Travel writer Rick Steves offers an itinerary to help you start on your journey of getting to know Portugal.
Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon, sleep in Lisbon
Day 2: Lisbon, sleep in Lisbon
Day 3: More time in Lisbon or side-trip to Sintra by train; pick up car and drive to Salema in evening, sleep in Salema
Day 4: Salema, sleep in Salema
Day 5: Salema, side-trip to Cape Sagres, sleep in Salema
Day 6: To Tavira via Lagos, sleep in Tavira
Day 7: To Évora, sleep in Évora
Day 8: More time in Évora, then to Nazaré via Óbidos in the afternoon, sleep in Nazaré
Day 9: Nazaré, sleep in Nazaré
Day 10: Near Nazaré (Alcobaça, Batalha, and Fátima), continue to Coimbra, sleep in Coimbra
Day 11: Coimbra, sleep in Coimbra
Day 12: To Douro Valley, sleep in Douro Valley
Day 13: Douro Valley, end in Porto (could drop car), sleep in Porto
Day 14: Porto, sleep in Porto
Day 15: Drive or take the train back to Lisbon, or drive north to Santiago, Spain
Timing your visit
Try to avoid being in Lisbon (or Porto) on a Monday, when many major sights are closed (including Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Museum, Museum of Ancient Art, National Tile Museum, and House of Fado and Portuguese Guitar, as well as Belém’s Monastery of Jerónimos, Coach Museum, Monument to the Discoveries, Belém Tower, and Maritime Museum. If you like big cities, Lisbon is worth an extra day. But if you’re a beach-lover, leave Lisbon early and drive to Salema.
If, after touring Portugal trip, you’re continuing to the Spanish destinations of Salamanca or Madrid, it’s better to visit Porto and the Douro Valley before Coimbra.
While this itinerary is designed to be done by car, it can also be done by train and bus. If you’re taking public transportation, stay three nights in Lisbon and catch a bus to Salema on the morning of the fourth day. Skip Tavira. From the Algarve, take a bus to Évora (via Lagos) and spend a day and night, then take a bus to Nazaré (there’s no direct service, so you have to go via Lisbon). See the sights near Nazaré by bus, using Nazaré as your home base. Take the train to Coimbra. Catch the bus or train to Porto and, using Porto as a home base, see the Douro Valley on a combination boat/train tour (or spend the night).
Depending on the length of your trip, here are my recommended priorities:
3 days: Lisbon, Sintra
6 days, add: The Algarve (Salema and Tavira)
9 days, add: Évora, Nazaré
11 days, add: Sights near Nazaré, Coimbra
14 days, add: Porto, Douro Valley
Rick Steves / Expatica