10 Days in Portugal: An Incredible Road Trip from the Algarve to Porto
Ready for beaches, surf, castles, towers and cities? Portugal has it all – read on for an amazing Portugal 10 day itinerary!
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!
Looking for even more Portugal travel tips and destination guides? Click here!
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 for your Portugal trip 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 rental car for your Portugal road trip – 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 for your Portugal road trip ahead of time. 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!
If you have 1 week in Portugal or 2 weeks in Portugal make sure you check out some tips at the bottom of this article for how to modify this itinerary to better suit your travels.
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 (one of the best places to visit in Portugal, in my opinion), 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 during your road trip in Portugal.
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
For the second leg of the 10 day Portugal road trip itinerary, move north towards Lisbon: 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. So, is Lisbon worth visiting?
Yes, but there are some things you should know first. 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 popular places to visit 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. Read more on visiting Cascais here.
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 – it is an essential stop for your Portugal trip. 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!
Where to go if you have 2 weeks in Portugal
Lucky you! If you have more than 10 days in Portugal, consider adding on Coimbra, Braga, Evora and Obidos to your Portugal itinerary.
Coimbra is an hour from Porto or 2 hours from Lisbon, and is a riverfront city that is home to a medieval historic centre and one of the oldest universities in Europe.
Braga is just 45 minutes by car from Porto, and is another popular day trip option if you’re looking to base yourself in Porto for 3 or more days. It is one of Portugal’s oldest cities and is one of the country’s main religious centres.
Evora is an easy day trip destination from Lisbon if you want to base yourself there for a few more days. Its historic centre is a UNESCO Heritage Site and features the ruins of the Temple of Diana as well as stunning whitewashed houses lining its narrow streets.
Obidos is about an hour away from Lisbon and is an enchanting small town that features the towering Obidos Castle. It is one of the prettiest towns in Portugal, which makes it an extremely popular destination for day trippers looking for an easy half-day excursion from Lisbon.
Only have 1 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?
I hope this highly-customizable 10 days in Portugal itinerary gives you a better idea of how to plan your route, how many days to spend in each area and what day trip options you have to pick from!
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. 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.
You might also enjoy these reads:
- Have you heard about this fairytale town in Portugal? Here are 20 travel photos of Sintra that will stoke your wanderlust and my guide to places to visit in Sintra
- Explore the enchanting northern Portugal city with my travel guide to Porto
- Get ready for your trip and read this article to avoid making these common Lisbon travel mistakes
- Also traveling to southern Portugal? Here is my guide to the top places to visit in the Algarve
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This was awesome to read, thank you! My fiance and I want to check out as much of Portugal as we can for our honeymoon, however, we do not want to spend a ton of it traveling and I am worried we might try to do too much without the relaxing part. I definitely want to check out southern Portugal and Lisbon. Porto would be amazing and Aveiro, but is it worth seeing northern and southern? We were also interested in doing a few days in Sao Miguel. Do you think we should Lisbon to Algarve and then fly to the Azores? or is Porto a must-see? I think we will have 2 weeks, possibly 2 and a half to work with. We love to eat, drink, explore, and try new things! Any suggestions are appreciated!
Hi Sarah, if you don’t want to do too much traveling/moving around during the 2/2.5 weeks I would probably recommend that you don’t skip Porto – we absolutely loved it and would have happily spent a few more days there. The food and wine are sublime, and it is a great city to base yourself in for day trips. Have you looked into adding the Douro Valley to your itinerary? My friend Dan has some great recommendations: https://youshouldgohere.com/countries/douro-valley/
Would it be crazy to drive from Lagos back to Porto in one day? We are going to do Porto-Lagos slowly but then need to return to Porto to return and car and fly back.
Hi Penny, it’s a pretty ambitious task…the drive will easily take you 6 hours (with no stops). I’d probably recommend that you do 1 night in Lisbon (or nearby) in-between to break up the drive.
Hi, would u mind telling me how much is the 1 way car drop off surcharge? thanks
Hi Rita, we picked up the car in Spain so paid a few hundred Euros for the one-way fee. Though this was a lot, it saved us the trouble of driving all the way back to the pick-up location which would have been another 8-10 hour drive. However, if you’re picking up from, say, Algarve and dropping in Porto (same country) the one-way fee might be less. You’ll need to check the specifics with the car company as the fee may change depending on pick up/drop off locations and your rental dates.
Thank you for the ideas. I’m looking to do about 10 days in Portugal this fall (2019). I didn’t see much discussion in your article on transportation between and around these areas. Did you have a rental car the whole time? How did you get from the Algarve region to Lisbon and then to Porto? How did you plan/book/get to your day trip locations? Were these day excursions with tour companies? We would be flying in from eastern Europe, so I guess it depends on whether it’s cheaper to fly to Faro or Porto to figure out our staring point. Any recommendations? Also, you suggested staying in Tavira, but it looks like it’s over an hour to get over to Cape St. Vincent. Seems like Faro or Lagos might be more centralized locations for exploring the Algarve region, or does the cost and sweetness of the town of Tavira out-weigh its less than central location? Thank you for your time!
Looks like I missed your first part about the rental car. Sorry! Was jumping straight to the itinerary part. 🙂 Other questions still apply. Thanks!
I personally prefer Tavira as it’s more low-key with a lot less people. If you’re looking to stay somewhere more central then Faro or Lagos are fine as well, though you can easily drive from Tavira and stop at Faro/Lagos on the way to Cape St. Vincent. To be honest, you’re unlikely to spend much time at Cape St. Vincent as there isn’t that much to see/do beyond the lighthouse. You might also be interested in reading this: https://www.yogawinetravel.com/10-places-you-must-visit-in-the-algarve-discover-the-gems-of-southern-portugal/
We traveled around by rental car by ourselves – you don’t really need to book a day excursion through a tour company. With regards to a starting point, I’d look at flight prices as go from there because it doesn’t matter too much if you go north to south or south to north – just bear in mind that if you’re renting a car there will be a 1-way car drop off surcharge if you don’t return it to where you picked it up from.
Enjoy your trip.
This seems like a great itinerary to follow to a T, or at least have as the base to form one’s itinerary around of! Personally, as my idea for visiting Portugal rose from making friends with a girl living in Lisbon, I’d probably have to give Lisbon more time than presented here – but, hey, who said I could only have 10 days to begin with? 😉
– Laura // afinnontheloose.com
The world is your oyster! Hopefully this gives people an idea of how to structure their time and destinations within Portugal. Happy travels!