can only reach Benagil Cave by sea, you have to join either a boat, kayak or SUP tour to visit it. I very highly recommend joining a sunrise tour (or the earliest available) to beat the crowds.
When we walked past Benagil Beach later in the day it was completely packed of tourists, kayaks and boats. Under those circumstances, Benagil Cave would very much appear as the ugly version of those “Instagram vs Reality” memes.
Chill at Praia do Marinha
After waking up before dawn and spending the first couple hours of the day kayaking, we then went straight to Praia do Marinha to relax.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also hike part of the Seven Valleys Hanging Trail (45 minutes) to reach it.
Praia da Marinha is a mainstay in any Algarve itinerary and with good reason. Thanks to its clean, turquoise waters, dramatic cliffs and golden sand, it’s one of the most scenic beaches in the Algarve.
Spend the rest of your afternoon chilling on this beautiful beach, soaking in the sun and swimming in the clear sea. Once you’ve had your sun fill, it’s time to drive on to Lagos, where you will be spending the night.
The drive is only 45 minutes, but you can break it up with some stops in Carvoeiro and Ferragudo, two cute coastal towns.
Where to stay in Lagos
In Lagos I stayed at Topcity Hostel & Suites. The hostel is located in the heart of Lagos, with a rooftop pool, spacious terraces for every dorm and a fun atmosphere. It’s a great option for budget travellers, although more on the party side.
If you don’t fancy staying in a hostel, here are some other options.
Mid-range – Hotel Marina Rio: Located in the heart of Lagos, this hotel is perfectly located for your evening wanderings around town. It also has a panoramic terrace and spacious rooms, without breaking the bank.
Luxury – Cascade Wellness Resort: This 5-star resort is perfect if you want to treat yourself. With their epic pool, garden and sea view, you can fully relax after your busy exploring days. It’s also really close to Ponta da Piedade.
Day 6: Discover the best Lagos Beaches & Ponta da Peidade
Today you finally get to rest, as you won’t have to spend hours road tripping across Portugal. You will be able to discover some of the most beautiful Algarve beaches, right on your doorstep.
Relax at the beaches in Lagos
Lagos is blessed with some of the most famous beaches in Portugal. From Lagos town centre you can easily walk to Praia dos Estudiantes, Praia de Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo.
I recommend visiting first Praia do Camilo, as it’s both the smallest and most famous. That way you’ll be able to enjoy it before the big tourist crowds arrive.
It’s famous for its picturesque setting between towering cliffs, and the wooden staircase leading down to it.
Praia de Dona Ana and Praia dos Estudiantes are also famous for their golden sand, towering cliffs and turquoise water.
During the day we stopped by at all the beaches, soaking in some sun, going for a tip in the cool sea and just generally chilling.
This is partly why I suggested that my southern Portugal 7-day itinerary is best suited for a summer trip, since there’s a lot of beach exploring and chilling.
That said, the Algarve is one of the most popular European winter sun destinations, so you could still do this itinerary even then!
Admire the cliffs of Ponta do Piedade
In between your beach hopping, make sure to pay a visit to Ponta da Piedade. One of Portugal’s most famous attractions, Ponta da Piedade is a group of rock formations on the Lagos coastline.
Here you will find many towering yellow-golden cliffs dotted around the crystal clear ocean.
You can walk along the cliffs of Ponta da Piedade, enjoying the view of the turquoise sea and the trail of boats wandering through the steep rock formations.
I highly recommend also joining one of these boat tours of Ponta da Piedade. While at first I thought they were very touristy and unnecessary, they’re actually a great way to see these beautiful rock formations from a different angle.
If you think they’re impressive seen from above, just wait till see them from below!
Day 7: Surf in Sagres & Chill
The end of your week in Portugal is approaching, and it’s time to close it in style! Jump into the car early in the morning, and head to the cute town of Sagres for a bit of surf vibes.
Road trip to Sagres
This small town is the perfect end to your Portugal trip as it’s a hidden gem that doesn’t attract travellers en masse.
As a result, it’s the ideal place to experience life as a local if you’d like to immerse yourself in that type of experience, and maybe extend your trip and stay longer.
Like the other points of interest along the Algarve, Sagres has several beaches. The Praia da Mareta is perhaps the best one. Apart from its golden sand and clean water, its promenade is dotted with several bars and restaurants.
Venture to the Cabo de Sao Vicente for a splendid sunset view that people in the distant past once dubbed the “end of the world”.
Afterwards, visit the Fortaleza de Sagres, the areas only “tourist attraction” to see how the Portuguese defended themselves.
Surf at Praia do Amado
Amado Beach draws in surfers, primarily experienced, like moths to a flame daily. The beach features the only wedge in the area and relentless Atlantic Ocean waves perfect for bringing along your surfboard.
Apart from the thrilling experience, the beach is great for just listening to the sound of waves crashing as the sun shines its rays on you.
Final Thoughts on Spending One Week in Portugal
There you have it, the two ultimate Portugal in 7 days itineraries!
As you can see, they’re both very action packed itineraries. Diluting them down to fit everything on this Portugal bucket list into only one seven day trip would mean not doing this beautiful country justice.
If you only have one week of vacation and want to visit Portugal, I suggest choosing one of these two itineraries based on your interests and season, and saving the second one for your next trip!
For the nature lovers, you can also head to the Portuguese islands. I spent 10 days in the Azores, hiking, whale watching and discovering the beautiful islands. It’s the perfect extension of a week in Portugal!
Have you been to Portugal before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below! I personally loved Portugal, and the huge variety it offers. As many Portugal quotes say, it’s a country with much to offer.
I hope you will find my Portugal 1-week itinerary useful in planning your time in Portugal. If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below!