How To Spend 10 Days In Portugal, the Perfect Ten Day Itinerary

Planning a trip to Portugal? Here’s the perfect 10 days In Portugal itinerary. 

There’s nothing as romantic as an idyllic road trip through Portugal. The country is a land finely aged like wine.

It stuns with its vintage-y cities, whitewashed medieval villages, a beautiful seacoast, and delicious food and wine.

the funicular in Porto with views of old town Portio and Vila Nova de Gaia
the funicular in Porto with views of old town Portio and Vila Nova de Gaia

Top this all off with a dollop of historic UNESCO sites and some soulful Fado music, and you have the perfect sensual and cultural vacation.

I was recently in sun-drenched Portugal again on a geographical cure. This is the 10 day Portugal itinerary that I used which I wouldn’t alter one bit if I had a do-over.

pin for 10 days in Portugal itinerary

You’ll have three bases: Lisbon (4 nights), Coimbra (2 nights), and Porto (4 nights). I give you tips on where to stay for each city.

My itinerary starts in Lisbon and ends in Porto. But you could easily reverse the order and start in Porto.

I’ve written many articles about the two cities, which you’ll find on my Portugal page and which I’ll also link to below where relevant. If you wanted to extend this 10 day Portugal itinerary, you should head to the Algarve for some R&R.

Lisbon's Gloria funicular classified in Bairro Alto
Lisbon’s Gloria funicular classified in Bairro Alto in Lisbon

Overview Of 10 Days In Portugal Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon and explore
  • Day 2: Explore Lisbon
  • Day 3: Explore Belem, Lisbon’s UNESCO suburb
  • Day 4: Day Trip to Sintra
  • Day 5: Visit Obidos and Alcobaca Monastery en route to Coimbra
  • Day 6: Explore Coimbra
  • Day 7: Visit the Roman Ruins of Conimbriga en route to Porto & half day in Porto
  • Day 8: Explore Porto
  • Day 9: Day Trip to Guimaraes and Citania de Breiteros
  • Day 10: Tour the Douro Valley

As with all of my suggested itineraries, I recommend that you use this 10 days in Portugal itinerary as a guide. You can tailor it to suit your individual interests, needs, and pace of travel. 

view of the Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon
view of the Alfama neighborhood of Lisbon
Praca do Comercio with yellow tram
Praca do Comercio with yellow tram

How To Spend 10 Days In Portugal Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lisbon

Lisbon is a feast for the eyes. It’s an artistic ensemble of sparkling azulejos, eye candy vistas, pastels houses, and melancholic Fado music.

There are no “must see” attractions in Lisbon. But there are plenty of tourist traps you should skip in your short time there, like the Santa Justa Elevator.

1. Baixa

You’re likely going to arrive in Lisbon in the late afternoon on day 1 of your 10 day Lisbon itinerary. To get oriented, you may want to book a guided walking tour.

Begin by exploring Rossio Square. It’s located in the bustling city center, Baixa.

Admire the wavy tile mosaics around the King Pedro IV statue. Then head down Rua Augusta to the Praça de Comércio, the showy 18th century square with a triumphal arch.

But don’t dine here; the squares are mostly filled with tourist restaurants.

Chiado Square
Chiado Square

2. Chiado

Instead, head to Lisbon’s Chiado neighborhood. It’s a rather arty upscale neighborhood filled with lovely cafes, chic art galleries, bookshops, and tony boutiques.

You can also book a 3 hour guided walking tour of Chiado. I went on this tour and loved it.

In Chiado, you should visit the evocative Carmo Convent. The convent was founded in 1389 by Portuguese knight Nuno Álvares Pereira, who had won the favor of the King of Portugal, João I.

It’s a touching memorial to the worst day of Lisbon’s history, when a 1755 earthquake demolished much of the city including the convent.

Carmo Convent
Carmo Convent

The romantic ruins remain today, as a memorial — a glorious shambles really. It’s a strangely affecting place, sharply contrasting with Lisbon’s Pombaline architecture. You can visit the church rooms and a tiny archaeological museum.

READ: Vistor’s Guide to Carmo Convent

After visiting, settle in at an authentic Chiado eatery, like Taberna da Rua das Flores or Cantinho do Avillez.

For a Michelin dining experience, try Alma (which just got a second Michelin star) or Belcanto.

In lieu of a restaurant, you can also book a guided food tour that includes Chiado.

Lisbon's Alfama neighborhood, a beautiful place to explore with 10 easy in Portugal
Lisbon’s Alfama neighborhood

Day 2: Explore Lisbon

1. Alfama

Wake up and head to Lisbon’s most charming neighborhood, the colorful old world Alfama.

Steeped in history, immortalized in Fado, and rising over Lisbon, Alfama is one of Lisbon’s most authentic districts. A city outside a city.

With steep stairways tumbling down to Baixa below and Castelo São Jorge (St. George’s Castle) standing guard above, Alfama is incredibly beautiful and photogenic.

You can follow my DIY walking tour in Alfama. You can book a 3 hour guided walking tour.

panoramic view from St. George's Castle
panoramic view from St. George’s Castle

You don’t have to go inside St. George’s Castle. It’s a 20th century recreation of the Moorish castle that previously existed there. But if you want to, you should pre-book a skip the line ticket

And there are other free miradouros, or viewpoints, in Alfama — Largo das Portas do Sol and Miradouro da Graça.

You can follow a specific walking tour in Alfama. Or just surrender to the lively chaos and get lost in the maze of tangled streets. While you’re there, admire the sparkling azulejo tiles that adorn the buildings and streets.

I like to think that Lisbon was given the nickname “Queen of the Sea” because its tile bedecked buildings resemble precious stones that decorate crowns.

view of Alfama
view of Alfama

2. Museums

In the afternoon, seek out some of Lisbon’s hidden gems. Or take in a museum.

My favorite museum is the National Tile Museum, where you can see and learn the history of Lisbon’s azulejo decorations.

Housed in a sublime 16th century convent, this unique museum covers the entire history of the azulejo (hand-painted tile). You can book a guided tour to see it all. If you love ceramics, you can also book a guided tour of the museum with a tile making class.

But the Gulbenkian Museum is also a splendid option. It’s a phenomenal museum showcasing the collection of ancient art of the mega collector Calouste Gulbenkian.

Click here to pre-book an entry ticket. Click here to book a guided tour of the museum and its gardens.

Both museums are somewhat off-center. But Ubers are very cheap in Lisbon.

azulejo-clad corridor in the National Tile Museum
azulejo-clad corridor in the National Tile Museum

In the evening, head to Time Out Market for dinner. It’s located in a cool converted warehouse.

It’s foodie heaven, with some of Lisbon’s best chefs serving incredible food in the many food stalls. There are also wine bars galore. Portuguese wine is cheap and tasty.

As an alternative, you could book dinner and a flamenco show. Or cruise down the Tagus River and see Lisbon’s landmarks lit up at night.

Day 3: Explore Belem, Lisbon’s UNESCO Neighborhood

On day 3 of your Portugal itinerary, head to the UNESCO neighborhood of Belem. I drove there. But you can also the tram from Comercio Square or Figueira Square.

In the architecturally-rich suburb of Belém, you’ll have a respite from the hustle and bustle of glamorous Lisbon. Atlantic breezes flow, grandiose Manueline monuments dazzle, and boats glide along the wide Tagus River.

You’ll be cast back to the Age of Discoveries, when the world was Portugal’s colonial oyster.

the marina in the Belem neighborhood of Lisbon
the marina in the Belem neighborhood of Lisbon

Visiting Belem could easily take up an entire day, if you’re so inclined. Here’s my guide to the top attractions in Belem.

1. Jeronimos Monastery

With limited time, your top priority is Jerónimos Monastery. It’s a glorious 500 year old UNESCO site and a mandatory destination in Lisbon.

It’s the premiere example of Manueline architecture in Portugal. Manueline architecture was a short lived late Gothic artistic movement that lasted 30 years in the early 16th century.

It’s a distinctively Portuguese style, named after its key influencer, King Manuel I, who reigned from 1495 to 1521 during the Age of Discoveries.

You must pre-book a skip the line ticket or you’ll wait in incredibly long lines. You can also book a 3 hour guided walking tour of Belem that includes a skip the line ticket to the monastery.

the ornate facade of Jeronimos Monastery
the ornate facade of Jeronimos Monastery
the Manueline cloister of Jeronimos Monastery in Belem
the Manueline cloister of Jeronimos Monastery in Belem

There’s nothing like the moment you walk into the monastery’s two level cloister, honey colored and dripping with organic detail.

You’ll be wowed by the delicately scalloped arches, twisting turrets, and columns intertwined with leaves, vines, and knots. And the gargoyles and beasties on the upper facade.

READ: Complete Guide to Jeronimos Monastery

2. Tower of Belem

The Tower of Belém is a beautiful Manueline-Gothic style structure. It’s also part of Lisbon’s UNESCO designation. It’s just a 15 minute stroll along the river from the Jeronimos Monastery.

Belem Tower is a fortress-like structure also built by Manuel I. It had a very Game of Thrones like feel to me with its filigree stonework. A very narrow spiral staircase leads you to the top for fantastic views.

You can only buy tickets for the tower at the attraction, not online, and there will be a line. But you can book a 2 hour skip the line guided tour the includes the the tower and the monastery.

the photogenic Gothic Belem Tower
the photogenic Gothic Belem Tower

Perched proudly on the Belem’s waterfront is a huge 56 meter statue-monument called the Monument to the Discoveries. Built in 1960, it was commissioned to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator.

You’ll also see a huge 56 meter statue-monument called the Monument to the Discoveries. It sits perched proudly on the Belem’s waterfront.

Built in 1960, it was commissioned to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator.

When you’re done gorging on Belem’s Manueline architecture, stop in for a delicious Portuguese pasty at the famous Pastéis de Belém. Then head back to Lisbon.

At the evening, head to Lisbon’s nightlife spot, the hilly neighborhood of Bairro Alto for food and drink. Or take in a Fado show in Chiado to experience Lisbon’s unique expressive singing.

Sintra's dazzling 19th century romantic palace, Pena Palace
Sintra’s 19th century romantic palace, Pena Palace

Day 4: Day Trip to Nearby Sintra

Day 4 takes you to nearby Sintra.

It’s a gorgeous rock star of a town torn from a storybook. But Sintra’s is incredibly popular, and a tricky place to visit on a day trip. Expect crowds and long lines.

I have decided views about how to tackle the town, which boasts numerous UNESCO castles and palaces.

Here are my tips for decoding Sintra. To avoid long waits in lines, you may want to pre-book a guided skip the line tour for Pena Palace, the top attraction. Or go on a guided tour of the Sintra’s highlights with a historian.

If you don’t want to worry about transportation, book a guided tour full day tour from Lisbon or a guided day tour that includes the coastal Cascais and Cabo da Roca.

the colorful Pena Palace
the colorful Pena Palace

1. Pena Palace

Pena Palace is the most popular UNESCO site in Sintra. Pena Palace is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It’s beloved by its adoring visitors.

You should definitely book a skip the line entrance ticket. You can also book a full day private tour from Lisbon.

The palace is the most romantic of the romantic 19th century palaces out there. I’ve just never seen a monarch adopt a Ronald McDonald theme for his or her palace before.

Pena Palace startlingly colorful. It’s a heavy handed mishmash of different architectural styles. It looks like several castles smooshed together. There’s a schizophrenic whirlwind of onion domes, turrets, crenellation, and fanciful sneering gargoyles.

Because most people adore Pena Palace, the lines for the interior are epic. Pena Palace has a real Mad King Ludwig feel. I couldn’t decide whether the colorful palace was a real life “fairytale” or a tacky pastiche on steroids.

I decided just to enjoy the extreme whimsy and differentness of the place, a creation of King Ferdinand II, a genius who dared to be different.

READ: Complete Guide to Pena Palace

Quinta da Regaleira Palace in Sintra
Quinta da Regaleira Palace in Sintra

2. Quinta da Regaleira

My personal favorite palace in Sintra is the bewitching Quinta da Regaleira.

Quinta was built by eccentric and superstitious millionaire Antonio Monteiro. It’s an extravagant stony affair with follies and a mysterious initiation well.

The buildings are adorned with a heady mix of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish, Neo-Manueline, and Renaissance features. There are gargoyles and carvings associated with Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians.

In the palace brochure, Quinta is described as an “imaginary universe of symbolism and metaphor.” It felt that way to me, very Pans Labyrinth-esque.

You can book a guided tour from Lisbon that includes both Quinta and Pena Palace.

READ: Complete Guide to Quinta da Regaleira

the mysterious masonic initiation well at Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra
the mysterious masonic initiation well at Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra

Where To Stay In Lisbon

I would recommend staying in or near the Chiado neighborhood. The Verride Palacio Santa Catarina is a boutique hotel in a renovated palace with incredible views.

LX Boutique is a pretty luxury hotel with a maritime themes and blue colors. The Memmo Principe Real is a historic hotel in a quiet area. It has limestone floors and original paintings.

If you want to stay in the cobbled Alfama district, the Solar Do Castelo is a beautiful boutique hotel housed in a romantic 18th century mansion.

The Eurostars Museum is a beautiful historic hotel that’s also a good choice. It comes complete with a spa, sauna, and Turkish bath.

beautiful Obidos, view from the city walls
beautiful Obidos, view from the city walls

Day 5: Visit Obidos and Alcobaca Monastery En Route to Coimbra

On day 5 of your Portugal itinerary, you’ll travel to Obidos and Alcobaca Monastery en route to the city of Coimbra in Central Portugal. These were two of my favorite stops in Portugal.

1. Obidos

Just an hour from Lisbon, pretty Obidos is a dreamy UNESCO village. The town is perched fetchingly on a hill and encircled with stout medieval walls.

Obidos is decorated with splashes of blue and yellow paint and filled with bougainvilla-covered whitewashed homes. You’ll be seduced by its beauty and shabby chic romantic aura.

Here’s my complete guide to Obidos, a small town that had my heart. You can book a 2 hour guided walking tour of the town. You may also want to book a guided day tour from Lisbon.

hanging out on a cobbled pedestrian street in Óbidos
hanging out on a cobbled pedestrian street in Óbidos

Stroll down the main drag, Rua Direita, which runs from the Porta da Vila to Obidos Castle.

It’s stuffed with whitewashed buildings, quirky bars and cafes, exquisite shops, and ubiquitous ginjinha stands. The iron street lamps and chipped stone facades complete the vintage look.

The real magic of Obidos lies off the main drag. So veer towards Obidos’ quiet maze of pathways to enjoy the quiet, color, and romance.

You won’t find another person in sight. This is where you’ll find the intangible fairy dust of Obidos, and its greatest gift to the traveler.

Alcobaca Monastery
the stern facade of Alcobaca Monastery

2. Alcobaca Monastery

Just 30+ minutes north of Obidos is Alcobaca Monastery.

I was dazzled by Lisbon’s Jeronimos Monastery. Still, that didn’t diminish my awe at seeing the austere beauty of Alcobaca, which is also a UNESCO site.

The monastery was founded almost 800 years ago in 1153. Construction took place over centuries.

It’s a mix of Gothic and Cistercian architecture with intricate workmanship. The monks moved into their new stone digs in 1223, and the church was finished in 1252.

the tomb of Inês de Castro of Spain in the Alcobaça church
the tomb of Inês de Castro of Spain in the Alcobaça church

The monastery is more impressive inside than the outside. Despite the overwrought Baroque overlay, once you enter the doors, everything changes.

The monastery becomes a monument to simplicity and majesty. There’s no riotous Baroque carnival inside. It feels light and airy.

In the transept, you’ll find the monastery’s greatest possession: two magnificent royal tombs lying opposite each other.

They provide a gripping and tragic back story, in contrast to all the Cistercian austerity.

"palm tree" columns in the Monks' Hall of Alcobaca Monastery
“palm tree” columns in the Monks’ Hall of Alcobaca Monastery

They are the “his and hers” marble tombs of the star-crossed lovers King Pedro I of Portugal and the catastrophically beautiful Inês de Castro of Spain.

Theirs is a tragic medieval tale of obsessive love and political intrigue, the Portuguese equivalent of Romeo & Juliet. Inês was murdered by Pedro’s father to end their affair.

READ: Complete Guide to Alcobaca Monastery

Coimbra University, perched atop a hill in Coimbra Portugal
Coimbra University, perched atop a hill in Coimbra Portugal

Day 6: Explore Coimbra

On day 6 of your 10 days in Portugal, you’ll explore the pretty city of Coimbra. The city is sometimes called the “Athens of Portugal.” Coimbra is often neglected by travelers in Portugal, and it shouldn’t be.

Perched on the Rio Mondego, Coimbra was Portugal’s medieval capital. And the city still has steeply stacked houses tumbling down its historic old town.

You may want to book a 3 hour guided walking tour to get oriented and see the main attractions. You can also book a guided tour that combines a city tour and a visit to Coimbra University.

1. Coimbra University

For starters, you’ll be bowled over by the architectural splendor of Coimbra’s #1 site — Coimbra University — sitting at the highest point in Coimbra.

It’s yet another of Portugal’s UNESCO landmarks. The swirling black cape uniforms of its students look very Harry Potter-esque.

the Royal Palace and Tower of Coimbra University
the Royal Palace and Tower of Coimbra University
panoramic shot of the Great Hall of Acts at Coimbra University where PhD students defend their dissertations
the Great Hall of Acts where PhD students defend their dissertations

Founded by royal charter in 1290, Coimbra University is a UNESCO site that’s old. One of the oldest universities in the world, older than Oxford University. It’s vast courtyard contains a cluster of 16th to 18th century buildings.

The university’s palace boasts the Great Hall of Acts, whose current design dates from 1655. The university’s chapel has beautiful painted ceilings.

But the main event is the over the top Joanina Library. You will be given a timed entry slot, so don’t wander away and miss your time window.

the Noble Floor of the magnificent Joanina Library
the Noble Floor of the magnificent Joanina Library

2. Baroque Library

The famous library was built from 1717-28 during the reign of Joao V. It’s also, not exactly shockingly, known as the Baroque Library.

It has a large central hall with a nave like structure divided into three main rooms, clad in beautiful gilded bookshelves. It looks and feels more like a museum than a library.

To get the full scoop on this amazing landmark, you may want to book a 2 hour private guided tour.

the main drag in the historic old town of Coimbra
the main drag in the historic old town of Coimbra

3. Coimbra Old Town

Once you’ve visited the university, head into Coimbra’s old town. Coimbra has a melancholy beauty all its own. Coimbra has its own pottery style, its own version of Fado, and an attitude.

It’s a stylish place, where black caped students, tony cafes, and ancient monuments all blissfully co-mingle.

The main pedestrianized street is Rua Ferreira. It’s lined with elegant old buildings and the Igreja de Santa Cruz, with a magnificent tiled interior.

the artist Carlos Thomas at work in his Coimbra studio
the artist Carlos Thomas at work in his Coimbra studio

Stop in at the Carlos Tomás pottery shop, to see the artist at work and select some distinctive Moorish-influenced Coimbra Pottery.

4. Se Velha

Off the main drag, you find some steep and narrower streets. Here, you’ll find Coimbra’s Old Cathedral, Se Velha.

The austere 12th century Sé is one of Portugal’s finest examples of Romanesque architecture. The main portal and facade are particularly striking, almost gold in the warm afternoon sunshine.

Finish your day with some Portuguese food.

You’ll have endless options for great food in Coimbra. We settled in at DUX Taberna Urbana, for a contemporary take on traditional dishes. Or sample some of the port wine Portugal is famous for.

Portagem Square in Coimbra
Portagem Square

Where To Stay In Coimbra

Solar Antigo Luxury Coimbra is a great place to stay. The hotel has charming rooms with exposed stone walls.

The Sapientia Boutique Hotel is a pretty hotel in a historic building right by the university. Some of the rooms have amazing city and river views.

The Hotel Quinta das Lagrimas is a small luxury hotel. It has a library filled with ancient books and a spa.

Day 7: Visit the Roman Ruins of Conimbriga En Route To Porto

On day 7 of your 10 days in Portugal, depart for the pretty tons of Coimbra. En route, stop at the Roman Ruins of Conimbriga. History and archaeology buffs will be in 7th heaven.

2,000 year old mosaics in the House of the Fountains in Conimbriga
2,000 year old mosaics in the House of the Fountains in Conimbriga

Conimbriga

Conimbriga is one of the largest Roman settlements outside Italy, dating from as early as the first Iron Age in the 9th century B.C.

Romans built an amphitheater for over 10, 000 people, city walls, three bathing complexes (with stone heating ducts) temples, and several residences.

Conimbriga wasn’t excavated until the late 19th century. Only about 20% of the entire city is currently unearthed.

The highlight of Conimbriga is its exquisite and well-preserved collection of colorful mosaic floors. The ones at the House of Fountains are especially remarkable.

Luis I Bridge connecting Porto and Nova de Gaia
Luis I Bridge connecting Porto and Nova de Gaia

Porto

Depending on how long you stay to admire the ruins, you should have part of the afternoon to explore Porto. Colorful vintagey Porto is a travel photographer’s dream.

Or just a dream. It’s so dreamy that, right now, Porto’s one of Europe’s hottest destination.

Porto’s magical, has a pretty palette, and is full of Baroque churches, azulejo tiles, and dreamy cobblestone streets. And hills. While those hills may make your quads burn, they provide amazing vistas to view some of Porto’s visual treats.

I advise starting off with a guided walking tour to see the highlights.

There are plenty of other fun ways to get around Porto as well. You can take a guided Segway tour, zoom around on an electric bike tour, or sail down the Duoro River on a boat cruise.

Congregados Church
Congregados Church

1. Livraria Lello

On your strolls, you’ll like come across Livraria Lello.

It’s Porto’s uber-popular and photogenic bookshop. It’s considered one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world and classified as a National Monument.

Livraria Lello is renowned for its lovely art deco, art nouveau, and gothic interior. It also claims bragging rights as the rumored inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series.

The late afternoon is a much better time to visit than early morning. People start lining up way before opening time.

Read: Guide to Visiting Livraria Lello

the Praça da Ribeira in Porto
the Praça da Ribeira in Porto

2. Cais de Ribeira

When you’ve gotten the lay of the land, head to the Cais de Ribeira for a cocktail or some pottery shopping. The riverside quarter of Porto is a medieval warren of narrow winding streets and pastel painted facades in faded glory.

Tall and colorful row houses are crammed along the river bank. And there are plenty of trendy bars, cafes, shops, street artists, and entertainers.

3. Dinner and Cocktails

That night, have dinner at an authentic Portuguese restaurant like Casa Aleixo, Cafeina, or Brasao Coliseu. If you want a beautiful space (though rather touristy), try Cafe Majestic. The Art Nouveau decor, vintage mirrors, and period lighting inside made me swoon.

Cafe Majestic at Rua Santa Catarina in Porto
Cafe Majestic at Rua Santa Catarina in Porto

If you’re feeling casual and really adventurous, now’s the time to try Portugal’s “heart attack” sandwich, the Francesinha. It consists of ham, sausage, and steak, topped with cheese, beer and egg.

You can get a traditional sandwich at Francesinha Cafe or a more modern version of the extreme comfort food at Porto Cruz.

Alternatively, you could take a guided food and wine tour, a craft beer and food tour, or pair a fado show with a wine tasting.

Porto also has a new food trend, a version of tapas called petiscos. There are some tapas restaurants on Rue dos Caldeireiros. You can also book a 3.5 hour guided tapas tour.

Day 8: Explore Porto

Now it’s time to get serious in Porto. There are some must visit attractions in Porto, for which you should allocate ample time.

the colorful Chapel das Almas
the colorful Chapel das Almas

For example, Porto seems to specialize in dramatically decorated churches.

There’s the tiny but gorgeous Capela das Almas and the instagram famous Igreja do Carmo, both clad in blue azulejos.

1. Almas Chapel

The Cappela das Almas is a little charmer of a church, completely wrapped with an ornate blue and white tile mural on its exterior. The bright blue mural was added in 1912, though it’s painted in an 18th century style.

Its 15,947 tiles depict scenes from the death of St. Francis of Assisi and the martyrdom of Santa Caterina. The chapel was definitely one of the most unique things I saw in Porto.

the Instagram famous Igreja do Carmo, a must see with 10 days in Portugal
the Instagram famous rectangular azulejo covered flank of the Igreja do Carmo

2. Igreja do Carmo

The lovely Igreja do Carmo is close to Livraria Lello and the Palacio da Bolsa. It’s Instagram famous for its grandiose and exquisite side panel festooned with azulejo tiles. 

The Baroque and Rococco style church was built in the 18th century and had its exterior tiles installed in 1910. The tiles depict the founding of the Carmelites religious order.

The church seems big, and looks like two churches smooshed together. And it is. Like Capela das Almas, people line up and take turns getting photos against the famous wall.

the exterior facade of Porto Cathedral
the exterior facade of Porto Cathedral

3. Se Cathedral

Don’t miss the imposing fortress-like Se Cathedral, part of Porto’s UNESCO designation. Construction of the twin towered cathedral began in the second half of the 12th century.

Construction began in the second half of the 12th century. It has been renovated and now sports three different architectural styles — Roman, Gothic, and Baroque.

The church facade has two towers topped with crowned cupolas, buttresses, a rose window, and a crenellated arch. Inside, the barrel vaulted ceiling, the nave, and the altar are fabulous.

The atmospheric Gothic Cloister is the Se’s must see highlight. Entry to the cathedral is free, but you’ll pay 3 euros to visit the cloisters. It’s worth parting with the cash, just to view the exquisite stonework and 17th century azulejos.

They depict events from the “Song of Solomon” the last section of the Hebrew Bible. Be sure to step out onto the terrace for one of the best views of Porto.

the Moorish Revival Room in the Palacio da Bolsa
the Moorish Revival Room in the Palacio da Bolsa

4. Bolsa Palace

Then visit Palácio da Bolsa and the Church of Sao Francisco, right near each other. The Palacio is the old stock exchange.

You need to go inside to comprehend the richness of the elaborate sculpture, decorative carvings, plasterwork, frescos, chandeliers, and tiles. The stuccoed Moorish Revival Salão Árabe is almost overwhelming.

main altar of Igreja de Sao Francisco in Porto
main altar of Igreja de Sao Francisco

4. Church of Sao Francisco

The Church of Sao Francisco is also a stunner. The outside is Gothic and the inside is all Baroque.

You’ll feel smothered in orange gold detail. The church is encrusted with 450 pounds of gold on its pillars, columns, and high altar. Unfortunately, no photos are allowed in the church.

One of Sao Francisco’s prized treasures is a sculpture of Jesus’ family tree, known as the “Gold Church.”

On your visit, you can also tour the catacombs and a museum housing relics from the church’s monastery, which was destroyed in 1832.

Ali and I at the Ponte de Dom Luis I, Gaia side
my daughter and I at the Ponte de Dom Luis I, Gaia side

5. Ponte Luis I

In the late afternoon, walk across the top of the bilevel Luís I bridge for stunning views.

This bridge connects the Ribera section of Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia, a town south of the city famous for its port wine warehouses.

The metal arched bridge was designed by one of the famous French engineer Gustave Eiffel’s pupils, Théophile Seyrig. Its construction began in 1881 and required 3,054 tons of metal. When built, it was the longest metal bridge in the world.

Usually there are young kids and men jumping from the lower level of the bridge in exchange for euros. Visitors can walk over it, drive over it, or take the train. We walked on both the upper and lower levels. Views on the top are obviously better.

Aerial view of Serra do Pilar Monastery and Dom Luis Bridge
Aerial view of Serra do Pilar Monastery and Dom Luis Bridge

6. Sierra do Pilar Monastery

When you’re in Gaia, hike up to the Serra do Pilar Monastery Miradouro. You’ll have commanding views of the Douro River.

The adjacent Jardim de Morro also has good views and doesn’t require a steep-iso climb. Plunk down and rest in the grass with Porto’s young hipsters.

Then take the funicular ride for fabulous views. To catch the cable car, cross the lower level of the Luís I bridge from Porto, turn right, and walk along the river in Vila Nova de Gaia past the vendors and wine caves. Eventually, you’ll come to the ticket office for the cable car on the river.

Don’t leave without sampling the local tipple, port wine. You book a visit at one of Nova da Gaia’s famous port wine caves. Or go on a 3 hour walking tour of the wine caves.

And inspect the street art installation, Half Rabbit, by artist Bordalo II. We had a simple but delicious meal at Mamma Bella on a quiet side street in Gaia.

street art installation “Half Rabbit” by Lisbon artist Bordalo II.
street art installation “Half Rabbit” by Lisbon artist Bordalo II.

Day 9: Day Trip to Guimaraes and Citania de Breiteros

Now that you’ve seen Porto, on day 9 of your 10 days in Portugal, it’s time to day trip from Porto to a dreamy UNESCO village.

This is NOT Aveiro, which is sometimes called the “Venice of Portugal.” It’s my view that Aveiro is highly overrated and not worth a detour from Porto. It was my least favorite spot in Portugal.

Choose either Braga or Guimaraes. You can book a half day tour from Porto to Guimaeres or a half day tour to Braga.

It’s difficult to do both towns in a day unless you book a full day guided tour that includes both towns. You an also book a full day private tour.

Oliveira Square (Largo da Oliveira) in old town of Guimaraes
Oliveira Square (Largo da Oliveira) in old town of Guimaraes

We chose the quaint and ancient UNESCO town of Guimaraes. We also took a detour on the way home to another ruin (we are ruin lusters), Citania de Briteiros.

1. Guimaraes

Dating from the 9th century, medieval Guimaraes is a surefire charmer. Sit in one of the medieval squares, Largo da Oliveira and Praça de Santiago.

Admire the architecture. Preferably while sipping Portuguese coffee or, better yet, a glass of vinho verde wine.

the charming Rua de Santa Maria in Guimaraes
the charming Rua de Santa Maria in Guimaraes

Then head down the main pedestrianized drag, Rua de Santa Maria, for some cuteness and possible shopping. At the end of the street, you’ll find Guimaraes’ two main attractions — the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza and Guimaraes Castle.

You can also book a guided walking tour in Guimaraes that includes food tastings.

Guimaraes Castle is famous as the birthplace of D. Afonso Henriques. He was the first king of Portugal. The castle is part of the town’s UNESCO designation.

The foundations of the current castle date back to the late 10th century. t was built to protect a nearby monastery. Its jagged crenellations will conjure images of crusaders on horseback.

chilling out in the largely tourist free and very authentically ancient Guimaraes Castle
me chilling out in the largely tourist free and very authentically ancient Guimaraes Castle

The castle was built to protect a nearby monastery. Its jagged crenellations will conjure images of crusaders on horseback.

The medieval castle is picturesque from below. But when you begin to climb its walls … wow. You have beautiful views of the countryside.

The fully renovated ducal palace is mostly a museum for artifacts and 17th century furniture. But I thought it was still worth a visit.

It was built to protect a nearby monastery. Its jagged crenellations will conjure images of crusaders on horseback.

view of the palace of the Dukes of Braganza from Guimaraes Castle
view of the palace of the Dukes of Braganza from Guimaraes Castle

2. Citania de Briteiros

On your way back to Porto, if you have the time and energy, get off the beaten path and stop at Citania de Briteiros. It’s just a 25+ minute drive from Guimaraes. From Citania, it’s a 1:10 drive back to Porto.

The utterly ancient archaeological site sits at the very top of the boulder strewn hill of Saint Romão, accessed by a very long and winding road (which may make you carsick).

Citania is an obscure early Iron Age archaeological site. It’s a type of “hill fort” called an oppidum. It’s the largest of a scattering of porto-urban Celtic hill settlements on the Iberian Peninsula.

The site was likely inhabited between 200 B.C. and A.D. 300. It may have been the Celtiberians last stronghold against advancing Romans.

me enjoying the peace and quiet of an old ruin on my afternoon of ruin lust
me enjoying the peace and quiet of an old ruin on my afternoon of ruin lust

Day 10: Tour the Douro Valley

This is your last day of your 10 day Portugal itinerary. And there is nothing better to do than take a classic tour of the Douro Valley. The Douro Valley is incredible, a glorious spot.

And the rest of the world is beginning to discover what the Portuguese have known forever. The Duomo is ne of the world’s oldest demarcated wine regions.

The dramatic valley showcases steep terrace vineyards carved into mountains, granite bluffs, pretty villages, and 18th century wine cellars.

It’s really easiest to visit on a tour. But there are so many it’s hard to choose.

Here some tour you can choose from:

vineyards in the Douro Valley, a must visit destination with 10 days in Portugal
vineyards in the Douro Valley

Where To Stay In Porto

There are some fantastic hotels in Porto. One outstanding historic hotel is the Maison Albar Hotels Le Monumental Palace. The beautiful hotel is near Clergios Tower and has an indoor swimming pool and spa.

The Pestana Palacio do Freixo is a luxury hotel in an 18th century Baroque building with view of the Duoro River. Just opened in 2019, the Torel Palace Porto is an elegant hotel with a tranquil outdoor patio.

PortoBay Flores is a romantic hotel in a tastefully renovated historic building with spa and wellness facilities. The Torel Avantgarde is an award winning hotel with a stunning outdoor pool and panoramic views over the city.

Mateus Palace in the Douro Valley
Mateus Palace in the Douro Valley

More Than 10 Days In Portugal?

If you have more than 10 days to spend in Portugal, there are three options. You could spend more time in Lisbon and day trip to Evora, Tomar, or Marvao.

Or, you could just base yourself in the Alentejo region of central Portugal for a few days and see these intriguing and more off the beaten path Portuguese towns.

Second, you could also opt for another day in beautiful Sintra. You wouldn’t be in such a rush to see those lovely palaces and castles. And you could detour to Monserrate Palace or to the seaside village of Cascais.

Alternatively, you could head to Portugal’s southernmost region, the Algarve, for some R&R on the beaches after 10 days of sightseeing. The villages of Albufeira, Quarteira, and Tavira provide the perfect setting.

decorative stone torches on the balcony of Evora Cathedral
decorative stone torches on the balcony of Evora Cathedral

Tips For Visiting Portugal

I’ve written post about tourist traps in Lisbon that aren’t worth your time here. But there are some other things you should keep in mind.

You don’t want to drive in Lisbon. I had a car in Lisbon. But I only used it for day trips. I didn’t drive in the narrow roads of the city.

READ: Tips For Renting a Car and Driving in Europe

I found Lisbon perfectly walkable. Be sure to bring comfortable footwear for the hills and cobblestones though. The tram system is also easy to use. But it can be crowded and there are pickpockets.

Don’t miss the miradouros. Lisbon seems custom built for enjoying beautiful sunsets. Plan your sunset view or follow the signs to the many scenic overlooks.

historic walled city of Marvao
historic walled city of Marvao

Portugal has one of the world’s most delicious cuisines. There’s an emphasis on fresh ingredients and freshly caught seafood.

Carnivores will enjoy Portugal’s porco preto (black pork) and presunto (Portugal’s answer to Spain’s jambon iberico).

If you’re eating out, it’s standard practice for waiters to bring you some pre-dinner nibbles and treats. Just know that these starters aren’t free. If you don’t want them, send them back.

Be sure to always carry some cash in Portugal. While credit cards are accepted in many places, some small shops and restaurants only take cash. And avoid large bills.

typical tram in Lisbon Portugal
typical tram in Lisbon Portugal

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 10 days in Portugal itinerary. You may enjoy these other Portugal travel guides:

If you’d like to spend 10 days in Portugal pin it for later.

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2 thoughts on “How To Spend 10 Days In Portugal, the Perfect Ten Day Itinerary”

  1. Brilliant itinerary with great recommendations. I’ve been planning a trip for a few months and love what you have provided. I was planning to go in February or March. Any thoughts on that timeframe? Thanks kindly, Vicki

    Reply
    • Thank you. I think it would be fine. But then I regularly travel to Europe at that time to avoid crowds and am happy to put up with not perfect weather. That said, Porto might be a bit rainy or chilly.

      Reply

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