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.
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.
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.
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.
Distance: 460km (285mi)
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.
Distance: 180km (112mi)
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.
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).
Distance: 330km (205mi)
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.
Enjoy one more relaxed beach day or fly directly out from Faro