Porto, Lagos and Lisbon Itinerary
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Portugal is easily one of my favorite European countries to visit because it has a mix of everything- city life, beaches, and wine country- what more could you ask for? Also, it’s super affordable compared to most European destinations. Keep reading for tips to help plan your week in Portugal with my Portugal travel itinerary.
PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 5-7
Exchange Rate: 1 Euro = 1.23 USD (as of Feb 2018)
Day 1-2: Porto
Day 3-4: Lisbon
Day 5-7: Lagos
This itinerary is based on flying into Porto (OPO) and out of Faro (FAO)
One Week Portugal Itinerary Part 1: Two Days in Porto
Day 1: Arriving and exploring the city of Porto
Getting to Porto: Once you land in the Porto airport, keep an eye out for signs for the metro station. You can buy a ticket at one of the kiosks for about 2.60€, and the metro runs every 20-30 minutes. It takes 30 minutes to get from the airport to the city center.
Where to Stay in Porto:
There are plenty of Airbnbs, hostels and hotels in Porto. We stayed at this Airbnbwhich was centrally located, and had a great view! (second picture below is the view from our window)
Explore: Assuming you have about a half day based on airport arrival and getting checked into wherever you are staying, don’t make any ambitious plans for your first day in Porto. Instead, spend your time meandering around the beautifully tiled streets, stopping along Cais da Ribeira (River Street) to try the local Vinho Verde wine, and soaking in the city views. Climb the flight of stairs at the Torre dos Clerigo (bell tower) for the best view of the city!
Day 2 of Porto Itinerary: Douro Valley Wine Tour, Gaia
Visiting the Douro Valley should definitely be on your Portugal itinerary. This scenic wine-country region is known for their Port wine production alongside beautiful landscapes. Book a Douro Valley wine country tour ahead of time- you can find the one I bookedhere. This wine tour was great! They pick you up in the morning at your hotel or Airbnb, and you join about 6 others in a van for a 1.5 hour scenic ride to the Douro Valley. The tour takes you to two wineries, where you learn about the history and production of the wine, along with wine tasting. The tour also includes a delicious lunch of authentic Portugese food. You can upgrade your tour (definitely recommend) to include a boat cruise along the Douro River.
When you get back to Porto, venture across the bridge pictured below to the town of Gaia, known for their wine cellars and restaurants with a view. You can either walk there (depending how close your place is to the bridge) or taxi/Uber. We opted to splurge for a nice dinner and drinks at The Yeatman,which has the one of the best views of the city!
Portugal Itinerary Part 2: 2 Days in Lisbon
Day 3-4: Lisbon
2-Day Lisbon Itinerary
Getting To Lisbon: The best way to get from Porto to Lisbon is by train. The train costs about 30€ and takes 2.5 hours to get there. You can buy your tickets online here.
Where to Stay in Lisbon: I highly recommend staying at Goodnight Hostel. Not only is it clean, cute, and centrally-located, but the staff are very friendly and recommended a ton of local restaurants and bars that we otherwise wouldn’t have found on our own. They also have a happy hour with free Sangria- always a plus! Below picture is from the hostel’s balcony:
To get a good feel for Lisbon, my recommendation is to just start walking. Wander around the cobblestone streets, admire the colorful tiles of each building, head down towards the water at the Cais das Colunas.
You’ll encounter tram stops along the streets of Lisbon for Tram 28. Although touristy, this iconic tram is a great way to get a quick tour around the city for only a few Euros- a similar concept to the cable cars in San Francisco. This vintage yellow tram weaves in and out of tiny cobblestone streets through the most historic parts of the city. You might have to wait in line at the stop, as the tram is often full, but it is worth the wait!
After your afternoon exploring, head to Bar Topo to enjoy a rooftop cocktail among locals. For dinner, check out local spot As Zebras do Combrofor an authentic Portugese meal (a spot recommended to us by our hostel staff).
For a night out, head to the Bairro Alto or Alfama district and check out one of the many bars that feature live Fado music. Fado is like Lisbon’s style of the blues- an emotional ballad with an accompanying 12 string guitar. If you enjoy live music, this is a cultural experience that you can’t miss!
Day 2 of Lisbon Itinerary:
Head to the Castelo de Sao Jorge to explore the history of the castle and admire the sweeping views of the city. Admission costs 8.50€. Pro tip: buy a glass of wine from the street vendor in the castle to sip while you stroll.
Next, head to Portas do Sol in the Alfama district of Lisbon for lunch/drinks with a view. 10/10 recommend the brie and honey sandwich. After your lunch, keep meandering through the streets of the Alfama district- there are a few cathedrals, shops, and bars in the area!
On your way back, you HAVE to try the Pastel de Nata- Portugese Egg Tart. These little desserts were so good, I had them twice per day. Two great places to get them are ManteigariaandPastel de Belem. We took ours to-go and ate them atParkbar with our happy hour cocktails. This rooftop bar is like a secret garden terrace located on top of a parking garage.
If you want to experience the nightlife, there is a pub crawl you can join that picks up at each of the hostels in the area called Wild Walkers. It’s a great way to meet other travelers and have a fun night at some local bars/clubs! For about $20, you get free drinks and cover at a few bars in the area.
Portugal Itinerary Part 3: 3 Days in Lagos
Day 5-7: Lagos
3-Day Lagos Itinerary
How to Get to Lagos: You can get to Lagos by bus or train. I recommend the bus, because it is direct, vs the train which requires a connection. It takes 3 hr 45 min to get there, and costs 19€. You can book your ticket in advance here. Learn from my mistake, and make sure to give yourself EXTRA time to get to the Sete Rio bus station. You likely cannot walk there, and will need to take the metro from the Jardim Zoologico station. We realized this too late, missed our pre-booked bus, and had to book the next one!
Another option to get to Lagos from Lisbon (or vice versa) is through Heaps of Tours (check out their Instagram page here). Fabio is from Lagos, but lives and works in Lisbon, so has the best recommendations for both places. He recently started Heaps of Tours to bring travelers between Lagos and Lisbon, taking a few scenic stops along the way!
Where to Stay in Lagos: We stayed at Carvi Beach Hotel. Although this hotel isn’t directly in town, it is only a short walk away, and is located right on the beautiful Praia (beach) Dona Ana! This beach cove is surrounded by cliffs and clear water, and there are hiking trails connected which can guide you to the other surrounding coves and beaches in the area.
Spend the day exploring the coastline on the aforementioned trail. Follow the trail north to stop by Praia do Pinhao, Praia dos Estudantes and Praia da Batata.
For dinner, I highly recommend going to Retiro Da Trindade. This hole in the wall local spot was recommended to us from the staff at our hostel in Lisbon (thanks again, Fabio!) and was hands down the best meal we had in Lagos. So good that we went there for dinner two nights in a row! Order the steak on a stone- for about $11 USD, you get a huge filet cooked on a hot stone in front of you. You can see our excitement in the below picture:
Day 2 of 3-Day Lagos Itinerary:
If you want to see the Benagil Caves (one of the most photographed caves in Lagos) learn from our mistake: make sure you check the weather and/or call ahead BEFORE paying 50 Euros for a taxi all the way down there. We got there and the waves were too strong to take the boat inside the cave that day. If you also find yourself with not ideal marine weather, head to Ponta da Piedade instead. Here you can explore the rocky cliff formations and sea coves via hiking trails that take you along the cliff coastline, as well as all the way down to the water’s edge:
After your morning spent exploring this amazing coastline, head into town of Lagos for happy hour and to check out the cute shops and restaurants, and colorful buildings and alleyways.
Day 3 of 3 Day Lagos Itinerary:
Head into town and catch one of the boat tours. This tour takes you on a small rowboat through several caves across the shoreline. The boat driver is very skilled at moving with the tides to get into low-clearance, narrow caves, which was quite the adventure!
After your boat tour, grab some lunch in the town (I recommend Restaurant Alkibir for super fresh tuna) and then continue on to the train station to head to the Faro airport for your flight home.
When to go to Portugal:
The best time of year to go to Portugal is March-May, or September-October to get warm weather without the summer crowds. We went in early April and the weather was great (besides some rain in Porto). The water was chilly in Lagos, but the beaches were not crowded.
Most of my blog posts so far have been for quick weekend trips or 3-day trips that are easy for the average full-time desk-job employee to do. Spending a week in Portugal requires a bit more PTO (vacation days) to get you there. To maximize your days, I would recommend lining your trip up with any 3-day holiday weekends you have to get an extra day off. This trip is definitely worth using your days for, though!
If you have more than a week in Portugal, I would spend at least 3 days in Lisbon (or more), including a day trip to Sintra, and an extra day in Lagos to take a day trip to Sagres.
If you made it this far into my blog post- congrats! Hopefully you now have all the tips and inspiration you need to plan a Portugal trip with 2 days in Lisbon, 2 days in Porto and 3 days in Lagos. If you want an inside look at the trip we took last March, you can check out the video that my friend made here.
Need help packing? Check out a few of my favorite items I used on this trip that you can find on Amazon:
Deuter Backpack– packing in a backpack for this trip will make it so much easier to move around from place to place!
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Questions or comments about this Portugal itinerary? Shoot me an email!