Hit all the Portuguese essentials on this 13-day road trip. You'll start by driving to colorful Porto and the Douro Valley. Here, your adventures will be centered on wine and history. Make your way south to Lisbon for private walking tours of the capital and day trips to the country's most famous castles. Finally, spend some days in the untamed Algarve region, known for its unmatched beaches and seaside rock formations.

Highlights

  • See the famed Portuguese tiles in Porto
  • Take a wine tasting tour of the UNESCO-listed Douro Valley
  • Visit Sintra's world-famous Pena Palace
  • Go on a catamaran sailing cruise in the Algarve region

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Lisbon & Drive to Porto Porto
Day 2 Porto Guided Walking Tour Porto
Day 3 Free Morning in Porto & Drive to the Douro Valley Douro Valley
Day 4 Discover the Douro Valley Wine Country Douro Valley
Day 5 Drive to Lisbon via Coimbra Lisbon
Day 6 Comprehensive Walking Tour of Lisbon Lisbon
Day 7 Day Trip to Romantic Sintra Lisbon
Day 8 Drive to the Algarve & Lagos via Setúbal Lagos
Day 9 Sea Cliffs & Caves Boat Tour Lagos
Day 10 Catamaran Sailing Cruise & Drive to Faro Faro
Day 11 Free Day to Explore Faro Faro
Day 12 Drive to Lisbon via Évora Lisbon
Day 13 Depart Lisbon  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon & Drive to Porto

Óbidos Castle
Medieval walls in Óbidos

Arrive in Lisbon, and collect your rental car at the airport. Your Portuguese adventure begins right away as you drive north toward Porto. On the way, stop in quaint Óbidos, a charming medieval town just an hour from the capital.

As soon as you reach the destination, the imposing city walls surrounding the historic center will greet you. From the cobblestoned streets to the whitewashed houses decorated with century-old bougainvillea, there will be plenty to appreciate in this stop. Don't miss the local liqueur, ginjinha, made from morello cherries and usually served in a chocolate cup. Then, continue to Porto.

Day 2: Porto Guided Walking Tour

Porto City
Historic houses in Porto's Ribeira district

Today, you'll discover the amazing city of Porto on a guided walking tour. Visit can't-miss landmarks like the S. Bento Railway Station, famous for its 20,000 white-and-blue glazed tiles, or azulejos. Other stops include the Porto Cathedral, the riverfront Ribeira District, the Clérigos Tower, and Lello Bookshop, which inspired the beloved Harry Potter novels.

After the introductory tour, enjoy free time to explore the city on your own. Stroll around its pretty streets, or cross the Douro River through the Bridge of Luis I. The iron bridge is pedestrian-friendly and provides sweeping views of the river and the city. Once you're on the other side of the Douro, tour a vintage port wine cellar like Graham's or Ramos Pinto.

Day 3: Free Morning in Porto & Drive to the Douro Valley

Porto medieval gate
Historic gate to the medieval city of Porto
Spend the morning exploring Porto on your own. Walk to the city center to see the impressive Old Stock Market and the 15th-century Church of St. Francis. Another popular attraction is the stunning Carmo Church, whose façade is covered in intricate azulejos. For lunch, order a francesinha, a local meat-heavy sandwich topped with melted cheese and bathed in beer-tomato sauce.
 
In the early afternoon, say goodbye to the unvanquished city and drive to the Douro Valley. On the way, the landscape will greet you with a verdant scenery of rolling hills and vineyards rising from the banks of the Douro River.

Day 4: Discover the Douro Valley Wine Country

Douro Valley
Vineyard in the Douro Valley

After breakfast, tour local wineries in the Douro Valley. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the region boasts schist mountains traced with rows of grape vines and is considered one of the global viticulture centers. Spend the day admiring the deep valleys, terraced vineyards, and the blue ribbon of the river meandering down below. 

Visit one of the many local estates that produce Douro and port wines. Most offer tours, so you can learn how these world-class wines are cultivated while tasting some of the region's distinctive whites and reds. Another highly recommended activity is a river cruise. Usually lasting one or two hours, these boat adventures provide a different—but equally breathtaking—perspective of the valley.

Day 5: Drive to Lisboa via Coimbra

Coimbra
The historic city of Coimbra
It's time to say goodbye to the slopes of the Douro Valley and make your way back to Lisbon. To make the journey more agreeable, stop in Coimbra. This student town is home to the oldest university in Portugal. Visit its famed Joanine Library, which holds more than 300,000 works dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries arranged in beautiful gilded bookcases.
 
You'll also want to climb the university's tower in the Pátio das Escolas courtyard. From the top, you can gaze at the Sala dos Capelos hall, where important ceremonies are held. After walking around town and buying souvenirs, continue your drive to Lisbon.
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Day 6: Comprehensive Walking Tour of Lisbon

Belém Tower in Lisbon
Belém Tower in Lisbon

It's time to explore the "City of Seven Hills." A guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to discover Alfama, Lisbon's oldest quarter, where you'll find St. George's Castle perched atop a tall hill. Then, head to Baixa, the downtown area completely rebuilt after the devastating 1775 earthquake. Stroll in Chiado, a bohemian neighborhood where 19th-century intellectuals gathered in cafés.

The next stop is Belém, a historic district associated with the height of Portuguese exploration. Stop by monuments such as the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower, an iconic Lisbon landmark. Before returning to your hotel, drop by Pastéis de Belém to try pastéis de nata or Portuguese egg tart, one of the country's most delicious desserts.

Day 7: Day Trip to Romantic Sintra

The romanticism of Sintra - Private Tour
Moorish Castle and Pena Palace in Sintra

Go on a private guided day trip to Sintra, the Portuguese capital of Romanticism. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town is known for its numerous palaces. Pena Palace is arguably the most famous, with its colorful exterior and juxtaposition of architectural styles. Equally beautiful and interesting are the Quinta da Regaleira, the medieval Moorish Castle, Monserrate Palace, and Queluz Palace.

If you wish to explore other areas, visit one or two palaces and then drive to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in mainland Europe. Continue your journey toward Cascais, part of the Portuguese Riviera. A beloved seaside destination, this town provides a perfect beach getaway for residents of the capital.

Day 8: Drive to the Algarve & Lagos via Setúbal

The Colorful Harbor of Setúbal
The colorful streets of Setúbal
It's time to head south toward the wild Algarve region. Get excited for a scenic drive along the coast. On the way, stop at two incredible sites: Arrábida Natural Park and Setúbal. In Arrábida, you'll admire sweeping ocean views from atop dramatic cliffs. Walk along the trails, feeling the wind in your face.
 
Afterward, drive to nearby Setúbal for lunch. This fishing village is famous for its fried squid and seafood, as well as its sweet moscatel wine. Visit the harbor, whose daily comings and goings drive everyday life in town. Once you're ready to proceed, continue south toward the Algarve and your base for the night in the charming seaside town of Lagos.

Day 9: Sea Cliffs & Caves Boat Tour

Ponte da Piedade
Ponta da Piedade sea cliffs
Have an incredible day touring the Algarve by boat, and spend four hours playing in the water. You'll be taken from Lagos to Burgau and back, passing by the famous golden beaches of Dona Ana and Don Camilo. Highlights include the cliffs and caves of Ponta da Piedade, Canavial, and Porto de Mós, as well as the famous black rock of Praia da Luz.
 
Stop on a secluded bay near the fishing village of Burgau for a delectable complimentary lunch. During the boat tour, you'll have the chance to jump into the sea at different points. Swim and snorkel in the clear blue waters of the Atlantic. Once you're back in Lagos, take time to explore the picturesque town, considered one of Portugal's prettiest places.

Day 10: Catamaran Sailing Cruise & Drive to Faro

Benagil Caves
Benagil Caves in the Algarve
Set sail today from Portimão to the world-famous Benagil Caves. Relax on the catamaran's 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, paddle boarding, or snorkeling. 

In the afternoon, make your way to Faro. Stop by the caves of Algar Seco or by Praia da Marinha, one of the most iconic beaches in Portugal and one of the most beautiful in Europe. You could also grab lunch with a sea view in the picturesque marinas of Albufeira or Vilamoura.

Day 11: Free Day to Explore Faro

Faro Marina
Boats docked on the Faro Marina

Located near both the Ria Formosa lagoon and the sea, Faro is a delightful city to wander around. Take a free day to explore on your own and discover the city center, the Arco da Vila (Town's Arch), the Municipal Museum, the Faro Cathedral, and other landmarks.

You can also catch a ferry from the Cais das Portas do Mar to the islands right off the shore, which provide a much more secluded and quiet beach experience. The most captivating ones include Farol, Culatra, and Deserta. There are several tour operators offering excursions. But if you feel adventurous, you can rent a speedboat and beach hop from island to island on your own.

Day 12: Drive to Lisboa via Évora

Charming streets of Evora
The colorful streets of Évora

Prepare to drive back to hilly Lisbon. Rather than going straight to the capital, take a longer route and stop in Évora. Founded in Roman times, this impressive city is a true living museum. Its golden age started in the 15th century when the royal family and court resided here. This rich history is part of what has earned the town UNESCO World Heritage status.

Besides the noteworthy residences, Évora is known for its medieval walls, its Cathedral, and the Roman Temple to Diana, the goddess of the moon. Another highlight is the São Francisco Church. This house of worship enjoys worldwide fame for its curious Chapel of Bones, whose walls are decorated entirely with human skulls and bones. After the visit, continue to Lisbon, where you'll drop off your rental car and enjoy your final night in the city.

Day 13: Depart Lisbon

Lisbon panoramic view
Panoramic view of Lisbon
It's time to leave wonderful Portugal behind. After a leisurely morning in Lisbon, a private driver will take you to the Lisbon Airport to catch your flight back home. Safe travels and boa viagem!

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Map

Map of Portugal Road Trip: Porto, Lisbon & the Algarve - 13 Days
Map of Portugal Road Trip: Porto, Lisbon & the Algarve - 13 Days