The Perfect 15 Days Portugal Itinerary

Best Portugal itinerary in 15 days or two weeks
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A not so big country on Europe’s map, but with a lot of things to do and see, when you start to research a little bit. Portugal packs anything from golden beaches to a buzzy capital, maritime history, medieval castles, huge surfing waves and hiking paths. It is pretty hard to choose when you have limited time. After spending almost a month in Portugal, we’ve created a step-by-step 15 days itinerary with our top picks to help you get started. Portugal is a wonderful country and definitely worth at least two weeks for exploring the continental part. Who knows, maybe you’ll even want to return for more of its unique culture and atmosphere.

Throughout this guide, we’ll share our favorite stops, things to do and experience in Portugal. Of course, from an ultimate itinerary, Lisbon, Porto and Algarve can’t miss, but terraced vineyards, cork plantations and less known cute towns might also come in as a pleasant surprise. Spice everything up with good wine and tasty food. If you have less or more time, we’ll also include options for shorter and longer trips.

Sunset Portugal

Planning a trip to Portugal?

Before we get stated, here’s a list of our other Portugal travel guides you might want to check out:

How to plan an amazing Portugal itinerary?

What is the best time to visit Portugal?

The weather in Portugal is much milder than in the rest of Europe. This means it’s an almost year-round destination, as long as you go there with the right expectations. I’m pretty sure Algarve is not great in winter for beach lovers, just as Lisbon is better visited outside July and August. This being said, the best seasons for a visit are spring and autumn, when the crowds are fewer and the temperatures are decent. We were in Portugal in September and October and had mostly sunny days and only one day of rain. The evenings started to be a little chilly at the end of our trip, but there was no need of more than a sweater.


How many days do you need in Portugal?

This is a tough question. We recommend at least two weeks in order to be able to see the three major destinations, Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve, with a few less known places in between. Three weeks would allow for more time to really enjoy the places and relax. If you only have one week or less, I’d focus on one of the three, south, center or south, depending on the airport you fly to. There are plenty of things to do in any of them. 10 days would probably allow you enough time to see two of them, without feeling rushed, but not all three, if you don’t just want to speed through the country.

How to get to Portugal?

Portugal has three main airports, in Lisbon, Porto and Faro, the capital of Algarve. If you plan to either start or end your trip in the Algarve, it might be cheaper to use Seville in Spain as a hub and transfer from there. Check flights on Skyscanner.

The option we chose before tailoring our itinerary was to fly in and out of Lisbon. However, even if chosen by many, looking back, this was not the best option. If you plan to travel the country from north to south, it would be much better to fly in to Porto or Faro and out from the other one.

The difference in cost for the tickets will probably be more or less the same as the train from Lisbon to Porto added with the one from Faro to Lisbon. In terms of comfort and time, this would make a major difference.

As we created this Portugal itinerary as an almost perfect recommendation, fixing the errors we did, we’ll start from Porto and continue to the south to Lisbon and the Algarve, ending with Faro.

Convento do Carmo - best things to do in Lisbon in three days

How to travel around Portugal?

Many people choose to rent  a car and travel through the country on a road trip. However, given the fact that you’ll probably spend at least 6 days in the big cities, where driving and parking are a nightmare, I’d say think twice. Public transport is very good in Portugal. They have regular trains that reach up to 200km/h. If you buy tickets few days in advance, discounted rates apply. Buses are also largely available. Omio shows you all the options for getting from one city to another in one place. Besides, wine is great in Portugal and you’d probably have to give up on it if you hire a car for the entire period.

Some great day trips from Lisbon and Porto and fairly easy to go on by public transport. It is fast, reliable and you don’t have to look for a parking spot, especially during the high season. Also some places are better seen on a guided tour, like Douro valley (because of tasting, information and so much more) or the Arouca Bridge and Paiva Walkways (where you’d have to walk 8km more otherwise).

Should you rent a car in Portugal?

We’ve stayed for one month in Portugal. During this time the only place where I really felt the need of a car was Algarve. The trains there are infrequent, buses once a day. Doing a tour that includes several stops is almost impossible there, by public transport. There’s still the option of organized tours, but if you’re staying longer in the area and don’t want to lie on a beach all day long, renting a car is a great option.

Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

The best 15 days Portugal itinerary at a glance

As a guide for a first two weeks trip itinerary in Portugal, we’ve structured it around Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve. By following it, you’d spend around five days in each of the regions and have enough time to enjoy them and see the differences. We also decided alternating the day trips with days in which you stay put in one of the major cities. This way you won’t be exhausted by too much commuting.

We also added a few suggestions as 5 bonus days, in case you have more time to dedicate to Portugal. Feel free to tailor it according to your preferences and time, but we trust this is a good starting point.

  • Day 1: Arrive in Porto and explore the city
  • Day 2: Full day in Porto
  • Day 3: Day trip to Douro Valley
  • Day 4: Day trip to Arouca Bridge and Aveiro
  • Day 5: Full day in Porto
  • Day 6: Travel to Coimbra and visit the city
  • Day 7: Travel to Lisbon in the morning and explore the city
  • Day 8: Day trip to Sintra
  • Day 9: Full day in Lisbon
  • Day 10: Day trip to Evora
  • Day 11: Lisbon + travel to Faro (around 4 hours in the evening)
  • Day 12: pick up rental car in the morning and tour the Algarve to Lagos
  • Day 13: Algarve – Carvoeiro, Ferragudo, Albufeira
  • Day 14: visit a cork plantation, reach Faro in the afternoon and take a catamaran tour of Ria Formosa
  • Day 15: Faro
  • Bonus day: Day trip from Porto to Guimaraes and Braga
  • Bonus day: Day trip from Porto to Serra da Estrela and the Schist Villages
  • Bonus day: Day trip from Lisbon to Nazare, Fatima, Batalha, Obidos
  • Bonus day: Day trip from Lisbon to Peniche and the Berlanga islands
  • Bonus day: Algarve – Tavira and the east

The Complete 15 Days Portugal Itinerary for First Timers

Portugal Itinerary – Days 1, 2, 5: Porto

Porto - One of the best places to visit in lisbon

Spread on the hills that overlook the Douro River, Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and an increasingly popular destination in Portugal. With its 14th century walls, medieval winding streets, colorful houses and medieval winding alleys, it’s easy to see why. The historic center is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. A few years ago Porto was on nobody’s radar. As our guide to Paiva said, you couldn’t see the tourists among the locals. Now, you can barely see the locals among the tourists, especially around the city center. But Porto has indeed a personality of its own and it would be a huge mistake to skip it.

Climb up the Clerigos Tower for the best views over the city. Find out where the author of Harry Potter took her inspiration from. Walk around the Ribeira riverfront, listen to some live music and watch the boats float past. Then, cross Luis bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia and enjoy a glass or more of port wine at the best centuries-old cellars. Finally, watch the most wonderful sunset in Porto from Jardim do Morro.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Porto?

Pro Tip: You can’t go in Porto and not taste port wine. Here’s a tour that takes tourists to three cellars in Vila Nova da Gaia.


Portugal Itinerary – Day 3: Day trip from Porto to Douro Valley

Douro Valley - one of the best places to visit in Portugal

A trip to the north of Portugal would be incomplete without a tour of the Douro valley. The Douro river, once a wild and turbulent river, was tamed by the construction of 8 dams and now is the perfect place for a peaceful ride on a rabelo boat that one can take from Pinhao. From its tranquil waters, you’ll be able to admire the rolling hills full of vineyards and almond trees. This area supplied for centuries the grapes for the best port wines that brought Portugal international recognition. Carrying port from farms to the mouth of the river was the initial purpose of the old rabelo boats.

You’ll see the names of the major companies in Porto proudly displayed on the surrounding hills. If you happen to be there in autumn, don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the colorful vineyards. Actually, fall season or not, visiting one of the vineyards is still a must, in order to find out more about the history of port, wine production and taste it right there, where it was born. The entire landscape east of Porto is an UNESCO World Heritage site as one of the oldest wine regions in the world. While one can take in the views from the train that crosses Douro Valley, I’d recommend a tour, that will also take care of the visits to the farms and the boat ride for you.


Portugal Itinerary – Day 4: Day trip from Porto to Aveiro, Arouca Bridge and Paiva Pathways

Arouca Bridge located at the start of Paiva Pathway, Portugal

Paiva walkways and Arouca suspended footbridge are located just outside Arouca, 80 km away from Porto. The 8 km path is a bit challenging, but will reward one with outstanding beauty, a peaceful woodland, tumbling waterfalls and pristine gorges. It’s now accessible for almost everyone, as a wooden  boardwalk was build along the trail that meanders through the UNESCO Arouca geopark.


There are quite a few stairs on the way. Thus, it will still test one’s physical state. The trek takes around 2.5 hours to complete. If you decide to do it, remember to pack some snacks, a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water. At the start of the path, one can also cross Arouca suspended footbridge, the newest attraction in the area. This is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world. While crossing it, enjoy the breathtaking view over the valley and Aguieiras waterfall.

There’s no public transport to the bridge and pathway. If you don’t have a car, you could join a small group tour from Porto, as we did. The guide took care of the tickets, transport and an awesome traditional lunch. Of course, he also gave us a lot of useful information about the area and much more.

Pro Tip: If I were to recommend just one tour out of all we did while in Portugal, this would be the one. The landscapes and experiences were unique, but the guide couldn’t have been better either. On the way back, you also get to visit Aveiro and Costa Nova, which was a great combination.

Aveiro - one of the best day trips from Porto, Portugal


Portugal Itinerary – Day 6: Coimbra

Coimbra - best day trips from Porto, Portugal

Leave from Porto in the morning, so that you have enough time to visit Coimbra. The city is simply beautiful and hides a lot of surprises, but I don’t recommend having your luggage on you while walking around the city. It’s not a small city and the main attraction stands high on a hill. Sleep there over night and head to Lisbon next morning.

Home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, that’s also an UNESCO World Heritage site, everything in Coimbra seems to revolve around students. The city is far less touristy than the previous two, but still full of history and culture. I’d dare to say it was my favorite city in Portugal, if I could stop thinking about the beautiful sunsets in Porto and Lisbon.

Coimbra has probably the most beautiful parks we’ve seen during our month in Portugal. Start with Penedo da Saudade, full of poems from former students, and continue with the peaceful oasis Jardim da Sereia and the botanical garden with a real bamboo forest. Many places in town are connected to love stories of former inhabitants, like Pedro and Ines bridge or the mysterious Quinta das Lágrimas. Other historical gems are Santa Cruz church, part of which was turned into a pretty cafe and Santa Clara-a-Velha Convent. As a city of students, in Coimbra evolved a different and unique form of fado, sang by groups of male students. Some songs were dedicated to girls, while others are about knowledge and life.

Accommodation: This is the hotel we stayed at in Coimbra for one night. It’s not the best looking one, but it’s central and the owner was more than willing to help us and accommodating when we got there very late because of a transport strike. We could also check out late.


Portugal Itinerary – Days 7, 9, 11: Lisbon


Being the capital of Portugal and its largest city, as well as a World Heritage site, Lisbon is an obvious place to start.  It’s an amazing mix of old and new, starting with Moorish quarter Alfama and ending with the modern Parque das Nações in the east. Go on a walk through the narrow lanes of the capital’s diverse neighborhoods. You’ll find gothic cathedrals, local cafes, traditional shops, incredible street art, beautiful azulejos and lovely squares around every corner. Enjoy a tasty pastel de nata and try to hear the dramatic rhythms of fado.

Don’t just hop on the famous vintage tram 28, but explore also other routes and most importantly, walk, walk a lot. Lisbon is not exactly pedestrian friendly, as it was built on a series of hills. But this also translates into gorgeous viewpoints called miradouros and postcard-perfect panoramas. Lisbon will also reward you with beauty, charm and authenticity that you don’t find in many other European capitals.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Lisbon?


Portugal Itinerary – Day 8: Day trip from Lisbon to Sintra

Pena Palace in Sintra - day trip from Lisbon

Just 40 minutes away from Lisbon sits Sintra, the wonderland of Portugal, with historic castles and idyllic mansions that one could explore for days. The most known of them all is Pena Palace, set high up on a hill surrounded by exotic trees. If you’ve ever seen a photo of Sintra, it’s probably one of its red and yellow-painted walls. But there are many others.

Next door to Pena Palace spread the ruins of the 8th century Castle of the Moors. Even if very little is left out of the fortress, the views and the walk on the long walls are jaw-droppingly. In the town center, the most famous castle is Sintra Palace, with its twin iconic chimneys. Another quirky palace is Quinta da Regaleira with its mysterious initiation well, underground tunnels and masonic symbols. A little further away, Montserrate Palace is one of the most beautiful and underrated of the architectural jewels in Sintra. These are just a few of the castles and palaces in Sintra, but I hope more than enough to make you want to pay it a visit.


Portugal Itinerary – Day 10: Day trip from Lisbon to Evora

Best thing to do in Evora on a day trip from Lisbon

In case you think I skipped from day 8 to day 10, this is not entirely true, as this is listed as spent in Lisbon. And this is intentional. After the day trip to Sintra we really don’t think you should take a new day trip the next day. It’s exhausting. We partly did this mistake and went to Obidos the next day, which is much smaller than Evora, and it still felt a little bit too much.

As it’s close to Lisbon, located in Alentejo wine region and an Unesco World Heritage site, Évora attracts a pretty large number of tourists. Its history dates back more than 2000 years and the town flourished under Roman rule.

The main spots to see are the Cathedral of Évora, the largest medieval church in Portugal, the Temple of Diana and the Chapel of Bones. The last one displays exactly what the name says, the bones of over 5000 former residents moved there from the nearby cemeteries. An unusual and eerie place in Portugal, it was “decorated” by some monks that wanted to remind people the transience of life.

But the best of Évora is the atmosphere, given by the white-washed houses, Moorish courtyards, medieval squares and the 16th century aqueduct. Even if it doesn’t meet its initial role anymore, it’s been fully integrated in the life of the modern town, with cozy cafes, attractive restaurants and quirky shops built right under its arches.


Portugal Itinerary – Days 12-14: Tour the Algarve

Lagos, Portugal

There are many beautiful beaches in Portugal, but the ones in Algarve are definitely some of the best. They can’t miss from a complete Portugal itinerary. Located along Portugal’s south coast, at the Atlantic shore, these region is considered by many the ultimate summer destination with top beaches, striking rocky cliffs and scenic landscapes. But even if you prefer going off-season to avoid the crowds, there are still plenty of things to do in Algarve.

Lagos is a jewel of the Algarve region. It has everything a charming Portuguese town should, but also a stunning countryside and coastline that surrounds it. A short walk away from the center is Ponta de Piedade, a beautiful rock formation looking like a bridge nestled in the ocean. A great location to see the sunset at the Atlantic ocean is the lighthouse there.

The main historical attractions are the Municipal Museum and Church of St. Antonio. Other fun activities one can do in Lagos include kayaking tours, boat trips, snorkeling, stand-up paddle, rock climbing and many more. Lagos is a popular day trip from Faro, the capital of Algarve, or the other resorts in the region. But one could also spend one or two nights in it with no regret.

Take a boat trip to explore some of the dramatic cliffs or a boat ride to some of the most spectacular caves and grottos. Benagil cave is the most popular one, due to its roof hole that lets the light in, but there are many more. Besides, even without entering any cave, the rugged coastline is a marvel to look at from the sea. Or maybe you prefer hiking the Seven Hanging Villages Trail.

Even in winter the weather is mild enough to allow one to explore and discover, not only the beaches and unique rock formations, but also cork forests, Roman ruins and historic tiny towns where you can get to know the true Portugal hospitality and culture. It also offers some of the best golf opportunities in the country. Did I mention the tasty cuisine? Traditionally it consists mostly of fresh seafood, fish, fruit, almonds and carob beans. Some of the dishes tourists will only find in this part of Portugal.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Algarve?


Portugal Itinerary – Days 14-15: Faro and Ria Formosa

Faro, the capital of Algarve

Algarve doesn’t only have wonderful beaches and a rigged coastline, but also one of Portugal’s natural wonders, the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. This is a protected habitat consisting out of marshland, shallow water lagoons, saltpans and sand dune islands set just next to Faro. In fact, one of the best things one can to in Faro is to go on a small group boat tour of this beautiful spot.

The land park is crisscrossed by a series of trails which allow visitors to admire the abundance of flora and fauna. Some of the rare species one can spot here are the purple gallinule, flamingo, egret, heron, fishing eagle and spoonbills. It’s indeed a fantastic way to spend a tranquil afternoon.

Ria Formosa, an underrated place in Algarve

Faro is the capital of Algarve and definitely one of the best places to visit in Portugal. However, many visitors skip it in favor of the most famous holiday resorts. We didn’t do it and we are really glad with our choice. Before getting to Coimbra, I thought this was the perfect city in the country, just the right mix of bustle and peace. At the same time, we deeply disliked Portimão as a basis for exploring the region. Anyway, there is no accounting for tastes.

Let’s get back to Faro! Stepping into the old town is like going back in time. The main site is the old cathedral. For a small fee, you can climb up the tower, visit the church, museum and a small bone chapel. The city has a small marina from which you can easily get to the islands in order to enjoy a day at the beach. Ria Formosa lagoon, also set nearby is a great place for exploration and bird-watching. Seafood and fish are fresh and tasty everywhere and the most traditional dish is cataplana.

Accommodation: Here is a beautiful accommodation in a traditional Algarvian house


Bonus day: Day trip from Porto to Guimaraes and Braga

Walls of Guimaraes - Best things to do and see in Guimaraes

A 10th century castle with panoramic views over the city and surroundings and its overall royal ambiance convinced UNESCO to recognize this place as a world heritage site. If this was enough for them, I think it should also make the cut for our bucket list. But just in case, let me add some more things.

Guimarães has a special value for the Portuguese people as it’s considered that this was the place where the country’s roots were set, during the Battle of São Mamede in 1128. The first king of Portugal won and decided to found this beautiful country. Next to the castle, which is pretty much in ruins, but still has spectacular views, there’s the Grand Dukes of Braganza Palace built in the 15th century. This was now turned into a museum, which is the most visited tourist attraction in the north part of the country. Rua de Santa Maria, in the old town, is one of the most beautiful streets in town, but the city hall square is even more charming.

Braga - One of the best day trips from Porto

Portugal’s third-largest city is home to great restaurants, an university and historic sites. These would make a visit worth it by themselves. But Braga also has Roman ruins, pretty squares and an 18th century palace. However, the most famous tourist attraction stands just on its outskirts. Even UNESCO recognized its value as a world heritage site. Bom Jesus do Monte, as this is the church I’m talking about, is world-famous for its gorgeous baroque staircase which penitent pilgrims used to climb on their knees. The city center has a lively and youthful ambiance, thanks to the great number of students, full of cheap cafes, bars and restaurants. Braga is not only the religious center of Portugal, but also a modern city and one of the best places to visit in Portugal.

Pro Tip: If you want to visit both cities, you had better choose a guided tour that checks the main sights in them and takes care of the transport. We tried to do this on our own and failed, as we missed the bus from Guimaraes to Braga. If you don’t have much time and want to make sure you visit both cities , here is a tour that includes both Braga and Guimaraes on a day trip from Porto!


Bonus day: Day trip from Porto to Serra da Estrela and the Schist Villages

Serra de Estrela, Portugal

Serra da Estrela is home to 27 cute villages made out of a traditional stone called schist. Go on a thrilling drive to discover them or a relaxing hike. The most famous ones are Talasnal, Casal Novo, Linhares, Valezim, Aigra Velha, Aigra Nova, Comareira and Pena. These are also Portugal’s highest mountains. Thus there is no lack of scenic rugged cliffs. Serra de Estrella is probably the best place in Portugal for outdoor adventures. In this range, one will also stumble upon Portugal’s only ski slope. But don’t get over excited about it, as Portugal has the shortest ski season in Europe.

Also called the star mountains, Serra da Estrella rise up to 1993 meters above see level, but the maximum height in continental Portugal got to 2000 m when a tower was put on top of the highest peak. Along the roads, one will also come across the Serra da Estrela sheepdog, a breed unique to Portugal. The mountains are home to the delicious and creamy Serra cheese, a delicacy on sale in the local villages. However, not all trails are well signposted. So it’s be best togo together with a local guide.

Bonus day: Day trip from Lisbon to Obidos, Fatima, Batalha, Nazare

City walls

The ancient walled town of Obidos is one of the most pretty towns in Portugal. Centuries ago, Queen Isabel fell in love with it and her husband decided to give it to her as a gift. To understand what enchanted her so much, you must visit it and see for yourself. Encircled by walls, with whitewashed houses and a medieval castle on one side, now turned into a hotel, Obidos transports its visitors directly into the era of ladies and knights. Its labyrinth of cobblestone alleys dotted with cafes and shops are a marvel to explore.

The vineyards around and isolation add even more to the picturesque of the location. The town is also an UNESCO recognized Creative City of Literature. One of the churches was converted into a library, as well as one of the cellars. But many other places have collections of books, to sell or just as decorations. The coolest and most unusual hotel that will transpose one instantly into the local ambiance, is the The Literary Man Óbidos Hotel.

Nazare is a fishing town with rugged costal cliffs and beautiful beaches. But this seaside location has also gained international recognition due to its enormous waves reaching more than 30 meters. These are caused by an undersea canyon and you can find all about it at the small surf museum there.

Although the monster waves only happen during a short period of time every year, Nazare is still one of the best destinations in Portugal year round. With a rich fishing tradition, dating back hundreds of years, it’s also home to fantastic seafood restaurants. Visitors can relax on its golden sands, check out some of the historical churches and chapels or take the funicular from the beach to the top of the cliffs.

Visit Obidos, Nazare, Fatima and Batalha on a day trip from Lisbon!


Bonus day: Day trip from Lisbon to Peniche and the Berlanga islands

Berlenga Islands, Portugal

Peniche is a tiny town set on a peninsula surrounded by the sea. Here’s set the seaside fort where Salazar used to detain political prisoners. This is also the main tourist attractions. However, the walled old town is nice and romantic. It also boasts gorgeous beaches perfect for water sports. Berlengas Islands Nature Reserve, just a boat ride away from Peniche, is one of the most beloved holiday destinations of the Portuguese people. When I asked our guide to Arouca about his favorite destinations in Portugal, this was the first one he mentioned.

The Berlengas Islands are not quite as famous as the Azores or Madeira. But they are close to the mainland and one of the favorite destinations in Portugal of the locals. In order to get to them, one first has to reach Peniche and take a boat ride from there. These rocky islands, dramatic and barren, are considered a natural reserve. As a result, one can only spend the night in Berlenga Grande. Here’s also the highlight of the islands, the St. John the Baptist fort sitting on a small rocky outcrop. But there’s not much to do there during the night. A day trip might be best. During the day, be prepared to go hiking, snorkeling, birdwatching or swimming  in picturesque caves and grottos.

Bonus day: Tavira and the east of Algarve

Tavira is one of the most picturesque towns in the Algarve, with an unique appearance and culture, being close to the border with Spain. It has cute churches, castle ruins and countless buildings with elaborate tiled facades. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to visit it, even if we wished. Here’s an article in case you want to check it out.

Final thoughts on my two weeks Portugal Itinerary | 15 Days of Exploration

This was our ideal two weeks itinerary in Portugal. I’m sure it doesn’t include all the beautiful places in this small, but wonderful country. However, it includes the most common ones for a first time visitor, as well as a few less known places, to help you get away from the crowds and be more among the friendly locals. A little bit of everything.

Have you ever been to Portugal or would like to go? What do you think? What would you include in a two weeks Portugal itinerary? Let me know in the comments section below!

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