Bucketlist2Life

The perfect 1 week Portugal road trip itinerary – see a lot in a short time

Author Carina Klein
Carina
· 6 min read · 14 comments

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TL;DR

This is the perfect itinerary for you if you only have a limited amount of time but still want to explore Porto, Lisbon, the Algarve and some hidden gems.

Yes, more time is always better but sometimes it is just is as it is. It's still possible to see the highlights and some hidden gems of Porto, Lisbon and the Algarve in just one short week. This is the perfect road trip itinerary if you don't want to move every night and you don't want to drive excessive hours each day.

Day 1 – Arrival at Porto

Arrive in Porto, settle in and start wandering the streets. Find some beautiful Azulejos like in the São Bento Station, visit some of the amazing churches like the Cathedral and just let yourself drift through the cute alleyways.

In the evening make your way over the Ponte Luís I Bridge to try the Port wine in one of the many Port wine cellars on the other side of the Douro River.

Sleep: Porto

Distance: /

Picture of Port wine in Porto
Port wine tasting, Porto

Day 2 – Explore Porto

Give yourself time to really experience this quieter, quainter counterpart to Lisbon. Walk along the Douro River for a while, maybe take a boat tour, climb on the Clerics Tower and enjoy the view, buy a book in the Harry Potter bookstore Livraria Lello. Don't miss a night out in the hip university area Baixa and definitely try a francesinha. This combination of cheese, meat and tomato sauce is the perfect food for pre-drinks, post-drinks or a hangover.

Sleep: Porto

Distance: /

Picture of Duoro River in Porto
Porto

Day 3 – Porto to Tomar via Monsanto

Don't drive directly to Tomar, enjoy the hinterland of Portugal, too. Monsanto is hands down one of the most picturesque places we have ever been. Huge granite boulders are nestled in the cutest little village full of stone buildings you'll ever see. And everything is topped off with a castle, which gives you amazing views all over the area, perhaps even all the way to Spain.

When road tripping Portugal, don't miss Tomar with the famous monastery. The Convento de Cristo was founded in 1162 by Templar knights and is really worth the hype. Do not only check out the inside with the castle, church, and cloisters, also walk along the outside wall for some great views over the Convento, the city of Tomar, and the surrounding area.

Sleep: Tomar

Distance: 460km (285mi)

Picture of Monsanto, Portugal
Monsanto, Portugal

Day 4 – Tomar to Lisbon via Sintra

On your way from Tomar to Lisbon check out Sintra. Don't try to see all sights in one day but you'll get a taste. If you ask us, the Pena Palace is a must-see. Other noteworthy places include the Quinta da Regaleira with its Instagram famous well and the Castle of the Moors. We found the town centre itself to be rather touristy and did not spend too much time exploring.

If you have a lot of stamina or you're not too much into castles, the westernmost point of mainland Europe, the Cabo da Roca, is close. Additionally, Cascais with its hell-mouth or Boca do Inferno is worth a visit.

Sleep: Lisbon

Distance: 180km (112mi)

Picture of Pena Palace from afar
Pena Palace

Day 5 – Explore Lisbon

Start your day by getting an overview of the city from the Castelo de São Jorge. On the way get lost in the many alleys of the old town Alfama. From the castle, take the famous tram to Belem and visit the Belem Tower. While in this area, don't miss the Jerónimos Monastery, one of our unexpected Lisbon favourites. And of course, eat some (or all) Pasteis de Nata at the place they originated from.

Make your way back to the central square Praça do Comércio, explore Downtown (Baixa), and take one of the famous elevadores or lifts to get to the Barrio Alto. Wander along the Tejo River and enjoy the lively local atmosphere with loads of street music on the promenade before you head to street food heaven Time Out Market for Dinner. In our experience, the perfect end for the day is cocktails at a rooftop bar (we can recommend PARK) – who doesn't love drinks with a view.

Sleep: Lisbon

Distance: /

Picture of Lisbon from the castle
Lisbon

Day 6 – Lisbon to Algarve via the beaches of the west coast and Cape St. Vincent

When you head to the Algarve make sure to drive the coastal road and stop along the way for some of the amazing beaches on the west coast. Praia do Cavalo, Praia do Cavaleiro, and Praia de Odeceixe-Mar are just a few noteworthy candidates.

Also don't miss Cape St. Vincent, the southwesternmost point of the European mainland. Maybe this is notoriously German but we quite enjoyed eating the Letzte Bratwurst vor Amerika (the last sausage before America).

Sleep: Lagos

Distance: 330km (205mi)

Picture of Praia da Amália beach
Praia da Amália beach

Day 7 – Explore the Algarve

Lagos is a great base to explore the Algarve. You find a cute town centre with loads of restaurants and bars and some amazing beaches. Go on a short hike along the coast to explore some of them or take a boat.

Of the many outstanding beaches of the Algarve, the cave beach of Benagil is our favourite. The nearby Carvalho Beach also has a lot of nooks and crannies to explore.

We advise you to also check out the eastern Algarve coast where the beaches feature less dramatic cliffs but are much flatter and hence more accessible. Taking a boat from Tavira to Santa Luzia was one of our all-time favourite holiday experiences. Santa Luzia is called the octopus capital of Portugal for a reason. Go and try some!

If you have a limited capacity for beaches, the hinterland of the Algarve with its many cork trees is well worth a visit as well. The small town Monchique with its hot and cold springs is charming and the bone chapel in Alcantarilha is a true hidden gem.

Sleep: /

Distance: Variable

Picture of Lagos beach
Beach in Lagos

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14 Comments

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Luz Vacations

27.11.2021, 01:51

I'm truly enjoying the design and layout of your website. It's a very easy on the
eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Outstanding work!

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

27.11.2021, 15:59

Thank you! We (Philipp) program the website ourselves.

Travel and tourism

12.07.2021, 15:26

I'm truly enjoying the design and layout of your site.
It's a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Outstanding work!

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

12.07.2021, 17:34

Thank you! Philipp does program our site!

Peggy Zipperer

22.06.2021, 05:52

This is exactly what I needed to help organize my unruly Portugal bucket list! I will be saving this for my trip planning!

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

23.06.2021, 11:21

Thank you for your feedback! Organizing bucketlists is our thing!

Smalltownplussize Tom

18.06.2021, 08:27

Hi Carina. The German restaurant where you can eat the last sausage before America sounds kind of quirky. Algarve sounds like an interesting town and we could certainly enjoy the beach right now.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

19.06.2021, 11:52

I do miss the beach too. The last sausage before America is super quirky. Not sure if tourists from other nationalities are even aware of this place...

Becky Exploring

18.06.2021, 04:44

What a great itinerary for a road trip in Portugal! This is something I've been wanting to do for a few years now. That port tasting looks amazing and the scenery in Porto and the beaches of the Algarve is beautiful.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

19.06.2021, 11:54

I started to realize that it's still possible to explore places even if you do not have a ton of time to do so. I wasn't really into port until this tasting and now it's one of my go to drinks :)

Kemi

18.06.2021, 02:02

Portugal is high on my list to visit and Lagos is a place I'd definitely visit because I'm from Lagos in West Africa, named by the Portuguese slavers/colonizers. Lagos = lakes. This was a great itinerary touching the highlights of each city.

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

19.06.2021, 11:59

Oh yes, the two Lagoses are the material for some confusion...

Sue

17.06.2021, 00:17

This sounds like a great itinerary! Lots of variety of things to see along the way from cities to beaches!

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

19.06.2021, 12:04

Thank you! I tried to give a best of of Portugal :)

Bernie and Jess Watt

16.06.2021, 15:12

This looks like an appealing option. Next trip we'll be a young family.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

19.06.2021, 11:50

Congrats! Maybe this itinerary will be too fast paced with a baby...

Colin and Mitch VeryTastyWorld

16.06.2021, 08:33

That looks like a really comprehensive itinerary. So much to see in a short space of time and a great combination of city/countryside/beach. We haven't visited Portugal and this road trip looks like a fantastic way of exploring the country.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

16.06.2021, 11:12

I think this road trip is ideal if you really want to get the best of Portugal in a short time and not just one aspect.

Tiffany Pence

16.06.2021, 03:47

I love this itinerary! It's nice to know things are close enough for a road trip and I love the little town suggestions along the way. I'll definitely keep this for when we go to Portugal!

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Epicurean Expats

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

16.06.2021, 11:03

Thank you. This is a good "Portugal for beginners" road trip. If you do have the time stay longer in Porto, Lisbon and at the beaches!

Chalk and cheese travels

15.06.2021, 17:46

A great itinerary, have seen a few Portugal posts recently and really making me want to go even more. Could certainly do with a break in the Algarve

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

15.06.2021, 17:57

The dangers of reading blog posts...

Lannie

15.06.2021, 15:00

I love Portugal! But only managed to spend a few days in Lisbon for work. Would absolutely do this itinerary for a longer trip next time!

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

15.06.2021, 17:04

This could be a great guide for an extended work trip because it's not too long ;)

John Quinn

15.06.2021, 13:25

I’ve been meaning to get back to Portugal for another visit, and this might be just the kind of itinerary I need. You seem to tick off all the must dos. Never knew about the bone chapel in the Algarve. That’s one for me for sure.

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

15.06.2021, 17:00

The bone chapel is rather unknown. We were the only tourists when we visited!

Stefan (BerkeleySqB)

15.06.2021, 11:38

I just put Monsanto and Tomar on my list. We've focused on Lisbon and Porto, but want to come back to Portugal soon to explore the rest of the country, so your post will come in handy. Thanks for sharing. We had heard good things about Sintra, the Algarve and Carvalho Beach. Definitely have to include some time for the beaches this time around. :-)

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

15.06.2021, 17:08

Thank you! The beaches in Portugal are some of my favorite beaches worldwide. And not just one or two. All of them are top shelf!