Just a week to spend discovering Portugal? Start in the Algarve and travel north to Porto to see as much of this lovely nation as you can. One week won’t be enough time to explore this amazing country in depth or venture off the beaten path, but it will offer you a fantastic first impression. Here is how we would spend a week in Portugal in an ideal situation.
Want to travel to Portugal without having to make travel arrangements yourself? Join Culture Trip’s carefully crafted nine-day Portugal tour, led by a local expert, to see Porto, the Douro Valley, Lisbon, and much more.
If diving into the sea isn’t your preference, you can opt for a scenic view of the coast. There are various popular activities to enjoy, such as kayaking, surfing, hiking, and sunbathing. Additionally, when visiting Portugal, consider the option of renting a car for convenient transportation.
You can also take the all-inclusive trip to Portugal if you don’t want to plan the complete trip at all.
Day 1: Explore Porto
The second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon is where this 7-day trip to northern Portugal begins. Porto is home to beautiful scenery, delectable cuisine, and intriguing architecture.
Here is a basic overview of how to spend a day in the city; if you’d want to look at a more detailed Porto 1-day itinerary, feel free to do so.
Examine the Ribeira neighborhood
Narrow, cobblestone alleyways in this lovely neighbourhood are lined with bars and eateries that are ready to satiate your appetite.
When you search for “Porto” on Google, this riverbank neighborhood typically dominates the visual results, and with good reason.
Visit Porto’s numerous churches.
Churches abound in Porto, several of which are centuries old. In addition to their religious significance, they are a wonder to see because of their amazing architecture.Portugal’s Chapel of Souls is located in Porto.
The chapels of souls in porto
Given that it has azulejos, or classic Portuguese blue and white tiles, on its facade, The Chapel of Souls is possibly Porto’s social media favourite. They are not only captivating enough to go viral on Instagram, but they also have historical value because they illustrate the lives of some saints.
Atop a hill, the Clerigos Church has a tower that rises 75.6 metres (248 feet) high and provides beautiful views of Porto’s skyline. But watch out—it takes 240 steps to reach this breathtaking sight.
Make sure to purchase your skip-the-line admittance ticket online in advance if you plan to visit Torre dos Clerigos’ summit. You won’t have to spend time waiting in lines that way!
Igreja dos Clerigos in Porto, Portugal
A Roman Catholic church called Porto Cathedral is situated in Porto’s historic district, not far from the Ribeira neighbourhood. It is one of the most significant Romanesque structures and provides stunning views of Porto’s roofs.
Two churches, Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas, are situated adjacent to one another. I really do mean it when I say that they are exactly next to one another.
Both for their azulejos exteriors and their elaborate interior decorations, these cathedrals are exceedingly ornate and stunning.
Wander around Jardins do Palácio de Cristal
There is no better location to visit if you’re a fan of plants than this garden, which was built in the 19th century.
Even if you’re not a fan of flowers, it’s a wonderful place to unwind after all the touring you’ll be doing and it also has a stunning view of the Douro River.
Check out Livraria Lello
It may sound strange to suggest a library, but I’m positive you’ve heard of this one in particular!
J.K. Rowling is said to have drawn inspiration from Livraria Lello for some of the landscapes in Harry Potter; after you examine the Neo-Gothic and Art Deco components of it, you’ll see why.
Read More: Porto Pass Review, Is it worth your Money?
Day 2: Day Trip to the Douro Valley and its Surrounding Towns
Your 1-week plan for northern Portugal should next include a day trip to the renowned Douro Valley.
Despite being one of the most well-known wine districts in the nation, it has more attractions than just grapes. Here are a few of the top activities in the Douro Valley and vicinity.
Visit a nearby vineyard for a wine sampling.
Without stopping by at least one of the region’s wine farms, would the trip qualify as one to a well-known wine region? Most likely not.
Enjoy a sumptuous meal while taking in the beauty of the Douro Valley and sipping on some of the best wines produced there. The Quinta do Crasto, Quinta da Pacheca, and Quinta das Carvalhas are a few of the top wineries to visit in the area.
The Douro Valley’s peaceful village of Pinho is renowned for its breathtaking scenery.
It also offers additional attractions, like the Pinho Railway Station, which attracts lots of tourists due to its stunning azulejos. Additionally, it has the Casal de Loivos overlook from where you may admire the magnificent surroundings.
Trek through the Douro Valley
Numerous lovely hiking trails may be found in the Douro Valley. You can go on a hike among the vineyards while admiring the stunning green hills and sweeping river.
A visit to a winery and lunch are the ideal rewards after a strenuous climb! There are numerous scheduled day trips from Porto that will transport you to the Douro Valley for hiking,
Day 3: Road trip to Aveiro, Buçaco National Forest & Coimbra
It’s time to start travelling seriously on day three! Aveiro and the Bucaco National Forest will be the next stops on your schedule for a week in Portugal, and you’ll complete the day by staying the night in Coimbra.
Explore the Aveiro canals.
This tiny city, dubbed the “Venice of Portugal,” is home to wonderful waterways dotted with vibrant boats. You can spend some time here exploring the streets and taking in the art nouveau buildings and street art.
Get on a classic Moliceiro boat and cruise the city’s canals to experience Aveiro’s scenery from a different angle.
You might also take a bus or taxi to the adjacent seaside town of Costa Nova to see its interesting, striped houses and to have a little fun.
Discover Buçaco National Forest
This natural paradise is the perfect pit stop your route to Coimbra, especially if you enjoy the outdoors. More than 250 trees and plants call this walled arboretum home, and they eagerly welcome your arrival.
I had never heard of the Bucaco National Forest before visiting Portugal, and we almost passed through without stopping, but it ended up being one of our favourite locations there.
You won’t encounter large crowds there because it is still largely off the beaten tourist path. You can spend many hours exploring this lush haven, learning about the Neo-Manueline Palace, little chapels, and the enormous variety of flora and wildlife.
Day 4: Discover famous Monasteries and stay in Nazaré
You’ll have several opportunities to stop along the journey from Coimbra to Nazaré, so I suggest you do. The renowned monasteries located between the two cities are at the top of that list.
One of Portugal’s most prominent gothic sites is the Batalha Monastery, which significantly influenced the development of the nation’s gothic architecture.
Although its beauty is its greatest selling point, it was constructed in the 12th century to commemorate the Portuguese victory against the Castilians.
If you don’t like monasteries and only have time for one historic location, I advise visiting Batalha. The incomplete chapels draw the greatest attention despite the beautiful design and rich craftsmanship of its cloisters.
While the Batalha Monastery is more historically significant, this UNESCO world heritage site is nonetheless worth visiting because of its genuine appeal.
Personally, we skipped the entire monastery and cloisters and only viewed the inside of the church and the graveyard.
It’s an excellent place to take a break from the journey and get a little taste of Portugal’s past without devoting too much time to it.
Nazaré is well known for its golden sand and blue waters, but it also has other attractions.
Drive right up to the Faro de Nazarè since, in addition to being a major draw in and of itself, it is close to a lot of other Nazare must-sees.
Some of the largest waves in the world originate near the Nazare lighthouse. You might even be able to see them if you go in the winter!
Along with surfboards and anecdotes from big wave surfers that surfed in Nazare, this location also houses a small museum that explains how to surf big waves. Additionally, you may see the stunning shoreline.
Day 5: Discover Obidos, Peniche, and Ericeira
After spending a day in Nazaré, you should travel to Ericeira, stopping along the route in Obidos and Peniche to explore its attractions.
A variety of diners serving regional specialties can be found in this old city’s winding cobblestone streets, which are peppered with white residences.
Climbing the city walls and taking in the panoramic views from the top is a must-do activity here. Don’t go out there acting like Spider-Man because the cobblestones are slick and there are no protection rails.
It’s one of Portugal’s most picturesque tiny villages, where you may stroll around for a while and feel as though time has stood still. A 35-minute journey separates Nazare from the destination.
Igreja de Santa Maria, a church renowned for its exquisite azulejo interior decoration, is a must-see attraction in Obidos.
Relax in Peniche
Due to its beautiful beaches and tranquil waters, Peniche, a seaside fishing city, is becoming increasingly well-known. Everyone is welcome to swim in the ocean, but you’ll also see lots of surfers tackling the rebuffing waves.
Don’t stay too long in Peniche though; the following stop on your Portugal trip is the truly well-known surf location. For our part, we just stopped because it was en route and we wanted to enjoy a nice lunch by the sea.
Day 6: Visit the castles of Sintra & Cascais
At the tail end of your 1 week Portugal itinerary, the charming municipalities of Sintra and Cascais await. The drive from Ericeira to Sintra is only 40 minutes, but make sure to hit the road early, as you have a packed day ahead!
Discover the castles of Sintra
Sintra has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its palaces, castles, historical homes, and rich history. Here is a quick tip on how to explore the top sights in the city. Read this day trip to Sintra for a more detailed itinerary.
The Palacio Nacional da Pena, a colourful fortress that once housed the royal family, should be your first destination. It’s perched on a hill and is worthwhile a visit for the expansive views of Sintra it provides.
Getting a close-up look at the stunning architecture of Portugal’s Palacio Nacional da Pena
Right adjacent to it lies the less well-known Castle of the Moors, an older and more significant castle with unparalleled vistas.
Originally constructed as a fortification to guard Moorish trade during the Medieval Wars. Personally, I thought it was better because it seemed more fascinating and had a lot less tourists.
Relax in Cascais
You have one more stop after exploring the stunning castles of Sintra before spending the night in Lisbon. The picturesque village of Cascais is easily accessible along the way and is worth a visit.
The Cascais municipality, which was formerly a fishing village, stands out as one of Portugal’s richest regions. Even though it is full of opulent residences, visiting this place won’t cost you a fortune.
Old Town Cascais should be your first trip because it is typical of many Portuguese cities in having small streets and colorful residences. There are many eateries and cafes selling specialties from Portugal across the entire region, which is walkable.