Although Portugal is a small European country, its history and culture will have you mesmerized. Portugal is a long country so you can start at the north and work your way to the south. And while a week isn’t nearly enough time to experience all Portugal has to offer, you can see a lot during that time. Portugal has a very good transit system, making it easy to get from one destination to another. The following three areas should not be missed.
The city of Porto is quintessential Portugal with winding streets and narrow walkways between houses and stores. For those coming from Lisbon, it is less than an three-hour train ride. The city is very walkable, with many of the city’s landmarks like the Clerigos Church and Cathedral Se being close together. UNESCO-listed Ribeira district, with its riverfront square, should not be missed. Neither should the Sao Bento train station with over 20,000 Portuguese tiles.
You cannot go to Porto without sampling the drink the city is known for. There are several Port houses, many in the Gaia area. You can take a guided tour to learn more about port, or a day trip to the Douro Valley to tour the vineyards. Those who love wine should stay at the wine hotel, The Yeatman, which also has amazing views of the city. Porto is also known for Francesinha, a sandwich of bread, egg, ham, sausage, and steak covered with melted cheese.
The capital city is full of sights and things to do. Start with a ride on Tram 28, which has the best viewing route throughout the city. It can get crowded so try to go first thing in the morning. Make time to visit St. George’s Castle, a Moorish building that sits on a hilltop.
Street art is big in Lisbon. LX Factory is a place worth stopping at with street art, shops, and food. When you get hungry, head to the Time Out Market which has everything from pastries to wine. Tip: Buy the Lisboa Card, which is a combo offer for attractions and public transport.
The fairytale garden town of Sintra is another must when in the Lisbon area. You can take a day tour to see the Quinta de Regaleira, Castle of the Moors, and Pena Palace.
After all of that sight-seeing, it’s time to relax on sunny beaches with clear waters. The Algarve is one of the most popular areas in Portugal, with cliffs, caves, inlets, and beaches to explore. It is about 5 hours by train from Lisbon. While there, you can take a boat tour to do some dolphin watching. Or spend time in the water surfing or kayaking. Casa Mae in Lagos is a boutique hotel with three different buildings with three different vibes: minimalist, boho chic, or classic vintage.
This region offers some of the freshest seafood in the country. Vila Joya has a laid-back vibe, with Portuguese guitar music playing in the background and an impressive menu.
Visiting these areas will ensure that you get a taste of what Portugal has to offer. Portugal can be warm so make sure to back plenty of easy dresses that can take you from day to evening.