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Portugal Travel Itinerary: Lisbon, Sintra, Porto

Apr 30

A new Wanderlust series feature and we’re venturing to somewhere new, Portugal. This itinerary gives you a taste of both Lisbon and Porto, two of Portugal’s most vibrant cities, and includes a day trip to the beautiful town of Sintra. Feel free to adjust the activities based on your interests and the time of year you plan to visit. I haven’t personally been but curating this itinerary has inspired me to book a trip. Stay tuned for a Portugal post featuring the Algarve region, the southernmost coastline.

This is a 5 day quick trip to two major Portuguese cities and a sweet gem, Sintra. Although my plans are TBD, I would loop both this trip and the Algarve region to experience as much of Portugal as I can. Here I’ve highlighted where to stay in Lisbon and Porto, what to do, and a couple reader recommendations of where to eat. Enjoy your trip to Portugal!

Day 1-2: Lisbon, Portugal

Where to Stay

The Ivens

Located in Chiado, the most elegant of neighborhoods. It is the shopping hub with fabulous bars and cafés. Everyone falls in love with Lisbon in the Chiado neighborhood.

Four Seasons Hotel Ritz

Located across from the Parque Eduardo VII, a few streets up from Avenida da Liberdade. It’s a good location being less than a mile from city center.

After you check in to your hotel, if you’re an art lover like me, the National Tile Museum and the Gulbenkian Museum will appeal to you.

Next, explore the historic neighborhoods of Alfama and Bairro Alto. Bairro Alto, home to artists and writers, is Lisbon’s bohemian haunt that offers antique shops, chic bars, and nightlife. Alfama is the oldest district of Lisbon and the most culturally rich. Its narrow streets host colorful houses overlooking the Tagus River. The steep streets also lead to the most stunning views, but you can take the historic tram. At the top of the winding streets, visit the São Jorge Castle for panoramic views of the city. The neighborhood is the home to fado music that can be heard through the evenings, so stay for dinner and enjoy.

On day two, visit the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. Together, they are a World Heritage Site. The monastery of an architects dreams in Manueline style. It’s best to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting. Before you leave Lisbon, spend time in the Chiado and Príncipe Real neighborhoods. Príncipe Real is known for it’s 19th century mansions and expansive gardens. It has a unique selection of stores and galleries. Chiado neighbors Bairro Alto, so it is both elegant and bohemian. It blends both historic with modern as a bustling hub. Have dinner at Belcanto Restaurant or Restaurante Rocco, but make a reservation.

Day 3: Sintra, Portugal

Don’t skip on a day trip to Sintra! This place is a must see. It’s home to beautiful, color castles, and almost every attraction is World Heritage Site. It’s about a 30 minute train ride from Lisbon. Sintra is a charming town surrounded by mountains. It was the first center to romantic European architecture. The Pena Palace was converted by Ferdinand II and blends Egyptian, Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance elements. It is decorated in azulejos, Portuguese tiles.

There are many castles to visit, most recommended are Quinta da Regaleira and Moorish Castle. Quinta da Regaleira is a magnificent 16th century Renaissance-style manor. Also, a World Heritage Site. The gardens are spectacular. Moorish Castle, located at one of the peaks of Sintra, is a 10th century fort of the Moors.

Day 4-5: Porto, Portugal

Where to Stay

The Yeatman Hotel

Overlooking the World Heritage district, Vila Nova de Gaia, this wine hotel and spa has spectacular views of the Douro River.

InterContinental Hotel Porto – Palacio das Cardosas

Just steps away from most major sites, this hotel is a former 18th century palace boasting views of Avenida dos Aliados.

Traveling from Lisbon to Porto is a train ride or quick flight. After checking into your hotel, visit the Clérigos Tower and Livraria Lello close by. A spiral staircase leads you up the 76m-high baroque bell tower, the largest in Portugal. Livraria Lello is one of the oldest and most beautiful bookstores in the world. It is known to have inspired scenes of Harry Potter. That evening, enjoy a boat cruise on the Douro River and visit a port wine cellar for a tasting. The best ones are in Vila Nova de Gaia.

On the final day of your trip, visit Serralves. It’s a cultural institution with a museum, park, and villa. Each is an example of contemporary architecture, Modernism, and Art Deco architecture. Explore the Ribeira district and cross the Dom Luís I Bridge to Vila Nova de Gaia. There you can enjoy a traditional Portuguese dinner at a riverside restaurant.