12 days portugal

Uncover Portugal’s Best in Just 12 Days: Your Ultimate Guide

If you’re looking to explore Portugal and all its wonders, but only have 12 days to spare, worry not! With a well-planned itinerary, you can experience the best of this beautiful country in a limited time frame. From historic cities to stunning coastlines, Portugal has it all.

Start your journey in Porto, where you can delve into the city’s rich history and indulge in the famous Douro Valley wine. Then make your way south to the sun-kissed beaches of the Algarve coast, where relaxation and natural beauty await. Don’t forget to visit the enchanting Sintra and its fairy-tale-like palace, a must-see attraction.

Of course, no trip to Portugal would be complete without exploring the vibrant city of Lisbon. Stroll through its historic enclaves, marvel at the medieval buildings, and indulge in delicious food tours. And for a truly unique experience, why not jet-set to the stunning Madeira Island?

Key Takeaways:

  • With just 12 days, you can explore the major cities and regions of Portugal.
  • Porto, Lisbon, the Algarve, and Sintra are must-visit destinations.
  • Immerse yourself in the local culture and try the delicious Portuguese cuisine.
  • Consider renting a car to explore the Algarve region and its picturesque coastline.
  • Start in Porto, travel to Lisbon, and finish your trip in the Algarve for a logical progression.

Itinerary #1: Ultimate Portugal: Porto, Lisbon & Lagos

Embark on the ultimate 12-day adventure through Portugal, exploring the vibrant cities of Porto, Lisbon, and Lagos. This itinerary is designed to showcase the best of Portugal, from its rich history and cultural landmarks to its stunning beaches and coastal landscapes. Get ready to immerse yourself in the captivating charm of these three remarkable destinations.

Day 1-3: Porto

Start your journey in Porto, a city known for its picturesque architecture and world-famous port wine. Explore the historic Ribeira district, stroll along the Douro River, and visit iconic landmarks like the Dom Luís I Bridge and the Porto Cathedral. Indulge in a wine tasting tour in the Douro Valley, where you can savor the flavors of Portugal’s renowned port wines.

Day 4-7: Lisbon

Next, head south to Lisbon, the vibrant capital of Portugal. Immerse yourself in the city’s rich history by visiting the Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, and São Jorge Castle. Take a stroll through the colorful streets of Alfama, the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, and enjoy panoramic views from the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Don’t miss the opportunity to try local delicacies such as pastéis de nata, traditional custard tarts.

Day 8-12: Lagos

Continue your journey to Lagos, a coastal town known for its stunning beaches and natural beauty. Spend your days lounging on the golden sands of Praia Dona Ana or exploring the unique rock formations of Ponta da Piedade. Take a boat trip to discover secluded coves and hidden caves along the coastline. End your trip on a high note by watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

Day Destination Highlights
1-3 Porto Ribeira district, Douro River, wine tasting in Douro Valley
4-7 Lisbon Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, Alfama neighborhood
8-12 Lagos Praia Dona Ana, Ponta da Piedade, boat trip along the coast

With this Ultimate Portugal itinerary, you’ll have the perfect balance of history, culture, and natural beauty. Discover the enchanting cities of Porto and Lisbon, and relax on the breathtaking beaches of Lagos. This 12-day adventure is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of Portugal’s diverse and captivating landscapes.

Ultimate Portugal Itinerary

Itinerary #2: Immersive Portugal: Porto & the North

Embark on a captivating 12-day journey through the immersive wonders of northern Portugal. This itinerary focuses on the charming city of Porto, the breathtaking landscapes of the Douro Valley, and the medieval towns scattered along the stunning Costa Verde. Get ready to immerse yourself in Portugal’s rich history, vibrant culture, and awe-inspiring natural beauty.

Day 1-3: Exploring Enchanting Porto

Your immersive adventure begins in Porto, a city steeped in history and renowned for its striking architecture and delicious Port wine. Spend your first day strolling along the Ribeira district, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and marvel at the colorful buildings that line the Douro River. Don’t miss a visit to the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge, which offers panoramic views of the city.

On day two, delve deeper into Porto’s cultural treasures by exploring its historic landmarks, such as the stunning São Bento Train Station, adorned with intricate Azulejo tiles, and the awe-inspiring Sé Cathedral. Take a leisurely boat cruise along the Douro River, taking in the picturesque scenery of terraced vineyards and quaint riverside villages.

Day three is dedicated to indulging in the city’s culinary delights. Embark on a food and wine tour, where you will savor traditional dishes and local delicacies paired with excellent wines. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the bustling Bolhão Market and taste the diverse flavors of Portuguese cuisine.

Day 4-7: Discovering the Douro Valley

Leave the city behind and venture into the enchanting Douro Valley, famous for its breathtaking landscapes and world-class vineyards. Spend your days exploring the terraced vineyards and charming wine estates, where you can participate in wine tastings and learn about the winemaking process.

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region by taking leisurely hikes along the scenic trails that wind through the Douro Valley. Discover hidden viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas of the winding Douro River and the lush vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see. Don’t forget to capture the picturesque landscapes with your camera.

End your time in the Douro Valley with a leisurely boat cruise along the river, where you can admire the vineyard-covered slopes from a different perspective. Indulge in a final wine tasting as you soak in the tranquility of the surroundings.

Day 8-12: Exploring the Medieval Towns of Costa Verde

As you bid farewell to the Douro Valley, make your way to the captivating Costa Verde, a stretch of coastline dotted with charming medieval towns and picturesque landscapes. Explore the historical gems of Guimarães, known as the birthplace of Portugal, and its well-preserved medieval center.

Continue your journey along the Costa Verde, visiting towns like Viana do Castelo, famous for its beautiful beaches and the majestic Basilica of Santa Luzia. Take in the traditional Portuguese architecture, get lost in the narrow streets, and immerse yourself in the local culture.

End your immersive adventure in Portugal with a visit to Braga, a city renowned for its stunning Baroque architecture and rich religious heritage. Explore the impressive Bom Jesus do Monte Sanctuary and climb the monumental staircase for breathtaking views of the city.

Day Destination Activities
1-3 Porto Explore Ribeira district, Dom Luís I Bridge, São Bento Train Station, Sé Cathedral, Douro River cruise, food and wine tour
4-7 Douro Valley Visit vineyards, wine tastings, hikes in the vineyards, boat cruise
8-12 Costa Verde Discover Guimarães, Viana do Castelo, Braga

Immerse yourself in the wonders of northern Portugal as you embark on this 12-day itinerary through Porto, the Douro Valley, and the Costa Verde. From the architectural gems of Porto to the breathtaking landscapes of the Douro Valley and the medieval charm of Costa Verde’s towns, this journey promises an immersive experience you will never forget.

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Itinerary #3: Explore Portugal’s Culture & Cuisine: Porto, Lisbon, Évora & the Algarve

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and indulge in delectable cuisine, this 12-day itinerary is perfect for you. From the historic streets of Porto to the bustling city of Lisbon, the quaint town of Évora, and the sun-kissed beaches of the Algarve, this journey will take you through a wide range of experiences that showcase the best of Portugal.

Day 1-3: Porto – Exploring the Culture and Gastronomy

Your adventure begins in Porto, a city known for its rich history and world-famous port wine. Spend your days wandering through historic neighborhoods, such as Ribeira and Foz, where colorful houses line the narrow streets. Take a tour of the iconic port wine cellars and indulge in tasting sessions to truly appreciate the flavors of the region.

Make sure to visit Livraria Lello, a stunning bookstore that inspired J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Don’t miss out on trying the local delicacies like francesinha, a hearty sandwich layered with meats, cheese, and a rich sauce. Explore the vibrant food markets, such as Mercado do Bolhão, and try traditional dishes like bacalhau (salted cod) or pastéis de nata (custard tarts) that will leave your taste buds wanting more.

Day 4-7: Lisbon – City Tours and Culinary Delights

Next, head to Lisbon, the vibrant capital city of Portugal. Discover the charm of the historic neighborhoods of Alfama, Bairro Alto, and Belém, where you can admire iconic landmarks like the São Jorge Castle, the Jerónimos Monastery, and the Tower of Belém.

Embark on a food tour to delve into the diverse culinary scene of Lisbon. Visit local markets like Mercado da Ribeira and Mercado de Campo de Ourique, where you can sample a variety of traditional dishes, seafood, and pastries. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor a traditional Portuguese custard tart, known as pastel de nata, accompanied by a bica (espresso).

Day 8-10: Évora – A Journey into Portugal’s History

Travel to Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its well-preserved medieval charm. Explore the historic center and wander through the narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses and ornate churches. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the intriguing Bone Chapel and marvel at the Chapel of Bones, adorned with carefully arranged human skulls and bones.

Indulge in the local cuisine of Évora, which features flavors influenced by Alentejo’s agricultural traditions. Try the famous Alentejo bread, along with regional dishes like migas (bread-based dish), açorda (thick soup), and black pork specialties. Pair your meal with a glass of local wine from the nearby vineyards.

Day 11-12: Algarve – Sun, Sea, and Seafood

Your journey concludes in the Algarve, renowned for its stunning coastline and golden beaches. Relax and soak up the sun on picturesque beaches like Praia da Marinha or Ponta da Piedade. Take a boat tour to explore the famous Benagil Cave or embark on a dolphin-watching excursion in the Atlantic Ocean.

Indulge in the fresh seafood that the Algarve is famous for. Sample grilled sardines, cataplana (seafood stew), or octopus salad while enjoying the picturesque views of the sea. Don’t forget to try the local specialty, Dom Rodrigo, a sweet almond and egg-based dessert.

With a blend of cultural exploration and mouthwatering cuisine, this 12-day itinerary allows you to experience the very best of Portugal. From the historic streets of Porto and Lisbon to the charming town of Évora and the stunning beaches of the Algarve, each destination offers a unique and unforgettable experience.

Explore Portugal's Culture & Cuisine itinerary

Itinerary #4: Explore Portugal: Porto, Lisbon & Madeira Island

Experience the best of Portugal’s diverse landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich culture on this 12-day exploration of Porto, Lisbon, and Madeira Island. From the historic charm of Porto to the bustling streets of Lisbon, and the remote beauty of Madeira Island, this itinerary offers a perfect blend of sightseeing, culinary delights, and relaxation.

Day 1-3: Porto

Your adventure begins in the enchanting city of Porto, known for its stunning architecture, world-renowned port wine, and charming riverside views. Explore the historic Ribeira district, visit iconic landmarks like the Dom Luís I Bridge and São Bento Station, and indulge in a wine tasting tour in the famous Douro Valley. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor authentic Portuguese cuisine in traditional taverns and try the iconic Francesinha sandwich.

Day 4-8: Lisbon

Next, head south to the vibrant capital city of Lisbon. Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture as you wander the narrow streets of Alfama, visit the impressive Belém Tower, and admire the panoramic views from São Jorge Castle. Explore the trendy neighborhoods of Chiado and Bairro Alto, where you can indulge in exquisite seafood dishes and enjoy the lively nightlife. Take a day trip to the charming town of Sintra, known for its fairytale palaces and lush gardens.

Day 9-12: Madeira Island

Conclude your journey with a relaxing escape to Madeira Island, a true paradise for nature lovers. Explore the picturesque capital city of Funchal, with its colorful markets and botanical gardens. Embark on a levada walk to discover the island’s stunning landscapes, including cascading waterfalls and lush forests. Don’t forget to indulge in the local delicacies, such as Espetada (grilled meat skewers) and Poncha, a traditional Madeiran cocktail.

Explore Portugal Itinerary

Highlights Recommended Activities
Porto Wine tasting in the Douro Valley, exploring the Ribeira district, trying traditional Francesinha sandwich
Lisbon Visiting Belém Tower and São Jorge Castle, day trip to Sintra, exploring Alfama neighborhood
Madeira Island Exploring Funchal, levada walks, trying local delicacies

Embark on this incredible 12-day journey through Portugal and discover the captivating beauty and unique flavors of this remarkable country. From the charming streets of Porto to the vibrant city of Lisbon, and the breathtaking landscapes of Madeira Island, this itinerary promises an unforgettable adventure.

Itinerary #5: Highlights of Spain & Portugal: Cities, Beaches & Culture

Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and beautiful beaches of Spain and Portugal with this 12-day itinerary. Begin your journey in the charming city of Porto, known for its striking bridges and delicious port wine. Explore the historic Ribeira district, visit the Livraria Lello bookstore, and take a leisurely cruise along the Douro River. From Porto, make your way to the cosmopolitan capital of Lisbon, where you can wander through narrow streets lined with colorful tiled buildings, indulge in local delicacies like pastel de nata, and soak up the lively atmosphere of the city’s neighborhoods. Don’t miss a visit to the iconic Belém Tower and the impressive Jerónimos Monastery.

Next, venture into Spain and discover the rich heritage of Madrid. Explore world-class museums such as the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum, marvel at the grandeur of the Royal Palace, and stroll through the picturesque Retiro Park. From Madrid, make your way to Barcelona, a city renowned for its modernist architecture and vibrant street life. Visit the famous Sagrada Familia, designed by Antoni Gaudí, wander along the lively Las Ramblas, and soak up the sun on the beautiful beaches along the Mediterranean coast.

Throughout this itinerary, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that both Spain and Portugal have to offer. From picturesque cities to stunning beaches, this journey will leave you with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the diverse charms of the Iberian Peninsula.

Highlights of Spain & Portugal

City Highlights
Porto Ribeira district, Livraria Lello, Douro River cruise
Lisbon Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, pastel de nata
Madrid Prado Museum, Royal Palace, Retiro Park
Barcelona Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, Mediterranean beaches

Whether you’re exploring the historic streets of Porto, savoring the flavors of Lisbon, immersing yourself in the art and culture of Madrid, or basking in the Mediterranean sun in Barcelona, this itinerary offers a well-rounded experience of the highlights of Spain and Portugal. Embark on this unforgettable journey and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Is 10 Days in Portugal Enough?

No, 10 days is not nearly enough time to see everything there is to see in Portugal. But with limited time, focusing on Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve can provide a great introduction to the country.

Portugal is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. From the vibrant streets of Lisbon to the charming riverside city of Porto, there is so much to explore. However, if you only have 10 days, it’s important to prioritize your destinations and activities.

Start your trip in Lisbon, the capital city. Spend a few days wandering through the narrow, colorful streets of the Alfama district, indulging in delicious custard tarts, and taking in the panoramic views from the historic São Jorge Castle. Don’t forget to visit the iconic Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Next, make your way to Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city. Explore the picturesque Ribeira district, famous for its narrow streets and colorful houses. Take a boat cruise along the Douro River and taste the world-renowned Port wine in the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia.

Finally, head south to the Algarve region. With its stunning coastline, golden beaches, and charming towns, the Algarve is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Visit the historic city of Faro, explore the beautiful cliffs of Lagos, and enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Albufeira.

Although 10 days may not be enough to see everything Portugal has to offer, this itinerary allows you to experience some of the country’s most iconic destinations. Remember to plan your days carefully, allowing enough time for travel between cities, and be prepared to prioritize the sights and activities that are most important to you.

Getting Around Portugal

When it comes to exploring Portugal, there are various transportation options available to help you navigate this beautiful country. Whether you prefer the convenience of public transportation or the freedom of driving, Portugal offers something for everyone.

Trains

Trains are an excellent option for traveling between major cities like Lisbon and Porto. Portugal has a reliable and efficient train system that connects many of the country’s popular destinations. The train journey provides a scenic and comfortable way to travel, allowing you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the picturesque landscapes rolling by.

Buses

If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, buses are a great choice for getting around Portugal. The country has an extensive network of bus routes that connect both major cities and smaller towns. Buses are a popular mode of transport for both locals and tourists, offering affordable fares and frequent departures.

Rental Cars

To truly explore the hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path destinations in Portugal, renting a car is highly recommended. With a rental car, you have the freedom to go wherever you please and discover the country at your own pace. From the stunning coastline of the Algarve to the charming villages of the Douro Valley, having a car gives you the flexibility to create your own itinerary and explore at your leisure.

Whether you choose to travel by train, bus, or rental car, getting around Portugal is relatively easy and convenient. Each mode of transportation offers its own unique advantages, allowing you to tailor your travel experience to suit your preferences. So pack your bags, embark on an adventure, and discover the wonders of Portugal!

Where to Start & End Your Trip

When planning your 12-day trip to Portugal, one of the key decisions is choosing the best starting and ending points. The two most popular options are Lisbon and Porto, both of which are vibrant cities with their own unique charm and attractions.

If you start your trip in Lisbon, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the capital city’s rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant food scene. From there, you can make your way north to Porto, stopping at historic towns and picturesque landscapes along the way. Ending your trip in Porto will allow you to experience the city’s famous port wine, explore its charming streets, and enjoy the stunning views of the Douro River.

On the other hand, starting in Porto gives you the chance to dive straight into the city’s authentic atmosphere, iconic bridges, and delicious cuisine. From Porto, you can then head south to Lisbon, discovering the beauty of the Atlantic coast and stopping at enchanting towns like Coimbra and Óbidos. Ending your trip in Lisbon allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant nightlife, visit iconic landmarks like Belém Tower, and indulge in the local gastronomy.

Ultimately, whether you choose to start in Lisbon or Porto, you can’t go wrong. Both cities offer a fantastic introduction to the culture, history, and natural beauty of Portugal. So, begin your 12-day journey in either Lisbon or Porto, and let the adventure unfold as you explore the captivating wonders of this beautiful country.

Comparison between Starting Points:

Starting Point Advantages Disadvantages
Lisbon
  • Rich history and stunning architecture
  • Vibrant food scene
  • Convenient connections to other destinations in Portugal
  • Longer travel time to reach Porto
  • Possibility of missing out on northern attractions
Porto
  • Authentic atmosphere and iconic bridges
  • Delicious cuisine, including world-famous port wine
  • Opportunity to explore the stunning Douro River region
  • Missing out on the vibrant capital city of Lisbon
  • Less convenient connections to other destinations in Portugal

The Route for This Portugal Itinerary

When planning your 12-day adventure in Portugal, it’s important to consider the most efficient and enjoyable route to take. This itinerary suggests starting in Porto, then traveling to Lisbon, and finishing in the Algarve. This route allows for a smooth and logical progression through the major highlights of Portugal.

Begin your journey in Porto, a city known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and delicious port wine. Explore the charming streets of the Ribeira district, visit the iconic Dom Luís I Bridge, and indulge in a wine tasting experience in the nearby Douro Valley.

From Porto, make your way south to Lisbon, the vibrant capital of Portugal. Immerse yourself in the city’s history and culture by visiting landmarks such as Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, and the historic Alfama district. Don’t forget to savor the local cuisine, including the famous pastéis de nata.

Finally, head to the Algarve, a region known for its stunning beaches and picturesque coastal towns. Relax on the sandy shores of Lagos, explore the dramatic cliffs of Cape St. Vincent, and take a boat tour to discover hidden caves and grottoes. End your journey with a memorable sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

Highlights of the Portugal Itinerary Route:

  • Explore the historic streets of Porto and enjoy a wine tasting experience in the Douro Valley.
  • Discover the cultural landmarks of Lisbon, including Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery.
  • Relax on the beautiful beaches of the Algarve and take a boat tour to explore the coastal caves.

By following this recommended route, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the best of Portugal in just 12 days. From the charming streets of Porto to the vibrant city of Lisbon and the stunning beaches of the Algarve, this itinerary will provide you with an unforgettable adventure. Get ready to immerse yourself in the rich history, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes of Portugal.

Conclusion

With just 12 days, it’s impossible to see everything Portugal has to offer. However, by following a well-planned itinerary and focusing on the major cities and regions, you can experience the best of Portugal in a limited time frame.

During your trip, immerse yourself in the local culture, savor the delicious cuisine, and marvel at the stunning landscapes. Whether you’re exploring historic Porto and the Douro Valley, lounging on the sun-kissed beaches of the Algarve, or wandering through the enchanting streets of Lisbon, Portugal will captivate you at every turn.

So, pack your bags, embark on this incredible adventure, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Safe travels!

FAQ

Is 10 days in Portugal enough?

No, 10 days is not nearly enough time to see everything there is to see in Portugal. But with limited time, focusing on Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve can provide a great introduction to the country.

What transportation options are available in Portugal?

There are various transportation options in Portugal, including trains, buses, and rental cars. Trains are ideal for traveling between major cities like Lisbon and Porto, while rental cars are recommended for exploring the Algarve region.

Where should I start and end my trip in Portugal?

The best options for starting and ending your trip in Portugal are flying into Lisbon and out of Porto, or vice versa. Both cities have international airports and offer convenient connections to other destinations in Portugal.

What is the recommended route for this Portugal itinerary?

This itinerary suggests starting in Porto, then traveling to Lisbon, and finishing in the Algarve. This route allows for a smooth and logical progression through the major highlights of Portugal.

Can I see the best of Portugal in 12 days?

With just 12 days, it’s impossible to see everything Portugal has to offer. However, by following a well-planned itinerary and focusing on the major cities and regions, you can experience the best of Portugal in a limited time frame. Remember to immerse yourself in the local culture, try the delicious cuisine, and take in the stunning landscapes along the way. Safe travels!

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