Planning a Trip Portugal Things to Do travel guide

10 Days in Portugal: Itinerary Ideas

Portugal is not a very large country but has a lot of things to do and see. This itinerary starts in the capital and visits Porto, Braga, Coimbra and Faro. Both the Lisbon and Faro itineraries include a day trip to a near-by place.

Itinerary assumptions

  • You will fly into Lisbon and fly out of Faro
  • You will stay in budget hotels or hostels easy to reach by public transportation. Book in advance unless you plan to pay a fortune.
  • You will use the train to get between the cities. Alternatively, you can rent a car for your stay.

Day 1-3 Lisbon with Sintra day trip

On Day 1 get to know the city with a free walking tour which takes about 2 ½ h. Then check out Baixa and Alfama. And you should take tram 28 for a spin around the historical sites of the city.

Spend day 2 in Bairro Alto and then in Belem. Maybe spend some time shopping in Chiado.

On day 3 plan a day trip to Sintra. The Moorish Castle and Pena Palace should not be missed.

Read more about :
>>Getting from Lisbon to Sintra

>> 3 Days in Lisbon

Day 4-5 Porto

There are 18 train departures per day from Lisbon to Porto and the fare starts at €24 for an adult, one way. The travel time is 3 h.

Some of the things to do in Porto include : visiting museums – Museu do Arte Contemporânea is probably the best in the city – , indulge in Port tasting , enjoy the Portuguese food , spend time in Ribeira district, check out the baroque tower of Clérigos Church and spend some time on the beach .

>>read about Getting from Lisbon to Porto

Day 6 Braga

Braga is an ancient and modern city . It can be reached by train from Porto (€19.50 one way , 37 min journey). The historical center comprises old churches, museums and shops.

Day 7 Coimbra

From Braga, catch another train to Coimbra (€20 one way, 1h 37 min journey time). The city is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. Don’t miss the Medieval Downtown and the Old Cathedral.

You can also visit the museums and spend some time in nature. Check out the Botanical Gardens and the city parks.

Day 8 -10 Faro

The direct train from Coimbra to Faro takes about 4 ½ h and the single fare starts at €44.

Faro does have a reputation of being a party beach town but it is also a good base to explore the Algarve . Come in the off-season and you’ll avoid the mass of party goers.

The Old City , with cobblestone streets and 18th century Portuguese and Moorish-influenced architecture, is a good place to get a feel of the old era.

Plan a day trip to The Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. It offers excellent opportunities for walks and boat tours. Plus, you can see interesting plans and animals.

The historic city of Tavira can also be a good side-trip. There are trains connecting the two cities. Spend half a day visiting castles, churches and soaking up the history.

In case you plan to drive in Portugal, here is a map of the itinerary:

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Photo credits: Lisbon , Porto , Braga , Coimbra , Faro

Planning a Trip Portugal Things to Do travel guide

3 Days in Lisbon: Itinerary Ideas

Lisbon doesn’t lack things to do and 3 days are just enough to get a taste of the city , visiting some of the most important and interesting sights. The following itinerary offers some ideas to plan three days in the city.

Itinerary assumptions:

  • You will be flying in and out of Lisbon
  • You will be using the public transportation or walk to get around the city
  • You will be staying in a hotel or hostel close to the main sites (along the route of Tram 28)

>>read about Getting around in Lisbon

Day 1

Start your day with a free walking tour of Lisbon . It departs at 11 a.m. from Luís de Camões Square (easily reachable by metro or bus). The tour takes about 2 ½ h.

Now go to the Avenida da Liberdade, where Baixa district starts. It’s located in central down town and features imposing squares. Then you should also check the district of Alfama, which features narrow streets climbing steeply the hills of Lisbon. Don’t miss the Saint Luiza View point while you are here. Also in the these two areas are: the Castelo Sao Jorge, the Se Cathedral and Praca de Dom Petro IV .

You can consider taking a ferry ride across the river Tejo (Tagus) to end the first day in Lisbon . Or riding tram 28 around the historic center of the town.

Day 2

Make your way to Bairro Alto , located to the west of Baixa. As you probably figured out, the name pretty much explains the elevation, so you’ll also be rewarded with superb views of River Tejo. This district is the birth place of Fado music.

You can now explore Belem ; take a tram from Baixa to Belem along the river. The district is picturesque , with great architecture. Don’t miss visiting Torre de Belem, a heritage fort once used to guard the city from invaders. Chiado district is a good idea to check out if you have shopping on your mind.

In the evening make your way north Baixa and relax in one of the outdoor restaurant. Of course, don’t forget to sample the Portuguese food .

>>also read about What to eat and drink in Lisbon

Day 3 Sintra

Sintra is a stunning place, located close to Lisbon, and well-known for the Moorish castle. But it’s also home to Pena Palace and its historical center is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. So, you can spend at least ½ day here and not get bored.

Hop on a train to Sintra. It takes about 42 min and you’ll pay €2.05 one way (unless you have Lisbon card and in the case the ride is free).

>>read more about Getting from Lisbon to Sintra

Photo credits: Luís de Camões Square , Bairro Alto , Sintra

Portugal travel guide

What to Eat in Portugal: Famous Portuguese Foods

Sharing the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish and Portuguese cuisines have many similarities, but they also bare great differences. Both have been influenced by the Greek cuisine, though, but the Celtic, Moorish and Beriberi ways of cooking can also be found in the Portuguese dishes. The Portuguese dishes are closely related to the Mediterranean cuisine.

A rule of thumb is to stay away from the touristy places and choose a restaurant which is popular among locals. That’s where you’ll find the best foods. Cooking is simple and the ingredients used are fresh and local.


It is the classic Portuguese dish, featuring a simple broth which is thickened with bread and egg. Garlic is used for seasoning and, in costal areas, seafood may be added to it.


It is salted, dried cod. To be used, it’s soaked in milk or water then cooked in many ways (about 365 ways to be exact). Sardines, octopus and anchovies are also popular and used in cooking.


It’s a pork sausage with distinct garlic and paprika seasoning in it. It’s eaten alone, or cooked with vegetables, beans or eggs.


It’s a slowly simmering meat (or sea food) dish, cooked with vegetables in a special pot.

Sopa seca

You can find it in northern Portugal and features leftover bread, meats, vegetables, added in layers and moistened with broth.


It is a stew made with a variety of fish, shellfish, tomato, potatoes and onion.

Caldo verde

This is a green soup made with green cabbage, mashed potatoes and served with sausage.

Tripas à moda do Porto

It is tripe with white beans and , if you are not familiar with tripe, you can pretty much put in the bizarre foods category. The recipe dates from the 14th century.

Leitão assado

This is roasted suckling pig and is a dish popular in Central Portugal.


This is a meat stew made with beans (kidney or butter) and is popular all over Portugal.


It is a cold soup made with fresh tomatoes, chilies, cucumber, onion, garlic and vinegar.


Wine is the traditional Portuguese drink. Port wine is a fortified wine, but “green” (young) wines are also very popular here.

Arroz doce

This is a desert, a rice pudding seasoned with cinnamon and lemon.

Pão de Ló

It is a sponge cake which can be flavored with a lot of things, depending on the region: lemon, cinnamon, orange juice or Porto wine.

Photo credits: Acorda , Bacalhau , Chourico , Caldo verde , Feijoada , Gazpacho , Port Wine , Arroz doce , Pão de Ló , Tripe ,Caldeirada ,Cozido

Planning a Trip Portugal Transportation travel guide

Getting from Lisbon to Sintra

Lisbon , the capital of Portugal, is a vibrant European city, offering stunning views of the Atlantic. It is also an excellent base for exploring the near-by cities and attractions, such as Sintra and its Moorish castle. Aside from the castle, Sintra is also home to Pena Palace. The surrounding hills as well as the historical center are UNESCO Heritage Sites.

Quick summary

The easiest way to get from Lisbon to Sintra is by train. There are trains departing every 15 min from Lisbon’s Entrecampos station and the fare is €1.95* one way (unless you have a Lisbon travel card and then you won’t pay anything for this ride).

Trains from Lisbon to Sintra

There are train departing Lisbon Entrecampos to Sintra every 15 min , every day of the week. The travel time is about 40 min and the single fare is €1.95. Trains don’t run between midnight and 6 a.m. (last train departs Lisbon at 11:42 p.m.).

If you purchase Lisbon travel card, you should know that it covers the price of the train ride to Sintra (and other cities located close to the capital).

The train station in Sintra is located about 10 min walk from the city. If you don’t plan to do any walking, you can catch a bus from the bus station, located opposite the train station.

Tickets can be bought online here

>>read more about Train Travel in Portugal

Driving from Lisbon to Sintra

You can rent a car and drive the 35 km from Lisbon to Sintra on A16. A shorter route (32 km) is via A5 and IC19. In either case the travel time is little over ½ h.

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Note:*at the time the article was written

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Planning a Trip Portugal Transportation travel guide

Getting from Faro to Seville

Faro is the main gateway into the Algarve region of Portugal and although it is generally overcrowded by tourists pretty much year-round, it is also quite popular among budget travelers who use it as a base for exploring other cities in the area or traveling to Spain. In fact, the Far to Seville route is very popular among backpackers and budget travelers, in general.

Seville is the cultural and financial capital of Southern Spain and also a top destination in Andalucia. There is a lot to do and see here and the budget travelers are happy to find affordable accommodation.

Although both cities are served by airports, the short distance between them (about 200 km) doesn’t require a flight. There are connecting flights via Lisbon, but the time spent traveling is long (about 4 hours) and the prices start at €124 one way during early spring (although it’s possible to find flights from €98 when the low cost carriers start to serve Faro during the summer months).

Quick summary

With no railway between Faro and Seville, the best option for any traveler is to travel by bus. There are several companies operating on this route and the single fares start at €16*.

Buses from Faro to Seville

Eva Transportes offers daily connections between Faro and Seville (Sevilha) . There are two buses per day from Faro, at 8:20 a.m. and 3:35 p.m. The travel time is 4 h 40 min and the single fare is €16. The return fare is €27.20. On the way back, catch the bus from Seville at 7:30 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.

Eurolines also operates on this route, but to find the buses, go on the Spanish site and look for Seville to Faro (if you go on the Portuguese site, you cannot find the Faro to Seville route). There is one bus departing Seville at 11:59 p.m. daily and arrives at 2:30 a.m. (local time in Portugal). The single fare is €20. On the way back, catch the bus at 2:30 a.m. in Faro and you’ll be at 6:15 a.m. in Seville. The same fare applies.

Driving from Faro to Seville

You can rent a car in Faro and drive the 197 km to Seville on A22 and A-49. You will be driving on a coast for a while, so you are also rewarded with lovely views.

Make sure to ask the rental company whether you are allowed to take the car across the border.

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Note: at the time the article was written

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Planning a Trip Portugal Transportation travel guide

Getting from Faro to Lagos

Faro is the main gateway into the Algarve region and also home to the closest airport to Lagos . Faro is generally over crowded with tourists pretty much year-round, but it is also a good base for exploring Southern Portugal as well as a gateway into picturesque cities, such as Lagos.

Quick summary

Bus tickets are cheaper than train tickets but not by a lot. Both are good options for those looking for a way to get between Faro and Lagos.

Trains from Faro to Lagos

Faro and Lagos are connected by “Regional” trains. There are 9 departures per day from Faro, between 7:16 a.m. and 8:12 p.m. The travel time is 1h 35 min to 1h 50 min. The single fare is €6.80.

On the way back , catch one of the 9 trains which depart Lagos between 6:05 a.m. and 7:19 p.m. The same travel time and fares apply.

Tickets can be bought online here.

>>read more about Train Travel in Portugal

Buses from Faro to Lagos

Eva Transportes offers 6 buses daily between Faro and Lagos. They depart Faro at 8 a.m., 9:05 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. , 4:25 p.m. and 5:25 p.m. The single fare is €5.65 and the return fare is €11.30.

On the way back, catch the buses from Lagos at 6:50 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m, 12:35 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

>>read more about Bus Travel in Portugal

Driving from Faro to Lagos

You can rent a car and drive the 92 km on A2 in about 1 hour.

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Planning a Trip Portugal Transportation travel guide

Getting from Faro to Lisbon

Faro is the main gateway into the Algarve region. Usually overrun by tourists pretty much year-round, Faro is also a very good base for exploring Southern Portugal.

Lisbon , the capital of Portugal, is a lively European city, perched on the edge of the Atlantic and offering a lovely vacation destination.

Quick summary

Considering that train and bus tickets cost almost the same amount of money, it makes sense to book a train ticket as you’ll get to the destination faster (about 3 hours). Or, if you want to explore the country at your pace, you could consider driving.

Flights from Faro (airport code: FAO) to Lisbon

Faro Airport (FAO) is located just 2.6 km from the city. It mostly receives seasonal flights (March to October) but there are some year-round flights available, too. It is hub for Ryanair.

Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS) is located just 7 km from the city center and is hub for easyJet , Portugália, SATA International, TAP Portugal, White Airways, and Luzair.

The only airline offering flights between Faro and Lisbon is TAP Portugal . The flight time is 45 minutes. Should you plan to fly in 2012, expect to pay from €154 one way. Return flights start at €185.

Read more about
>>Flights to Faro
>>Flights to Lisbon

Trains from Faro to Lisbon

There are direct trains daily between Faro and Lisbon. They arrive at Lisbon’s Entrecampos train station. You can choose between Intercidade (IC) and Alfa Pendular (AP), with the big differences between them being that AP trains are faster and more expensive than IC trains.

The train ride is about 3h 15 min on IC trains and there are 3 IC trains per day departing Faro at 9:18 a.m., 1:41 p.m., and 4:57 p.m.. A single ticket is €21 for an adult (2nd class). On the way back, catch the trains from Lisbon at 10:29 a.m., 2:29 p.m. or 5:29 p.m.

The train ride on AP trains is 2h 50 min and there are two trains per day departing Faro at 7:05 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. A single ticket is €22 for an adult (2nd class). On the way back, catch the trains from Lisbon at 8:31 a.m. or 6:31 p.m.

Tickets can be bought online here.

>>read more about Train Travel in Portugal

Buses from Faro to Lisbon

Rede Expressos is the most important bus company which offers long haul connections between Portuguese cities.

There are 15 daily departures from Faro. The travel time is between 3h 45 and 4 hours. The first bus leaves Faro at 1:30 a.m. and the last one at 8:30 p.m. The single fare is either €19 (Rede buses) or €19.50 (Mundial Turismo buses operated by Rede). Some buses only operate during the tourist season (March to September or June to September).

On the way back, catch one of the 18 buses from Libson to Faro. The same fares and restrictions apply.

>>read more about Bus Travel in Portugal

Driving from Faro to Lisbon

You can rent a car and drive the 278 km to Lisbon on A2 in about 3 hours. It is a stress-free drive on a modern highway.

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Portugal travel guide

Carnival in Portugal

When one hears the word “Carnival” (or “Carnaval”), the city of Rio and the country of Brazil also spring in mind. But, those parades actually have their origins in Portugal , the country that settled Brazil.

The parades in Portugal kick off in February, on the week before Lent. The bulk of festivities take place three days before Ash Wednesday, although Carnival is also called “Entrudo” or the time between Epiphany and Lent. The festivities include parades, dances, live music, and colorful costumes.

The origin of the name

Carnaval has its origin in “Carnevale” , an Italian word used in the 14th century, which literally means “put away the meat”. This is linked to the Catholic Lent as Christians stopped eating meat during the weeks leading to Easter.

Roots and traditions

The Carnaval might be Christian but it has pagan roots. Back then, the festivals marked the transition period between winter and spring. As a reminder of those days, the Carnival still includes large headed and masked figures.

Other traditions dating back to the ancient festivals can be still experienced today such as: the festival means a period of peace and equality, the Carnaval focuses on reconciliation with the dead and their spirits, and “the godfathers and godmothers tradition” which is a kind of battle of the sexes.

Where to go during Carnaval

Carnaval is celebrated everywhere in Portugal but there are unique things going on in many places.

In the capital of Lisbon, Carnaval is a cosmopolite mix of parades and dances.

In Lazarim, Carnival still keeps the traditions of the Roman festival of Saturnalias. The locals wear hand-made wooden masks and their costumes are also hand made. At the end of the Carnival, the Entrudo, or Carnaval doll, is burned in a public bonfire.

Other places to visit for Carnaval include: Estarreja, Ovar, Fatima, Funchal, or the Azores.

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Planning a Trip Portugal Things to Do travel guide

Portugal in October

Spring and autumn are two of the best times to visit Portugal. And yes, many other tourists know that , but that doesn’t mean the country is crowded. If you plan to visit Lisbon, pack a waterproof jacket and make some plans in case it rains, such as visiting museums. But, in general , the weather is warm and sunny, so you can enjoy day trips and the country side.


The best times to visit Portugal are spring and autumn, so October falls into this category. The days are pleasantly sunny but the cities and sights aren’t crowded. You can explore the countryside or take a city break. Do expect rain in Lisbon though, so pack a waterproof jacket.

Sample temperatures:
Faro avg 22C / avg low 14C
Lisbon avg high 21C / avg low 13C
Porto avg high 19C / avg low 11C

>>read more about Weather in Portugal

Flights and accommodation

October falls during the shoulder season , a popular time to visit Portugal but not as expensive as summer. While it’s a good idea to book the airfare and accommodation ahead of time, you won’t have issues finding a place to stay a week before departure, for example. Hostels can be excellent choices , as well, particularly if you are on a low budget.

Many low costs carriers fly into Portugal, but by late October the number of flights start to decrease a bit. So plan in advance but not too far in advance (for low cost flights that means you pay a bit too much if you plan too far in advance). Keep your eyes on the sales and you’ll probably grab excellent deals.

What to do

October is still warm and although it is rainy in Lisbon, you will be blessed with lovely sunshine. While in Libon, don’t miss Belem , an enchanting historical neighborhood. If it does rain, some other things to do in Lisbon , such as visiting the museums or taking a ride on Tram 28 , will prove to be excellent choices. Or you can hide in a restaurant where you can enjoy the local food and drink.

You can also plan a day trip and visit the Moorish castle of Sintre, located a short drive from Lisbon. And while you are here, don’t miss the Palacio da Pena, built on the site of an old monastery. Today it’s a museum.

If you are a fan of wines, then autumn is the best time to visit Portugal. Aside from tasting Port, other things to do in Porto include sightseeing and visiting the museums . Don’t forget to enjoy the local cuisine, as well.

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Planning a Trip Portugal Things to Do travel guide

Portugal in May

May in Portugal starts to feel like summer, but without the scorching heat and crowds of visitors. However, don’t expect a deserted country, by now the visitors start to come in large numbers but you can still grab a deal or two. Plan for outdoor activities, day trips and checking out the sights.


May is the last month of spring in Portugal and the weather is quite warm by now. Actually, by the end of the month it’s possible to enjoy some sunbathing (if you are not brave enough to jump into the water, as well). It’s a good month to plan outdoor activities and of course, visiting the cities is a pleasure, as well.

Sample temperatures:
Faro avg 21C / avg low 13C
Lisbon avg high 21C / avg low 12C
Porto avg high 18C / avg low 10C

>>read more about Weather in Portugal

Flights and accommodation

May is not a high season month for traveling in Portugal but the country get a lot of visitors any time of the year. By May the number of visitors start to increase, so it is a good idea to book the airfare and accommodation ahead of time. Hostels can be excellent choices if you are on a low budget or if you plan to visit several cities and want to save some money.

There are many low cost carriers flying to Portugal but don’t just assume you can pick up a dirt cheap ticket anytime. Do a bit of research and sign up to their newsletters so that you know when there are sales that might interest you. Generally speaking though, 4 to 8 weeks before departure, you can grab a good deal.

What to do

In May, you can watch the Estoril Open , where world’s premier tennis players fight for supremacy.

Libson’s Book Fair is held in Eduardo VII Park and is an awesome chance to meet the authors and fellow readers. Of course, you might not leave without buying some books.

Many people come to Portugal with the idea of tasting Port wine and enjoying the wine trails. But aside from that, other things to do in Porto include sightseeing, visiting the museums and enjoying the local cuisine.

Lisbon is another wonderful visit to visit. Don’t miss visiting Belem , a historically important district in the capital. Some other things to do in Lisbon include visiting the museums, checking out the monuments, taking a ride on Tram 28 – the iconic tourist tram – and seeing the city from above. Of course the food and drink in Lisbon are to die for.

Plan a day trip to the town of Sintra with its Moorish castle , located a short drive from the capital of Lisbon. And while you are here, visit the Palacio da Pena as well, built on the site of an old monastery.

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