Guide to a Busy Week and a Half in Portugal

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  • Portugal

  • Porto

  • Lisbon

  • Boutique Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Solo Travel

  • Road Trip Travel

  • Beaches

  • Adventure Travel

  • Insta-Worthy

  • Outdoors

  • Coastal

river boats with long paddles float blue water with a historic town in the distnace
Fora’s Take

Portugal is an amazing destination to fill your trip with a variety of activities and culture. Whether visiting the Porto wine region in the north or the captivating surf towns around Lagos in the south, Portugal invites every traveler to truly experience the country however fits best. Make sure to spend a few days in Lisbon too, as the city has a bustling and contagious environment that leaves you wondering if you should move there!

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Where to stay

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Torel 1884 Suites & Apartments

Luxury boutique hotel with individually designed rooms in Porto.

Fora Perks
  • Welcome treat in room on arrival.

  • Upgrade & guaranteed late check-out.

The Ivens, Lisbon, Autograph Collection

Elegant oasis located in a 19th-century Portuguese building with three well-appointed Italian restaurants.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Casa Mãe

A stylish gateway to Portugal’s Algarve region and surf breaks, this once-abandoned estate is home to 34 rooms, a farm-to-table restaurant and lush grounds.

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Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon

long city street with a purple sunset

Your first day in Lisbon sets the stage for the rest of the trip. Once you arrive and relax at the hotel, use the afternoon to begin exploring Lisbon's Principe Real region. A laid back, slower paced area of the city, Principe Real has plenty of shops to explore as well as restaurants to visit for dinner. Go to Zero Zero Pizza for some comfort food to welcome you to lovely Lisbon! Make sure to save room for a Pastel de Nata after dinner. Stop by A Padaria Portuguesa for a couple treats!

Day 2: Experience the City

view of red rooftops of multicolored houses on a sunny day in a seaside city

Get ready for a day filled with walking, especially through the hilly streets of the city. Start your day with a breakfast at Nicolau Lisbon. You won't regret ordering a plate of the pancakes here. With your stomachs full, take a short walk over to ride to the top of the Elevador de Santa Justa for some crazy city views. If you get distracted by the shops along the way, don't worry. Make sure to pop in to one of Lisbon's famous sardine shops and grab a can of the local delicacy. After you conquered your fear of heights (maybe), start you journey to the Alfama district. Make sure to stroll by the Se de Lisbon on your way over to Alfama. A quaint area of town, Lisbon's Alfama is filled with plenty of viewpoints to admire the city's architecture. Check out Miradouro de Santa Luzia or Miraduoro do Recolhimento. End your visit to the Alfama district with a journey through the Castelo de Sao Jorge grounds. This Moorish castle and royal residence is a must visit! After all that walking, it's time to indulge in some local seafood for lunch! Be sure to stop by Restuarante Farol de Santa Luiza on your way down the hill from the Castelo. With the busy morning, take some time post lunch to walk back to your hotel or residence for an afternoon siesta. If you are too energized, stop by A Brasileira for an espresso to keep the exploration going. Both of these are a must have to ensure you are rejuvenated for your evening. Once you are refreshed, head over to Sr. Vinho for a traditional Fado music dinner! This is truly a must do. You really get to experience the Portuguese culture and traditions of Fado. After dinner, make sure to get another Pastel de Nata or a post-dinner drink at the Red Frog Speakeasy for some unique cocktails!

Day 3: More to Explore

a woman picks a book in a library wall covered in books with a stairwell to a lower floor

With yesterday filled with walking around the city, and tomorrow planned the same, your Day 3 is the perfect middle ground between the two busy days. First, grab an amazing breakfast at Comoba in Bairro Alto. Plenty of sweet and savory options here to satisfy any cravings and fuel up for the day. Once you are caffeinated, head on over to the LX Factory! An old industrial complex turned shopping and culture area. A little bit off the beaten path, the LX Factory has a ton of local shops to buy any craft goods, clothing or vintage items. It also has plenty of restaurants and bars to spend the day post shopping! Be sure to grab lunch here. A highly recommended place is Cantina Lx. Post lunch, stop at the MAAT Museum for some awesome architecture, unique installations and an educational journey through the electricity factory museum. Similar to Day 2, take some time for some R&R before dinner, or some wandering free time to relax. For dinner, try A Cevicheria for some seafood dishes with an Asian flare!

Day 4: A Cultural Feast

a pink street surrounded by yellow, baby blue, and red buildings

Another day in Lisbon filled with walking and exploring the rest of the city. Start your day with breakfast at Cafe Janis, leaving you time right after to explore the Cais do Sodre area. Here you will find the infamous Pink Street! Be sure to stop and get a photo for your camera roll. After your smiles, head on over to the Barrio Alto district for some window shopping. Here you will find plenty of stores with unique items to purchase. You will also find a plethora of coffee shops if you aren't yet over your jet lag! Some streets that are worth exploring are Rue Augusta, Praca Luis de Camoes, Avenida de Liberdade, and Praca do Comercio. Today is a day filled with exploring Barrio Alto, cause after a dinner of your choice (we recommend Taberna da Rua das Flores for some traditional tapas), your night will lead you back to the bar lined streets here! This is the most lively bar scene in Lisbon. If you are looking for more club and DJ vibes, head back to Cais do Sodre for some real dancing!

Day 5: Road Trip to Sintra and Ericeria

multicolored buildings in a small old town

A day to get over your hangover from the night before. Start the day by picking up your rental car, because although you are based in Lisbon, today is filled with some day trips! Start by a drive to Sintra, where you can explore the castles of the region. You will feel like you are transported into a Shrek movie with how colorful the castle at the top of the hill is! After a trip there (we recommend to keep it short to allow for more exploring), get back in the car for a drive to Ericeria. A true surf town, Ericeria gives you time for a couple hours at the beach and to admire the surfers taking on the Atlantic waves. If you feel up for it, head to Cascais in the late afternoon (a short drive away) for another beachy town. Be sure to stop here for some Santini Ice Cream as a sweet treat.

Note: If you are a true surf fan, today can be replaced with a trip up north to Nazare, Portugal. Nazare was placed on the map for big wave surfing, where the tides cause waves of upwards of 100 feet during Big Wave Season! Take a trip up here, and highly recommended if you are curious. The town itself is also bustling with people, restaurants and plenty of other exploring to do.

After a day outside of Lisbon, be sure to come back and have your last dinner at Seen by Oliver. A rooftop with unmatched views of Lisbon and the water. Seen by Oliver is the perfect way to cap off your days in Lisbon!

Day 6: Journey to Porto

a river runs through a city with low white buildings and orange rooftops

With your rental car still yours from the day before, bring your journey up north to Porto! A three hour drive with plenty of stops along the way, arrive in Porto by noon to ensure you can enjoy the afternoon in the city. Start your afternoon with a journey to the Porto Cathedral. Here you will find one of the best views of the city to welcome you for a couple days here. After a couple stops, head back down to the Praca Ribeira district. Grab a dinner at Restaurante Casario for not only good food, but amazing people watching. You could have guessed it, end your night with another Pastel de Nata (trust us, you will want it) at Confeitaria do Bolhao!

Day 7: Explore Porto

a busy park with people enjoying the view of a city below

Today is a day of exploring the city. Start with a journey to the Igreja de Carmo, Livrario Lello, and Igreja Dos Clerigos. These three boast some of the most unique architecture in the city, along with blue tiled walls for your photo moments. For the ultimate Instagram, be sure to visit the Sao Bento Railway station. The lobby of this place is magical! Stop at Cervejaria Gazela for some lunch time snacks and a beer or two. Be sure to reserve your afternoon for a trip across the Dom Luis Ponte bridge to Vila de Nova Gaia on the other side of the river. We recommend taking a tour through any of the Port Cellars here. We visited Graham Port Cellars and could not recommend the tour and tasting visit more. With the port wine maybe getting to your brain, take a river cruise along the water for some fresh air! You can find plenty of options docked in Vila Nove de Gaia. Once you see the sun starting to set, take the Terrace Cable car up to Jardim do Morro for the perfect view of the sunset. Pro Tip: In the summer months, there are concerts here during sunset with drinks and snacks as well! This was one of our favorite memories of the trip. After the sunset, be sure to grab a late night dinner at Casa Guedes. This was the absolute best sandwich we had on the trip!

Note: This is the end of the journey in Porto, but if you are a wine fanatic, we recommend an additional day to tour the Porto wine region!

Day 8: From Porto to Lagos

vista of a rocky beach surrounded by cliffs with waves crashing on a sandy shore

A five hour drive ahead down to Lagos! Tip: If you don't love a long drive, you can start your Portugal journey in Porto, make a pitstop in Lisbon halfway, and then make the drive from Lisbon to Lagos instead! To make this drive fun, be sure to stop at some of the beach towns along the way. We recommend a stop in Setubal, Comporta (eat at the Comporta Cafe Beach Club if you are hungry), Sagres (visit the lighthouse to say you were at the most southern point of Portugal), Carvoeiro, Portimao, and Albufeira! There are plenty of options to make a pit stop here. My favorites were Sagres and Albufeira. With a long day of driving behind you, be sure to check in to the hotel and head over to Casa do Prego for a laid back dinner and watch the sunset!

Day 9: A Boat Cruise in Lagos

small boat cruises underneath a natural opening in stone

With some busy days behind you, today is the day to enjoy the sunshine. We highly recommend taking a boat tour with BlueFleet for the day. The morning tour starts at 9:45am and ends at 1:45pm, with lunch included on board. We were lucky and got to see some dolphins along our journey as well! We took the coastal cruise, which was nice and relaxing, but we also recommend the Grotto Tour for some more adventure and a shorter journey. If you eat at one place in Lagos, it must be Taberna da mo. We dream about the food still to this day!

Day 10-11: Chill on the Beaches of Lagos

cliff walk above ocean with smaller cliffs rising from the water

With the beaches calling your name, grab a quick bite at Coffee & Waves and then head over to Praia de Camilo for the day. We highly recommend getting there early (around 8:45-9am) to secure your spot, as this beach is popular amongst both tourists and locals! Be sure to bring some snacks to munch on for the day, as you won't want to leave this captivating beach. For dinner, either eat again at Taberna do Mo (not kidding) or for something different grab a casual bite at Jukebox Tapas! On your last night in Portugal, be sure to take it all in with a cliff walk at Praia de Marinha during the sunset. These views are unbeatable and this is the moment you will decide to move to Portugal! On your final day, drive back to Lisbon and hope on your flight back home... or on to your next stop!

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Lilly Paez's guide, Three Days in the Vibrant Coastal City of Porto.

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Portugal.