One week in Portugal – Best of Lisbon, Coimbra, Aveiro & Porto

Portugal has become a cool and trendy destination in recent years. The country has it all: mild climate, charming architecture, mouth-watering food, laid-back atmosphere and the ocean as a backdrop. When I started planning my trip I considered whether I should prepare for a long or short stay. However, I decided that one week in Portugal was plenty.

Although a week is not enough to explore all of Portugal it’s enough time to discover the highlights. I chose four cities all offering something unique and different (Lisbon, Coimbra, Aveiro and Porto). Here is my suggestion for a one week in Portugal itinerary. You can follow this itinerary or exchange a listed destination for Sintra for example.

One week in Portugal? Where to go

Lisbon – 3 days

Lisbon is a lot calmer than most European capitals, but it doesn’t lack the beautiful sights, great architecture and good nightlife. I have a more detailed 3-day itinerary in Lisbon, in case you would like more options.

Getting around Lisbon

As the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon is the biggest city, therefore, using public transport will be necessary to get to some of the attractions. Having said that, most can be done on foot. You will need to bring good walking shoes as flip flops are a big no-no due to the slippery tiles.

3 Days in Lisbon – Things to do

  • Ride the iconic tram 28 – These cute little one carriage trams are well known and are in every travel guide to Lisbon. So it’s used widely by tourists, which means that it can get very crowded.
  • Wander in Alfama – the most historic and prettiest neighbourhood in Lisbon. Walking the hilly streets (with good shoes) is rewarding as you will be able to see the beautiful views over the city.
  • Try out a pastel de nata or more – Lisbon is a foodie paradise, but the one thing that has everyone talking about is a little egg custard called “pastel de Nata” or Pasteis de nata as it’s never possible to eat one! They are just too delicious and can be found them everywhere, so you have to try.
  • Explore Belem – Home to two of the most visited attractions and UNESCO World Heritage sites, Belem is a good stop during your trip to Lisbon. Explore the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery as you learn more about the Portugal history in front of the Monument of Discoveries.

Where to stay in Lisbon

Since this part of my trip was with my parents, I wanted to stay in a luxury 5* hotel for them. I considered both Altis Belem Hotel & Spa and Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade but settled for Altis Grand Hotel. Our stay there was terrific. The staff were amazing and beautiful. A selection of other Lisbon hotels are listed here.

Where to eat in Lisbon

Lisbon is a heaven for foodies, so there are lots of places to eat, ranging from restaurants, markets to food halls. I had my best foodie experience at AdLib Restaurant. The food was mouth-watering and deliciously prepared. Time Out Market is an excellent location as it offers everything under one roof from pastries and wine bar to food stalls.

Coimbra – One day

Coimbra has one of the world’s oldest universities and the hillyest steep streets!

How to get to Coimbra

Coimbra is between Lisbon and Porto making a great stop. It’s less than 2 hours from Lisbon Oriente station or Porto. Once in Coimbra, you can explore the history centre on foot.

One day in Coimbra – Things to do

  • Explore Coimbra Univerity – Coimbra is located in the highest part of the city, the university is the oldest in Portugal. It’s a splendid institution and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Stroll along the Rio Mondego or take a boat ride – Taking a stroll along the river is the perfect way to relax. You are at the lowest point of the town so you can see from a different perspective just by looking up.
  • Explore the hilly and old streets of Coimbra – Like most cities in Portugal, Coimbra is hilly so comfortable shoes are recommended.

Aveiro – 1 day

Following on from Coimbra, the next stop on my one week in Portugal itinerary was Aveiro. Known as the “Venice of Portugal”, Aveiro is a little town famous for its canals and colourful wooden boats called “moleiceiros”.

How to get to Aveiro

The best way to get to Aveiro from Porto is by train. They depart from São Bento and Campanhã stations. The journey takes 1 hour and 15 minutes, and costs around 3€ one-way (urban train). You can also take the bus, but it takes double the time and is more expensive (€10). Bus travel is also possible from other cities like Lisbon, for train times see the CP Rail website.

One day in Aveiro – Things to do

Located in the west of Portugal, set along the lagoon of Ria de Aveiro, the town is known for its canals and colourful painted gondola-type boats called moliceiros. There are lots of cool things to do in the “Venice of Portugal”, but in my opinion, the biggest attractions are the Monteiro de Jesus a museum located in a former monastery and the picturesque beach town of Costa Nova.

  • Ride a moliceiro – thanks to the many canals that traverse Aveiro, riding on the colourful moliceiro is a must. You don’t need to book as you can easily get on the next available boat.
  • Sample the Ovos Moles – No pasteis de Nata in Aveiro but ovos moles: a mix of egg yolk and sugar hand-shaped like fishes, clams or other sea-related items.
  • Spend time exploring the museums – there are a few museums worth visiting. My favourite has to be the Museu de Aveiro/Santa Joana, a former convent which houses an important religious art collection and a beautiful chapel. I was amazed by it.
  • Check out the colourful houses of Costa Nova – Costa Nova is where the locals go to relax by the beach or practice all sort of water sports. What makes Costa Nova a touristy place is the striped pastel coloured fishermen houses.

Where to stay in Aveiro

Aveiro has several good accommodation options.  Meliá Ria is a great choice since it’s situated only 10 minutes from the train station and downtown Aveiro. It offers a fantastic view of the Ria with contemporary rooms. You can found other options on Booking.com.

Porto – 2 days

Porto is a fascinating and vibrant city that is rapidly becoming one of Western Europe’s most respected tourist destinations. The city boasts an extensive history, interesting tourist attractions, buzzing nightlife, and outstanding tourist facilities. There is a lot to see and do in Porto, and this diverse city will appeal to a wide range of visitors.

Porto is fascinating and vibrant. There is lots to see and do in Porto from the tiled buildings to the riverside. So 2 days might not be enough to see it all. I would recommend 3/4 days.

Getting around Porto

As the second city of Portugal, Porto is well served by trains, buses and planes. .

2 days in Porto – Things to do

  • Check out for Azulejos: Iconic Art of Portugal – The Azulejos are an integral part of the Portuguese landscape, wander the streets to see them. The whole city or even country is an open-air museum of Azulejos.
  • Take a boat ride along thr Douro river – One of the many activities worth doing in Porto, especially on a dry day is taking a boat ride along the Douro river.
  • Wander along the riverfront – As my taxi informed me, the Ribeira district is the oldest district of the city and the location where most of the actions are happening. Its narrow cobbled streets and old houses are full of character.
  • Take a Port wine tasting tour or food tour – Porto is known for Port. Big caves line the southern banks of the Douro River, and you can take a tasting tour there. If wine isn’t for you, then you can try a food tasting tour instead.

Where to stay in Porto

If you are looking for a modern and comfortable hotel easily accessible from the airport and the touristic area, then Crowne Plaza Porto is the place for you. It’s well decorated, and the breakfast is to die for! Some other hotel options are listed here.

Where to eat in Porto

There are lots of delicious restaurant around the banks of the riverfront in Ribeira. Bacalhau is right in front of Douro River and serves a wide array of bacalhau (cod). Seat at the outside terrace and enjoy the scenery while you eat.

Planning your trip:

How to get to Portugal:

Getting to Portugal is very easy and cheap thanks to the budget airlines flying to all the major airports, like Lisbon or Porto. When planning a trip, I always look out for the cheapest fare via Skyscanner. Once I have tracked the best fares, I make sure to book with one of my preferred airlines.

skyscanner generic 728x90

Getting around Portugal

Travelling around Portugal is easy and efficient as you can travel almost anywhere by train or bus. If you are planning to travel to a remote region or town renting a car will be your best option, however it isn’t necessary. During my week trip to Portugal, I only walked or used public transport.

Comboios de Portugal (CP) operates all trains. You can check timetables or buy your ticket online at the ticket desk. In any case, you will need to allow enough time as there are sometimes long queues. Several bus companies operate to almost all the small villages and towns. Timetables for Rede Expressos can be found here.

Useful Portuguese phrases

  • Thank You – Obrigado / Obrigada (woman)
  • Hello Bom dia, boa tarde
  • Please Por favor
  • Yes Sim
  • No Não
  • Do you speak English? Fala inglês?
  • You’re welcome De nada 
  • Excuse Me Desculpe / Com licença
  • Sorry, I don’t speak Portuguese Desculpe, não falo português

I loved my trip to Portugal. Although I started with my parents, I did the rest of the journey solo. As stated, one week in Portugal is not enough to explore the country thoroughly, but it’s a starter for first timer’s. I enjoyed my trip and loved exploring lesser known towns like Coimbra and Aveiro.

Have you been to Portugal or are planning to go? Or perhaps have any feedback or suggestions? Drop me a line in the comments below.

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Hi there! I'm Mayi. Welcome to my blog SecretMoona! I hope to share with you the hidden secret of places I visit.

11 thoughts on “One week in Portugal – Best of Lisbon, Coimbra, Aveiro & Porto

  1. hi Mayi, it was really nice to read your impressions around my country 🙂 you pick some of the best cities but there´s still a lot to see, so prepare your bags and return ahah regards from Lisbon, PedroL

    1. Thanks PedroL! I loved every moment of my trip. This is just the beginning… I will be returning again for sure. Any recommendations?

      1. you should visit Évora and Marvão in Alentejo, Guimarãs and Braga in Minho, Bragança and Vila Real 🙂 you´ll love it 🙂 have a great week, PedroL

  2. Can’t wait to grab a bag and travel here soon! It’s been on my bucket list for a while and your post brought it to the top! You have such vibrant photos. Happy travels!

  3. Great guide to Portugal, I’ve never been but I’d love to visit. The colors in this country look fantastic and the street art.

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