Planning a road trip to Portugal? Portugal is one of my favorite countries that we recently visited. We created the perfect Portugal road trip itinerary that was a mix of cities from Lisbon to the Algarve for the ideal Portugal itinerary 7 days.
Portugal has been on our bucket list for some time. When we began planning a trip to Portugal, we started to realize that one week in Portugal would not be enough time to see it all. We were deciding how many days in Lisbon and how many days in Algarve. I have the perfect road trip Portugal Itinerary that gave us 5 days in Lisbon and 3 days in Algarve.
Portugal is a beautiful country with tons of culture, gorgeous coastlines, delicious food, and friendly people not to mention the great Lisbon street art. It is also relatively affordable compared to other major cities in Europe. We loved getting lost in the streets of Lisbon to find all the best Lisbon Instagram photo spots.
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How to Get to Portugal
Portugal is approximately a 6-hour direct flight from Toronto or NYC. There are always great airfare deals. We always check Skyscanner when looking for the cheapest flights as it compares options from other airlines and agents. I have found them to be the best. Click here to search Skyscanner.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN PORTUGAL
Car Rental in Lisbon
The best way to get around Portugal is to drive. Driving gives you the freedom to go where you want, whenever you want. If you are renting a car in you should check the policies and age limit. Most rental companies require you to be over 21 or 25 years of age. Make sure to check with the car rental company’s policy. We usually rent our cars through Auto Europe as we find them to be reliable and they typically have the best prices. Check here for the best car rental prices.
Portugal Train Travel
If driving is not your thing, then the next best way to get around Portugal is via train. Save on your train tickets by booking your train tickets through Rail Europe. You can search for train tickets here on Rail Europe. Note that not all trains go to many beautiful parts of Portugal.
You can easily see these places where trains don’t go by making day trips with Get Your Guide. They have so many day trip options.
Lisbon Public Transportation
You can also opt to take a bus, but it is a little slower to get to your destination.
Lisbon is a very walkable city so I would recommend walking in Lisbon, using public transportation or even Uber if it’s available. We took Uber several times while in Lisbon so we wouldn’t have to look for parking and it is super cheap. If you are new to Uber, try this Uber code to get your first ride for free.
Best Time To Travel to Portugal
Although Portugal is a beautiful destination all year round it will be warmer in the Algarve region. I visited in April, and we had great weather. The summer months are typically the hottest months to travel but also the busiest. Traveling to Portugal in the spring or fall is a great way to beat the crowds and still enjoy the great weather.
Portugal has a Mediterranean climate with hot, sunny summers and mild winters. It really depends where in Portugal you will be. The Lisbon average temperature in Algarve temperature seems to be warmer than Lisbon’s temperature.
Portugal uses the Euro as its currency. Major credit cards are usually also accepted in major cities and hotels and restaurants, but cash is king. I would recommend carrying cash as many of these smaller establishments only accept cash payments.
Language in Portugal
The official language in Portugal is Portuguese. I was pleasantly surprised that almost everyone we encountered spoke English.
Road Trip Portugal Itinerary – 3 Days in Lisbon
You can easily spend a week to 10 days in Lisbon and still not see it all, but 5 days in Lisbon is a reasonable amount of time to experience the highlights of the city.
Lisbon or Lisboa is the capital of Portugal and a great place to start your Portugal holiday.
Where to stay in Lisbon
Some of the best hotels in Lisbon, Portugal are the Ritz Four Seasons Lisbon and the Corinthia. They are both 5-star luxury hotels in Lisbon that offer top-notch service and exceptional dining and the rooms are spacious. Check here for the best prices on Lisbon Hotels.
One Day in Lisbon
Lisbon is best to be explored by walking through all the different neighborhoods. I would recommend a Lisbon walking food tour that will take you through the many different areas where you will try many different unique dishes. We love booking our tours with Get Your Guide.
Alfama is one of Lisbon’s oldest areas with steep, narrow cobblestone streets that are lined with shops selling traditional crafts and cafes. You can take the historic no.28 tram that winds through this hilly neighborhood. Alfama is also the birthplace of Fado. Fado is a beautiful style of music that can be traced back to the 1820s in Lisbon.
For 360-degree views of Lisbon, you must visit Sao Jorge castle. It is a steep, uphill walk or take a taxi. You can also do a walking tour of Alfama and enjoy some live Fado and dinner. Check here for the best tour prices.
Bairro Alto, (high district) one of Lisbon’s most famous quarters is the place to be for the nightlife as the streets are lined with bars and clubs that play music into the wee hours of the morning. We walked here during the day, and it was a very different experience.
Ride Tram 28
Have you ever visited Lisbon if you didn’t ride Lisbon’s iconic trams? There is the famous tram 28 that offers the best views around the city. The tram is often crowded, so go first thing in the morning to avoid crowds. Beware of pickpockets! Keep all valuables in front of you. Check the best prices for a Lisbon Tram No. 28 Ride & Walking Tour.
Day Two in Lisbon Visit Belem
You can’t visit Lisbon without trying the authentic Pasteis de Nata. You will have to visit Belem, a tram ride away from Lisbon or a 20-minute drive to try this signature dish.
Getting to Belem
We drove to Belem, but if you are not driving, then you will have to take tram 15 or 127 from Praca de Comercio and get off at Belem. It costs approximately EUR 2.90 each way. You can also do a hop-on-hop-off tour of Lisbon with several stops to enjoy the entire area. Check here for the best prices.
Pasteis de Natas
Visiting Belem to fill your belly with one of Portugal’s signature desserts is a must. You must visit Pasteis de Belem that was founded in 1837 and uses a secret family recipe to make the delicious egg tarts.
Although it is a large restaurant be prepared for line ups out the door. It is worth the wait. Nothing tastes better than a warm egg tart topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. It melts in our mouth, delicious.
Monument to Discoveries
The Monument to Discoveries is an iconic sculpture that sits on the Tagus river. It was opened in 1960 as a tribute to the Portuguese age of discovery. It is in the shape of a ship with sculptures of three dozen Portuguese explorers on each side.
3 EUR will let climb to the top, or you can take the elevator to view the entire area.
The Belem Tower is next to the Monument To the Discoveries. It was built to protect the city from foreign invaders.
Belém Tower is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that played a crucial role in Europe’s Age of Discoveries. It has served as a fortress and as a port where Portuguese explorers departed to establish the first European trade in history with China and India. If you enjoy learning about the history of an attraction then you may enjoy the Belem guided tour. Check here for the best prices.
Day 3 Sintra Day Trip
Sintra is the fairytale town that is a must visit. Since there is so much to see in one day, we did a Sintra tour from Lisbon with Get Your Guide. We loved it as it included Pena Palace, Cascais, Sintra, and Cabo da Roca.
Pena Palace is the most beautiful castle I have ever seen. The drive to the castle is approximately 40 minutes winding up the mountain then you will have to wait in a line to buy tickets. I highly recommend buying your tickets online or joining a tour. When you see the Palace, you will be glad that you waited. Click here to get your Pena Palace and Park Skip the Line tickets.
Cabo da Roca
I love visiting lighthouses wherever we travel. This one sits on the edge of Europe. It is the westernmost tip of mainland Europe. The rugged cliffs are beautiful and are the perfect backdrop for the most Instagram worthy photos. I would recommend wearing comfortable shoes as you will be walking on uneven terrain. Keep your hat in the car as it is incredibly windy and you will likely lose it.
Getting to Cabo da Roca: You can get to Sintra by taking bus 403. The bus ride is approximately 45 minutes.
Cascais (Cash-Caish) was another stop on our Sintra Tour from Lisbon. This small, coastal town is located 20 miles west of Lisbon. We have one more day trip on our itinerary: Cascais.
Cascais is a small, coastal town less than 20 miles west of Lisbon. I loved it here and wished we had more time. This is a popular tourist destination, and it is known for its white sand beaches.
With a limited amount of time, we did walk around the quaint streets of Cascais and had some fabulous ice cream. One of the top things to do in Cascais is to relax at Praia da Conceição beach and stroll through the colorful streets.
The best way to enjoy the area is through a small guided group tour. Check here for the best prices for a Sintra and Cascais group tour from Lisbon.
Getting to Cascais: Take the train (green line) from Cais de Sodre station to Cascais. The journey should take 30-40 minutes.
Road Trip Portugal Itinerary – 3 Days in the Algarve
The Algarve is one of Portugal’s well-known areas with beautiful cliff top views, beaches, and hiking trails that make it a popular destination. The drive from Lisbon to the Algarve is approximately 3.5 hours or 4-5 hours by train.
Where to stay in the Algarve
Day One in Algarve
When you see the beaches in the Algarve you will want to enjoy all your time basking in the sun and taking in the gorgeous views.
Visit Praia da Marinha Beach
Praia de Marinha is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Algarve. It has gorgeous limestone formations and cliffs along with turquoise blue waters. It is one of Portugal’s most iconic beaches.
The best way to get to Praia de Marinha is by car. There is a long staircase that will lead you down to the beach. It is the perfect spot for snorkeling due to the clear waters.
You may also enjoy hiking the path between Praia da Marinha and Carvoeiro. This 12km roundtrip hike is a great workout with stunning views. The entire walk is full of spectacular scenery.
Visit a Lighthouse at Cape St Vincent
Cape St Vincent is the westernmost point in Europe. It is like looking at a postcard with the cliffs and rocky seascapes.
The lighthouse was built in 1846 and has seen a few fought naval battles in the ocean off the cape. There are now a couple of gift shops, as well as a small but worthwhile museum about the cape and its history.
Day Two in Algarve, Portugal
Tour the grottos and Benagil Cave
The cave can only be reached by sea entering from the rock arches. The rock formation has a natural skylight that is approximately 100 feet above the beach. The lighting in the cave is ideal for some fabulous photographs. I would recommend the Catamaran cruise to see the caves.
If you like adventure, you can also kayak to the caves.
Day Three in Algarve
If you are staying at the Tivoli Carvoeiro then you will love the area. There is a hiking trail just outside of the resort. Make sure to enjoy the gorgeous sunset at the end of your hike from the top of the town or head back to the resort for rooftop cocktails.
You can either extend your trip and tour the rest of the Algarve or drive back to Lisbon to catch your flight back home.
Portugal Packing Ideas
I traveled to Portugal in April and the weather was extremely pleasant. I would recommend dressing in layers as it is warmer during the day and cools off at night in April. Here are some other packing suggestions:
- Pack Comfortable Walking Shoes: The best way to see Lisbon is by walking. The hills in Lisbon are steep so wearing comfortable shoes is a must. My very favorite shoes ar Tieks foldable flats. I always pack them on my travels as they are so comfortable and take very little space. Leave the high heels at home. Portugal has many steep hills and slippery cobblestone streets. A good pair of sneakers or flats is all you will need.
- Pocket Wireless Device: TEP Wireless has saved me so much on crazy roaming fees. What I love best about TEP Wireless is that I can hook up 5 devices at the same time. Check here for the best TEP Wireless prices.
- Travel Converter and Adapter: This is a must if traveling to Europe. Don’t forget to pack one for your trip. Check here for the latest prices.
- Scarf: A large scarf is perfect for keeping you warm on the airplane as well as for those chilly evenings. Click here to see the latest prices.
- A reusable water bottle: The tap water is safe to drink. I love Swell water bottles as the patterns are pretty and they keep your beverage hot or cold for hours. Click here to see the latest prices.
- Sunscreen: If you are going to the beach or walking around Lisbon you may want to apply some sunscreen before heading out. I always use organic sunblock. I don’t want those pesky chemicals on my face. Click here to see the latest prices.
- Pack a light jacket or a cardigan sweater if you are visiting in the fall, winter or spring.
Final Thoughts on The Best Portugal Itinerary
Portugal is definitely one of those countries that really surprised me. It is one of the top beautiful places to visit in Europe. It is a top bucket list destination for many people and now I see why. There are so many places to discover in Portugal, next on the list will hopefully be a trip to Madeira.
Regardless if you plan on visiting one week or three weeks there will never be enough time to explore it all. I will have to plan for my return for a Portugal road trip to the northern part of the country.
Have you visited Portugal? What was your favorite city?