Portugal is suddenly the newest darling of Europe’s tourism, with travelers flocking to the western coast of the Iberian Peninsula. As the oldest country in Europe, Portugal is also the matron of Europe’s an antiquity with more than 20 centuries of history and 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Portugal offers sun-drenched beaches, lush wine valleys, medieval villages, and hip new restaurants. Thereâ€™s no shortage of interesting attractions, from the picturesque Douro Valley in the north to the sunny shores of the Algarve in the south. Hereâ€™s the perfect two-week Portugal itinerary that includes all the must-see places.
Porto and Douro Valley
Porto sprawls along the hills at the mouth of the Douro River and is considered the gateway to the north. The most picturesque part of Porto is the lively Ribeira (riverside in Portuguese) district where visitors will find music, restaurants, and street vendors. This pedestrian zone at the heart of Porto dates back to the Middle Ages and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Porto is also known worldwide for producing the wine that takes its name, so be sure to make time for tasting the local tipple.
Travel Maestro tip: Plan a minimum of two full days in Porto, three or four if time permits. A day trip into the stunning Douro Valley by train or boat is worth staying an extra day.
Coimbra is an ancient city that lies halfway between Porto and Lisbon in central Portugal. It was once the capital of Portugal and is home to the countryâ€™s oldest university founded in 1290. The universityâ€™s stunning 18th century Biblioteca JoaninaÂ is worth the trip alone. Gothic convents, Romanesque cathedrals, 9th-century Moorish town walls, and an extensive botanical garden make Coimbra one of the most romantic cities in Portugal.
Travel Maestro tip: The maze of medieval streets, historic architecture and lively culture will keep you happily sightseeing in Coimbra for two days/one night.
Any Portugal Itinerary would be incomplete without Lisbon, the charismatic and vibrant capital of Portugal where visitors enjoy warm weather, enchanting cobblestone alleyways, and a modern culture. Be sure to take Tram 28, an old wooden trolley to trendy Alfama. It is the oldest district of the city, a Moorish quarter wrapped around the hills below St. Georgeâ€™s Castle. Bairro Alto is Lisbonâ€™s main nightlife district that echoes the strains of traditional fado music.
Travel Maestro tip: Youâ€™ll want at least three days to explore Lisbon proper, but you can easily extend up to seven days by including popular day trips or spending some time at the nearby beautiful beaches.
Day Trips from Lisbon
Several interesting towns are a short distance by train from Lisbon and make great day trips.
- Sintra is the most popular day trip from Lisbon and there are actually enough attractions there to fill two days. The National Palace, the Moors castle, and eclectic Pena Palace are must-sees in charming Sintra.
- The historic fishing port of Cascais is another favorite with free museums, nice parks, and historic monuments. It also has two scenic beaches that make Cascais a convenient option for a vacation extension.
- Obidos is a truly ancient village dating back 2,200 years! Narrow cobbled streets are lined with colorful houses and encircled by the original fortified walls.
- Fatima has been an important pilgrimage destination since three children saw the sainted Lady of Fatima in 1917. Millions of people visit the beautiful Basilica de Fatima each year to celebrate the sighting.
With a sunny Mediterranean climate, serene landscapes of olive and orange groves, traditional whitewashed villages and seafood galore, you just might want to save this gem for last on your exploration of Portugal. Straddling the southernmost part of Portugal, the region boasts golden beaches lined with villas and hotels along the central coast and dramatic wind-swept cliffs on the western Atlantic coast. In the interior, youâ€™ll find cork tree forests, castle towns, and the Via Algarviana hiking trail. Faro is the capital of the region and Lagos is the hotspot for nightlife.
Travel Maestro tip: During the peak season of July â€“ August, Portugalâ€™s playground is crowded with tourists. Youâ€™ll want to plan at least three days in the area â€“ one to explore Lagos old town and Ponta de Piedade Cliffs, one for the beach, and one for a day trip into the interior. Youâ€™ll need a car, as there is limited public transportation.
Covington Vacation Advisors will help you customize your two-week Portugal itinerary to your personal interests. Plan your vacation to the hottest destination in Europe today.