Beautiful Porto - 12 Days to discover Portugal
Destinations, Europe, Portugal

12 Days to Visit Portugal – My Itinerary

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While many travel blogs focus on long-term travel, I think it is absolutely possible to discover the world one bit at a time, with short vacations. In only 12 days, we went to the best places in Portugal.

Being one of the most affordable country to visit in Europe, it seduced me with its delicious food, its history, and its beaches.

Here’s my complete itinerary to visit Portugal, without a car!

*Because round-trip were less expensive, we decided to arrive and quit from Lisbon. If you have a little more budget, I would suggest to arrive in Lisbon, and quit from Porto, or vice versa, to avoid back and forth.

I almost exclusively used Airbnb for my accommodation during this trip. Sign up to Airbnb with this link and get a $25 credit towards your first stay!

Day 1 – Getting to Lisbon

We arrived in Lisbon after a direct flight from Montreal and took the subway to Chiado, where we rented a room on AirBnb.

I can count on one hand the number of direct flights I took during my life and I can’t say how grateful I was about that one. I always try to pick the less expensive flights and that generally means at least one stop. Going from A to B in one shot was a-ma-zing and let us enough energy to start exploring the town as soon as we landed.

On that first day, we explored Praça Dom Pedro IV and walked the touristic Augusta street. The day ended up at Cais do Sodré to look at Taugus river.

Discover My 5 Favorite Things About Lisbon

Praça Dom Pedro IV in Lisbon
Cais Do Sodre, Lisbon.

Day 2 – Lisbon

We spent the day exploring Alfama. We wanted to take the famous Tram 28 to get there, but it was super crowded even early in the morning, so we decided to take our favorite kind of transportation, our feet, and walked from Chiado to Alfama. A nice walk where we had the pleasure to admire the traditional azuelos on many buildings.

Must-see: Castelo São Jorge. I was really impressed since it was the first castle I saw of my life, but, to be honest, it’s more ruins and amazing points of view over Lisbon than a princess dream come true. I enjoyed the view more than the castle.

Visit Portugal: Castelo de São Jorge
View from Lisbon Castle

In Alfama (or should I say, in Europe), churches and cathedrals are everywhere! We visited the Cathedral (Sé, in Portuguese) and the Santo Antonio church.

I couldn’t go to Lisbon without stopping at Santo Antonio church. Not only he’s the Saint of Lisbon, but he is also very important for my grand-mother. Each time we lose something, she says we need to pray Saint Anthony to find it back.

Another must-see in the neighbourhood: the Museu do fado. This music! These voices! I was completely charmed by the museum where you can spend hours listening to great musicians of this traditional Portuguese music. If you are curious, listen to Amália Rodrigues.

I dare you not to have goosebumps!

12 Days to Visit Portugal - A complete itineraries including what to see, what to do and where to sleep in Lisbon, Porto, Algarve, Obidos, Sintra and more! #Portugal #travel #backpacking #Lisbon #Porto

Day 3 – Sintra

It’s a short train ride from Lisbon to Sintra and you’ll be there in no time.

Palácio da Pena has nothing to do with the castle in Lisbon. It is impressive, colorful, and massive. I took about 100 pictures of the castle and couldn’t stopped!

Just a quick walk from Pena, you’ll find the Castelo dos Mouros, a fortress of rocks and cliffs, situated on the highest point of the Serra de Sintra.

Sintra is a perfect mix between outdoors and cultural visits. The walk through the national park to go from a castle to another gives a break from the crowded sites and is very enjoyable.

Wear comfortable shoes, since the amount of stairs at Castelo dos Mouros is impressive!

Money Savings Tips : Buy your tickets online to get a discount.

Palacio da Pena. Sintra, Portugal
Sintra, Portugal

Day 4 – Obidos

On your way between Lisbon and Porto, you may be tempted to skip the stop to Obidos, but I highly suggest you don’t. This small village is the perfect place for a time-travel to middle age and to drink Ginjinha.

You should read: Why You Need to Visit Obidos, Portugal

Day 5 – Porto

One thing I learned in Portugal is that even if it’s small, it can sometimes be very long to travel by bus! We had to take 4 different bus to get to Porto, but I tried to see it as a way to relax and look at landscapes. The road is more important than the destination, they say?

For this first day in Porto, it rained so we did a little sight-seeing and spent the afternoon in a cafe. We discovered the Franscesinha. A Portuguese sandwich made with bread, ham, steak and covered with melted cheese and a hot tomato sauce served with french fries. I swear you can survive on one of these for a whole week! It’s huge!

Must-see in Baixa:

  • São Bento Train Station
  • Lello Librairy
  • Cathedral
  • Torre dos Clerigos
  • Santo Ildefonso Church
  • Rua Miguel Bombarda
Church in Porto, Portugal

Day 6 – Porto

A complete day visiting the caves in Ribeira and Gaia. Yay!

We walked on the famous Dom Luís bridge as a warm up before porto tasting. The view is breath-taking, and this is where you’ll take the postal card pictures of Porto.

View from the bridge in Porto

Visiting the cave, we learned the making of porto, the difference between the categories of porto and, of course, we enjoyed the tasting. I didn’t know there was pink porto! Did you?

Day 7 – Tomar

We came back to the Center of Portugal to the legendary town of the Knights Templar to get lost in the Covento de Cristo.

This Unesco World Heritage site is the highlight of my trip to Portugal.

Take a look : 9 Pictures that Will Make You Want to Go to Tomar Right Now

Day 7 – Tomar to Lisbon

As I said, Portugal is more like a line than a circle, so if you’re in public transportation instead of a car, you may have to come back on your way to change direction.

This is what happened to us when we decided to go south to the Algarve.

Of course, when coming back on my way mean spending another day in Lisbon, I am totally fine with it.

Arrived for dinner, we explored Bairro Alto, the festive neighbourhood of Lisbon, and the place to try fancy restaurants. I must say I had the most delicious salmon tartar ever,

If you want to party, Bairro Alto is the place to be. We were there on a Tuesday night and the atmosphere was comparable to a Saturday in Montreal. I cannot imagine what it is on a real Saturday night!

Day 8  to 11 – Lagos

Yes. We spent 4 days in Algarve, to enjoy the beaches in Lagos.

Maybe we should have gone to more than one town and less to the beach. Do I regret it? Absolutely not! Ahah!

There are more than 10 beaches in the small town and you quickly feel at home. I could have stayed there forever. For a touristic place, I found Lagos very calm and relaxing. Each day, we tried a new cafe, or a new restaurant, and we walked a lot by the beach.

Ending a trip in Portugal in Lagos is a good way to refuel your energy. In the beginning of June, the water is very cold tough. Not perfect a long swim.

For that region, it might be easier to book an hotel than an Airbnb, especially if you are last minute. I suggest you take a look at this website because I found them to have the best prices for hotels in the region.

Lagos, in Algarve. A good place to relax in Portugal.

If you are not a fan of beaches as much as I am, I suggest to visit Évora. There’s a church made of bones!

Day 12 – Lisbon

Back to Lisbon to catch our flight the next morning, we explored Bélem.

It was a Sunday and, if I can give you one advice: don’t go there during the weekend!

The line up to visit Mosteiro dos JerónimosTorre de Bélem and to eat Pastéis de Bélem were monstrous. To be honest, we gave up and took a look from the outside.

We preferred the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a monument to the Age of Discoveries, facing the water.

It was a very hot day and we consumed a shameful amount of ice-cream and lemonade and we said goodbye to Portugal.

Have you been to Portugal? What would you recommend? Any questions about this itinerary? Let them in comment below.


Pratical infos

Transport

To avoid the stress of booking last-minute train tickets, I would suggest to book in advance on RailEurope. This website compare the prices of different train companies and gives you the best price.

To figure out other transport methods, the website Rome2Rio is always a good ressource.

Money

It’s easy to withdraw cash in Portugal or to pay by card. You shouldn’t worry about that.

Accommodations

As mention, I used Airbnb to find rooms during my trip to Portugal. If you’re interested in learning more about it, take a look at my Beginner’s Guide to Airbnb.

If you’re looking for more traditional accommodation, check Booking.com. They have a very large choice of hotels all around Portugal.


This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a reservation, at no extra cost to you.  I only recommend products I use and love.  Thank you for your support!

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27 Commentaires

  • Reply travelFREAK 17 avril 2015 at 10 h 05 min

    Wow! What an impressive architecture! Portugal has one of the most beautiful architectural styles in Europe!

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 17 avril 2015 at 10 h 31 min

      I agree! Every town I visited was beautiful. I heard good things about Prague too! :)

  • Reply Christina 24 novembre 2015 at 0 h 16 min

    Hi there! I loved your itinerary! I’m planning a short trip to Portugal in May and want to do Lisbon and Lagos. I’m having some trouble figuring out the best way to get to Lagos from Lisbon though. Could I ask how you traveled?

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 24 novembre 2015 at 18 h 49 min

      Hi Christina! Personally, I traveled through Portugal by train and by bus. A great site that can help you plan your transportation is Rome2Rio. :) If you don’t find an easy way to go to Lagos from Lisbon, I would suggest to go to Faro, which is a little more popular, and than go to Lagos from there. I hope it helps!

  • Reply Claire 25 novembre 2015 at 18 h 19 min

    Hi Annie! I’m curious what time of year you travelled to Portugal. We’re looking at going on February and I’ thinking it may be a bit too chilly. Thanks for your help and lovely photos!

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 26 novembre 2015 at 9 h 08 min

      Hi Claire! I was in Portugal in June. Some days were chilly and we needed to wear a light coat, and some other days were super hot. I’m pretty sure it’s chilly in February though. If you don’t want to go in Algarve (the South region with all the beaches), I think you’ll be fine. Just make sure to check if what you want to visit is open since it’s the low season. Happy travel!

  • Reply Bianca Ferreira 31 mars 2016 at 9 h 07 min

    Thank you so much for sharing this Annie! I’m leaving to Portugal from Montréal too in a little over a month and we just started making our itinerary so this has definitely helped us!

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 31 mars 2016 at 11 h 15 min

      Hi Bianca! You will love Portugal! I’m glad this post helped you in your planning. Have a nice trip!

  • Reply FabioRosado 23 avril 2016 at 14 h 36 min

    Hello Annie!
    I’m very happy that you enjoyed Portugal that much, the queue for the famous pasteis de Belem can be scary sometimes, if you do come back to Lisbon try to go early in the morning or late in the evening 😄

    When you where in Sintra did you try the famous pastries called Travesseiro at the cafe A Piriquita?

    I have plans to write about Sintra and Lisbon on my blog, just need to find the time 😅

    This post was a very interesting reading and I’ll make sure to follow your blog!

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 23 avril 2016 at 19 h 01 min

      Hi! I didn’t try the Travesseiro :( I guess I’ll have to come back to Portugal!

  • Reply Nur 8 juin 2016 at 18 h 00 min

    Thank you for posting your itinerary and dialogue. It confirms much of our own planning for our trip later this month.

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 8 juin 2016 at 20 h 47 min

      Fantastic! Have a nice trip! Portugal has a lot to offer, I’m sure you’ll enjoy!

  • Reply Judy 7 septembre 2016 at 17 h 24 min

    Thank you Annie, loved your blog on Portugal, we are planning on going for our first trip there in a couple of weeks and will use the information you provide. We are using Airbnb, I would like to bring a gift from Canada to our hosts and was wondering if you knew of anything we could bring over to them.

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 7 septembre 2016 at 20 h 22 min

      Thanks! I’m so glad I could help you. For your host, I know it’s cliché, but a little bottle of maple syrup is always good! And it’s a produce that can be hard to find or expensive in Europe.

  • Reply Patrick 15 décembre 2016 at 13 h 25 min

    Nice trip review !

    we plan to go there with our young kids (5 and 9) next july (2017) for 18-21 days. Will it be easy with kids ‘(we’ve done one monthe in germany with them last sumemr without any problem).

    We are also from Montreal, I guess you’ve been with Transat, how was the flight ?

    Very hot day can be uncomfortable, is it humid like it could be in july in montreal ?

    thnaks in advance !

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 15 décembre 2016 at 15 h 05 min

      Hi!

      I think it’ll be a great destination with kids. They’ll like castle and looking at the different azulejos (ceramics). I don’t have kids myself so I didn’t focus on specific activities for them, but I’m sure you’ll find plenty!

      I didn’t flight with Transat… and I can’t remember which company it was.

      In the beginning of June, it wasn’t too hot, and a event a bit cold during the evening. We had one very hot day.

      Have a nice trip!

  • Reply Kevin 20 décembre 2016 at 14 h 38 min

    Hi Annie,

    How difficult was it getting from Obidos to Porto? How did you do it?

    Thanks!

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 22 décembre 2016 at 9 h 13 min

      Hi Kevin! To be honest, yes it was quite difficult… we had to take 4 different bus to get from Obidos to Porto, but it’s doable. Another option would be to come back to Lisbon and take a train, but that would still be a long trip.

  • Reply Kevin 22 décembre 2016 at 9 h 29 min

    Thanks! I really like your intierary, but I’m still debating between going to the Algarve and seeing the smaller towns (Obidos, Evora, Marvao, Monsanto etc.). So difficult to narrow it down! :)

    Thanks!

  • Reply Tita 7 janvier 2017 at 11 h 45 min

    wow! Amazing! Thanks for all the good info. We are trying to decide between more towns in the north and center or a couple days in Lagos, what would you do?

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 12 janvier 2017 at 4 h 26 min

      Hi! Well… it depends if you are the beach type. There’s not much to do in the south except going to the beach. Also, it depends where you go. Water was cold at the beginning of June. 😊

  • Reply Karina 12 juin 2017 at 10 h 36 min

    Great post! I did not even know about the Covento de Christo until you mentioned it and I just might take a slight detour to see it! Did you get there by train/bus? Thanks again for all the great tips! I am going there at the end of August and cannot wait to get my feet wet in that beautiful water!

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 12 juin 2017 at 12 h 51 min

      Covento de Christo is a must-see. It’s really beautiful! I traveled mainly in buses during my trip in Portugal.

  • Reply Claire Delplancq 26 juillet 2017 at 8 h 17 min

    Thanks Annie, this is super useful as I am going to Portugal in September for the first time! :)
    Merci!

  • Reply Al 5 mars 2018 at 20 h 22 min

    Nice itinerary and you did get to see quite a bit of the country considering you didn’t self-drive. I did a self drive over 12 days a few years ago and while I did see a little more that you I am still impressed on the amount you were able to cover.

    Portugal is such a beautiful country I hope to be able to visit at least once more. Just like you the Convento de Christo in Tomar was one of the highlights of my trip. Such history.

  • Reply Mary Ann 2 avril 2018 at 11 h 18 min

    Hi, Annie! We are going to visit Northern Portugal from Lisbon up to Porto. If we travel by public transportation, what do we do about our luggage? We certainly don’t want to cart it around as we sightsee. Do you happen to knonw if there are any public lockers or such in the small towns?

    • Reply Annie Anywhere 5 avril 2018 at 8 h 12 min

      Hi Mary Ann! Personally, I always stayed at least one night per place, so I could leave my luggage at the hotel. Otherwise, I think train station might have lockers, but I’m not sure.

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