This 13-day itinerary showcases Portugal's many faces with a combination of guided experiences and a choose-your-own-adventure road trip. See the Lisbon skyline by sailboat and hike to the hilltop palaces of Sintra, then strike out toward the Algarve coast for golden beaches, hidden coves, and spectacular sunsets. Turn north to end your journey in Porto, where you'll trade the car for a driver as you sit back and enjoy day trips into the Douro Valley and Peneda-Gerês National Park.


  • Discover local secrets and hidden gems on a Lisbon food tour
  • Hike to the lush forests and fantastical palaces of Sintra
  • Visit one of Europe's oldest university towns in Coimbra
  • Explore the Algarve's hidden coves and beaches by boat
  • Refine your palate with a wine-tasting trip through the Douro Valley

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lisbon, Afternoon Culinary Experience Lisbon
Day 2 Guided City Tour, Sunset Sailing Cruise Lisbon
Day 3 Day Trip to Sintra, Heritage Hike Lisbon
Day 4 Day Trip to Nazaré & Batalha Lisbon
Day 5 Pick Up Rental Car, Drive to Lagos & the Algarve Lagos
Day 6 Catamaran Cruise to Benagil Caves Lagos
Day 7 Free Day in the Algarve, Cabo de São Vicente Sunset Lagos
Day 8 Drive to Coimbra, Portugal's Medieval Capital Coimbra
Day 9 Drive to Porto via Aveiro Porto
Day 10 Day Trip to the Douro Valley, Wine Tasting & River Cruise Porto
Day 11 Explore Porto, Afternoon Cooking Class Porto
Day 12 Day Trip to Peneda-Gerês National Park Porto
Day 13 Depart Porto  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon, Afternoon Culinary Experience

A statue of King Joseph I at Lisbon's central Praça do Comercio

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. Grand plazas and pastel-colored buildings dot hilly waterfront neighborhoods, many dating back hundreds of years. Old cable cars lurch up winding cobbled roads, and medieval castles are perched atop the city's highest points.

Acquaint yourself with Lisbon's culture through its traditional cuisine this evening with a gourmet food tour. Wear a good pair of walking shoes because you and your guide will meander through a series of authentic winding alleys tasting the incredible flavors of Portuguese gastronomy. Over four hours, you will visit seven delicious spots that brilliantly link tradition with modernity and discover classics like pastéis de bacalhau (cod fritters), grilled sardines, and pastéis de Nata (egg custard tarts).

Day 2: Guided City Tour, Sunset Sailing Cruise

Views over Lisbon from the Tagus River

First things first, get your bearings on a locally guided tour of the city's most happening neighborhoods as you hop on board an iconic tram and head into Bairro Alto. Continue to Chiado and discover a cultural enclave where the great writers and philosophers of the 20th century gathered to hone their ideas. Next up is the picture-perfect neighborhood of Alfama. Here, you'll get a feel for traditional Lisbon with its narrow cobblestoned streets and the stunning 12th-century Sé de Lisboa Cathedral.

Later, you can see the "City of Seven Hills" from a different vantage point with a sunset cruise on one of the Tagus Estuary's trademark wooden sailboats. For centuries, these specially crafted vessels were a fundamental means of transport for the Lisbon region, ferrying cargo and people between the river's two banks. Spot the city's iconic landmarks and skyline as you sail along the Tagus, ending the evening with a spectacular waterfront sunset.

Day 3: Day Trip to Sintra, Heritage Hike

The Pena Palace peeks through the clouds around Sintra

Located just outside the capital, Sintra's lush hills dotted with fairy tale palaces and extravagant villas have enchanted visitors for centuries. Today you'll hike through these remarkable landscapes of dense forest and exotic flora as you discover this mystical region's best trails and viewpoints. Reach the incredible 8th-century Moorish Castle, then continue to the mountaintop Pena Palace. Towering above the clouds, this Romantic-era national monument is full of historical treasures and is considered one of Portugal's Seven Wonders.

Day 4: Day Trip to Nazaré & Batalha

Admire the intricate limestone carvings of the monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória

After breakfast, get ready to head out of the city on a day trip with a private guide. Your first stop is Batalha, where you'll climb above the orange rooftops of this tiny city at the UNESCO-listed monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória. One of the supreme achievements of Manueline architecture, its exquisitely detailed carvings and soaring stained-glass windows draw admirers of architecture, history, religion, and warfare from far and wide.

Continue to Nazaré, a traditional fishing village famous for its long, sandy half-moon-shaped beach along the Atlantic. Keep an eye out for the village's iconic wooden fishing boats with curved prows and fishmongers who still wear the traditional seven skirts. More importantly, beware of the coastline's massive waves that can achieve world-record heights, hence why Nazaré attracts advanced surfers worldwide.

Day 5: Pick Up Rental Car, Drive to Lagos & the Algarve

Take the wooden walkway to Praia do Camilo in Lagos
Today you will pick up your rental car and drive south to Lagos, a seafaring town on the western side of the Algarve region, situated along Portugal's southern coast. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel and spend the rest of the day exploring on your own. Lagos is known for its charming inner-walled Old Town, pretty harbor, dramatic sandstone cliffs, beautiful beaches, authentic restaurants, and buzzing nightlife. Locals are proud to say that Lagos has not succumbed to mass tourism like other areas of the Algarve, and the city still retains its distinctive character and laid-back charm.

Day 6: Catamaran Cruise to Benagil Caves

Discover the Algarve's hidden coves and caves by boat

See the coast from a different perspective today with a catamaran cruise from Portimão to the world-famous Benagil Caves. Along the way, you'll pass the beaches of Carvoeiro, Algar Seco, the Alfanzina Lighthouse, and Praia da Marinha's stunning views. Relax on the catamaran's twin sunbathing nets and enjoy the gentle breeze as you cruise along this unforgettable coastline, then anchor in the lovely coves of João de Arens for some swimming, paddleboarding, or snorkeling.

Back on dry land, the rest of the day is yours to explore the scenic Algarve region in any way you'd like. If beaches are high on your list, you'll find several dreamy options—offering various services, water sports, and boat excursions. The peaceful cove of Pinhao is known for its secluded, picturesque setting, while Ponta da Piedade features more dramatic sandstone cliffs and bright turquoise water. Praia do Camilo gives way to a memorable view from the top of a staircase whose 200 wooden steps lead down to a sheltered sandy cove. 

Plan your trip to Portugal
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 7: Free Day in the Algarve, Cabo de São Vicente Sunset

Watch the sunset from Europe's most southwesterly point

Spend today discovering more of the 16th-century city of Lagos and its cobblestone streets, inviting squares, and great restaurants. You could also head east to explore bustling resort towns and whitewashed villages offering mouthwatering cuisine and exhilarating coastal scenery. Lovers of quiet should head to the massive Costa Vicentina Natural Park, which covers 182,857 acres (74,000 ha) of protected land, including beaches, cliffs, rolling hills, and marshland, with more than 750 species of flora and 200 species of birds.

End your day with a breathtaking sunset from the most southwesterly point in continental Europe. As twilight approaches, your guide will transfer you to the spectacular Cabo de São Vicente of Sagres, where you can watch the sun sink into the Atlantic Ocean while you sample Portuguese wine and bread with chorizo.

Day 8: Drive to Coimbra, Private City Tour

Coimbra's Largo da Portagem Square

Today you'll bid the beach farewell and make your way north to Coimbra. This former medieval capital wears its weighty importance in Portuguese history with dignity and pride, witnessed by its colorful collage of buildings that span nearly a millennium. The historic core cascades down a hillside to create a lovely setting along the east bank of the Rio Mondego.

Upon arrival, you'll meet with a local guide for a private tour of the city. The 13th-century University of Coimbra remains the star attraction, with a tremendous amount of history and knowledge accumulated within its walls. A must-see is the Baroque Library, home to an incredible collection of over 200,000 books stored in carved and gilded bookshelves. The Chapel of Saint Michael next door is also worth the visit, and make sure to take a stroll through the atmospheric medieval streets of the historic center.

Day 9: Drive to Porto via Aveiro

Stop to visit the "Venice of Portugal" in Aveiro

Get back on the road today toward Porto, breaking up the trip with a stop in delightful Avéiro. Aveiro is situated on the edge of an extensive coastal lagoon system. It is a prosperous town with a good-looking center and a youthful, energetic buzz, dubbed the "Venice of Portugal" thanks to its small network of picturesque canals. But where the Italian city has gondolas, Aveiro has moliceiros—colorful boats traditionally used for seaweed harvesting but now repurposed for canal cruises.

Continue to Porto, where you'll drop off your rental car and get settled into your hotel before heading out on a private excursion to learn about the city's history, heroes, and battles. Start in the UNESCO-listed city center to admire its renowned monuments and sites, including the São Bento Railway Station, Clerigos Tower, Church of St. Francis, Lello Bookshop, Sta. Catarina Street, Majestic Café, and Bolhão Market. After visiting the Porto Cathedral, you'll finish the tour along the banks of the Douro River for sweeping views over the city from the Miradouro da Vitória.

Day 10: Day Trip to the Douro Valley, Wine Tasting & River Cruise

Terraced vineyards along the Douro River

Today, your private driver will be waiting to whisk you into the mountains and valleys of the famous Douro Valley wine region, where you'll visit traditional wineries accompanied by an expert guide. After a wine tasting, you'll enjoy a traditional lunch at one of the valley's famous quintas (estates).

After lunch, it's time to hop aboard a riverboat for an hourlong cruise down the tranquil Douro River. Relax and admire the beautiful scenery of the valley and the rolling hills along the riverbanks. At the end of the day, your guide will return to Porto, where you can spend a leisurely evening in the city's lively Ribeira area.

Day 11: Explore Porto, Afternoon Cooking Class

Colorful houses in Porto's Foz neighborhood

Explore Porto at your own pace today. An excellent place to start is the Ribeira neighborhood, which sits alongside the Douro River and is one of the oldest parts of the city. Famed for its narrow and colorfully tiled dock-side houses and its views of the iconic double-decked Dom Luís I Bridge, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is simply a must-see. For a true taste of Porto, be sure to also explore the warren of windy streets behind the riverside.

In the afternoon, you can head downtown for a laid-back private cooking class with a top Portuguese chef. This hands-on workshop introduces you to the flavors and dishes of traditional cuisine and the techniques used to cook them up—allowing you to bring the gastronomy of Portugal home as the ultimate souvenir. After preparing several dishes made from locally-grown, seasonal products, you'll sit down and enjoy a memorable meal paired with dynamic local wines and spirits.

Day 12: Day Trip to Peneda-Gerês National Park

An ancient Roman road in the forests of Peneda-Gerês National Park

Escape the city for a full day of adventure in the wilds of Peneda-Gerês National Park. While there are many listed natural parks within Portugal's borders, Peneda-Gerês is the only official national park and takes up a whopping 436 square miles (703 km) in the north near the Spanish border.

Surrounded by unspoiled mountain landscapes, you'll take a short hike to reach a lookout point with breathtaking views over the park. Go wild swimming in crystal clear lagoons, discover waterfalls straight out of a fairy tale, and travel back in time to see how the locals lived in centuries-old villages. After working up an appetite in the fresh air, finish today's excursion with a traditional lunch and a glass or two of Vinho Verde at a local restaurant. 

Day 13: Depart Porto

Sunset over Porto
It's time to say goodbye to Portugal! Depending on the time of your flight, you may be able to squeeze in one more walk through the streets of Porto or perhaps pick up some last-minute souvenirs. You'll be transferred to the airport at the designated time to catch your departing flight. Safe travels and boa viagem!

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Map of Portugal Panorama: Lisbon, Lagos, Coimbra & Porto - 13 Days
Map of Portugal Panorama: Lisbon, Lagos, Coimbra & Porto - 13 Days