Welcome to my Itineraries series! This is the second installment of day-by-day trip recaps to help you plan your next adventure. Check out the first post here on 2.5 Weeks in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.
This month’s topic? Two weeks in Portugal. Portugal was an especially exciting trip for me because I made a goal to visit 30 countries before I turned 30, and Portugal was number 30. ♡
But more than that, it’s a stunning place that I had so much fun exploring. So much so that even though I visited recently, it’s still near the top of my list of future trip ideas because there’s so much more I’d like to see there.
So if you’re thinking of spending two weeks in Portugal, I fully support your decision! I’m pretty sure you’re going to love it.
Two Weeks in Portugal: Areas Visited
Two Weeks in Portugal: Flight Details
We booked a round trip ticket between New York City and Lisbon and then paired it with two one way trips to link the main journey to our home airport (Syracuse, NY).
Syracuse (SYR) – New York City (JFK) on jetBlue
New York City (JFK) – Lisbon (LIS) on Air France
Lisbon (LIS) – New York City (JFK) on Air France
New York City (JFK) – Syracuse (SYR) on Delta
Two Weeks in Portugal: Itinerary
Arrive at Lisbon Portela Airport in the morning, transfer to the downtown area and check into your accommodation.
To get from the airport to the city center, we took the quick and easy Aerobus. Click here for all the details.
We stayed at the Lisbon Story Guesthouse in a double room with a shared bathroom. It’s in a great location and the breakfast in the morning was delicious.
- Enjoying views over the Praça do Comércio, Lisbon’s main square, from the top of the majestic Arco da Rua Augusta
- Walking around the beautiful Alfama neighborhood
- Having lunch at Garagem with stunning city views
- Visiting our first miradouros, or viewpoints: the Miradouro do Recolhimento and the Miradouro de Santa Luzia
- Happening upon a market on our way home and enjoying fresh sangria
- Sleeping in a bed instead of on a plane (the best feeling ever the day after an overnight flight)
Spend the day in Lisbon.
- Exploring the beautiful neighborhood of Chiado. Click here for my self-guided walking tour.
- Trying our first pasteis de nata, or Portuguese custard tarts, and our first bifana, a Portuguese pork sandwich on a crusty bread roll
- Visiting the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
- Taking a short train ride to see the Belém Tower and the Monument to the Discoveries
- Visiting the LX Factory
- Enjoying more pasteis de nata and coffee at the Time Out Market
- Digging in to takeout from Frangasqueira Nacional
Head to Sintra.
Trains depart Lisbon’s Rossio station for Sintra on a regular basis every day of the week. The journey takes less than an hour. Honestly, the hardest part for us was finding the station! Our guesthouse was located just a few minutes’ walk from it, but we got confused and headed to the metro station instead, also called Rossio.
Here’s the address for the train station so you can head straight there: R. 1º de Dezembro 125, 1249-970 Lisboa
We stayed in the Economy Suite at the Sintra 1012 Boutique Guesthouse and loved it. We had a bedroom/sitting room, bathroom and kitchen all to ourselves, and it was super affordable.
What started out as a rocky morning turned into a really lovely day. We may have woken up to a downpour, gotten lost, and hopped onto a shuttle going in the wrong direction – all of which ate into our already limited sightseeing time – but in the end we still saw everything we were hoping to, and the rain brought out a moody, unique side to the dramatic scenery.
- Visiting Pena Palace, the Castle of the Moors, and Quinta de la Regaleira
- Snagging a tiny table at Casa Piriquita to escape the rain and try queijadas, cheese and cinnamon pastries, and travesseiros, made with almonds and egg cream
- Waking up on our second day to bright blue skies and beautiful town views
Wake up in Sintra, have breakfast – priorities – and head to Tavira. Arrive mid-day and spend the afternoon enjoying the town.
We took the train from Sintra to Tavira, stopping to change trains at Lisbon Entrecampos and Faro.
You can use the Combos de Portugal website to research train routes as you’re planning your trip. They also have a good app. For some routes, like the Urbano train from Lisbon to Sintra, the price is the same whether you buy same day or weeks in advance. For other long-distance routes using Alfa Pendular or Intercidades, you’ll save money by buying in advance.
Tavira’s HI Hostel was basically perfect. It’s super budget-friendly, the building is beautiful, and our double room was minimalist and lovely.
- Climbing the walls of the Castelo de Tavira
- Taking a walk along the Gilão River
- Chasing waterfalls at the Pego do Inferno
- Biking to nearby Santa Luzia, a fishing village known as the octopus capital
- Relaxing on the beach on the Ilha da Tavira
- Drinking coffee in the sunshine in the Praça Dr. António Padinha
Click here to read my full blog post on 5 Things to do in Tavira.
Spend the day in Tavira and take an evening train to Carvoeiro.
Another train ride! This one much shorter than the one on Day 5. There’s no train station right in Carvoeiro, so you’ll get on in Tavira and disembark at Estômbar-Lagoa. From there it’s a quick ~12 minute car journey to Carvoeiro.
Our plan was to hop in a cab when we arrived at Estômbar-Lagoa, which would have worked out just fine… if there had been any activity at the station whatsoever. Instead, we were greeted by a closed up, darkened building and no other people to speak of. We quickly realized the chances of a cab driving by were very small.
Not having the ability to use data on our phones and with no WiFi to be found, we started to brace ourselves for the idea of walking to our guesthouse. Located just over 3 miles/5 kilometers away, it wasn’t totally out of the question. It was, however, pitch black, and we were exhausted. We decided to walk across the highway to a small convenience store to see if they could help. The owner turned out to be super friendly and let us log on to his WiFi so that we could call an Uber. Thanks to his kindness, what could have been a challenging situation ended up being one of the nicest moments of our whole trip.
We stayed at the Quinta das Andorinhas just outside of town. We loved the vibe at this friendly guesthouse.
Spend the day along the coast in Carvoeiro.
The main reason that we stopped in Carvoeiro on our way to Lagos was to hike the Seven Hanging Valleys. This stunning seaside path connects the Praia do Vale de Centeanes on its western end to the Praia da Marinha on its eastern end. We extended it slightly by starting at the Praia de Carvoeiro.
Click here for everything you need to know about the hike.
Head to Lagos.
We took an Uber from our guesthouse back to the Estômbar-Lagoa station and then took a ~25 minute train to Lagos.
We stayed at the Hotel Mar Azul, located right in the thick of the old town, which was perfect for exploring. I would bet the street side rooms are pretty loud at night, but we were given a quiet room at the back of the building.
- Beach hopping from the Praia dos Estudantes to the Praia Dona Ana and the Praia do Camilo
- Taking in the immense limestone rock formations at the Ponta da Piedade from above and then hopping onto a boat ride to see it all from the water
- Visiting Mar d’Estórias, a thoughtful multi-story space with a restaurant, rooftop bar, and Portuguese gifts
Spend the day in Lagos.
- Relaxing on the Praia dos Estudantes
- Enjoying the bright and colorful architecture in the old town
- Returning to Ponta da Piedade for sunset
Spend the day in Lagos and take an afternoon or evening train back to Lisbon.
You can take the train from Lagos to Lisboa-Entrecampos with a change in Tunes. From there, hop on the metro to get to your final station.
We headed back to the Lisbon Story Guesthouse for the last two nights of our trip.
- Returning to Chiado to enjoy the rooftop views from Park Bar
- Chasing more sweeping views at the Miradouro da Graça and the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
- Having ice cream at the historic and delicious Gelados Santini
Enjoy another day in Lisbon!
- Browsing the colorful display at Loja das Conservas, one of the city’s many sardine stores
- Going to see the city’s largest piece of urban art, created by André Saraiva out of 50,000 hand-painted tiles
- People watching at the Miradouro de Santa Caterina
- Sitting on the banks of the Tagus River
- Drinking wine in the Praça do Comércio
Fly home, feel a little bummed, and start daydreaming about your next trip to Portugal.
In hindsight, I would have kept Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon instead of staying overnight. I loved our guesthouse, but the reservation locked us into visiting at a specific time. With more flexibility, we could have gone on a day with better weather.
That said, the pace of this trip worked really well for us overall, and I loved having time in Lisbon on each end of the trip. We had so much fun our first couple of days there that we were really happy to squeeze in a little more time before flying home. (And by time, I mostly mean more pasteis de nata!)
Interested in adding a couple of days to round out your trip to an even two weeks? There are a lot of options! Here are a few:
- Spend some time in Porto, a ~3 hour train ride north of Lisbon
- Explore more of the Algarve
- Visit the rugged southwestern coast at the Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina
- Sunbathe in seaside Cascais just outside of Lisbon
- Go wine tasting in the Douro Valley
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Have you been to Portugal? What would you add to this itinerary? Let me know in the Comments below.