5 DAYS IN PORTUGAL – ITINERARY

HOW TO CREATE AN EPIC 5-DAY PORTUGAL ITINERARY 

Portugal is a beautiful country – from amazing beaches to charming villages and lively cities. There is something for everyone in Portugal. And while the country is quite small, you cannot see all the stunning places with only 5 days in Portugal.

You could spend weeks and months in Portugal and discover lovely places every day but since most of us just have a limited time for our Portugal trip, we need to decide on the best places to visit in Portugal

The option of incredible places is endless – so, how can you ever plan a Portugal itinerary? I have been to Portugal several times, yet I have not seen “all of it”. But in this post, I share what I consider a perfect 5-day Portugal itinerary. If I had only 5 days in Portugal, these are the places I would want to see the most.

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR PORTUGAL IN 5 DAYS

Before talking about the best places to visit in Portugal in 5 days, here are some quick travel tips for you.

HOW TO GET TO PORTUGAL

  • Portugal has several international airports, and it is easy to fly into Portugal. For this itinerary, I recommend flying into Lisbon and then flying out of Porto (or the other way around if you do the trip the other way around).

HOW TO GET AROUND PORTUGAL

Portugal has good public transportation in the main cities/ tourist spots – for this itinerary, you can just use public transportation. The only time you might need a car is for a trip to the vineyards – alternatively, you can book a guided tour (this is what I did and what I do recommend for several reasons, more on this later).

From Lisbon to Porto, you can use trains – it takes between 3 – 4 hours by train (about the same by car). In all honesty, I have not used trains since I visited both cities on two different occasions, but I heard quite positive things about the train connection.

While you could rent a car – for this, I suggest using this site to compare rental prices and get the best deal – or just relax and enjoy the window views from a train.

Lisbon´s old tram @shutterstock
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@shutterstock

BEST TIME TO VISIT

If you want to avoid the crowds and the heat, then do not come in the summer months. Personally, I always visited in the shoulder season (October) and was surprised at how busy it still was. Cannot and do not want to imagine how busy it can be in the busy summer season (July and August). Also, I must admit that I hate the heat and just do not like very warm or even hot temperatures, so thus I try to avoid warm countries in the summer 

Due to the location of Porto, you can expect mild and nice weather even in spring and fall. On the other hand, the fall in Lisbon was – when I visited – quite rainy. This can happy at any time of the year but of course, spring and fall might bring more rain – especially in the northern part of Portugal (Lisbon).

However, I still recommend visiting Portugal in spring or fall – this means in May, June, September, or early October.

WHERE TO STAY IN PORTUGAL FOR 5 DAYS

I will have some suggestions on places to stay for Lisbon and Porto – the other places I recommend can be easily seen as day trips, so you will only need to accommodations.

PLACES TO VISIT IN PORTUGAL IN 5 DAYS

Okay, without any further ado, here is the 5-day Portugal itinerary.

LISBON – 1 – 1,5 DAYS

One day in Lisbon is not enough to see all sights, but you´ll get a good idea about the vibrance of the city. Lisbon is a lively, dynamic city with a wide range of exciting things to do and interesting places to see. It features a Mediterranean climate thanks to its location in western Portugal by the estuary of the Tagus River.

Commerce Square in Lisbon, Portugal @shutterstock
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Lisbon 5 days in Portugal what to do, Arzo Travels
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The Portuguese capital boasts stunning pastel-colored buildings, beautiful beach fronts, cobblestoned streets, and white-domed cathedrals. It is also well known for its vibrant nightlife and offers various bars, discos, and fine dining establishments.

If you want to fully immerse yourself in Lisbon’s rich history and culture, there are a number of significant sites to visit. In the center of the city lies the historic district of Baixa, a fantastic area to start your Portuguese adventure.

  • The main square, Terreiro do Paço, features museums, fountains, iconic statues, and bustling traditional and trendy markets.
  • The magnificent Castelo de São Jorge is one of the most iconic and enchanting landmarks in Lisbon. Located on the top of Lisbon’s highest hill, it features an enchanting garden offering panoramic viewpoints of the city. This medieval castle dates back to the 11th century and features ancient ruins, a museum, and exhibitions showcasing its heritage.
  • Close to the city center of Lisbon is Belem with the famous Belém Tower (officially the Tower of Saint Vincent) and its 16th-century fortification. This is one of the main places to see in Lisbon, and the above-mentioned places can be seen in a day.

TRAVEL TIME LISBON – SINTRA – Sintra is about 30 km (19 miles) northwest of Lisbon. You could take public transportation which takes about 1 hour, book guided tours, or get there by car (about 30 minutes). Check out this guided tour for more info.

SINTRA – 1 DAY

Known as the Crown Jewel of the Portuguese Riviera, Sintra boasts several extravagant palaces, lavish villas, lush pine forests, and fascinating historic structures.

Palacio da Pena in Sintra @shutterstock_387794470
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Sintra place to see in 5 days in Portugal, Arzo TravelsSintra place to see in 5 days in Portugal, Arzo Travels
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This colorful city is widely considered as one of the top tourist destinations in the country due to its cultural and natural beauty. Situated in the foothills of the western Serra de Sintra mountain range, this picture-perfect city is full of enjoyable outdoor activities. With its unique mix of outstanding natural features and spectacular historical landmarks, it is easy to understand the significance and popularity of Sintra. 

  • Sintra is home to five magical castles, with the vibrant red and yellow Palácio da Pena being the biggest and most noteworthy. This 19th-century Romanticist structure sits on a hilltop surrounded by an exotic botanical sanctuary, Pena Park.
  • The park has designated viewpoints where you can enjoy the sweeping panoramas of the city, its historic buildings, and lush natural landscapes. The town and its surrounding mountain slopes are a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • You can hike across the stunning mountain trails, stroll along the untamed coastline, or explore the lush green countryside on a bike.

TRAVEL TIME LISBON – CASCAIS – Cascais is about 30 km (19 miles) west of Lisbon. It takes about 30 minutes by car, and between 60-90 minutes by public transportation. While I personally adored these two cute seaside towns, I only recommend visiting if you do not mind very busy itineraries. You can also spend another few more hours in Lisbon before continuing your journey on day 3 to Porto.

CASCAIS & ESTORIL – 0,5-1 DAY 

Cascais and Estoril lie on the northern coast of Lisbon. A two-mile-long beachfront boardwalk, boasting beautiful beach scenery, connects these two popular resort towns.

Cascais 5 days in Portugal what to do, Arzo Travels
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During the late 19th century, King Luís I and an array of noblemen chose to take summer residence on the shores of these two towns. Since then, Cascais and Estoril have grown to be among the most sophisticated and stylish cities in Portugal. Cascais has a laid-back and welcoming character. Its streets are teeming with extravagant villas, ornate 19th-century mansions, historical monuments, and museums. You also can’t miss the Praia da Rainha beach where golden sand meets crystalline waters.

Estoril in Portugal @shutterstock
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Estoril in Portugal @shutterstock Pic: S-F, Shutterstock.com

While Estoril has fewer sightseeing and historic spots than Cascais, it is home to the distinguished Grand Estoril Casino. The first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, takes inspiration from the intrigue and mysterious incidents that played out in this historic establishment.

TRAVEL TIME – LISBON – PORTO:

PORTO – 1 DAY

The coastal city of Porto sits in northern Portugal along the Douro River. It is the second-largest city in Portugal and is home to many historic buildings, beautiful natural scenery, and internationally-acclaimed wine cellars. The famous destination also has gorgeous cobblestone streets, riverside attractions, and laid-back beach fronts that make it one of the best places to visit in Portugal.

Porto bridge to see on Portogual itinerary
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Porto attractions in 5 days
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  • The Douro River flows through central Porto and has six magnificent bridges crossing over it. The impressive architecture and beauty of the bridges are best experienced by taking one of the many boat cruises down the river.
  • If you’d rather see the structures on foot, then head to the Luís I Bridge which rises to around 148 feet.
  • The spectacular Church of São Francisco is a significant landmark located in the city center. This Gothic structure dates back to the 13th century and its distinguished architecture and Baroque-style interior is absolutely gorgeous.
  • Within walking distance, you can also experience the splendor of the Porto Cathedral, one of the city’s oldest monuments dating back to the 12th century.
  • For more recent sights, head to the Casa da Música. This is a concert hall worth visiting even when there’s no concert thanks to its structural beauty. The 1300-seater features a shoe-box shape, with two walls entirely made of glass. While visiting, you may hear the orchestra rehearsing during the day or you can fully immerse yourself in the performance during certain evenings.
  • TIP: I know the Livraria Lello & Irmão bookstore is extremely popular as it is often called the most beautiful bookstore in the world – and it is gorgeous. BUT after buying the ticket online, I had to wait in line for a long time, and then the store was crowded which made moving very difficult. Seriously crowded. With one day in Porto, I would NOT visit it.

Porto’s pleasant climate, beautiful beaches, and scenic riversides allow for many thrilling outdoor activities. This includes surfing, skydiving, hiking, kayaking, and river rafting. 

DOURO VALLEY – 1 DAY

The Douro Valley is internationally acclaimed for being the oldest demarcated wine-producing region in the world. With its incredible landscapes, rolling hills, terraced vineyards, outstanding wines, and rich agricultural history, it is definitely worth a visit. You can find it in northern Portugal, 60 miles east of Porto.

Doumo Valley for 5-day Portugal itinerary.
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Wine tasting in Portugal itinerary.
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While I admire Tuscany in Italy for its vineyards, this was something different. Its sheer size is mind-blowing. 

If you want to learn more about the region’s culture and specialty wines, you must visit the Douro Museum. It is an informative and interesting experience that wine lovers will love. Set in a former warehouse, it showcases the history of wine-making and antique artifacts used in the process during the late 19th century. Wine tasting is a must-do for many. But believe me, even if you are not into it – like me – you can still enjoy the beauty of Douro Valley.

A cruise on Duoro River helps after all the food and drinks – this is what tranquility indeed looks like.

Boat cruise in Douro Valley
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Another must-see destination in the valley is Pinhão, a small riverside town known for its breathtaking scenery and delightfully charming train station. The station’s walls feature traditional tiled imagery. There’s an antique steam train that takes you on a scenic ride through the valley.

Pinhão - Train station in Doumo Valley
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If you book a guided tour, the above-mentioned activities will most likely be included – they were at the tour I did which you can check out here. It also included a delicious lunch (though vegetarian options were limited) and a lot of wine tasting!

If you come here independently you could also add other activities to your itinerary. Its dreamy landscape and climate offer the perfect setting for outdoor activities, including scenic hikes and watersports such as canoeing, kayaking, and waterskiing. It is also a paradise for nature enthusiasts and offers great spots for birdwatching and wildlife observation. 

FINAL THOUGHTS ON WHERE  TO GO FOR 5 DAYS IN PORTUGAL

Portugal is a gorgeous country with its friendly people, amazing places to visit, and an interesting culture you will not get bored with 5 days in Portugal. 

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