Here’s a perfect itinerary for travelers who have around a week to explore some of the highlights of this majestic country. The itinerary covers the country’s vibrant capital city of Lisbon, the charming medieval town of Coimbra in the central region, and the old world charm of Porto, the northern city that is best known for the sweet wine produced in its local wine cellars.
The beauty of this itinerary is that it can just as easily be done by car or by train, so you can decide how you want to get around. The roadways in Portugal are quite good and these cities are all connected via major highways, which makes it an easy and very pleasant drive. The benefit of renting a car is that you don’t have to be tied to a schedule and you have the flexibility of taking detours along the way if you find an interesting place you want to see.
Since you won’t really need a car once you arrive at your destinations, the benefit of taking the train is that you can skip the car rental and leave the driving to Comboios de Portugal, the national railway. There won’t be a need to worry about directions or traffic; you can just sit back, relax in your comfortable train seat and watch the beautiful countryside go by.
For more information about getting around in Portugal, click here. The times mentioned below for train travel are based on the high-speed Alfa Pendular service that runs between Lisbon-Coimbra-Porto. Service is also offered on Regional and Inter-regional lines, but these lines will add 15-30 minutes to the times quoted below. Tickets can be bought online and discounts may be available for advance ticket purchases. For more information on Comboios de Portugal, including schedules, pricing and ticket purchase information, click here.
You will begin your itinerary in Lisbon, the cosmopolitan capital city of Portugal that is located on the Atlantic at the mouth of the Tagus River. Here you can explore the historic Alfama neighborhood that is topped off with a 12th C. castle, ride the wooden trams that traverse the city’s narrow streets, visit museums that feature everything from paintings, to tiles to royal coaches, and finish off your day by enjoying a meal at a top rated restaurant with chefs that are gaining worldwide acclaim and Michelin stars. For more information on what to see in Lisbon, click here.
The next stop on the itinerary is the enchanting city of Coimbra, whose historic roots date back to Roman times. Coimbra served as Portugal’s first capital in the 12th C., is the birthplace of six of the country’s kings, and the final resting place of the first two. This thriving and vibrant city is perhaps best known for its university, which was established in 1290 and is one of the oldest in the world. The beautiful university buildings, especially the incomparable Baroque library, Biblioteca Joanina, are not to be missed. Many also visit Coimbra to see the gardens where the tragic love story of Prince Pedro and Inés de Castro, Portugal’s version of Romeo and Juliet, played out. For more information on what to see in Coimbra, click here.
The last stop on the itinerary is Porto, and no visit to Porto would be complete without touring the wine cellars and tasting its delicious wines. Portugal’s second largest city has much more to offer than just its eponymous wine. The city has a special old world charm and enchantment that you can feel as you stroll along its riverfront, visit its monuments, or walk down its ancient narrow streets and alleyways. For more information on what to see in Porto, click here.
- Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon in the morning; sightseeing in the afternoon
- Day 2: Sightseeing in Lisbon
- Day 3: Sightseeing in Lisbon
- Day 4: Leave in the morning and drive/take train to Coimbra (205 km drive/1.5 hour train ride); sightseeing in Coimbra
- Day 5: After breakfast, drive/take train to Porto (120 km drive/1 hour train ride); sightseeing in Porto
- Day 6: Sightseeing in Porto
- Day 7: Sightseeing in Porto in the morning, drive/take train back to Lisbon in the afternoon (312 km drive/2.5 hour train ride)
- Day 8: Depart Lisbon to return home
Additional information on what to see and do, where to stay and where to eat in these cities can be found on our website or on our blog. Simply search by city.
You may want to consider booking private tours in some or all of these cities. Private tours are a great way to make the best use of the limited time you have in each. Your English-speaking local guide will make sure you don’t miss any must-see sights, and will provide you with the history and insights behind the places you will visit. For more information on the private tours we offer, click here.
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