In March, the boyfriend and I set out for our epic 10-day Portugal itinerary. We explored Lisbon and headed north for our Portugal road trip to Porto. We explored Portuguese history, roamed around the cultural sites, and got a taste of the food of Portugal. I share my Portugal 10 day itinerary with the highlights, the low lights, and everything in between.
If you have less time, I recommend some time-saving options. And if you have more time, I have some exciting options to add. I also add my practical tips for where to stay and what to see. And how to arrange this yourself.
I paid for our trip in full, nothing was sponsored or for free. All my opinions are my own. You might agree with me or not.
This post does contain affiliate links. If you decide to book something via one of my links, I’ll earn a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you but helps me provide these honest and objective itineraries for free.
10 Day Portugal Itinerary
10 days is never enough to explore a whole country. It is not even enough to see half a country. But we tried. It wasn’t our first time in Portugal, but it was our first road trip in Portugal.
I made an itinerary for 10 days in Portugal and filled it with Unesco World Heritage sites, amazing cities and sightseeing.
We traveled at a high pace, staying 1 or 2 days in a city to explore the highlights. Our trip doesn’t do justice to the richness of Portugal, but it does skim the surface. If you head to Portugal for your vacation to see what the country is like, get a taste of the people and the food, learn about the history and see some amazing sights, then this 10 day Portugal Itinerary is just right for you.
We only explored North of Lisbon, so the Algarve is not included.
10 days in Portugal: Lisbon to Porto in Short
Below, I’ll tell you exactly what to do on your 10 day Portugal road trip but here, I’ll highlight the stops in short. Click on the link to jump straight to the section of your interest to learn what to see and do and where we stayed.
- 2 nights in Lisbon
- 1 night in Sinta to explore Sintra for 2 days and see Obidos
- also 1 night in Alcobaça to explore the monasteries of Alcobaça, Batalha and Tomar
- 1 night in Aveiro to see the city and visit Costa Nova
- 2 nights in Porto
- 1 night in Guimarães to see Braga, Bom Jesus and Guimarães
- and 1 night in Pinhão to see and taste the Douro valley
- 1 night in Coimbra to explore the Bussaco Forest and the Roman Ruins of Conimbriga
Maybe you have more or less time than the 10 days in Portugal I share here. In that case, jump straight to:
2 days in Lisbon Portugal
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal is a popular weekend trip when you’re based in Europe. Or it’s the start of your Portugal itinerary when you fly in from overseas. The city is famous for its colorful houses, amazing views across the hills and river and the bubbling nightlife and amazing food culture.
We were both very excited to visit Lisbon and we couldn’t wait to drop off our bags at our hotel and start exploring. But when we looked up the things to see in Lisbon, it turned out that Lisbon is not flooded by must-see attractions or must-do experiences.
We decided to join a walking tour of the city and enjoyed the history lesson about the city, the flooding and the earthquake (we didn’t like the story, but it was really nice to learn about the history that had such a big impact on the city). We enjoyed the view from the amazing Santa Justa Elevator and strolled around town.
So why didn’t we set our bum down at one of the many restaurants and enjoy the good life that Lisbon is famous for? Well, it turned out, we were in Portugal during the biggest rainstorms for a decade.
The streets were flooded with rain, we ran across the streets trying to see something of the city without getting absolutely soaked and it turns out: Lisbon is not so nice when it rains.
Things to do in Lisbon when it doesn’t rain
We took a day trip to Belem by tram and really liked it. Lisbon offers plenty of other tours and side trips if you have more time or the weather is more agreeable.
Belem day trip from Lisbon
We called it a day and made plans for the next day when the weather should be slightly better.
The next morning, we woke up way too early on a Sunday but the weather gods were on our side: it stopped raining. We devoured the amazing breakfast at our hotel and walked to the tram stop to catch the tram to Belem. I wanted to see that famous tower and we had our minds set on those famous Pastéis de Nata from Belem.
Tower of Belem
As we arrived at the Belem tower, the sun showed her face and it was the first time we’d see some blue skies in Portugal!
Yea. As the clouds lifted, so did our spirits. Unfortunately, the tower of Belem was closed due to flooding (go figure) and we turned around the find the Monastery of St. Jerome (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos).
It seemed the sightseeing gods were not on our side as there was a line halfway around the block. It was advertised as the first Sunday of the month to be free, but it turned out this was only for Portuguese residents.
We debated a little bit if we wanted to get in line and spend the money but I know we would see plenty of Monasteries on the rest of our Portugal itinerary so we decided to move along. Be smarter than me, and book your ticket in for Jeronimo Monastery in advance here.
Pastéis de Belem
Instead, we decided to spend our money (and time) at the Pastéis de Belem bakery in Belem This famous family bakery makes THE BEST Pastéis de Nata. Now to be fair, we didn’t taste all of them in Lisbon, but we did taste a few at Pastéis de Nata and they were divine. We ordered coffee with 2 Pastéis de Nata and just waited what would happen next.
There are 2 lines at this world-famous bakery. One for the ‘to-go’ window where people from Lisbon and around collect their Sunday treats and there is a line to get inside. Inside, you’ll find several saloon-style places with tables and chairs.
You can find the big window where you can see the bakery and the people at work and of course, the toilets. Be alert and grab a table when one comes available.
We had a great time watching the staff handle the busy Sunday afternoon, we were lucky to find a table at the heart of the place and enjoyed our coffee with Portuguese tarts. For 2 coffees and Pastéis, we paid €7,55. A bargain if you ask me.
Do check out Pastéis de Belem if you visit Belem, I found it very much worth the wait. Check their website here.
Tram 28 in Lisbon
While we were stuffing our face with the sweet delicacy, the rain started to descend on Lisbon once again. We headed back by tram and decided to rest a little at our hotel. In the afternoon we set out to explore more of the city.
We boarded the famous tram 28 and we wanted to see where it would take us. As it turned out, not that far as the route was under construction. We decided to hop off and try our luck on foot. Unfortunately, this is also the reason I don’t have those iconic shots of the yellow tram of Lisbon, meandering through the streets.
Views of Lisbon
We did get lucky in Lisbon with the weather. As we ascended one of the hills, it started to rain, but just as we reached the top and made our way to the viewpoint, the rain stopped for a few moments, giving us a stunning view of the city.
After dinner, we returned to the hotel to pack our bags as the next morning we’d leave Lisbon and pick up our rental car.
Where to stay in Lisbon?
We stayed for 2 nights in Lisbon. I had a hard time to find a suitable (cheap and comfortable) place to stay. In the end, I found the Feels Like Home Bica Prime Suites close to the Plaza Camoñes. I fell for the romantic look of the rooms and we were treated like royalty when we were there. We enjoyed the breakfast with fresh fruit and homemade cakes a lot!
Portugal Road Trip: Driving from Lisbon to Porto
Of course, Lisbon was part of our 10-day Portugal itinerary but our Portugal road trip started after Lisbon. We returned to the airport and picked up our rental car.
The main reason was we didn’t want to drive in Lisbon and add extra parking fees to our travel budget. And we didn’t need the car in Lisbon.
I decided to head back to the airport because it was cheaper than renting a car from downtown Lisbon and would be easier with our drop-off. I used the same car rental comparison tool as on my Spanish Road Trips.
2 days in Sintra
I researched a bit before our Portugal road trip and everything I read was that Sintra is a must-see sight in Portugal.
As there was so much to see, we decided to take a day away from Lisbon and add it to Sintra. We stayed 2 days in Sintra and I can honestly say: WOW! I think everyone should go to Portugal to see Sintra and spend more time in the little village and around the sights!
Sintra is like the fantasy marriage between colorful fairy tales and old-world charm. We loved to explore the town and the castles.
Pena Palace Sintra
In short, we visited the Pena Palace. This yellow and red, Lego brick castle sits on a hill overlooking the whole of Sintra and Cascais. The views are amazing and so is the castle.
We manage to sneak a few pictures of the colorful Pena Palace but as it was raining, we quickly went indoors.
After the Pena Palace, we visited the Moorish Castle. As the winds were gushing over the planes, I stayed down safely. Meanwhile, my boyfriend climbed the fortress’s walls and enjoyed the view.
In the afternoon, the weather calmed a bit and the sun came out for a little while. This enabled the romantic charm of the Monserrate Palace to sweep me off my feet. This romantic house is oozing with Moorish details and a lush green garden. The perfect end to the first day in Sintra.
Stay overnight in Sintra
I was so happy to return to our lovely apartment in the heart of new Sintra. We didn’t have to return to Lisbon but could stay and explore the town. The next morning, we walked around Sintra town and enjoyed coffee and cake at a local shop.
We headed to the Quinta da Regaleira castle by car. This eerie castle and gardens are also a must-see in Sintra.
See, this is why you need 2 days out of your Portugal itinerary to explore Sintra.
After a nice lunch, we decided to leave Sintra behind us and head north. We wanted to drive to Cabo da Roca to see the ocean and the cliffs but due to the bad weather, we decided to skip it.
If you’d like to stay in Sintra, read my 2-day Sintra Itinerary. We stayed at an apartment in new Sintra and really liked it.
The owner helped us find a free parking place for our car. The apartment had plenty of room for a family to stay.
Road Trip stop in Obidos
We left Sintra behind and headed north. We’d sleep in Alcobaça that night but I wanted to stop in Obidos too. Midway from Sintra to Alcobaça, Obidos is a small medieval village. Think whitewashed houses, surrounded by a massive defense wall with views across the hills surrounding it.
We parked in the free parking lot of Obidos and headed to the little town. Obidos is really small. It has 2 main streets and a bunch of little shops and restaurants.
As a big tour group just entered the village, we decided to head straight up and walked around the town on the defense wall.
Ok, I must admit, I found it a bit scary to walk on the small path high up on the wall. Winds were gushing through the crenels of the wall but the views were absolutely stunning!
We returned down to the street level and felt really touristy when we saw all the souvenir shops. But we were also surprised by all the lovely houses, the uneven cobblestone streets and the delicious treats for sale in Obidos.
We devoured some chocolate covered strawberries and caved for more chocolate treats. Mmmhh. Obidos is such a sweet village!
Alcobaça, Batalha and Tomar
After Obidos, we arrived in Alcobaça. We stayed 1 night at a small hotel right across the Alcobaça monastery. Amazing views from the room and great vibes of the small town.
Find out where we stayed in Alcobaça and see if they have rooms for you. For dinner, we had some amazing burgers at a tiny little place with cheap food. I definitely recommend Meat -Hamburgueria for lunch or dinner. Or both! We parked our car just outside old Alcobaça which was free and safe.
Monastery of Alcobaça
After a good night’s sleep, we set out to explore the Monasteries of Alcobaça, Batalha and Tomar. We purchased a ticket to see all 3 of them.
We started in Alcobaça and visited the church. Here you’ll find the tombs of Dom Pedro and his assassinated lover Dona Înes. In the pantheon, you’ll find more royal tombs that are over 1,000 years old.
We entered the monastery and were greeted by an oasis of peace and calm. The orange tree-lined courtyard was surrounded by lovely white pillars and the red-tiled roof made a stark contrast.
After our visit to the monastery, we left Alcobaça behind and drove to Batalha. We entered the church from the side and were blown away by the size and scale of the Batalha Monastery.
The Royal Chapel at Batalha is a must-see site and I was amazed by the intricate details of the ceiling and chapel.
We continued to explore the rest of the monastery with amazing features surrounding the convent gardens. The place is really photogenic and we had a great time roaming the halls.
But the best was still to come as we exited the monastery and went around the back to see the Unfinished Chapels.
Quite a good name for these towers, the chapel was never finished. It offers a stark contrast between the naked open-air and the delicate decorations of the towers.
Convert of Christ in Tomar
We left Batalha and continued East to Tomar. The stronghold of the former Knights Templar made us very excited. But as it turned out, this was a long time ago and the Convent of Christ erased most memories.
What is left today is an amazing Rotunda Church (yes, the high altar is round!) and an endless array of monasteries and convent gardens. We admired the Manueline style windows and features of the buildings but as it turned out: 3 of such amazing sights in 1 day was a bit too much.
Aveiro and Costa Nova
It was a long intense day and we drove straight to Aveiro were we would sleep. This colorful town is a popular day trip from Porto as it is only 1 hour away. I thought it would be a great stop for our Portugal road trip to break up the long drive and would be fun to visit the Venice of Portugal.
But guess what? In drizzling rain with gray skies and no other people around it is not that attractive. It would be a great visit for an hour of 2 and then visit Costa Nova and head back to Porto. We were stuck however and decided to make the best of it.
After walking around Aveiro for the evening, we had a horrible dinner at a local shop and decided to wash away the horrible taste of greasy cold pig skins with delicious sweet chocolates.
As we stayed at a homestay in Aveiro that I don’t recommend, I’m giving you a few other options for places to stay in Aveiro here.
Aveiro Tours from Porto
Colorful Costa Nova
Deadset on seeing as much as possible, we drove to Costa Nova the next morning. We didn’t really care for Aveiro and hoped Costa Nova would be better.
I guess the weather gods were not in our favor. But through the drizzling rain and gray skies, I could see the charm of this candy-striped fisherman’s town. Yes, it was empty and no, the colors didn’t pop as much as they would on a bright day, but we did have fun.
All in all, due to the weather conditions and our interest, Aveiro and Costa Nova were not really worth to stop over for a whole day. If you have less time, I recommend to skip it, unless the weather is insanely beautiful and you want to see the seaside.
2 days in Porto
After Costa Nova, we headed north to Porto. I was excited about Porto! I gave a trip to Porto as a Christmas gift once to my brother and his wife but never been there myself. We found an affordable car park in Porto and (as it was raining, again) first had coffee.
After we checked into our own apartment in Porto, we made a plan to explore Porto. Turned out, plans were washed away by the heavy rain.
Just our luck. We decided it was time to drink our sorrows away and we had a great time doing so.
Drinking and eating in Porto
I don’t want to be that person that bitches about the weather all the time but to be honest, the rain had a huge impact on our trip. We didn’t take a Douro valley boat cruise from Porto because the weather was awful.
I wanted to see the famous book shop Lello & Irmão in Porto but there was a huge line outside waiting to get in. Therefore we opted for coffee and gelato instead.
We did visit the blue-tiled churches but none of the pictures came out as I imagined and we were done pretty quickly. And we also visited the main church but didn’t climb the Torre dos Clérigos because we couldn’t see the top from the street due to the fog.
So what did we do in Porto? Besides walking around in the rain, we drank coffee at numerous coffee shops and had long lunches and dinners in Porto. And we drank Port.
It was amazing, we loved it! We only stayed in Porto for 2 nights and had dinner twice. Both were absolutely divine so I’d definitely recommend checking if they have a place available for you and your party!
We stayed at an apartment in downtown Porto that allowed us to make our own breakfast. See if 12 Short Term Apartments in Porto are available when you want to go.
Braga and Guimarães
The next morning, we left Porto and headed north to visit medieval Braga and we’d stay the night at Guimarães.
Braga and Bom Jesus do Monte
I thought there would be a ton to explore in Braga as it is a popular day trip from Porto. After exploring the medieval keep and walking around town for a bit, we decided to leave Braga and drive to Bom Jesus do Monte.
This is a church on top of a hill just outside Braga. Most famous because of the amazing staircase and gardens.
We parked near the church and went to explore the staircase. As the clouds were rolling in, this resulted in some amazing dramatic pictures.
We had quite some fun, enjoying the views and trying to find new angles to photograph the stairs and the church.
When the dark clouds turned into rain, we headed to our rental car to continue our road trip to Guimarães. Here, we encountered our first traffic jam! The city was buzzing with people as there was a parade of some sort.
We immediately liked it. We checked into our hotel and checked the weather forecast. It would be dry for another hour so we immediately set out to explore the castle of Guimarães.
We walked through the old town and all the streets looked cute and attractive. We reached the hill and inquired after the price and options to visit the Castle of Guimarães and the castle.
But it was already quite late and we didn’t have enough time. We opted to explore the castle and walked around it for a bit.
We enjoyed strolling around town and liked the young vibe we found in Guimarães. It seemed there were students everywhere and we hopped from one bar to the next.
We stayed for 1 night in Guimarães at the Hotel Mestre de Avis. A bit pricier than other options, it did come with parking in front of the hotel and offered an amazing breakfast buffet.
Douro Valley and Pinhão
After Guimarães it was time to continue our 10 day Portugal itinerary with a road trip along the Douro Valley. I found a great road trip itinerary and we followed the meandering roads along the countryside!
This was by far the most beautiful part of Portugal we’ve seen from the car.
The weather played nice too and we had a small bit of sun and some tiny bits of blue skies here and there. From Guimarães we headed east on the A7 and finally went south on the N323.
Our final stop for the day would be Pinhão and the road from Sabrosa to Pinhão was absolutely stunning! What a great road trip to Portugal.
Thinking of renting a campervan to make a road trip in Portugal? Check out this insightful post.
Once we reached Pinhão, our luck ended. The rest of the afternoon and evening, it rained. This was the perfect excuse for us to explore more of our Quinta where we were staying. We took a tour of the Quinta de la Rosa with wine tasting and we enjoyed their delicious Port wines.
The Train that never came
As you might know by now, I’m a huge fan of train journeys and train rides. As we were on our Portugal Road Trip, there was not much room to take the train. But I learned about the train from Pinhão to Pocinho and was dead set on taking it!
I researched the schedule and found an early morning train that would take us for the best views of the Douro River.
We would then have some time before heading back. As they predicted some sunshine the next morning, I changed our schedule and we would take the first train on Monday.
Pinhão to Pocinho Train
We woke up early and left our hotel room with a heavy heart. I wanted to stay there forever and ever, it was so nice. But a scenic train journey was waiting for us and the skies were blue! We went to the little train station in Pinhão and I went in to purchase tickets.
The man that sold the tickets said there was a strike and the 9.30 am train would not go. He said I could come back for the 11.30 am train and he ensured me that one would run.
Mmhhh.. a bit bummed we debated what to do for 2 hours. We decided to take the car again and drive a part of the Douro Valley to Peso da Regua. It was gorgeous. The green hills, the gray river and the amazing villages we passed. We stopped a couple of times before heading back to Pinhão.
And guess what? We waited for half an hour for the train but it never came. Just our luck. The strike continued and all trains were canceled. I was so disappointed. I think we have to go back to the Douro Valley and take the train ride another time.
Bussaco Forest and Coimbra
We called it quits and left Pinhão to drive south to Coimbra. We skipped it on our way up north to break up the return journey to Lisbon. Now we had an extra stop and some sights to see along the way.
We stopped at the Bussaco forest and had a lovely walk around. We explored the Bussaco Hotel and enjoyed the magical staircase and fountain in the forest.
In the late afternoon, we arrived in Coimbra and checked into the Luggage Hostel & Suites. This is a hostel that also offered private rooms for couples and is located smack bang in the middle of Coimbra. We could park our car for a few euros just outside the hostel.
A bit bummed that it rained again, we only went to Coimbra to get some food and we stayed at the hostel, listened to some music, and drank the Port Wine we bought in the Douro Valley. Explore the university city of Coimbra with this guide.
Roman Ruins of Conimbriga
The next morning, we enjoyed our breakfast and checked the weather forecast. Guess what? No rain! This was our last day in Portugal as we’d fly out of Lisbon airport tonight and the forecast was warm and sunny! Jippie! Finally!
We spend our last day of our 10 day Portugal itinerary roaming the Roman Ruins of Conimbriga just south of Coimbra.
We especially liked the amazing mosaics that were laid out everywhere and enjoyed the views of the sight. There are various walking routes and paths around it and I think it would be amazing to spend more time in the area for a more active holiday.
After the museum and some gelato, we headed to Lisbon and handed over our rental car before our flight home.
Portugal Road Trip in 10 days
The little Smart 4×4 made our Portugal road trip possible. We added nearly 1,250 km (775 miles) to the mileage of the car. On the way, we saw amazing cities, Unesco world heritage sites, ancient monasteries, and seaside towns and river settlements.
We dove into the history of Portugal, from the Romans to the first Portuguese kings and the influencers who built forts, settlements, and castles. We ate sweet Pastéis de Nata, rich Franciscana sandwiches and devoured a whole array of delicious Portuguese meals.
Unfortunately, we only had 10 days to explore a part of Portugal and we settled on the area around Lisbon and north to Porto (and back) for our Portugal itinerary.
To make this story complete, I give you a few options if you have more time or want to include the Algarve too.
14 Day Portugal Itinerary
It was a difficult choice, but in the end, we couldn’t take more than 11 days to explore Portugal. If we would have had 2 weeks in Portugal, I’d definitely added some things. If you want to make it into a 14 day Portugal Itinerary, here are some suggestions:
- Add an extra day in Sintra. Or 2! Explore Cascais, go to Cabo da Roca or visit the Pena Palace twice! I absolutely loved Sintra and I’m sure you’ll too
- Roman Ruins at Evora. Only an hour east from Lisbon, Evora was a hard nut to crack for me. The city is basically one giant open-air museum of the Roman times and I love Roman Ruins!
- Visit Fatima if you’re religious. We passed through and decided it was not for us so we only had lunch there. The castle of Ourém not far from Fatima and Batalha and Tomar also seemed really interested, just like the Mira de Aire Caves. All things we had to skip due to time constraints.
- Head south to the Algarve. If you like some beach time in your Portugal itinerary, make sure to head south to the Algarve. I once had a 2 week holiday there and the villages of Albufeira and Quarteira have everything for a sun-filled time. Lagos and Sagres offer more historic and cultural options.
Looking to combine Portugal with Spain, check this Portugal and Spain mixed itinerary.
7 Day Portugal Itinerary
If you stumbled upon this page in search of a great Portugal itinerary but don’t have 14 or even 10 days, then 7 days might be a good option for you. As you might notice from the above story, there were a few things we didn’t like that much. They could easily be cut from your Portugal road trip if you only have 1 week.
- You can save the most time if you start in Lisbon and finish in Porto. (Or the other way around). We had to drive back to Lisbon which was fine as we had more time. Here is a suggestion for a 7 day Portugal itinerary where you’ll be driving from Lisbon to Porto: start in Lisbon (2 nights), visit Sintra (1 night), head north to Alcobaça, or visit Batalha on the way (1 night). Go to Porto (3 nights) and finish with a Douro Valley cruise (1 day) to end your 1 week in Portugal.
Things to skip if you have less time
- Skip Aveiro and Costa Nova. Yes, we had fun dancing in the rain. But it is not really worth more than an hour to see the colorful houses, have ice cream, and be on your way again.
- I’d even could argue to cut the time spend in Lisbon in half and add it elsewhere to your itinerary. Especially if you’re interested in cultural sights and historic places. Add the day to Sintra, stop in Batalha or Alcobaça instead or visit the Roman ruins in Coimbra as we did. If you’re an absolute foodie and looking for that Urban vibe, then forget about it and add extra days to Lisbon. Check out your options for the best Lisbon Food Tour here.
Our 10 day Portugal itinerary
As you can read from above, we had a great time exploring Portugal by car but a lot of our activities were influenced by the weather. It can happen. We did see a lot of great sights and got a good taste of what Portugal has to offer.
Last-Minute Portugal practical road trip tips
Wow, you made it to the end of this stellar post! How awesome of you to keep reading! You must be ready to go to Portugal for an epic road trip. Here are some last practical tips and links to help you get you on your way.
- For travel planning and background information, I used the Lonely Planet Portugal guidebook.
- Compare the best car rental deals from Lisbon airport here.
- Wing it or book your accommodation ahead. Especially in high season, you want to seal the best deals for your hotel by booking before you go. I always use booking.com because you can always cancel.
- The main roads in Portugal are toll roads and you need to pay. It is very hard to avoid them. Read up before you go.
- Your rental car might not have GPS. Bring your own GPS from home and load the map of Portugal before you go.
I hope you can plan your own Portugal road trip with this itinerary. Let me know if you do. You can share your ideas and questions in the comment section below. Or share this by pinning the below images to Pinterest.