Two Weeks in Portugal: Our 5 Highlights Itinerary

Two weeks in Portugal is the perfect amount of time to see the best of what Portugal has to offer. If you’re in the process of compiling your own Portugal two week itinerary then you’ve come to the right place!

Aside from retired British expats and sun-seeking families visiting the Algarve, Portugal has been overlooked as a worthy vacation destination by many, we included, for too long. It really shouldn’t be as there are some fantastic highlights that can all be seen during a Portugal two week itinerary. Thankfully the world is starting to take notice!

PIN this post for later?

Two weeks in Portugal is the perfect amount of time to see the best bits of the country. We'll show you our highlights for your Portugal two week itinerary.

Spending two weeks in Portugal will allow for long golden beaches, chilled cobblestoned villages, buzzing cities and mountainous national parks. Portugal borders the Atlantic so you can enjoy national dishes such as salt cod and grilled sardines along the way. We had our fill of sardines on this trip. Not only are they perfectly tasty, they’re also very cheap, and so is the accompanying beer and wine!

We spent two weeks in Portugal last year to explore as much of the country as we could in that time. We flew into the south and worked our way to the north via public transport.

Here are the highlights we recommend for two weeks in Portugal.

1 – Lagos (Algarve)

Our two weeks in Portugal started in Lagos which lies on the southern coast Algarve region. The Algarve has a number of beach towns to choose from but Lagos stood out as being the most appealing. It was also conveniently situated for our onward Portugal two week itinerary route.

Lagos view of cliff coastline

Like the rest of the Algarve, the summer months can get very touristy with overcrowded beaches and streets. However, go just outside of peak season, as we did, and you can get the best of both worlds with nice warm days and fewer crowds.

Lagos Beaches

So let’s start with the beaches. Everyone needs a bit of beach time right? Well if it’s beaches you’re after then Lagos will not disappoint. Beaches in Lagos are some of the best in the Algarve and they deserve a good chunk of your two weeks in Portugal. 

The largest beach in town is Batata Beach, an impressive 4 kilometre stretch of golden sands along Meia Praia. It’s impressive and pleasingly undeveloped but we didn’t spend much time there as we preferred the smaller cove beaches to the west of the town’s charming historic centre.

Dona Ana Beach

As you head west, the beach landscape is in complete contrast to the flat stretch of Batata. Instead, it consists of sandstone cliffs which dramatically jut in and out along the eroding coastline. At the base of these cliffs are numerous secluded beaches of various shapes and sizes. The biggest and most popular of these is Dona Ana Beach with its spectacular rock formations.

You can reach any of these beaches nestled beneath the cliffs along the narrow cliff top footpath. The footpath runs all the way from just outside of town to another of Lagos’ highlights, Ponta Da Piedade. The Ponta Da Piedade consists of naturally weathered cliffs in the forms of unique rock pillars, tunnels, caves and grottos.

A Lagos plaza

Another way of getting to Ponta Da Piedade is via a boat trip or kayak hire. Though if you’re able enough we’d recommend the footpath as it isn’t a particularly challenging walk and the panoramic coastal views are well worth the minimal effort. In fact, the views were some of the best in our two weeks in Portugal. For more cave exploration in the Algarve, check out this post.

Lagos Town

Lagos isn’t just about the gorgeous beaches. It has some impressive historical clout too. The main part of town is enclosed by a 16th-century wall and inside are pretty cobbled streets, narrow lanes, old churches and picturesque plazas. It’s a lovely little town to wander around day or night. Plus located amongst all this history is a great selection of restaurants, cafes, shops and late-night bars.

 

2 – Vila Nova de Milfontes

From Lagos, we caught a local bus to our next chosen destination of Vila Nova de Milfontes. Just a couple of hours north, it’s one of the most pleasant towns along this stretch of Alentejo region coastline. Vila Nova de Milfontes is low key compared to the Algarve beach towns and is almost undiscovered by foreign tourists. When combined with laid back locals, golden beaches and a charming whitewashed centre, it makes for a very pleasant place to stop for a few days and should be added to everyone’s Portugal two week itinerary.  

Looking inland to Vila Nova de Milfontes estuary, Portugal. Portugal Highlights for a 2 Week Itinerary.

Looking inland to Vila Nova de Milfontes estuary

Vila Nova de Milfontes Beaches

Vila Nova de Milfontes is based at the tail end of a sparkling sand edged estuary. At the mouth, you’ll find glorious beaches on both sides which are popular with both local surfers and families in summer.

If rugged and isolated is your type of beach then head to Praia Do Malhao. You can reach it on foot by following the boardwalk over the sweeping sand dunes from the main road. This beach is particularly popular with surfers due to the high-rolling Atlantic waves so is not a beach for safe swimming but it’s worth the small walk to see its natural windswept beauty.

Praia Do Malhao, Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal

There’s also plenty of family-friendly waters on the town’s remaining 3 or 4 beaches. You can walk to any of these apart from one particular beach. The journey involves a short ride aboard a sweet little fishing boat across the estuary. It’s worth the extra effort and minimal boat cost as this beach has a huge expanse of soft white sand bookended by dramatic cliffs. 

Vila Nova de Milfontes Town Centre

The town center is extremely chilled and not spoilt by mass tourism or development. It almost has a Portuguese village feel to it. There’s a pretty good selection of restaurants to satisfy most appetites and a small handful of bars/cafes for laid back drinks with other tourists and locals.

However, be warned, the restaurants can get full pretty quickly in the evenings due to limited supply. Even post high season in September we one night found ourselves walking from restaurant to restaurant trying to find an available table. It took almost an hour! Book ahead if you can.

Our favourite place to eat was Restaurant a Choupana. Situated right on the beach, it’s the perfect spot for pre-dinner sunset drinks followed by a BBQ feast of fresh Atlantic fish. It’s a bit more expensive than restaurants in the town center but it’s worth it for the view and atmosphere. Definitely in our top three restaurants during our two weeks in Portugal.  

Atlantic sunset

We also enjoyed the restaurants in town who mostly provide more BBQ fish and meat grilling action. It doesn’t cost much to fill your stomach in these places so plenty of cash left over for a Super Bok or Sagres beer. At about £1 a bottle it’s pretty easy to get carried away!    

The countryside surrounding Vila Nova de Milfontes is also beautiful. Well, it would be since it’s in the middle of Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina. The national park is perfect for nature lovers and can be explored by bicycle, car or on foot using the many walking trails including a section of the new Rota Vicentina.

 

3 – Lisbon

Lisbon was the part of our two weeks in Portugal that we were most looking forward to. Friends and family members had recently visited the city and feedback about the hilly capital were all positive. Our hopes were high!

As soon as we arrived, we loved Lisbon. With its white-domed cathedrals, old castles, grand plazas, gorgeous waterfronts, Romain ruins and cobblestoned lanes, Lisbon is historical eye candy. 

Domed Cathedral in Lisbon

Lisbon is a city that combines the new and old perfectly and the ancient streets are frozen in time. Worn paintwork, well-used laundry lines and ancient trams clatter through the streets but inside you’ll find new stylish restaurants, hipster cafes, boutique shops and art galleries.

We stayed in an Air BnB apartment in Lisbon’s historic district of Alfama. We strongly recommend everyone adding a stay in Alfama to their Portugal two week itinerary. It’s a wonderful medieval maze, a village within a city, the historical soul of Lisbon. 

Walking through the old residential neighbourhood feels as though you’ve stepped back in time. It’s a photographers paradise with mini-plazas, narrow cobblestoned streets, steep staircases, churches and wrought-iron balconies graced with elderly women hanging washing to dry.

Tram in central Lisbon, Portugal. Portugal Highlights for a 2 Week Itinerary.

Tram in central Lisbon

It’s even more atmospheric at night with dimly lit lanterns, cosy low ceiling bars, authentic old restaurants and the welcome sound of live Fado music echoing through the streets and squares. Definitely one of the most romantic neighbourhoods we’ve ever stayed in!

Check out our article on the things to do in Alfama District.

Barrio Alto

If cool cafes, bohemian bars and cutting edge clubs are more your thing then Barrio Alto is an area of the city you should check out. The grid-like narrow streets are full of them so you’ll be entertained well into the night with Lisbon’s trendy young crowd. Just watch those cocktails! Most of the bars we visited were free pouring spirits so after just a few we were both very drunk. A very cheap night for us!

Alfama street

There are stunning viewpoints all across Lisbon with views of terracotta rooftops and bright blue waters beyond. Our favourite was Largo das Portas do Sol, an undisturbed vista of Alfama from above. While you’re there have a drink at nearby Portas do Sol. A restaurant/bar with a huge terrace that offers an equally stunning outlook.  

Alfama rooftop view

Lisbon also offers heaps of interesting museums, art galleries, parks and great shopping. Anything any other major city provides but accompanied with a preferred warm climate and historical punch.

For a great guide on things to do in Lisbon, check out this post by The Crazy Tourist

 

4 – Porto

Running alongside the River Douro, picturesque Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, is finally getting the tourist attention is deserves. With an international airport, the city is showing up on many people’s Portugal two week itinerary. 

Standing on the south bank looking across the river to Porto’s historic Ribeira district, the city looks like the perfect inspiration for an ornate pop-up Christmas card. It’s a painting of ageing terraces full of colour, baroque churches, magnificent beaux-arts structures and soaring bell towers. All cluttered on top of one another. It’s an awesome sight when illuminated by the intense Portuguese sun.

Check out our collection of 30 Porto photos for inspiration on what to do in the city. 

The impressive Dom Luis Bridge

A Unesco World Heritage Site

While wandering the Unesco World Heritage Site of the Ribeira district you’ll find confetti-coated newlyweds in front of medieval churches, sun-drenched cafe terraces in village looking squares, locals chatting outside old shop fronts and grand train stations decorated in storytelling blue tiles. 

Fantastic tiled church

In-between all this historic charm was an amazing number of ruined and decaying 20th-century townhouses. We learned that this is because of the younger population moving to the seaside suburbs for the beach lifestyle. Though things are starting to change for Porto. The locals are moving back in, more tourists are starting to take notice and in turn, many of these decaying buildings are being renovated.

View of Porto from Vila Nova de Gaia district

With Porto gaining popularity the city is seeing a new breed of quirky cafes, boutique shops, modern galleries and excellent restaurants.

Port Wine

Let’s not forget that Porto is the birthplace of Port. If you’re spending two weeks is Portugal then sampling Port is a must! 

Cross the impressive ironwork showpiece of Dom Luis Bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia. The area populated with many wine and port cellars, most of which are open for tasting Porto’s finest tipples. All the big names are there alongside smaller boutique wineries. You can easily spend a day on a Port winery crawl. 

 

5 – The Douro Valley

So where is all that port wine in Porto being produced? Follow the River Douro east and you’ll reach the magnificent Douro Valley. Wine has been made here for 2000 years, making it one of the oldest wine regions in the world!

We’ve not been to many wine regions. The Hunter Valley in Australia and the Andes backdropped Mendoza region in Argentina are a couple. In our opinion, the Douro Valley beats all in terms of natural beauty.

The stunning Douro Valley, Portugal.Portugal Highlights for a 2 Week Itinerary.

The stunning Douro Valley

The mountainous region’s vineyards are planted on terraces which creates a beautiful scenery. It brought back memories of terraced rice paddies in South East Asia and the rolling tea plantations of Munnar in India.

Our two weeks in Portugal were in September which is the Douro Valley’s harvest season. The colours aren’t as impressive as earlier in the year but the vineyards hang heavy with juicy ripe grapes ready for picking and the hills were full of grape production activity.

Grape picker in one of the many vineyards, Douro Valley, Portugal. Portugal Highlights for a 2 Week Itinerary.

Grape picker in one of the many vineyards

Getting to the Douro Valley

Getting to and from the Douro Valley is half the fun as can be done by train, road or boat. All of which follow the river to offer some fantastic views along the way. You can visit the area as a day trip from Porto but we recommend staying a few nights as we did. There’s plenty of time to fit it in your Portugal two week itinerary. 

Check out our guide to the Douro Valley here!

Freshly picked grapes ready for pressing. Douro Valley, Portugal. Portugal Highlights for a 2 Week Itinerary.

Freshly picked grapes ready for pressing

Staying in Pinhao

We chose to stay in Pinhao, a lovely little town to base yourself. From Pinhao you can explore the vineyards and everything else the Douro Valley has to offer. The town is quiet, relaxed and not too touristy. Well not in September anyway. Though the town does take the siesta tradition pretty seriously, leaving clueless travellers like us roaming the streets in search of somewhere open to eat. 

 

Accommodation Recommendation

We don’t always recommend where we choose to rest our heads at night. However, we cannot write this post without mentioning Casa do Visconde de Chanceleiros. The romantic stately manor house perched on the mountainside is one of the best accommodations we have ever stayed at. 100% the best during our two weeks in Portugal. The place offers some of the best views in the area so it’s worth paying extra for a balcony room.

Douro Valley view from our room. Portugal. Portugal Highlights for a 2 Week Itinerary.

Douro Valley view from our room

If you’re looking for relaxation then there is no need to leave this guesthouse. Enjoy the sauna, pool and jacuzzi, all of which overlook the rolling mountains. Eat amazing home cooked food and help yourself to the unlimited supply of wine. Casa do Visconde de Chanceleiros isn’t for the budget traveller but if you wish to treat yourself during your two weeks in Portugal then book this place now!

Camera Leaderboard

If you like this post please like our FACEBOOK page for updates.

Please PIN this! 🙂

Two weeks in Portugal is the perfect amount of time to see the best bits of the country. We'll show you our highlights for your Portugal two week itinerary.

Newsletter

Fields marked with an * are required

Enter you details to be signed up to recieve the Finding Beyond newsletter

NOT TRIED AIRBNB YET?

Sign up now by clicking below to live like a local, anywhere in the world! We'll get a small commission to help us travel :)

AirBnB

LOOKING FOR A WEB HOST?

We've tried Bluehost and Siteground. In our opinion, Siteground wins hands down due to their impeccable support. Sign up below!

Web Hosting

KEEP YOUR DATA SAFE

We recommend Tunnel Bear for a cheap, reliable and easy to use VPN service. Sign up below!

12 thoughts on "Two Weeks in Portugal: Our 5 Highlights Itinerary"

  • Alana says:

    Tram 28 is one of the biggest highlights of Lisbon that I experienced. But the other places you highlighted I need to go see as well! Awesome photos!

  • Andy says:

    We’re planning a trip to Portugal. Your site is very useful, thanks!

  • Andrea Friedman says:

    Great article! I’m planning a trip to Portugal…any recommendations for surf cities to stay in? Also, did you stay at any wineries? thanks!

    • Hey Andrea. Thanks for the comment. Surf cities…..hmmmmm……we didn’t stay in any so unfortunately can’t recommend anywhere for surfing. There are supposed to be some great spots along the coast though due to the big Atlantic waves! 🙂

      We would highly recommend where we stayed in the Duoro Valley. Check out the guesthouse link in this post – https://findingbeyond.com/2016/07/17/quick-guide-douro-valley-pinhao/ It’s not a winery but is close to many and it’s just beautiful. They have rooms for various budgets but it was a treat for us as we don’t usually stay in such nice places 🙂

  • Larry says:

    Thanks for the informative article. My wife and I are considering a 2 week vacation in Portugal in September. We are not beach people (pretty to look at as a drive-by, but we don’t really like to hang out at the beach) nor do either of us drink wine (I know, I know, what is wrong with us, right? lol). We do enjoy hiking, quaint villages/cities, general sight seeing, etc. I know you don’t know us, but based on this description, do you think Portugal has enough to keep us interested for 2 weeks?

    • Absolutely Larry! We spent only 6 days of our 2.5 week trip by the beach. The rest was spent exploring cities like Lisbon and Porto, small towns like Pinhao and Sintra and walking around the Douro Valley. There are heaps of national parks for hiking, and endless amount of villages and both the cities we mentioned are wonderful places. Lisbon is one of our favourite cities in the world!

      Both the beach towns we visited were great towns even without the beach. Lagos (out of high season) is really pretty with lots of history, and Villa Nova de Milfontes (out of high season) felt like a quaint local village. You’ll fill your 2-week itinerary no problem 🙂

  • Sid says:

    Hi, thanks for the great article. My girlfriend and I are going to Portugal in October 2017. This will be our first visit. Unfortunately we only have 8 days, so trying to make the most of our visit. We arrive in Lisbon on Saturday morning and planning to drive up the coast and stay in Porto for two nights. Next stop would be Douro Valley for one nights. The plan was to head down south and stay in Evora for a night (Tuesday) and then in Lagos for 2 nights (Wed & Thursday) before heading back to Lisbon for 2 nights and flying back to the US on Sunday morning.

    My question to the forum is how amazing are the beaches in Portugal? I live in North Carolina and we have gone on a lot of beach vacations. Would it be better (and less driving) to forgo going to the Southern coast and enjoy more quality time in Porto, Douro Valley, Evora, and Lisbon? Or is the coast an absolute must? Sorry for the long post and would love any advice!

    • Hi Sid. Thanks for the comment. We would suggest skipping the Southern coast so you have more time in the North. The weather in October may not be quite warm enough to fully appreciate the beach and the sea will most definitely be cold at that time of year. We’d make the most of the other great locations you have planned. With only 8 days, it would also be a struggle to fit the beach in. There are some nice beaches close to Lisbon and Porto so if you’d like to at least experience an afternoon on the sand then there are options. Have a great time!

  • Danielle says:

    Fantastic post! My by and I (early 30s) are taking my dad and wife for his 60t bday late sept 201 7. We have 2 weeks exact and love your itinerary however could you elaborate on how you got around and how many days you spent in each place? We would prefer to fly in and out of Lisbon as it appears to be cheaper but we can be flexible if it makes more sense to fly into one and out of another. Ending the trip on the beach would be ideal however that would bring us into late sept-early oct (1st and 2nd). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Danielle. We took public buses from Lagos all the way to Lisbon via Villa Nova de Milfontes. It was very easy to buy tickets and journeys were not too long. We then took the train from Lisbon to Porto and Porto to the Douro Valley. We spent around 3 days in each place but a bit longer in Lisbon as there’s so much to do. If you want to end on the beach then doing the opposite direction to us would work (flying into Porto and out of the Algarve). Flying in and out of Lisbon would make it awkward if you want to see the North and South. I hope that helps!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge