The best independent guide to Portugal
The best independent guide to Portugal
Where to go in Portugal? - Top 10 Portugal – Portugal's best beach – 1 week suggestions – A weekend in Portugal
Portugal is a diverse and fascinating country, and is the ideal destination for your one-week holiday. This is a proud country with a rich history, a welcoming people, and an extraordinary variety of sights, just waiting for you to discover them.
There are the vibrant cities of Lisbon and Porto, the historic walled towns of central Portugal, or the picturesque fishing villages dotted along the coastline. Portugal is blessed with beautiful natural scenery, there are the glorious beaches of the Algarve, the vineyard-covered hills of the Douro Valley or the arid interior of the Alentejo region.
With so many possibilities, it can be challenging to identify the most suitable itinerary for your 1-week Portuguese holiday. This article will provide a selection of our favourite 1-week routes, and will hopefully give you inspiration for your holiday.
Related articles: Where to visit in Portugal? – Portugal’s finest beaches - The best towns in the Algarve
The following are our suggested one-week tours of Portugal, and are the routes we recommend to friends and family who wish to discover the best of Portugal. This summary includes the best months to undertake the tours and which airport to fly into.
• The Lisbon region in 1 week – (Mar-Oct) Flying in and out of Lisbon Airport*
• The Porto region in 1 week – (May-Oct) Flying in and out of Porto Airport*
• Lisbon to Porto – (May-Oct) Flying into Lisbon out from Porto*
• Central Portugal – (April-Oct) Flying into Lisbon out from Porto
• The Algarve in 1 week – (Sep-Jun) Flying in and out of Faro Airport*
• The undiscovered eastern Algarve - (Sept-Jun) Flying in and out of Faro Airport*
*These tours can be taken using public transport, and do not need a rental car.
Note: During the peak summer months (Jul-Aug), the Algarve is crowded with package tourists, so it is best to avoid the region for a touring holiday.
This itinerary visits the highlights of the Lisbon region. This tour is ideal if you are new to Portugal, and has the advantage of being based in Lisbon for the whole 7 days; there is no need to change hotels:
Day 1 – The Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre districts of Lisbon
Day 2 – The Belem, Alcântara and Estrela districts of Lisbon
Day 3 – Parque das Nações, Avenida da Liberdade and Príncipe Real
Day 4 – Day trip to Sintra
Day 5 – Day trip to Cascais
Day 6 – Day trip to Obidos or beach time at Carcavelos beach
Day 7 – Day trip to Setubal or Sesimbra
Related articles: Detailed guide to this 1-week tour – Our Lisbon guide – Top 10 Lisbon - Sintra
This tour covers the best of the Porto region, and is a great introduction to Portugal. The itinerary is designed to have accommodation in Porto for the 7 nights and all of the day trips can easily reached via public transport.
Day 1 – Porto (historic centre)
Day 2 – Porto (Vila Nova de Gaia)
Day 3 – Day trip to Guimarães Day 4 – Day trip to Braga
Day 5 – Vila do Conde or Espinho (beach day)
Day 6 – Douro Valley cruise or day trip Lamego
Day 7 – Day trip to Aveiro and Costa Nova
Related Articles: This Porto 1-week explain in depth – Our Porto guide – Braga guide
This route combines Lisbon and Porto in one week, and is ideal if you are new to Portugal. The entire tour is based around public transport.
Day 1 – The Alfama and Baixa districts (Lisbon)
Day 2 – The Belem and Parque das Nações districts (Lisbon)
Day 3 – Day trip to Sintra
Day 4 – Coimbra
Day 5 – Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia
Day 6 – Day trip to Guimarães
Day 7– Day trip to Braga
Planning: This tour has 3 nights in Lisbon, 1 night in Coimbra and 3 nights in Porto. There is an express train from Lisbon to Coimbra, and Coimbra to Porto.
Related Articles: The Alfama district – The Belem district – Coimbra to Porto
This itinerary covers the fascinating central region of Portugal, between Lisbon and Porto. It is designed for your second or third trip to Portugal, but could be easily combined with the “Lisbon and Porto” (the previous tour) to create an outstanding 2-week holiday.
Day 1 – Obidos and Peniche
Day 2 – São Martinho do Porto and Nazaré (beach day)
Day 3 – Alcobaça, Batalha and Fatima
Day 4 – Tomar
Day 5 – Coimbra and Schist villages
Day 6 – Aveiro and Costa Nova
Day 6 (alternative) – Hiking in Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela
Day 7 – Lamago and Peso da Régua
Info: A rental car is needed for this tour, as there is so much travelling
Related articles: Obidos guide - Tomar guide - Coimbra guide
The tour of the central and western Algarve combines lively beach resorts with traditional fishing towns. This tour does not need a rental car and is a good choice if you are new to Portugal.
Day 1 – Faro (sightseeing)
Day 2 – Albufeira (sightseeing or beach day)
Day 3 – Albufeira (day trip Vilamoura or Zoomarine theme park)
Day 4 – Carvoeiro (boat trip to Benagil cave)
Day 5 – Carvoeiro (day trip to Ferragudo and Portimão)
Day 6 – Lagos (sightseeing or beach day)
Day 7 – Lagos (day trip to Sagres)
Planning: This tour is based in four different towns; 1 night in Faro, 2 nights in Albufeira, 2 in Carvoeiro and 2 nights in Lagos.
Note: Carvoeiro is a relaxing town, if you wish for something a bit more lively replace it with Praia da Rocha.
Related articles: Where to go in the Algarve? - Albufeira guide – Lagos guide – Carvoeiro guide
The eastern Algarve provides a more authentic Portuguese holiday experience, and the towns of the region tend to be calmer and more peaceful. This route does not need a rental car:
Day 1 – Faro (sightseeing)
Day 2 – Faro (Exploring the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa)
Day 3 – Day trip to Olhão (from Faro)
Day 4 – Tavira (Sightseeing)
Day 5 – Tavira (Day trip to Santa Luzia and Praia do Barril or Cabanas)
Day 6 - Vila Real de Santo Antonio and Ayamonte (Spain)
Day 7 - Castro Marim (day trip from Vila Real de Santo Antonio)
Planning: This tour is based in three towns; Faro 3 nights, Tavira 2 nights and Vila Real de Santo for 2 nights.
Related articles: Faro guide – Tavira guide - Vila Real de Santo Antonio
Lisbon and the Algarve
Day 1 – Lisbon, Alfama and Baixa districts
Day 2 – Lisbon, Belem and Expo districts
Day 3 – Sintra, day trip from Lisbon
Day 4 – Faro (Lisbon to Faro by train)
Day 5 – Albufeira, beach and boat tours
Day 6 – Silves (day trip from Albufeira)
Day 7 – Lagos
Best of Portugal (using rental car)
Day 1 – Faro and Albufeira
Day 2 – Lagos
Day 3 – Lisbon, Alfama and Baixa districts
Day 4 – Sintra, a day trip from Lisbon
Day 5 – Obidos, Tomar
Day 6 – Coimbra
Day 7 – Porto
This is a very intense tour route and not really recommended, except for those visitors who insist on seeing everything.
Many guides and websites provide tours that cover the whole of Portugal in just seven days, but in reality, this entails a vast amount of travel and is simply exhausting. It is a much better idea to stay within one region and fully discover the sights in that area. Also, being based in the same accommodation eliminates the hassle of packing and transporting luggage.
Portugal has an extensive network of public transport, and it is inexpensive to use, so there is rarely the need for a rental car. It is also wise to fly in/out of the same airport as this reduced the cost of flights.