One Week in Portugal: The Highlights 7 Day Itinerary

Though Portugal isn’t a large country, there’s still no shortage of things to do, see, and experience. Between geographically varying regions, unique landscapes, and must-see cities scattered around the country (not to mention some really amazing culinary options), you might have a hard time deciding what to do first.

Factoring in the city in which you’ll arrive, the weather conditions when you do, and the types of sights you’re dying to see, we’ve got you covered for a 1 week Portugal itinerary, no matter where your interests lie. Plus, even if you don’t get to everything during your 7 days in Portugal, that just gives you an excellent reason for a return trip.

Best Time to Visit Portugal

lisbon alfama district roof tops

Portugal follows a relatively similar seasonal rotation to that of the Western world, albeit with base temperatures averaging quite a bit higher than the US or Canada.

Because the winters, while not as cold as elsewhere, tend to be a bit more blustery and rainy, September through October are promising times to visit during the off-season, with the weather holding some leftover warmth from the hot summer. Plus, this will be when many tourists have left—meaning fewer crowds and more freedom to explore.

If you do prefer to travel during warmer weather, then the springtime (March through May) is ideal; rates on accommodation are likely to be more budget-friendly, and it will still be plenty warm enough to enjoy some fun in the sun. Plus, the summer crowds don’t start trickling in until June, so just like the late summer/early fall times, you’ll have a bit more run of the city without needing to avoid any crowds.

Transport Options for Getting around Portugal

sintra lisbon must dos

Sintra Castle

Because of its small size, no matter how you choose to travel, getting around the country is relatively quick. The Portugal train network & bus routes are extensive, and most travelers will opt for these methods of ground travel for a more cost-effective option.

Bus tickets can be purchased ahead of time online, while train tickets can often be bought then-and-there from tellers, or on the train itself from ticket inspectors if your station is uncrewed. You may also want to consider a rail pass if you plan on really taking advantage of the well-mapped train route that covers the country.

You can rent a car if you’d prefer to have more control over your route, but be warned that there are toll roads for different zones that will charge you for entering/leaving certain areas.

That said, as with any European country, airfares within the country are much less expensive than you might think, and several national airports make the country feel much smaller. Airfare from the two furthest-apart airports—Faro and Porto—can drop as low as $50 USD for a roundtrip, even during peak travel times.

There are also ports scattered along the coastline if you plan on traveling south to northern Africa or over to the Mediterranean.

One Week Portugal Itinerary

Whether you decide to organise your 1 week Portugal itinerary DIY or travel in Portugal with Voyage Prive, you can use this tried and tested 1 week guide for your Portugal itinerary inspiration.  

Porto & Douro Valley

porto douro river

No 7 days in Portugal would be complete without visiting Porto, one of the country’s key cities. Known for its ornate bridges, port winemaking, and, like other areas of Portugal, its cobbled streets and brightly-painted buildings, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Porto during a one-week Portugal itinerary, even if you’re just coming through for a day or two.

Porto Cathedral should be at the top of the list – a beautiful Roman Catholic cathedral with dazzlingly ornate interiors and an exterior almost fortress-like in its resolute facade. Not far away are Bolsa Palace & the Monument Church of St Francis, the most important Gothic structure in the city with the most ornate Baroque interiors the city has to offer.

Just across the Luìs I Bridge (a sight in itself) is the Serra do Pilar Monastery. On day two, if you have time, don’t miss the Crystal Palace Gardens (Jardins do Palácio de Cristal) and the Clérigos Tower.

If you’re looking for day trips not far from Porto, the Douro Valley is an ideal option. Located on a river in the countryside, this area offers some of the most picturesque views in the country. It’s also an ideal spot for wine aficionados to get up close and personal with the port production for which the region is famous. It would be difficult to squeeze in a night stay here during just a one week Portugal itinerary but if you can extend your trip by a day or two then we certainly recommend it. 

This area is definitely a spot for relaxation, with rustic, sunny vineyards, riverboat tours, and a wealth of some of the country’s best and most authentic cuisine.

Check out our guide on where to stay in Porto, the best areas.

Lisbon & Sintra

best alfama apartments lisbon

If you’re spending 7 days in Portugal, chances are good that you’ll be in or around the capital city of Lisbon at some point.

While you’re there, top things to do in Lisbon include the Tower of Bélem, the Lisbon Cathedral, the Jéronimos Monastery, the Castello de S. Jorge (palatial ruins), and the Carmo Convent. As far as historical religious sites, that covers most of the essentials. 

If you only have time to explore one area in Lisbon, make sure it’s the historic Alfama district. Check out the best things to do in Alfama to see why!

Additionally, there are, public areas worth seeing, like the Praça do Comércio or even the replicated monuments like the bridge inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and the National Sanctuary of Christ the King, based on the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.

Don’t forget to sample some of the national dishes abundant here during your one week in Portugal – dried salted codfish (bacalhau), arroz di marisco (think endless seafood on a bed of flavourful rice, not unlike the Spanish paella!), and Pasteis de Nata, an egg custard tart.

When you’ve had your fill of Lisbon, Sintra isn’t terribly far away and makes for the best of great day trips from Lisbon. Only half an hour’s drive from the capital city, this region is rich in history, natural landscape, and architecture. The National Palace of Pena, Castelo de Mouros (a hilltop fortress overlooking the sea), The Quinta da Regaleira, and the Sintra National Palace are all structurally formidable, culturally-relevant places you’ll want to see.

For something really unique, don’t miss the Iniciatic Wells inside the Quinta da Regaleira, two spiralling wells that descend deep within the earth in a spiral staircase spanning nine levels.

Check out our guide on where to stay in Lisbon, the best areas.

Evora & Alentejo

evora giraldo

Evora is the capital of the country’s Alentejo region, but even though it’s perhaps lesser traveled than Porto & Lisbon, it’s no less fascinating and entertaining for a 1 week Portugal itinerary.

Among the better-known sights and things to do in Evora are the Temple of Evora (sometimes known as the Temple of Diana, which is now in partial ruins and largely only its intricate Corinthian pillars remain), the Almendres Cromlech (a Neolithic stone circle with carvings and inscriptions), Giraldo Square in the heart of the city (a good spot for people watching, café pit stops and some light shopping), and the Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos in Portuguese, a chapel located by the Church of St Francis and decorated wall to ceiling with the bones and skulls of monks).

In the larger scope of the Alentejo region, there is a never-ending list of things to do if you have 7 days in Portugal. Its coastline is arguably one of its winning features; though rocky and hilly, the shoreline cliffs are often broken up by small coves ideal for surfing and beach access.

There are a smattering of beautiful and unique towns and cities to visit if you’re passing through this region; Elvas, which is laid out in a fortification-friendly star fort shape, Monsaraz, a medieval village with a castle and surrounded by fortified walls, and Troia, with some of the most untouched beaches along its beautiful coastline. The region offers some of the best Portugal hikes and trails

Each with a multitude of monasteries, churches, cathedrals, and other such sites, the towns, villages, and cities of this region will not disappoint.

Algarve

best towns in algarve carvoeiro

Though Lisbon generates more tourism revenue than this southern region, the Algarve is still considered the top area for tourism in all of Portugal. Between its sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, clear blue water, and golf resorts, it’s not hard to see why we’ve included the region in our one week Portugal itinerary. 

It’s relatively busy in the offseason, with nearly half a million permanent residents in the area. But that number triples in the summer months as tourists (many of them European) flood the region in search of balmy weather.

If you’re here, chances are you’ll be spending much of your time in the Faro District on the southwestern tip of the country. Here, you’ll want to make a note of sights like Ponta da Piedade (a rock formation you may recognize from photos), the Castle of Silves, and an endless list of beaches that are all ranked among the best in the country.

These include (but are definitely not limited to) the São Rafael Beach, Praia Dona Ana, Praia da Camilo, and Praia da Carvalho (this rock formation includes tunnels and staircases in the rock that lead to the beach). There are also a few highly-rated water parks in the region if you want a little more excitement and adrenaline in your 1 week Portugal itinerary. There really are a wealth of things to do in the Algarve region. 

On the food front, the seafood in the area is excellent. Don’t miss out on clams & cockles cooked in garlic and olive oil, grilled sardines, or better yet, purchase fresh fish from the market. There are also several Michelin-starred restaurants in the region if you want to try something a little fancy.

Check out our guide to all the best towns and places to stay in the Algarve.

Final Thoughts

While a 1 week in Portugal itinerary can seem daunting given how much there is to see and do, if anyone knows how to slow things down and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, it’s the Europeans. Between vibrant, dynamic cities, fresh and flavourful food, and the sweeping, stunning beaches and coastlines of the south, we can pretty much guarantee that your 7 days in Portugal will be a breeze.

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Are you looking for the top Portugal highlights for a 7 day visit? We’ve got you covered for a one week Portugal itinerary, no matter what your interests.

Are you looking for the top Portugal highlights for a 7 day visit? We’ve got you covered for a one week Portugal itinerary, no matter what your interests.

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