10 Days in Portugal: The Perfect Itinerary for First-Timers

10 Days in Portugal: The Perfect Itinerary for First-Timers
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Portugal is a fantastic destination for travellers looking to explore a hidden gem of Europe. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or explore ancient ruins and castles, Portugal has it all! From exploring its bustling capital city Lisbon to discovering Porto, there’s so much to see and do here over 10 days that you won’t want your journey to end!

This 10 days in Portugal itinerary will start and end in Lisbon and will cover Lisbon and Portugal with a few day trips sprinkled in.

 

10 Days in Portugal: The Perfect 10 Day Itinerary for First-Timers

When planning for your 10 days in Portugal, look for a flight where you arrive at least early in the afternoon to Lisbon. To get over jet lag, it’s best that you spend your first day exploring a little bit to try and acclimate to the time change.

 

 

Quick Overview of your 10 Days in Portugal

  • Day 1: Explore the Alfama district, Castelo de Sao Jorge, visit Miradouro de Santa Luzia
  • Day 2: Walking tour, day trip to Belem, Time Out Market
  • Day 3: Day trips to Sintra & Cascais, visit Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara
  • Day 4: Travel to Porto, walk Av. dos Aliados
  • Day 5: Food Tour, Sao Bento Train Station, Rua de Santa Catarina
  • Day 6: Explore Ribeira & Vila Nova de Gaia, Visit Sao Francisco Church
  • Day 7: Day Trip to Douro Valley
  • Day 8: Day Trip to Braga
  • Day 9: Travel back to Lisbon, explore Baixa district (Rua de Augusta)
  • Day 10: Travel home

 

 

Day 1: Explore the Alfama district, visit Miradouro de Santa Luzia, Time Out Market

After landing in Lisbon, make your way to your hotel. It may be too early to check in, but you can typically drop off your luggage for holding. Then head out to start your 10 days in Portugal by getting your first sights of Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal!

The Alfama district is one of the oldest in Lisbon with its winding cobblestone streets, pastel-colored buildings, and its abundance of restaurants, bars, and cafés. Historically, the Alfama district was set outside the castle walls and catered to the poor, and was influenced by the Moor people. However, as Lisbon grew, it is now a unique and colorful part of the city.

Visit Miradouro de Santa Luzia for some stunning views of the city. Miradouro means “viewpoint” in Portuguese, and Lisbon is full of them! Santa Luiza is a romantic miradouro with colored tiles and a sitting viewpoint overseeing the Alfama district and the Tagus River.

After getting the best views, head over to Castelo de Sao Jorge, the former Moorish castle overlooking Lisbon. You can walk through the castle and explore the old ruins. It’s also a great place to get some more photo opportunities in the city.

 

 

While you’re in the Alfama district, make sure to keep an eye out for painted murals along the walls. These were ordered to make the district more appealing and approachable because of the district’s history.

Once you’re ready to get some food, check out the Jardim de Tabaco, Tobacco Garden Rock, which used to house the city’s tobacco. This area is now a trendy and hip place filled with waterfront restaurants.

 

 

Day 2: Walking tour, Time Out Market, half-day trip to Belem

The best way to understand a place is to explore it on foot. Today is the perfect day to take a walking tour of Lisbon. You can sign up for a free walking tour with a local guide to learn about Lisbon’s history and culture as you wander through its cobblestone streets. The guide will also point out interesting places and hidden gems that you can come back to visit later.

On your way to Belem, visit the Time Out Market for lunch. This indoor market is filled with vendors selling various Portuguese foods from bifanas and bacalhau (codfish) to pasteis de natas and super bock, the local Portuguese beer.

In the afternoon, take a half-day trip to Belem which is a 40-50 minute train ride away from Lisbon. The area is known for its architectural masterpieces like the Jeronimos Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site with ornate decorations and architecture. You can also tour the Torre de Belem (Tower of Belem) and the Monument of Discoveries, which features some of Portugal’s most prominent explorers.

 

 

Before heading back to your hotel, grab a sandwich at Pao Pao Queijo Queijo and a pasteis de nata, which originated in Belem.

 

Day 3: Day trip to Sintra & Cascais, visit Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara

Start your day early and take a train to Sintra, a charming town filled with palaces, gardens, and parks. Here you’ll find two of Portugal’s most iconic landmarks: the Palace of Pena and the Castle of the Moors.

The Palace is a Germany-style castle with bright yellow turrets, extravagant interiors, and sprawling gardens. The Castle of the Moors is a fortress and ruins from an 18th-century Muslim settlement with stunning views of Sintra.

 

 

After exploring the palaces of Sintra, you’ll also want to make a stop at Cabo da Roca, or Cape Roca, which is the westernmost point of continental Europe. Bring a jacket as it can get pretty windy and chilly!

Then take the train to Cascais for some beach time along the Atlantic Coast. This luxury resort town is known for its sandy white beaches and vibrant nightlife. Enjoy lunch at one of the beachfront restaurants and have some fresh seafood. The gelato at Santini’s is some of the best–make sure to grab dessert before heading back.

You can also choose to do a Sintra and Cascais guided tour that will provide transportation and a local guide to the palaces, Cabo da Roca, and Cascais and make navigating all these locations a little easier.

On your way back to Lisbon, swing by Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara for some more gorgeous views of Lisbon’s cityscape. This terrace is located in the Bairro Alto district and offers panoramic views of the Tagus River and Alfama District. On the weekends, you can find food vendors here and musicians playing their tunes.

To get to Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, you can take the Gloria Tram up to the viewpoint from Restauradores Square.

 

Day 4: Travel to Porto, walk Av. dos Aliados

Today, you’ll be traveling north to Porto, the second-largest city in Portugal. This city is known for its distinctive architecture and colorful buildings along the Douro River. Take the Alfa Pendular train, Portugal’s fast train, for 3 hours to Porto. Keep an eye out as you get closer to Porto–you’ll be able to see Vila Nova de Gaia and the Douro river as the train pulls in!

Once you arrive, start your day by walking down Av. dos Aliados, which is home to some of the most beautiful Baroque-style buildings in Porto. Stop by the Town Hall to admire its intricate design and colorful tiles.

 

 

You can also visit one of the most decked-out fast food restaurants in Europe, McDonald’s Imperial. You’ll notice a regal eagle out front. As you walk in, chandeliers top the ceilings and beautiful stained glass shines behind the counters. Even if you don’t eat here, a picture is worth the visit!

Other places to see around here are the Clerigos Tower, Jardim da Cordoaria, and the Livraria Lello bookstore, which is said to have inspired J.K. Rowling’s writings of Harry Potter.

Before heading to dinner, walk within the vicinity to take pictures of the beautiful churches such as Sao Bento da Vitoria Church and Igreja de Santa Clara, which have stunning Portuguese glazed tile facades.

Head to Gazela’s for Portuguese hot dogs. These delicious hot dogs are grilled with cheese and ladled with chili oil and served with a side of fries.

 

 

Day 5: Food Tour, Sao Bento Train Station, Rua de Santa Catarina

Start your day by taking a guided food tour, where you can sample some traditional Portuguese dishes such as francesinha, a cheese and steak sandwich served with french fries and covered in beer sauce. You’ll also enjoy other local specialties like bifanas, and pasteis de nata. And don’t forget to try a glass of port wine–Porto is home to some of the best port wineries!

Before visiting the train station, see the magnificent Se do Porto (Porto Cathedral). From here, you can view the Douro River and various red rooftops of Porto. Then, make your way down the hill to Sao Bento Train Station, which is one of the most ornate train stations in Europe. The entrance has 20,000 azulejo tiles that depict Portugal’s history.

 

 

Next up is Rua de Santa Catarina, known as one of the main shopping streets in Porto. Here you’ll find typical Portuguese products like leather goods and handmade jewelry! You’ll also find the elegant Majestic Cafe here. If you continue walking north, you’ll come upon the Chapel of the Souls whose facade is covered in azulejo tiles. It is free to see the inside, but be respectful to those who are inside.

End your day with a stunning view of Porto at Miradouro da Vitória, a free viewpoint to see Ribeira, the Douro River, and the sunset from above. Make sure to wear a light jacket as it can be chilly in the evening.

 

Day 6: Explore Ribeira & Vila Nova de Gaia, Visit Sao Francisco Church

The Ribeira is the historical district of Porto, with its colorful houses and buildings leaning to one side. Take a leisurely stroll along the Douro River and past the quay-side cafes and shops. You’ll see musicians entertaining people so take in the lively atmosphere.

 

 

Continue your journey across the Dom Luis I Bridge, which takes you to Vila Nova de Gaia, home to more than 20 port wineries! You can take a tour of some of these wineries and taste the different types of port wine.

If you’d like to take a Douro River cruise tour, you can book a half-day Porto tour with the cruise and port wine tasting. The river cruise takes about 50 minutes and shows you the 6 bridges that cross the Douro River.

For food in the Ribeira district, check out Restaurante Mercearia’s Portuguese meats and seafood, Taberna Dos Mercadores for their salmon or flaming sea bass, or enjoy the views and Angus steak at the RIB Beef & Wine restaurant, located on the Vila Nova de Gaia side of the river.

After eating, head beyond the waterfront of Ribeira and explore Rua do Infante D. Henrique. Swing by Sao Francisco Church–built in the late 1700s, this baroque-style church features a breathtaking staircase made from golden wood and detailed azulejo tiles depicting religious scenes on its walls.

You can also visit Palacio da Bolsa, a grand palace built for the stock exchange in the 1800s. Be sure to take pictures of its gothic rooms and intricate frescoes on its ceilings. There are limited guided tours, so make sure you sign up for an English one before heading there!

 

Day 7: Day Trip to Douro Valley

On Day 7 of your 10 Day Portugal Travel Itinerary, you’ll travel to the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Douro Valley, on an excursion to explore the region’s vineyards and sun-soaked hillsides. It’s best to book a guided tour to Douro Valley for transportation and to learn more about the history of this beautiful area.

 

 

The local guide will also know which wineries to take you to and give you tips on exploring this gorgeous countryside of Portugal!

On the tour, you’ll visit the Pinhao train station, where you can see the azulejos tiles depicting the vineyards and the Douro river. You’ll also have a chance to visit Casal de Loivos Viewpoint which has some of the most stunning views of the Douro Valley and even take a river cruise on the Douro River.

Lunch is included in the tour as well as port wine tastings at two of the leading port producers. It’s a great way to experience the Douro region, and learn about the area’s winemaking traditions!

 

Day 8: Day Trip to Braga

Before heading back to Lisbon, explore the city of Braga—the oldest city in the country with more than 2,000 years of history! Also known as the “Rome of Portugal,” Braga is located in northern Portugal and is the country’s main religious center.

When you arrive in Braga, take a stroll around the city center and visit some of its most famous landmarks such as the Arco da Porta Nova which is the archway into the oldest part of Braga. You’ll also want to see Se de Braga, the Braga Cathedral, which is the oldest church in all of Portugal. Don’t miss the Avenida de Liberdade or the Palacio de Raio.

 

 

For food in Braga, check out Cafe Vianna, one of the oldest cafes in Braga, and try their version of the Francesinha then head on over to Tibias a Braga for some dessert. The Tibias pastry is shaped like the tibia bone so you’ll know what it looks like when you see it!

The biggest draw to Braga is the Baroque-style Braga Cathedral, Sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte—an 18th-century pilgrimage site with stunning views of the city. The Sanctuary is accessible by foot up 500+ steps or by taking a funicular powered by water.

To get to the Bom Jesus do Monte, you can take the public bus #2 or hire a tuk-tuk guide to get you up there and bring you back.

 

Day 9: Travel back to Lisbon, explore Baixa district (Rua de Augusta)

On your last full day in Portugal, you’ll be heading back to Lisbon and exploring the Baixa District. This district is known for its large squares and grand monuments. One of the most impressive buildings here is Praça do Comércio, the grand arcade that was once a royal palace; it’s flanked by two statues depicting King José I and the Marquis of Pombal.

 

 

Explore other sites such as the Santa Justa Lift, an iron elevator; and the Rua de Augusta, a vibrant pedestrian street that is well known for its restaurants, shops, bars, and cafes. Take a stroll down this street to get a feel for the culture and energy that makes Lisbon one of the best cities in Europe!

While here, you’ll also want to get a taste of Ginjinha, a cherry liqueur that the locals love. Finally, get our last bite of traditional Portuguese food at one of Baixa District’s restaurants. Some of our favorites are bifanas, pregos, and bacalhau.

 

Day 10: Travel home

Your 10 days in Portugal have come to an end! You’ll be catching your flight from Lisbon airport and heading back home. As you say goodbye to this beautiful country, make sure to take some time for reflection.

Think about the many memories and experiences that you’ve had during your trip. From the days spent at Belem Tower to exploring Douro Valley and Braga, you’ll definitely have some amazing stories to tell your family and friends.

As you travel back home, make sure that you bring with you a piece of Portugal—perhaps an azulejo tile or a bottle of port wine—as a reminder of the incredible time that you had while in this country!

 

Where to Stay for 10 Days in Portugal

In Lisbon, the best places to stay are in the city center to get the most out of your time. For a budget stay, check out the Rossio Hostel or a mid-range stay at the Esquina Cosmopolitan Lodge. Both of these accommodations are in excellent locations with easy access to public transportation, dining, and sites.

 

 

As you head north to Porto, you’ll also want to be close to the city center so you can have easy walking access to all the best sites! Though the Ribiera district is bustling with people and activity, this is one of the most expensive places to stay. For a budget stay, Boavista Guest House is a great option for a mid-range stay at YOUROPO Market.

 

How to Get Around 10 Days in Portugal

Portugal is a highly walkable city. You can easily get around Lisbon and Porto on foot. However, it is highly recommended that you wear comfortable walking shoes as you’ll be walking up and down a lot of hills.

Public transportation is widely available in both Lisbon and Porto. There are trams and buses that run throughout the cities as well as the metro. In addition to ground transportation, you can also take a train to explore other parts of the country.

 

 

You can also purchase the Lisbon or Porto Cards for either 24, 48, or 72 hours to use on public transportation. You’ll also have free entrance to specific museums and sites with the use of these tourist cards.

There is the option of hiring a taxi if you need to get to the train station or the airport, but keep in mind that this will be more expensive than public transportation.

 

The Best Time to Visit Portugal

The best time to spend 10 days in Portugal is from April to May when the weather is mild and pleasant. During these months, you’ll have sunny days with bearable temperatures ranging from 50°-70° Fahrenheit.

Avoid going to Portugal during the heat of the summer in July and August as you’ll not only get the heat, but also the crowds.

 

How to Pack for 10 Days in Portugal

When packing for this 10 day Portugal Travel Itinerary, always remember to pack light and comfortably. Pack items that can mix and match with each other so you don’t have to bring a lot of clothes.

Basics like jeans, leggings, and t-shirts are essential for sightseeing. Make sure to get comfortable walking shoes for all the walking you will be doing. For day trips, you’ll want to have a day bag with you, and a water bottle.

 

FAQs: 10 Days in Portugal

 

– Is 10 days enough to see Portugal?

As with any trip, 10 days is only scratching the surface of seeing what Portugal has to offer. Experiencing this 10 Day Portugal Travel Itinerary, is enough to explore the best of Lisbon, Porto, and a few other cities around the country. You’ll be able to visit some of the major attractions in both cities, take a day trip outside of the city, and sample traditional Portuguese cuisine.

If you have more time to spend in Portugal, you can take a trip south to the coast of the Algarve and Lagos.

 

– Should I rent a car for 10 days in Portugal?

Car rental is not necessary when traveling on your 10 days in Portugal. The roads are narrow for driving and you’ll also most likely be operating a manual car if you decide to rent a car. If you feel comfortable driving in such conditions, you can rent a car to get from Lisbon to Porto.

– Is English spoken in Portugal?

Yes, English is widely spoken in Portugal. Most locals speak at least some English and you’ll be able to communicate with them easily. The younger generations typically speak better English than the older generations, but both should be able to understand basic conversation.

In addition, most signs and menus will have translations into English so it’s easy to get around without speaking Portuguese.

Overall, Portugal is an incredible destination to visit! From stunning architecture to delicious cuisine and vibrant culture, there is no shortage of things to do and see in this beautiful country. With its welcoming people, alluring scenery, and rich history, Portugal is the perfect destination for your 10-day vacation, and this is the perfect 10 Day Portugal Travel Itinerary for first time travellers to Portugal.

 

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