Last Updated on 21/10/2023 by secretmoona
Portugal has gained popularity as a cool and trendy destination in recent years. The country has a lot to offer, including a mild climate, charming architecture, mouth-watering food, a laid-back atmosphere, and an oceanic view. When I started planning my trip, I had to decide whether to stay for a long or short duration. However, I concluded that spending one week in Portugal would be sufficient.
Exploring all of Portugal in a week might not be possible, but you can still discover the highlights in this time frame. I suggest visiting four cities – Lisbon, Coimbra, Aveiro and Porto – each offering a unique and different experience. You can follow this itinerary as is or switch out one of the destinations for Sintra, for example.
Exploring Portugal Itinerary
One Week in Portugal Itinerary – Lisbon – 3 days
Lisbon has a calmer vibe than other European capitals yet still boasts beautiful sights, great architecture, and lively nightlife. If you’d like more options, I can provide you with a detailed 3-day itinerary for Lisbon.
Getting around Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal and the largest city. To explore the city’s attractions, you will need to use public transport, although most of them are also accessible on foot. Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes, as high heels are not recommended due to the slippery tiles.
3 Days in Lisbon – Things to do
- Ride the iconic tram 28 – If you’re planning on visiting Lisbon, there are a few things you should definitely add to your itinerary. One of them is riding the iconic tram 28. These cute little one-carriage trams are well-known and are in every Lisbon travel guide. However, due to their popularity, they can get very crowded, especially with tourists.
- Wander in Alfama – Another must-do activity is wandering around Alfama, the most historic and prettiest neighbourhood in Lisbon. Though the streets are hilly, if you wear good shoes, you will be rewarded with beautiful views over the city.
- Try out a pastel de nata or more – You also can’t miss trying out the famous pastel de nata, a little egg custard that Lisbon is well-known for. You can find them everywhere, and they’re so delicious that one is never enough.
- Explore Belem – If you have time, explore Belem, which is home to two of the most visited attractions and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Check out the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery, and learn more about Portugal’s history in front of the Monument of Discoveries.
Where to stay in Lisbon
During the part of my trip that I spent with my parents, I wanted them to experience the luxury of a 5-star hotel. I considered both Altis Belem Hotel & Spa and Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade but finally decided on Altis Grand Hotel. ur stay there was fantastic – the staff were not only beautiful but also incredibly helpful and friendly. If you’re looking for other options, you can find a selection of other great hotels in Lisbon listed here.
Where to eat in Lisbon
Lisbon is a haven for food lovers, offering a plethora of dining options, including restaurants, markets, and food halls. Among all the places I visited, AdLib Restaurant provided me with the most satisfying culinary experience. The food was exceptionally delicious and expertly prepared. For those looking for a one-stop destination for all their food cravings, Time Out Market is an excellent choice. It offers a variety of options under one roof, ranging from pastries to wine bars and food stalls.
One Week in Portugal Itinerary – Coimbra – One day
Coimbra, a charming city in central Portugal, is home to the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in the world. Founded in 1290, the university is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts students from all over the globe. In addition to its rich academic history, Coimbra is also known for its steep and hilly streets, which provide visitors with stunning views of the city and the surrounding landscape. Walking through the narrow streets lined with colourful houses is an experience not to be missed.
How to get to Coimbra
Coimbra is situated between Lisbon and Porto, making it a convenient stop. It’s less than 2 hours away from both Lisbon Oriente station and Porto. Once you arrive in Coimbra, you can easily explore the historic centre on foot.
One Day in Coimbra – Things to do
- Explore Coimbra Univerity – Coimbra is home to the oldest university in Portugal, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. A visit to the university is a must, as it is a splendid institution that boasts of its rich heritage.
- Stroll along the Rio Mondego or take a boat ride – To relax and enjoy a different perspective of the city, take a stroll along the Rio Mondego, which runs through the lowest point of the town. You can also opt for a boat ride to explore the river.
- Explore the hilly and old streets of Coimbra – It’s advisable to wear comfortable shoes when exploring the hilly and old streets of Coimbra, as it’s a common feature of most cities in Portugal.
One Week in Portugal Itinerary –Aveiro 1 day
Continuing my journey from Coimbra, I arrived at the picturesque town of Aveiro. This charming destination, also known as the “Venice of Portugal”, boasts a network of canals that flow through its historic centre. As I wandered the streets, I was struck by the colourful boats, called “moliceiros“, which are unique to this region. Each boat is decorated with intricate designs and patterns, making for a truly captivating sight. I learned that these boats were once used for seaweed harvesting, but today, they serve as a popular tourist attraction. Overall, my visit to Aveiro was a delightful experience that offered a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
How to get to Aveiro
If you’re looking to travel from Porto to Aveiro, the best way to get there is by train. Trains depart from two stations: São Bento and Campanhã. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, and the cost of a one-way ticket is around 3€ (for the urban train). Although you can also take the bus, it’s more expensive (€10) and takes twice as long to get there. For train schedules, you may check the CP Rail website. If you’re coming from other cities like Lisbon, bus travel is also possible.
One day in Aveiro – Things to do
The “Venice of Portugal” is located in the west of the country, along the lagoon of Ria de Aveiro. This beautiful town is famous for its canals, and colourful gondola-type boats called moliceiros. One can find many interesting things to do in the town, but the Monteiro de Jesus, a museum located in a former monastery, and the picturesque beach town of Costa Nova are the biggest attractions, in my opinion.
- Ride a moliceiro – If you’re visiting Aveiro, there are a few activities you shouldn’t miss. Start by riding on a colourful moliceiro – a boat that traverses the many canals in the city. You don’t need to book in advance, as you can easily get on the next available boat.
- Sample the Ovos Moles – While you’re in Aveiro, make sure to try the local delicacy, ovos moles. They’re made of a mixture of egg yolk and sugar and are hand-shaped like fish, clams, or other sea-related items. They’re a unique and delicious treat you won’t find anywhere else.
- Spend time exploring the museums – Take some time to explore the museums as well. There are a few worth visiting, but my personal favourite is the Museu de Aveiro/Santa Joana. This former convent houses an important collection of religious art and a beautiful chapel that will leave you amazed.
- Check out the colourful houses of Costa Nova – Don’t forget to check out the colourful houses of Costa Nova. This is where the locals go to relax by the beach or practice water sports. The striped, pastel-coloured fishermen’s houses are what make Costa Nova a tourist attraction.
Where to stay in Aveiro
There are many good accommodation options in Aveiro. One great choice is the Meliá Ria, which is located just 10 minutes away from both the train station and downtown Aveiro. The hotel offers contemporary rooms with a fantastic view of the Ria. You can find other accommodation options in Aveiro on Booking.com.
One Week in Portugal Itinerary – Porto – 2 days
Porto is a fascinating and vibrant city that is quickly becoming one of the most respected tourist destinations in Western Europe. The city has a rich history, interesting tourist attractions, a bustling nightlife, and excellent tourist facilities. There is a lot to explore and experience in Porto, making it a diverse destination that will appeal to a wide range of visitors.
If you’re planning a trip to Porto, make sure you set aside enough time to see everything. From the beautifully tiled buildings to the stunning riverside, there are plenty of sights to take in. I would recommend spending 3 to 4 days in Porto to fully appreciate all that it has to offer.
Getting around Porto
Porto, being the second largest city in Portugal, boasts excellent transportation options for visitors. Whether you prefer to travel by train, bus, or plane, Porto offers convenient and reliable options to suit your needs. Trains are a popular choice for those coming from other parts of Portugal or from neighbouring countries, while buses offer an affordable and flexible option. For those travelling from further afield, Porto’s international airport serves numerous destinations and is easily accessible from the city centre.
2 days in Porto – Things to do
- Check out Azulejos: Iconic Art of Portugal – These iconic Portuguese tiles are a must-see. You can find them all over the city, making it an open-air museum of Azulejos.
- Take a boat ride along
theDouro River – On a dry day, this is a great activity to do in Porto. You’ll get to see beautiful views of the city and the river.
- Wander along the riverfront – This is the oldest district in the city and where most of the action happens. The narrow, cobbled streets and old houses are full of character.
- Take a Port wine-tasting tour or food tour – Porto is known for its Port wine. You can take a tasting tour of the big caves lining the southern banks of the Douro River. If wine isn’t for you, try a food-tasting tour instead.
Where to stay in Porto
If you are in search of a modern and comfortable hotel that is easily accessible from both the airport and the tourist areas, then look no further than Crowne Plaza Porto! The hotel is beautifully decorated and offers a breakfast that is simply irresistible. We have listed some other hotel options for your consideration here.
Where to eat in Porto
There are many delicious restaurants along the riverfront in Ribeira. Bacalhau is located right in front of the Douro River and offers a wide variety of bacalhau (cod). Sit outside on the terrace and enjoy the beautiful scenery while you eat.
One Week in Portugal – Planning Your Trip
How to get to Portugal:
Travelling to Portugal has never been easier or more affordable, thanks to the budget airlines that fly to all the major airports in the country, including Lisbon and Porto. Whenever I plan a trip, I make it a point to check Skyscanner for the best deals on flights. Once I have found the most economical option, I book my tickets with one of my preferred airlines.
Getting around Portugal
Travelling around Portugal is a breeze, thanks to its efficient transportation system. Trains and buses can take you almost anywhere in the country, making it easy to explore even the most remote regions without renting a car. During my week-long trip to Portugal, I relied solely on walking and public transportation.
All trains in Portugal are operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP). You can purchase your ticket online or at the ticket desk, although be prepared for potentially long lines. Meanwhile, several bus companies offer services to nearly every small village and town. If you’re looking for timetables for Rede Expressos, you can find them 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 thoroughly enjoyed my one week in Portugal. While I started with my parents, I continued the rest of the journey by myself. Although one week in Portugal is not sufficient to explore the country in its entirety, it is a good starting point for first-timers. I relished my trip and particularly enjoyed exploring the less popular towns such as Coimbra and Aveiro.
Travel Tips and Resources 🧳
Here are some of my favourite travel tips and resources.
- 🛫Flights: I’m all about snapping the best deals when booking flights. Therefore, I use Google Flights and Skyscanner to get the best deals each time. I also use AirHelp to receive compensation for delayed and cancelled flights.
- 🚆Trains: I love using Trainline to book trains within Europe.
- 🛏Accommodations: Booking.com, Agoda, and Trivago are my favourite sites for great hotels and private home deals. They offer many hotels, including luxury accommodations and private homes.
- 🚙Car Rentals: Renting a car is ideal when travelling to remote destinations. For these, I love renting cars through Discover Cars. They offer some great options for affordable rentals, and their customer service is one the best.
- 🎟Tours and Experiences: Visiting a new place also means getting to experience and do many things. I usually book tours via GetYourGuide or TripAdvisor. If you like doing things solo, WeGoTrip offers audio tours and excursions.
- 💳Travel Insurance: Travelling without proper travel insurance is not recommended. I always travel with one. Use VisitorsCoverage to compare and get the best travel insurance policy for you.
Have you visited or do you plan to visit Portugal? If you had one week to spend there, where would you go? Please share any feedback or suggestions.