You can see quite a lot of the country without a car on this 2-week Portugal itinerary. The focus for this Portugal trip is on the areas around and in between Lisbon and Porto and there’s plenty of variety including some off the beaten track highlights as well as the ‘must sees’.
I’ve designed this itinerary for Portugal for those of you who are happy to book your own accommodation, tours and transport (links provided – if you use my affiliate links to book, not only will you be supporting the work I do, I’ll also plant a tree for each completed reservation).
There are options for different budgets and interests so you should find something that appeals.
Travelling around Portugal without a car can be stress-free, relaxing and fun!
Day 1: Lisbon. Arrival, hotel transfer, museum visits
How to get from Lisbon airport to the city centre
At Lisbon airport be greeted by your driver in arrivals for a private transfer to your city centre hotel. Uber/Bolt work as well.
Alternatively, take the Metro into the city centre (see this article about paying for public transport) or buy a Lisbon Card in advance, which gives you discounts on museums and attractions as well as free use of the public transport system.
Lisbon Accommodation (7 nights)
Note: This may seem like a long time in one place but I have lots of day trips planned from here so Lisbon makes a great base.
- 5 star: Memmo Principe Real- Design Hotels Stay at a luxury hotel in one of my favourite districts in Lisbon.
- 4 star: Lisbon Pessoa Hotel This popular and stylish hotel features a restaurant with stunning panoramic views of Lisbon.
- 3 star: My Story Ouro is in a charming 18th century building in downtown Lisbon with friendly staff and good soundproofing.
- For a gorgeous apartment while you’re in Lisbon, search Plum Guide. All homes have been meticulously vetted for a wonderful stay.
Sightseeing in Lisbon at your own pace
After settling into your accommodation, or at least dropping off your luggage, let me guide you virtually around some of Lisbon’s most beautiful squares and viewing spots with my Voicemap Audio-guided Lisbon Walking Tour.
I’ll escort you through the Chiado and Principe Real neighbourhoods pointing out some of my favourite places and their stories. Depending on how many of the sights you want to visit or linger at, this could take between 30 minutes and several hours.
Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring one, or maybe two, of Lisbon’s museums.
- The National Museum of Ancient Art is a wonderful place to get a feel of the history of Portugal with paintings, furniture, gold and much more.
- Portugal is famous for its azulejos (hand-painted ceramic tiles) and one of the best places to explore the history and design of these is the National Tile Museum. You can buy your tickets for this museum here.
- The Gulbenkian Museum is perhaps my favourite of all the Lisbon museums. Besides the excellent permanent and temporary exhibitions there are lovely gardens to stroll around.
Be aware: Most museums are closed on a Monday except the Gulbenkian, which is closed on a Tuesday.
Tip: You can get free or discounted admission to various museums plus many other benefits by buying a Lisbon Card but make sure it’s worth it for you. Senior (over 65s) get discounts at museums anyway and if you’re not using public transport much, you may not get good value from it.
For drinks or light meals with a view, go for sundowners at Noobai or Lost Inn Esplanade.
Day 2: Get to know the capital of Portugal – Lisbon!
Lisbon sightseeing tours
A great way to get your bearings and get to know Lisbon’s different neighbourhoods, including Belém, is on a tour that includes transport of some description. There are many to choose from:
Spend the day exploring Lisbon from a different perspective on this full day, small group Lisbon City Sightseeing Tour by minivan.
As an added bonus, you can get 5% off with my code: FOX5
You’ll see the city from carefully chosen viewpoints, starting in Belém with it’s imposing Jerónimos Monastery. Then move on to gaze at the stunning views from the top of the iconic suspension bridge that spans the Tagus river. End by visiting the Christ The King statue in Almada, which stands on a clifftop 133m above sea level and offers fabulous views of Lisbon.
What I like about this particular tour is that you get to see some of the must-see sights as well as more under-the-radar places.
Alternatively, you can explore the city at your own pace on a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.
You can explore all areas of Lisbon on one combined transport ticket, including the Belém district with the Jeronimos Monastery, Belém Tower, National Coach Museum and Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology. And, of course, try the original Portuguese custard tarts at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém.
Take a private tuk tuk tour to hilltop viewpoints, the ancient neighbourhoods of Alfama and Mouraria and end up in Belém.
Tip: This Jerónimos Monastery and National Coach Museum joint ticket will save you money if you want to visit both sights.
Optional boat trip:
If you have time and enjoy being on the water, while in Belém you could take a boat trip on the Tagus River to experience the cityscape from a different perspective. You can book this 2-hour sailing trip online or read about other options here.
Day 3: Get acquainted with Portuguese culture on a food tour
Tasting the local cuisine is always at the top of my list when visiting any new country and a trip to Portugal should be no exception. To that end, I highly recommend taking a food tour.
A Lisbon Food Tour with Culinary Backstreets will show you some of Lisbon’s gastronomic highlights in a very small group. You’ll visit hidden gems, sample delicious morsels and hear plenty of tales from your guide.
If you would prefer a private foodie experience in Lisbon, please complete this form.
Day 4: Take a day trip to Sintra and/or Cascais
Guided tours to Sintra
For your first day trip from Lisbon, visit the wonderland of Sintra with its palaces and romance. It really is a Portugal must-see.
Book this Sintra Full Day small group tour and get a 5% discount with my code, FOX5. This tour combines highlights of Sintra with time in Cascais and Cabo da Roca.
If you book a private Sintra tour, you can choose which sights you wish to visit and whether or not to include Cascais.
DIY trip to Sintra
If you’d like more independence and are happy to make your own way to Sintra there’s a direct train from Lisbon’s Rossio station, (see train timetables here), although it’s a 20-minute walk from Sintra train station into the historical centre.
Day 5: Visit Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Chapel of Bones
Whilst exploring Portugal you’ll see some quite extraordinary sights. The ancient city of Évora has the gruesome yet compelling Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones).
Depending on how you’re getting to Évora, you may also have the opportunity to see one of the largest free standing stone monolith collections (menhirs) in the world.
Guided tours to Évora
If you’re more interested in wine than stones, explore Evora on this Full-Day Tour with Wine Tasting from Lisbon.
Évora by train from Lisbon
Again, if you’d like to be independent, the train runs from Lisbon to Evora (approx. 1.5 hours) several times a day from Entrecampos station.
See my Évora guide for things to do while you’re there.
Day 6: Nature or culture? You choose.
To give you a degree of flexibility and personalisation in this Portugal itinerary, you get to choose whether to spend the day in the beautiful Arrabida Natural Park or visiting historic castles and delving into the history of the Knights Templar.
A day for nature-lovers
Escape the city bustle and head to the lovely surroundings of Arrabida Natural Park.
- Option 1: Enjoy the calm waters of the most beautiful coastline in Portugal and see dolphins in the wild on this dolphin-watching tour from Lisbon.
- Option 2: Or try this Sesimbra and Arrábida Natural Park tour with wine tasting where you’ll see beautiful beaches, a medieval castle and visit a local winery (tastings included!)
An alternative day out for culture vultures
If history and castles are more your thing then this Knights Templar tour (get a 5% discount by using my code, FOX5) will take you on an awesome medieval journey.
Besides their efforts in establising Portugal as a country and gaining territory, during the 15th century, the Templars played a huge part in Portugal’s overseas expansion.
You’ll visit their headquarters in the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Convent of Christ in Tomar, spend time in the pretty riverside town of Constância and peer over the battlements of Almourol Castle.
Day 7: Visit smaller towns and a famous beach in the Silver Coast
Guided tours to the Silver Coast
Experience the rich heritage and stunning countryside of Portugal on this small-group guided day trip to Fátima, Batalha Monastery, Óbidos and Nazaré.
See the Sanctuary of Fatima, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Batalha Monastery, take in the fishing and surf town of Nazaré and wander the cobbled streets in the romantic medieval village of Óbidos.
If you’re not interested in visiting Fatima you could take a private trip to Obidos, Nazaré and Alcobaça.
Public transport options
However, you won’t be able to visit all of these places in one day so choose the ones that are more important to you. You can get from Óbidos to Caldas da Rainha by train in 6 minutes.
Return to your hotel for your last night in Lisbon. You’re now half way through your two weeks in Portugal!
Day 8: Travel to Porto, Portugal’s second city
How to get to Porto from Lisbon
Take the train to Porto. Journey time is approximately 3 hours, depending on which train you take. Aim for the AP (Alfa Pendular) fast train or IC (Intercidades).
You’ll catch the train at Lisboa – Santa Apolonia (closest to the city centre) or Lisboa – Oriente station and take it to Porto – Campanha.
From Campanhã station, you can either take a cab/Uber into the centre or take any of the connecting trains to São Bento station and walk / take a cab from there to your accommodation.
Porto accommodation (4 nights)
- 5 star: Porto Bay Flores Stay in a 16th century palace right in the heart of Porto.
- 4 star: Porto A.S. 1829 A gorgeous hotel located in a fully-renovated historical building.
- 3 star: Ribeira do Porto Hotel A lovely hotel overlooking the Douro river.
- Boutique Guesthouse: 1872 River House A very popular place to stay with scenic views over the riverside area.
Sightseeing in Porto
After spending the morning travelling and settling into your accommodation, let’s take to the streets to continue your 14 day Portugal itinerary!
Explore the historic city of Porto on a guided tour of all the main monuments with the insights of a local guide.
Or if you’re a foodie then taste the flavours typical to Porto on this culinary tour. Get 5% off with my code: FOX5
Alternatively, if you want to DIY, (with a little help from me!), I’ve developed a self-guided walking tour of Porto’s highlights that’s flexible enough to do in just one day, or to split over two days, and gives you a well-rounded selection of the best things to do in Porto.
Day 9: Visit the famous Douro Valley wine region (day trip)
It’s easy to see why the beautiful and dramatic landscape of the Douro Valley was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. In terms of food, wine, scenery, culture and history this place can’t be beaten.
Almost all winery visits need to be booked ahead of time and it can be tricky to coordinate and organise logistics so for most people, it’s easier and more enjoyable to take an organised tour.
To avoid crowds and visit some great wineries this would be my first choice for a small group tour. The boat trip is optional but I recommend it – you can add it during the booking stage. Get 5% off with my promo code: FOX5
If you’re looking for a private guided tour of the Douro Valley, tell me what you’re interested in so that I can connect you with the best tour operator.
If you don’t fancy an organised tour, then my guide to a do-it-yourself day in the Douro wine region gives you all the information you will need to plan and book your day.
Day 10: Enjoy more of Porto
If you bought my self-guided walking tour of Porto’s highlights and you didn’t finish the tour, now would be the time to do so.
Otherwise, places to visit include the Jardins do Palácio Cristal, which offer great views over the city, Clérigos Tower, Palácio da Bolsa and the 12th century cathedral.
Whilst in Porto it would be a shame not to visit at least one port wine lodge to see where the wine from the Douro ends up.
Taylors’ has a good audio tour and Calem offers a combo cellar tour, tasting and fado experience.
If you want more, you can visit 3 port wine lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia on this guided tour and taste 10 different port and Douro wine varieties whilst learning all about the production.
End the day with a sunset sailing trip on the Douro River.
Day 11: Choose between nature or history for a day trip from Porto
Option 1: Embrace the stunning landscapes of the Peneda-Gerês National Park
Your 2 week Portugal itinerary continues with a visit to Portugal’s only national park, the mountain-filled Peneda-Gerês National Park, boasting secret lagoons and waterfalls.
One of the best ways to discover these is on this Small Group Peneda Geres National Park Tour, which includes a jeep tour and the chance to swim in the pristine waters (weather permitting) as well as do a short hike.
Option 2: Culture and historical cities of Braga and Guimarães
If you’re more interested in built history, there are two fascinating cities that are not far from Porto.
Braga is famous for its churches, including the hilltop Bom Jesus Sanctuary with its monumental staircase and the impressive cathedral. It’s not all churches though – the city centre is very attractive and dates back to Roman times. Find out more about Braga in this article.
Guimarães is the birthplace of Portugal’s first king, Dom Afonso Henriques I and is full of enchanting medieval squares and buildings. It also has a castle, a ducal palace and a few small museums.
If you can’t choose between them, you can visit both cities on this Best of Braga and Guimaraes Day Trip from Porto.
If you want to go it alone, you can take the train to either city.
Day 12: Explore Aveiro, city of canals and Art Nouveau
How to get to Aveiro from Porto
Take the train from Porto – Campanha station to Aveiro (about 45 minutes). Then walk or take a cab/Uber/Bolt to your accommodation.
Note: If you don’t want to spend the night in Aveiro, you can visit on a day trip from Porto.
Accommodation in Aveiro (1 night)
- 4 star: Aveiro Palace Located in a historic building overlooking the central canal.
- 3 star: Veneza Hotel A 1930s townhouse situated in the centre of Aveiro.
- Guesthouse: Casa do Cais Close to Aveiro’s main canal with beautiful spacious rooms.
For other accommodation options see this post.
Sightseeing in Aveiro
The historical centre of Aveiro is attractive and filled with patterned cobblestones and Art Nouveau buildings as well as canals. There’s plenty to keep you occupied and an excellent museum.
Despite being quite touristy, you might enjoy a boat ride through Aveiro’s canals on this traditional Moliceiro boat tour.
Or get a real insight into this unique city on this Stories, Canals, and Azulejos Guided Walking Tour.
If you wish to see the striped fishermen’s houses in Costa Nova, you’ll need to take the bus from the CTT (post office) in Aveiro city centre (approx 20 minutes) or a taxi/Uber.
Day 13: The university city of Coimbra
How to get to Coimbra from Porto or Aveiro
The train from Aveiro to Coimbra – B can take less than 30 minutes which means you’ll get plenty of time to get to know this much-loved city. From Porto – Campanha station, it’s around an hour.
Walk or take a cab/Uber/Bolt to your accommodation.
Coimbra accommodation (2 nights)
- 5 star: Quinta das Lágrimas. The hotel is situated in a historic medieval palace and features botanical gardens and a spa.
- 4 star: Sapienta Boutique Hotel Opposite the university with a fantastic rooftop terrace.
- 3 star: Hotel Oslo Very conveniently located hotel with pleasant modern decor and views from the rooftop terrace.
For more options, check out my post about Coimbra hotels and areas.
Sightseeing in Coimbra
Get to know this cultured city with this Guided tour of the University and city of Coimbra. A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage University and the stunning Joanina Library is not to be missed.
If you want a museum fix then Coimbra’s Machado de Castro National Museum will keep you fascinated for a good couple of hours. The cool dark tunnels of a 2000-year-old Roman cryptoporticus are one of the highlights.
Want to take in a little Coimbra fado? Fado ao Centro is run by passionate fadistas and offers daily performances at 6 pm which combine a brief history of the genre with live performances in an intimate setting.
Day 14: Visit schist villages or Roman ruins then return to Lisbon
Option 1: Half-day trip from Coimbra to the schist villages
Nestled in the hills of the central region of Portugal there are 27 recovered traditional villages. Their buildings there are made from schist stone and many have been renovated using old techniques. Several of the prettiest schist villages are in the Coimbra area.
Spend half a day on this Lousã Schist Villages tour and visit two of the most important schist villages – Candal and Talasnal.
Option 2: Visit the Roman ruins at Condeixa
Alternatively, discover one of Portugal’s largest Roman settlements at Conimbriga. This private-half day Conimbriga tour includes Conimbriga’s ruins, famed aqueduct and museums.
Spend the rest of your time in Coimbra taking in the sounds and smells, relaxing with a coffee or stroll leisurely with this Self Guided Audio Tour.
Take an afternoon or early evening train to Lisbon. If staying at an airport hotel for an early flight, get off at Lisboa – Oriente and take a cab/Uber or the metro to the airport. Otherwise, continue to Santa Apolonia station in the city centre
Lisbon Airport hotels:
- Meliá Lisboa Aeroporto Hotel Located just 100 m from the Airport, you can recharge those batteries in the spa.
- Star inn Lisbon Airport is also handily placed for your early morning flight.
If you don’t want to dine at the hotel or in the city centre, there are plenty of restaurants at Parque das Nações, which is close to the airport.
Day 15: Departure
All good things, including your trip to Portugal, come to an end and it’s time for your onward journey.
If you’re staying at the airport, you can either walk or take the free hotel shuttle to the terminal building.
If you stayed in the city centre, book a private transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight home.