Portugal was on the top of my bucket list for quite some time, mostly because of its combination of natural diversities and cultural sights. I am not sure why I was so in love with this country, probably because its similarities with Brazil, which is still very close to the top of my bucket list. Portugal is famous among surfing community because of its beautiful beaches on Atlantic Ocean and waves that are ideal for surfing. However beside the waves you definitely have to discover magnificent historical cities and beautiful nature around Algarve region.
Over the last years amount of tourist coming to Portugal has significantly increased. Mostly because it is very close to the top of all Safest countries lists, especially when taking into account only European countries.
In this post I will describe itinerary that covers almost the entire country. I have already written about some regions, so click the hyperlinks to read them.
Portugal has 3 airports located in Lisbon, Porto and Faro. Airport in Faro is small but is rather busy as many, especially British, tourists arrive with low budget Ryanair. It is perfect if you plan to spend the entire vacation around the southern, Algarve region. The busiest and internationally well connected is definitely airport in Lisbon, so there is a great chance you will arrive in Lisbon.
To cover all the great sights in and around Lisbon, you need no more than 3 days. You can read more in other post called Lisbon and surrounding. I will here once again kindly ask you not to leave Sintra out. This charming town is definitely one of the top sights in the whole Portugal.
So after that enjoyable three days in Lisbon it is time for departure towards Porto. We actually used buses for most of the transport and it was great. The company called Rede Expressos offers cheap and very comfortable transportation and connects cities along entire country. You can also use trains but apparently you have to book them quite a while ahead, especially when travelling over the weekends. Our primary plan was to use train but as we arrived at the train station we would have to wait for 3 hours as all earlier trains were sold out. So we decided to use bus and we were very much surprised with the quality and comfort that Rede Expressos offers.
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, it is famous for its wine and football. It lies north of Lisbon near the Atlantic Ocean. Due to this location and constant breeze from the ocean, Porto usually experience very nice weather and cooler temperatures also during the summer. Take that into account when packing! White ceramics painted with blue motifs are very characteristic for the city. Many churches and other famous building around the city are covered in it. Consequently, you will see it every way you’ll turn. Writing about architecture I also have to point out two important building in Porto: the enormous cathedral (Sé), which really stands out and the train station Sao Bento with a really unique façade.
My favourite sight was definitely bridge named after Luis I, which connects Porto with a small village on the other side of River Douro, called Vila Nova de Gaia. Luis I bridge has two levels – the lower level is reserved for cars, while on the upper level you can cross the bridge by foot, but look out for trams that also drive there. Vila Nova de Gaia is well-known for magnificent views of Porto and best wine tastings.
When you cover the Porto sights, I would recommend visiting Braga, a bit smaller city located nearby Porto. City is actually quite old so you can admire some interesting ruins and beautiful architecture. For another tour from Porto you can head towards Douro Valley, where you can discover beautiful vineyards and taste some delicious Porto vine. If you choose to do both trips, I would recommend 2-3 days to be spend in Porto, otherwise, for Porto itself, you need no more than 1 day.
From Porto continue your trip to Coimbra, a rather small city located near the centre of Portugal. It has the oldest university in the county, which is also city’s most important sight. Wander among different faculties and admire the number of different ones that are located there. I actually had quite hard time searching for faculty of Pharmacy, my choice of study. Look out for all the beautiful churches, especially Igreja de Santa Cruz and its remarkable Manueline façade. If you want to cool off a bit, head to Jardim Botanico and spend some time in the park. A nice adrenaline park is located there, so if you are up for some adrenaline rush, try it.
One day is more than enough time to be spend in Coimbra. If you have a chance I would suggest just to stop in Coimbra and not even stay for a night. The same advice would apply for Evora, which is our next stop. In Evora admire the Roman Temple, wander around Praca do Giraldo and relax and watch children play in The Jadim Publico. Sometime, when wandering around streets of Evora, you will also come across the Evora aqueduct, built during the 16th century.
Beside Lisbon, the most visited part of Portugal is definitely the southern Algarve region, which I have already described, and you can read it by clicking here.
Thank you for reading, if you like this post or have any suggestions, please leave comment! 😉