Do you like travelling across Europe on weekends? This time we had only four days to travel around Portugal. On the other hand, it was enough for us to absorb the local atmosphere and enjoy the most beautiful attractions that Portugal can offer. Thanks to the small size of the country, we decided to rent a car. If you are your own master, you can plan everything much more easily. So, what can you do in such a short time? Check out our Ultimate Portugal Travel Guide for short visit, that also includes all the recommended hotels where we slept.

We decided on this trip to Portugal based on the offer of cheap airline tickets, so it was a quick action. We began to think about what we wanted to see after buying the tickets. It was clear that renting a car (There are two sites where I recommend finding a car hire – Skyscanner and RentalCars) would probably be the most expensive item of the trip, but it’s worth it. The plan was clear: arrive into Lisbon, where we wanted to spend a day, then visit Sintra and the beaches, and finally catch a flight to Porto. After must consideration, we bought flight tickets from Faro to Porto just for EUR 10 because it looked like the best option.

Day 1 – Capital city of Portugal – Lisbon

Lisbon the Portugal capital is built on seven hills at the mouth of the River Tagus and completely enchants you with its atmosphere and magical views. Small streets zigzag steeply uphill in the historical part of the city. The highest altitude monument is Castelo Sao Jorge, which offers a truly unique view of the city. The historic tram line, number 28, passes through the city and serves as the perfect means of transport between the major sights. All yellow trams climb steep hills, pass through hairpin turns and sometimes their tracks lead across the sidewalk. Where the tramlines end, the cable car rides into the hills. However, the greatest height differences can be overcome thanks to the historic lift, Elevador de Santa Justa, which was built back in 1901 and connects the Baixa and Chiado districts.
Lisbon offers many attractions, of which two stand out: the longest bridge in Europe, Ponte Vasco da Gama, with a length of 12 kilometres, and Europe’s largest oceanarium, which is an absolutely breathtaking show.

Portugal Ultimate Travel Guide

Another remarkable monument is the oldest and most important cathedral in Lisbon – Cathedral Sé de Lisboa, which has an interesting history. It has been rebuilt several times in the past due to the frequent earthquakes that have often destroyed it. Today, you can see these archaeological excavations, which are located in the cloister behind the cathedral. An unforgettable experience is a walk along Praça do Comércio, with its unique atmosphere. In the past, there was the Royal Palace and the opera, but both were destroyed during an earthquake. Later, the geometrically symmetrical Lisbon was built on the site of these ruins.

If you want to stay longer in Lisbon here is a great itinerary for 3 days.

Recommended hotels in Lisbon:

Day 2 – Belém – the city of marine conquerors

Lisbon’s Belém district is definitely worth a visit, so we couldn’t miss it. The main attractions are Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) and the Monastery of St. Jerome (Mosteiro dos Jeronimos). Both monuments are included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Belém Tower was built in the 16th century and its function was to guard the entrance to the harbour. The nearby monastery was built as thanks for the safe voyage of navigator Vasco de Gama to India. The monastery conceals with it many treasures in the form of statues, paintings and tombs of important Portuguese personalities. Another attraction is the Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos), which is located near the monastery. It was built in 1960 in memory of the glorious era of marine conquerors. The monument stands on the very spot from which the Portuguese sailors would have started their long voyages. It consists of a sculpture of 33 prominent Portuguese nationals and stands on the banks of the Tagus.

Sintra, Fairy seat of kings 

Sintra is located 20 kilometres west of Lisbon. This romantic town has classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It offers beautiful nature and huge colourful palaces like from a fairytale. Sintra was also the summer residence of the Portuguese royal family and so there stand unique palaces and mansions. We had a chance to visit Park and National Palace of Pena, which is an architectural gem. The Palace is located inside of wooded park full of exotic plants and it was built in 1840. It captivates you with its Disney appearance at first sight. The architectural style is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline style with Moorish elements. Richly decorated interiors show the life of nobility and broad view of the wooded surroundings is from the palace balconies.

Day 3 – Algarve’s beautiful sandy beaches

Portugal is famous for its beautiful beaches and we decided to visit a few of them. It was clear that the weather wouldn’t be best for swimming in May. Even so, we got an eye-pleasing view of the azure colour of the sea and sandstone cliffs. At Farol da Ponta da Piedade, we encountered a local fisherman on the beach who offered us a boat trip around the reefs. We didn’t hesitate long and we sailed through the maze of weathered rocks full of unique shapes. After this short adventure, we walked around the beaches of Praia do Camilo and the Praia Dona Ana on the way along the coast. To be honest, I would say this place has one of the most magnificent beaches we have ever seen. A pleasant stop was the town of Lagos, from which the sailors began their journey. The town has a typical seaside atmosphere and it is a pleasant pause for lunch or an afternoon siesta.

Don’t forget to visit Faro too, the capital and favourite travel destination in Portugal. Here is a list of things what to see in Faro.

Recommended hotels in Lagos:

tom_profilI definitely recommend a visit to the lighthouse that stands at Cape Saint-Vincent. This is the most south-westerly cape of continental Europe and is a popular tourist attraction. The cliffs offer breathtaking views of the open sea and are full of fishermen catching fish from incredible heights.

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Day 4 – Porto, the city of delicious wine 

The double-decker bridge, Ponte Luís I, is the characteristic monument of the city. Eiffel’s colleague managed the construction of this masterpiece. The bridge over the river Douro connects the historic centre of Porto and the district of Vila Nova de Gaia, which is famous for its port wine warehouses. Porto doesn’t have as many historical monuments as the other cities, because the aristocracy couldn’t settle there until the 17th century. Nevertheless, the city has a unique atmosphere with traditional elements of Portuguese architecture – blue and white ceramic tiles called azulejos. These tiles can be found almost everywhere in Portugal, at churches, palaces, train stations and townhouses. A typical example is the church of Saint Ildefonso, a short walk from the city centre.

If you have more days for Porto, we recommend visiting Douro Valley where are acres of terraced wine vineyards.

Recommended hotels in Porto:

eva_profilWe spent a day in Porto, pleasant walking around and tasting the port wine Offley, which I absolutely recommend. An admission for a wine cellar tour includes interesting commentary and tasting of different kinds of wine too. From my own experience, I must say that the atmosphere of the historic city after completing this tasting is little bit more authentic.

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Ultimate Portugal Travel Guide