In just 12 days, this action-packed Portugal itinerary introduces you to charming cities, unspoiled countryside, and world-class beaches. Get to know Lisbon in-depth with a series of walking, biking, and culinary tours, then set off on a road trip—winding your way south from medieval Alcobaça through the cork groves and vineyards of the Alentejo. Your journey comes to an end in Lagos, with boat trips and beach time on the stunning Algarve coast.

Highlights

  • Cycle along Lisbon's picturesque waterfront & grand squares
  • Sample Portuguese specialties on a flavorful food tour
  • Visit medieval monasteries & coastal villages around Alcobaça
  • Learn how to cast & paint traditional ceramics in the Alentejo
  • Go fishing along the Algarve's most beautiful beaches

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lisbon Lisbon
Day 2 Walking Tour of Lisbon, Evening Food & Wine Tour Lisbon
Day 3 Day Trip to Sintra & Cascais Lisbon
Day 4 Lisbon Riverside Bike Tour Lisbon
Day 5 Pick Up Rental Car & Drive to Alcobaça via Óbidos Alcobaça
Day 6 Explore Nazaré, Fátima & the Monastery of Alcobaça Alcobaça
Day 7 Drive to Évora & the Alentejo Évora
Day 8 Alentejo Cork Harvesting & Countryside Lunch Évora
Day 9 Frescos & Ceramics Experience Évora
Day 10 Drive to Lagos & the Algarve Lagos
Day 11 Fishing Trip & Wildlife Walk in the Algarve Lagos
Day 12 Drive to Lisbon & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon

Views over Lisbon's Alfama district
Welcome to Lisbon! Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by your driver and transferred to your hotel in the city center. After checking in, you can unwind after your long journey or head out for a quick stroll. You'll find Lisbon to be an unheralded gem of a European capital. Hilly waterfront neighborhoods are dotted with grand plazas and pastel-colored buildings, many of which date back hundreds of years. Old cable cars lurch up winding cobbled roads, and medieval castles sit perched atop the highest points in the city. 

Day 2: Lisbon Walking Tour, Evening Food & Wine Tour

Traditional yellow trams climb Lisbon's hilly streets
There's no better way to get to the heart of a historic city like Lisbon than by exploring it on foot. Today you'll join a local guide for a walking tour through some of the city's major sites, accompanied by fascinating anecdotes and local lore. Visit the 12th-century Lisbon Cathedral, as well as historic neighborhoods like Baixa and Alfama. Make your way to the Arco da Rua Augusta, a magnificent 18th-century arch located in the Praça do Comércio on the banks of the Tagus River, and end the tour with a tasting of ginjinha, Portugal's famous liqueur made from sour cherries.

Acquaint yourself with Lisbon's culture through its traditional cuisine this evening with a gourmet food tour. Discover flavors and dishes created by a blend of Mediterranean traditions and exotic influences from all corners of the world. Try local specialties like pastéis de bacalhau (cod fritters) alongside glasses of refreshing Vinho Verde wine as you get to know the city's authentic neighborhoods and historic center, home to some of Lisbon’s best restaurants, fado-houses, bars, and nightclubs.

Day 3: Day Trip to Sintra & Cascais

Sintra's hilltop Pena Palace
Today you'll head out for a full-day tour of Sintra and its surroundings. Located just half an hour east of the city, this resort town in the Sintra Mountains is known for its forested hills, upscale villas, and Moorish palaces. Start with a visit to the Palacio Nacional da Pena (Pena Palace). This 19th-century Romanticist castle mixes Moorish and Portuguese late-Gothic architectural styles with distinct features like gargoyles, ornate battlements, and colorful terraces. 

After touring the palace you'll have a break for lunch, at which point you can also stroll through the historic village of Sintra and do some shopping and/or sightseeing. Then it's off to Sintra Cascais Natural Park. Some can't-miss locales in this area include the dramatic coastal cliffs of the Cabo de Roca, the wide and inviting Guincho Beach (a popular surf spot), and the glamorous towns of Cascais and Estoril.  After a day of sightseeing, you'll return to Lisbon for the evening. 

Day 4: Lisbon Riverside Bike Tour

Cycle along the scenic riverfront to Belém
See more of Lisbon today as you venture out on two wheels to explore lesser-known neighborhoods and cross the mouth of the Tagus River to Cacilhas. Starting at the cosmopolitan city center, experience the buzz of this beautiful European capital as you pedal along atmospheric avenues and alleys, following the tranquil riverside towards Belém.
 
The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore Lisbon at your own pace. Head to the LX Factory for cool street art alongside a selection of restaurants, bars, and shops, or treat your tastebuds to an afternoon at the Timeout Market, where the shining stars of Lisbon's gastronomy are gathered under one roof. The Museu Calouste Gulbenkian should be at the top of the list for any art lovers visiting the capital, while the breathtaking Jeronimos Monastery in picture-perfect Belém is one of Lisbon's can't-miss highlights. 

Day 5: Pick Up Rental Car & Drive to Alcobaça via Óbidos

Colorful tiled houses in Alcobaça
This morning you'll pick up your rental car in Lisbon and drive out of the city, heading north through the agricultural lands of Ribatejo. After an hour and a half, you'll arrive in the charming town of Óbidos. It's easy to fall in love with this colorful and romantic little village. Its winding streets and medieval structures, castle walls, and handicraft shops all make this stop an idyllic place to visit. Take the morning to explore the town, then break for lunch in one of its recommended local restaurants.

Afterward, continue on your way to Alcobaça, where you can check in to your hotel and head out to explore the town's charming historic center and its famous Gothic monastery. 

Day 6: Explore Nazaré, Fátima & the Monastery of Alcobaça

Nazaré's clifftop fort overlooking the Atlantic
This morning you'll head west to the Atlantic coastline and the idyllic fishing town of Nazaré. Meet your local expert guide for an enthusiastic tour of the area's best-loved and little-known highlights. Stroll along the boulevard, watch fishermen drying their catches of fish and octopus, and sit down to a delicious seafood lunch. In the early afternoon, head out to the peninsula to look down over the crashing Atlantic surf—and the spot where the largest waves in the world have been surfed.

Later in the afternoon, you'll have the rest of the day to explore the area as you please. Nearby you'll find some wonderful smaller towns and villages, as well as the ornate stonework and impressive architecture of the monasteries of Batalha and Alcobaça. The great Shrine of Fátima, one of Europe's most important sites of pilgrimage, is also well worth a visit!

Day 7: Drive to Évora & the Alentejo

Évora's spectacular medieval cathedral
This morning, you'll depart Alcobaça in your rental car for the drive inland to the historic city of Évora— your base for the next three nights as you explore the surrounding Alentejo region. One of Portugal's oldest cities, this UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the Roman era and offers an abundance of beautiful architecture and sites, like the medieval Évora Cathedral, the 2000-year-old ruins of Templo Romano, and the 16th-century Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones). End your evening with a bite to eat and a drink in the bustling city square of Praça do Giraldo.

Day 8: Alentejo Cork Harvesting & Countryside Lunch

Vineyards at one of the Alentejo's traditional estates
The tradition of montado (cork harvesting) is the most famous image of the Alentejo region, and today you'll visit the estate of Freixo do Meio where a new generation have taken up the challenge of managing this aging tradition in modern times. 
 
After visiting the cork farm and learning all about the harvesting and the Alentejo countryside, you'll be served a traditional chickpea stew cooked in clay pots on an open fire, accompanied by organic produce and wine from the estate. For dessert, enjoy a delicious sericaia (Portuguese egg pudding) and fruit. After lunch, return to Évora where you will have the rest of the day to explore at your leisure. 

Day 9: Frescos & Ceramics Experience

Colorful ceramics are a hallmark of the Alentejo

Today is all about Portuguese artisans and their art forms. In the morning, you'll set off from Évora for nearby Alvito. Visit this charming town and discover a number of its most important monuments to learn all about the exquisite frescos that are dotted throughout the settlement. After an in-depth fresco tour, you will sit down to a delicious local lunch, made up of some of the region's most famed dishes.

In the afternoon, you'll transfer the short distance to Viana do Alentejo to meet a master potter and his wife. Learn all about their profession, the materials they use, and the styles they create. Everyone in the group will receive a lesson on the Portuguese potters' wheel and also be shown how to paint their pieces in Portuguese style. At the end of the class, you'll be able to take the pieces you've made home as the ultimate souvenir of your travels!

Day 10: Drive to Lagos & the Algarve

Take the wooden walkway to scenic Praia do Camilo in Lagos
Today you'll leave Évora behind and drive south towards the outstanding beaches and idyllic fishing towns of the Algarve. You can choose to drive the most direct route, or take a detour down the Atlantic coast. With this latter option, you'll drive past some beautiful coves, bays, and inlets, and will be able to stop for lunch in one of the quaint coastal towns.
 
Your destination is Lagos, known for its charming inner-walled Old Town, pretty harbor, dramatic sandstone cliffs, and beautiful beaches, as well as authentic restaurants and buzzing nightlife. Locals are proud to say that Lagos has not succumbed to mass tourism like other cities in the Algarve, and the city still retains its distinctive character and laid-back charm. 

Day 11: Fishing Trip & Wildlife Walk in the Algarve

Spot dolphins off the Algarve coast
Try your hand at fishing out on the Atlantic Ocean today! Meet your boat in the Baleeira Harbor and spend the day learning about the time-honored traditions of Portuguese fishing. This is a perfect activity for all ages, and young kids and young-at-heart will enjoy hooking fish on a hand line. For lunch, bring your catch to a local restaurant and enjoy the freshest fish around. (If you prefer a boat trip without the fishing, a dolphin-spotting excursion can also be arranged.)

In the afternoon, head to the traditional village of Figueira for a casual stroll along its quirky cobbled streets. Enjoy an afternoon hike in the pine forests just outside of the village, and finish your day with a visit to the secluded sandy beach of Praia da Figueira.

Day 12: Drive to Lisbon & Depart

Sunrise over Praia do Camilo

After a final morning in Lagos, you'll say your goodbyes and drive to Lisbon's airport to drop off your rental car and catch your departing flight. Safe travels and boa viagem!

More Great 12-Day Portugal Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Portugal? Check out these other 12-day Portugal itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.  

Map

Map of Essential Portugal: Lisbon, Alcobaça, Évora & Lagos - 12 Days
Map of Essential Portugal: Lisbon, Alcobaça, Évora & Lagos - 12 Days