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10-Day Portugal Itinerary Help Please

We're looking for advice for our 10-day itinerary for Portugal in May. We're two well-traveled friends in our 30's who love food, culture and would love a bit of beach time to help us forget about our day jobs. We definitely want to spend some time exploring Lisbon, and see a few other places without traveling at a feverish pace.

We've got some tentative plans and would love some feedback on whether it's do-able, and if there's anything we've left out that is highly recommended.

Day 1 - Arrive in Lisbon midday

Day 2 - Lisbon

Day 3 - Travel to Algarve, (we'd either rent a car, or travel by bus or train - any thoughts?)

Day 4 to Day 6 Spend in Algarve, possibly Tavira, Lagos or Faro (open to suggestions on which of these are recommended)

Day 7 - Travel back to Lisbon

Day 8 to Day 10 - Lisbon (including day trip to Sintra and visit to Belem)

I also hear that Porto is fantastic too. So the other option is to skip the Algarve, and go to Porto for 3-4 days, and instead spend some beach time in Estoril and Cascais as an overnight trip from Lisbon. How do these beaches compare to the Algarve?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
269 posts

I loved the Algarve and can't wait to go back, so I'm a little biased. Public transportation is simple and inexpensive, so I'd recommend skipping the car and just taking the bus (which, if my memory serves me right, is quicker and cheaper than the train). I'd also suggest stopping by in Salema or one of the smaller villages. Lagos is okay, but it's pretty resort-like; you certainly don't get that great village feel like you do in some of the other Algarve stops.

Posted by
31 posts

I also loved the Algarve, but I found the public transportation a bit limiting. I'm probably too impatient, but I found trying to work around the bus schedule was a pain for the few days I was there. I stayed in Tavira - loved my hotel balcony overlooking the river. I also spent a day in Faro wandering around there (the bone chapel is creepy but fascinating!). Those are just my experiences. I'm sure others more travelled than myself can give you a better pro/con list between the Algarve and the northern parts.

Posted by
1204 posts

Both the north and south of Portugal have lots to offer. Since you seem to have decided on the south, maybe you should stick with it and return another time for the north. Believe the beaches in the Algarve are warmer than Estoril & Cascais, but in May none will be very warm and both areas are beautiful. We have driven from Lisbon to the Algarve and it can be done in two hours if you don't stop for sightseeing but add two - four hours more for stops which is well worth it. A car in the Algarve will allow you to see various towns as public transportion may not go to where you want to go and will cause a lot of wasted time. This is opinion only as we have always rented a car. We have stayed in Quarteira and Portimao at different times and ventured out from those towns to visit Tavira, Faro, Lagos and other small towns in the area. In Lisbon there's the Castel Sao Jorge and Alfama district, beautiful public squares and neighborhoods for walking, and the Gulbenkian Museum if you're interested. Belem district is just a short bus ride from downtown Lisbon - be sure to stop at the historic Pasteis de Belem between Jeronimos Monastary and the Coach Museum (both worthwhile to see) for their famous pastries. The Belem tower and the Monument to the Discoverers also must sees. Sintra will take all day and may leave you wanting more. Have fun planning and more fun on your trip!