After spending an amazing week road tripping through Andalucia and eating all the tapas, it was time to move onto the next leg of our trip: 10 days in Portugal! I was craving some time by the parasol-filled beaches and picturesque coves, so naturally we left Seville and drove to the postcard-perfect Algarve region in southern Portugal to kick off our epic 10 day Portugal itinerary.
Did you know that the Algarve in Portugal is just 2 hours away from Seville by car and that you can drive straight into Portugal? Mind = blown. If you are visiting Portugal and want an easy 10 day Portugal itinerary (complete with easy day trip options) to help you plan your travels, look no further! Though you may only scratch the surface of what Portugal has to offer, this itinerary will give you a good taste of the country’s highlights, with room for plenty of Portuguese egg tarts!
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The best time to visit Portugal
The European summer months are notoriously busy, and most people may tell you to avoid traveling to Portugal (especially the Algarve) during June to August to avoid floods of tourists. However, it isn’t hard to get off the beaten track in Portugal and the crowds aren’t too overwhelming. If you’re after plenty of sunshine, don’t let the fear of crowds stop you from traveling to Portugal in summer.
That being said, the summer months can be very hot, so you might also want to consider visiting from April to June or September to November when the weather is slightly milder.
How to get to Portugal
You can drive into Portugal from Spain (as we did), or you can fly into one of Portugal’s many international airports: Porto, Lisbon and Faro are probably the biggest and easiest to get to.
How to get around Portugal
The absolute best way to travel around Portugal in 10 days, a relatively short amount of time, is to hire a car – this way, you aren’t limited by train and bus schedules and can go where you want, when you want. Most major locations in Portugal are only a 3-4 hour drive apart, which makes it extremely easy to hop from city to city and plan quick day trips to the surrounding towns.
With the exception of Porto, parking around Portugal tends to be free or relatively cheap. As a comparison, we were paying anywhere from 10-20 Euros for overnight parking, or 1-3 Euros per hour in Spain – highway robbery!
Unfortunately, there are so. many. tolls. in. Portugal! Sometimes it felt like we were stopping every 20 minutes or so or driving through e-tolls one after another after another. When driving from Spain into Portugal, you will stop at the border and can present your credit card so that highway tolls are charged to your card directly.
We picked up our car from Europcar in Madrid in Spain, and dropped it off in Porto, Portugal. We paid a one-way fee for dropping it off at a different destination, but make sure that you understand the fees you are being charged, and that you have international travel insurance that covers accidents and damage abroad.
Looking for the best prices for rental car companies around the world? Click here to book your rental car ahead of your trip. Bookings can be cancelled or amended if your plans change!
While we were able to drive on our overseas licenses, you may need to show the police an International Driver’s Permit if you’re pulled over, so I would recommend getting one before your trip. Driving in Portugal is pretty painless – you drive on the right hand side of the road (steering wheel on the left). Google Maps works very well, and you can use Google Maps offline without an Internet connection if you’re worried about the app using up all your data.
Though this is a 10 day Portugal road trip itinerary, you can also get around via bus or train. You can check Portugal train schedules here. To give you an idea of duration, a train from Faro to Porto (south to north) will take approximately 6 hours. Alternatively, you can also catch a regional bus to get around Portugal – you can check Portugal bus routes and schedules here.
10 day Portugal itinerary
We don’t like moving around every single night and having to re-pack our suitcases, so we often opt to base ourselves in 1 place for a few days and venture out for road trips. We’ve found that this is the most stress-free way to travel for us, but you might want to look into swapping out day trips for overnighters – the world is your oyster! Read on for an easy 10 day itinerary for Portugal.
Note: This itinerary is also do-able in reverse – go from south to north from the Algarve to Lisbon and Porto, or from north to south from Porto to the Algarve!
Days 1, 2, 3 and 4: The Algarve
Kick off your 10 days in Portugal in the sun-soaked southern region of the Algarve! The Algarve offers beach after beach, plunging clifftops, picturesque coves and charming little towns. Over the years it has become a popular destination for beach goers, surfers, families and avid golfers. Make sure you explore the entire stretch of the Algarve to the most westerly point in Cape St. Vincent.
Despite the crowds, it’s actually relatively easy to get off the beaten track in the Algarve if you know where to go. Spend your first 4 days in Portugal beach-hopping, check out the coastal rock formations and maybe even learning to surf. Don’t skip Cape Saint Vincent, Tavira, the Farol da Ponta da Piedade viewpoint and Praia do Camilo. Click here to read a full list of 10 places to visit in the Algarve!
Where to stay in the Algarve: Book yourself into Casa Beleza do Sul in Tavira. Tavira is a hidden gem on the eastern end of the Algarve and away from the resort towns of Faro and Lagos. Casa Beleza do Sul is a beautiful boutique guesthouse right off the main promenade with beach-inspired decor and spacious rooms. Click here to check availability and current rates at Casa Beleza do Sul or click here to see other highly rated hotel options in the Algarve!
Days 5, 6 and 7: Lisbon with a day trip to Sintra, Cascais and/or Cabo da Roca
The drive from the Algarve to Lisbon will take approximately 3 hours. Before I get started on what to do in Lisbon, you should know that 2 days in Lisbon is not enough to experience the city. Moreso that other cities around the world, Lisbon isn’t one of those places where you can hop from tourist attraction to tourist attraction, and the soul of the city goes far beyond any listicle.
One of my biggest Lisbon travel mistakes was expecting to be able to “do” Lisbon in 2 days. I firmly believe that you need to delve a little deeper and explore all of Lisbon’s nooks and crannies. I wish we had more time to go beyond the typical Lisbon tourist trail and get off the beaten path, then we might have had the opportunity to discover some of the hidden gems it has to offer.
That being said, not everyone has time to spare and months of annual leave, so if you are on a tight schedule (like we were), then my advice would be to spend 2 days in Lisbon, but go in knowing full well that in order to truly enjoy Lisbon you can’t just scratch the surface. Take it easy in Lisbon, and be open to straying off the typical tourist trail, ask for restaurant recommendations in advance, and don’t go in with a “I have to see all the top sights” mentality. You can read more about the travel mistakes we made in Lisbon, which tourist attractions were worth visiting, and which ones failed to impress.
Set aside one full day to venture to the UNESCO-listed Sintra, just 25 KM away from Lisbon. Sintra is a charming town nestled in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains and a crown jewel in the Portuguese Riviera region. It features a number of historic estates, gardens, royal palaces, castles and military fortifications, which makes it one of the most-visited places in Portugal.
Cascais is also an easy 20-30 minute drive away from Lisbon, and is a charming seaside town with a number of nearby landmarks to visit including Cabo da Roca and Boca do Inferno.
Where to stay in Lisbon: We stayed at Apartment CCB View, a 2-bedroom apartment with free street parking a hop and skip away from the Jeronimos Monastery, Pasteis de Belem bakery and Belem Tower. To get into town, we took the local tram which brought us to Lisbon in under 10 minutes. Click here to check availability and rates for Apartment CCB View or Click here to see highly rated hotels in the heart of Lisbon!
Days 7, 8, 9 and 10: Porto with day trips to Aveiro, Nazaré, Peniche, Baleal or the Douro Valley
End your 10 days in Portugal in Porto. Porto is one of the most charming places I have ever visited, like a fine wine (or Port – get it?) that only gets better with age. Porto straddles the river Douro and its cobblestone streets are lined with stacks of colourful buildings with trams that wind and weave their way between blocks.
The city is jam packed full of beautiful monuments and landmarks, so make sure you stock up on SD cards for your camera. Don’t skip the waterfront quarter, the Ribeira, which is lined with restaurants, cafes, bars and multi-coloured buildings, climb the Torre dos Clérigos for beautiful views of Porto from above, and definitely check out the functional-yet-magnificent São Bento Train Station, one of the most unique and beautifully decorated stations in Europe. For 12 places you have to visit in Porto, head on over here.
Porto is also conveniently located within an hour or 2 of several of Portugal’s most beautiful destinations – take your pick! Aveiro is about an hours’ drive away from Porto and is sometimes known as the “Venice of Portugal”, Nazaré is one of the most famous big wave surfing spots in the world, Peniche and Baleal are popular surf towns, and Douro Valley is one of the best wine regions in the world.
Where to stay in Porto: Book yourself into Saboriccia Lifestyle, right next to Mercado do Bolhão – you really can’t get any more central than this in Porto. The apartment is massive, airy and extremely comfortable – it has all the facilities: washing machine, air conditioning, constant hot water, full kitchen, living room and beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows that open for a street view. Click here to check availability of Saboriccia Lifestyle or click here for other highly rated hotel options in Porto!
Only have one week in Portugal?
If you only have 7 days in Portugal, then I recommend modifying this 10 day Portugal itinerary by spending 3 days in the Algarve, 2 days in Lisbon (with half a day in Sintra), and 2 days in Porto (with no day trips). This 7 day Portugal itinerary covers most of the places mentioned above, but will require a faster pace and fewer sleep-ins!
Ready for your Portugal road trip?
This 10 day Portugal itinerary will give you a taste of what the country has to offer, and keep you coming back for more. There are many many more beautiful places to visit, but this is a great place to start if it is your first time in Portugal.
Also headed to Spain? Make sure you check out my guide to spending 7 days in Andalucia – put these two guides together for inspiration and planning tips for a combined Spain and Portugal itinerary.
Planning a trip to Portugal? Head on over for more Portugal destination guides and travel tips!
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