Combine quirky Lisbon, old-world Porto (my favorite), and the stunning Douro Valley with this 7 day Portugal itinerary . I'll take you through logistics, hows many days to spend in each place, and the best things to do!
Portugal, once the forgotten neighbor of Spain, has quickly risen in popularity. The beautiful coastline, colorful palaces, old-world towns, stunning wine region, and cheap price tag are enticing tourists to visit from across the globe.
While Portugal isn't a big country, it can be overwhelming to decide what to fit into your itinerary without wasting too much time traveling between destinations.
This post is here to help with which places to visit, how long to spend at each, and how to get from point a to point b.
If you're spending a week in Portugal, combining Lisbon, Porto, and the Douro Valley should be your first itinerary.
It’s easy to get to each city/region and the travel time between destinations is minimal. This 7 day Portugal itinerary offers the perfect mix of big city, small city, and the stunning wine region. What more could you ask for?!
Flying into and out of Portugal
Book your flight into Porto (airport code OPO) and out of Lisbon (airport code LIS).
With this 7 day Portugal itinerary I prefer to fly into Porto and out of Lisbon. Spending a mere week in Portugal means you'll be moving pretty quickly (i.e. not much time to adjust for jet lag and the time change).
Porto is a slower pace than Lisbon and the best city to arrive in. I've started this Portugal itinerary slow with extra time in Porto knowing you'll probably be tired the first day.
Lisbon, on the other hand, will be fast and furious with side trips.
I've found it's best to start with a smaller city as opposed to hitting the ground running in the largest, busiest city.
Break down of this 7 day Portugal itinerary
Porto: 3 nights
Douro Valley: 1 night
Lisbon: 3 nights
Porto: 3 nights and 2.5 days
Assuming you're coming from the USA, you'll probably arrive and be settled into your hotel by the late morning or early afternoon. This means you'll have about half a day the day you land and 2 full days after that.
Porto is a great city to slow down and enjoy the views, food, Port wine, and overall atmosphere. This is exactly why I chose to start this 7 day Portugal itinerary in Porto. It's the perfect city to get over your jet lag. The city is just big enough that you'll have plenty to do without exhausting yourself.
With a little over 2 days in Porto you'll be able to visit Livraria Lello (the bookstore JK Rowling says inspired the Hogwarts library), walk across the Luís I Bridge, enjoy a few Port tastings in Gaia (technically another city, but it's just across the bridge), join a walking tour and/or food tour, and hit all the top sights.
I always recommend joining at least one tour in each city. This ensures you see the worthwhile tourist attractions and gives access to a guide that can recommend restaurants and other places to visit. It's a great way to become oriented with a new city.
A few tours I recommend:
Highlights & Hidden Gems of Porto: Private City Tour is three hours and led by a local. The price isn't bad for a private tour either. The cost for two people is $85, four is $100...it becomes cheaper per person the larger the group gets.
Those comfortable on a bike and hoping to see more of the city in a three hour span should consider an E-Bike tour (Porto is very hilly, so an E-Bike is a must). 3-Hour of Porto Highlights on an Electric Bike - Guided Tour is a great option.
Foodies who are more interested in the local cuisine than making sure they see each sight will love this 3-Hour Food and Wine Tasting Tour. It's guided by a local and you can choose a private experience or group tour.
If you choose to do your own thing I recommend buying Rick Steves Portugal guide and following his Porto walk. This will make sure you hit all the top sights and do it in a logical order. Below are the musts for your Porto itinerary:
- Igreja do Carmo - baroque-styled church
- Bolsa Palace
- Church of São Francisco
- Stroll Cais da Ribeira - riverside street with bars, shops, and tiny homes stacked on top of each other
- Luís I Bridge - two-level bridge (cross on the upper level for incredible views)
- Praça de Lisboa - park
- Clérigos Tower - climb the tower for views of the city
- Sao Bento station - train station with beautiful tile
- Rua das Flores - popular street
- Avenida dos Aliados - popular street
Another reason I opt to spend 3 nights in Porto is the affordability. You can find a steal of a deal at a 5-star hotel. Maison Albar Le Monumental runs for about $390 a night and would easily cost over $1,000 in the USA.
Porto is a great city to indulge. Book a Michelin-star dinner, sail along the Douro River on a catamaran, sip on cocktails while enjoying the views...your dollar goes far in Porto so take advantage!
Additional Porto Blog Posts:
IS PORTO WORTH VISITING + PHOTO DIARY
BEST COFFEE SHOPS & CAFES IN PORTO | TOP 5
A DAY TRIP TO PORTO FROM LISBON | DETAILED ITINERARY
HOW MANY DAYS IN PORTO DO YOU REALLY NEED?
Douro Valley: 1 night and 1 day
Jake and I did this exact itinerary last year to where I spent my birthday in the Douro Valley. I couldn't have chosen a better place to ring in 36. Both Jake and I kept saying we couldn't believe the views and that the pictures don't do this region justice. It didn't even look real.
Logistics: how to get from Porto to the Douro Valley
You'll need a rental car for this leg of the trip. I recommend reserving your car as early as possible. We booked through Hertz and took an Uber to this Hertz location.
Slowly make your way into the Douro Valley and pick a few Port lodges to stop at. If you don't plan on sharing tastings/have a designated driver, then either:
- drive all the way to your hotel first and have a driver take you around the valley from there as a 1/2 day tour.
- hire a driver to take you to your hotel, stopping at Port lodges and viewpoints along the way. This means you will also need a driver to take you back to Porto.
The roads are narrow with tight turns in some areas. Not a good idea to mix drinking in any condition, but especially with these roads.
Should you do a day trip to the Douro Valley instead?
You may be thinking, why not just do a day trip to the Douro Valley from Porto? Day trips are extremely popular and many travelers choose to go this route.
I 100% think it's worth the effort of booking a rental car (or driver) to have at least one night in the valley.
The Douro Valley was stunning. One of my best memories of the trip was staying for sunset and then watching the sunrise the next morning.
Enjoying breakfast while gazing at the mist-filled valley was beyond memorable.
My only regret was that we didn't have 2 nights. Our hotel had numerous "valley hikes" and a beautiful pool I would have loved to enjoy.
If you still think it's not worth your time to spend a night in the Douro Valley and prefer to do a day trip, I recommend changing this 7 day Portugal itinerary to the below:
- day 1 sleep in Porto: arrive in Porto/afternoon to explore Porto
- day 2 sleep in Porto: explore Porto
- day 3 sleep in Porto: day trip to the Douro Valley
- day 4 sleep in Lisbon: Porto to Lisbon
With this itinerary, you still have 3 nights in Porto and add your extra night to Lisbon.
Most day tours to the Douro Valley are about 8 to 9 hours in length:
Lisbon: 3 nights and 2.5 days
While it may seem rushed, 3 nights in Lisbon is plenty. Portugal, as a whole, is not like the UK, Italy, or other popular tourist countries across Europe where you fill your days cramming as many tourist sites as possible.
Portugal doesn't have world-famous museums, a never-ending list of palaces, or jaw-dropping cathedrals. It's more about wandering the streets and neighborhoods, checking out beautiful viewpoints, and enjoying the culture and food.
This 7 day Portugal itinerary gives time to linger in Porto and therefore Lisbon will be busy. When comparing Porto vs. Lisbon, I always go for Porto. I believe it's a better city to wander and slow down. I don't feel the same about Lisbon.
See the main sites and neighborhoods, check off the top day trips, and move on.
Logistics: how to get from the Douro Valley to Lisbon
If you rented a car for your day in the Douro Valley you can either drive straight to Lisbon or drop your car off in Porto and take the train or bus to Lisbon.
Drive from the Douro Valley straight to Lisbon
It will take about 4 hours to drive from the Douro Valley to Lisbon. The perk of driving is that it allows the freedom to stop in Aveiro and Coimbra along the way and go at your own pace.
This is what Jake and I did because we liked the flexibility. We dropped the car off in Lisbon and took an Uber to our hotel.
Take the train from Porto to Lisbon
Your other option is to drop your car off at your car rental agency in Porto and take an Uber to the train station. The high-speed train takes 2 hours and 50 minutes from the Campanha station in Porto to the Oriente station in Lisbon.
Take the bus from Porto to Lisbon
You can also take the bus, which will take about 3 hours and 15 minutes. I've used Flixbus multiple times and have always had a good experience.
In reality, it will take roughly the same amount of time whether you drive straight from the Douro Valley or drop your car off in Porto and take the train or bus to Lisbon.
If you didn't rent a car and did the Douro Valley as a day trip, it's super easy as you'll just take the train or bus straight from Porto.
How to plan your 3 days in Lisbon
I would break out my time in Lisbon like so:
Day 1 in Lisbon
Arrive in Lisbon from the Douro Valley/Porto in the afternoon. Spend the rest of the day exploring Lisbon.
I recommend booking a bike tour for today. This will give a good introduction to the city and you'll be able to see so much more by bike. Plus, the city is really hilly, so booking an electric-bike tour will be worth it.
Jake and I did this e-bike tour and loved it. This Go 7 Hills Electric Bike Tour is another good option.
Not comfortable on a bike? These are some great walking tours:
- Best of Lisbon Guided Walking Tour - small group
Food and photography tours:
- Undiscovered Lisbon Food Tour - small group
- Tastes & Traditions of Lisbon Food Tour - small group
Day 2 in Lisbon
This day is sure to be memorable with a visit to Pena Palace. One of the most colorful castles in Europe and a personal favorite of mine!
It’s an easy day trip from Lisbon being a quick 40-minute train ride from Rossio station. Try to visit Tuesday – Friday when the crowds have lessened after the weekend rush. Arrive as early as possible and book your ticket/time slot in advance.
If you plan to just tour Pena Place and walk around the main town, you can make this a half-day trip. This means you'll have another half-day to explore Lisbon.
If you've had enough of Lisbon, there's plenty to keep you busy in and around Sintra. Or you might consider joining a tour that combines several worthwhile stops that would be difficult to do on your own.
Day 3 in Lisbon
Take an Uber to Belem and plan to spend 2-3 hours here.
Make sure to visit the impressive and massive Monastery of Jeronimos.
Torre de Belem, aka Belem Tower, has become a popular Instagram location and a visit to Pastel de Belem for the original Portuguese pastry is a must. Some say Pastel de Belem has the best Pastel de Nata pastries in Portugal.
AwA Tip: Most guidebooks will tell you to take trolley #15E to reach the district of Belem. While riding the trolley is unique, I wouldn't recommend it.
Take a 10-minute Uber instead. Not only does the trolley take a minimum of 30 minutes, but it's also almost always packed. You might not be able to get on if it's already full once it reaches your stop, which means you'll end up taking an Uber anyway.
Use the rest of day 3 in Lisbon for whatever sights you haven't hit yet and consider joining another walking tour.
Additional Lisbon blog posts:
10 BEST THINGS TO DO IN LISBON PORTUGAL
HOW MANY DAYS IN LISBON DO YOU REALLY NEED?
TOP 5 LISBON CAFES AND COFFEE SHOPS
BEST DESSERTS IN LISBON | PASTEL DE NATA, PASTRIES, GELATO
Ideas if you have more than a week in Portugal
Thinking of extending this 7 day Portugal itinerary? You have a couple of options.
The first would be to slow this itinerary down. Spend 3 nights in Porto, 2 in the Douro Valley, and 4 to 5 nights in Lisbon (in order to do a few more day trips).
Another option is to fly to the Azores. An archipelago of 9 volcanic islands. This is perfect for my adventure travelers. The Azores have been referred to as the "Hawaii of Europe". Lush, green, lots of hiking, and stunning scenery.
You could also spend a few days in the Algarve region, famous for its beaches.
I hope this 7 day Portugal itinerary points you in the right direction of how to plan your time and get from place to place. This is the most recent itinerary Jake and I did and we loved it!
The amount of time we spent in each destination was perfect (though I would have loved one more day in the Douro Valley) and it was the ideal combination of slowing down in Porto, speeding through Lisbon, and taking in the scenery of the Douro Valley.
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