With beautiful sunny beaches, friendly and laid back people, untouched countrysides, rich history and culture, delectable cuisine, Portugal deserves to be one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. In particular, visitors can visit Portugal all year round to enjoy the beautiful scenery here. Portugal is a great combination of ancient European charm along with an extremely affordable cost. These are reasons why Portugal is attracting more and more tourists. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this guide for a 5-day itinerary in Portugal. So, is 5 days in Portugal enough and how to spend 5 days in Portugal? Let’s check out our suggested Portugal itinerary 5 days to visit the Portugal’s most famous tourist destinations: Lisbon, Sintra and Porto to find how to visit, what to do, best places to visit to find out the answer!
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Portugal itinerary 5 days — Day 1: Lisbon
What makes Lisbon especially attractive is the vibrant city and countless lovely and cute cafes that give you the opportunity to stop and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere anytime you want.
Start your exploration for 5 days in Portugal by catching tram number 28 that winds through the city center into the Alfama district to the Castle of S. Jorge. This will be the first experiences for many of your next trips to Portugal’s tram system. This route still uses old trams, so it gives a very old European feeling when the tram goes around the old streets and you can admire the scenes on the both sides of the streets. This tram no. 28 is also a tram that running through many Lisbon’s stand out attractions. Get off at Sè or Largo das Portas do Sol stop, then walk from there to get to the inside of the fortress, stroll along the city walls for a panoramic view of the city, enjoy the peaceful view of the Moorish style castle where it was once used to be a defensive fortress that blocked invading forces.
Castle of S. Jorge
Address: R. de Santa Cruz do Castelo, 1100-129 Lisboa, Portugal
If you don’t like getting off at the Castelo stop, you can head to Lisbon Cathedral (aka Sé de Lisboa or The Cathedral of Saint Mary Major), built in the 1147s and now considered a national monument.
Address: Largo da Sé, 1100-585 Lisboa, Portugal
Hours: 9:30AM–7PM/Sunday: Closed
Height: 12 m
Designated as UNESCO world heritage site: January 10, 1907
After satisfied of seeing the city from above, wander through the winding streets interspersed with alleyways and labyrinthine stairs of the Alfama District. This is the truest classic Lisbon that brings you back to an old space. Tiny streets, narrow alleys, quaint houses showing off their brown tiled roofs, clothes fluttering on slings as was the custom of a grandmother and mother, fishermen telling their daily stories and the smell of food wafting around kitchen windows. All evoke a familiar feeling of a small neighborhood where everyone knows everyone of the old times. Indeed, nowhere else can you find such a friendly, nostalgic feeling as in Lisbon.
From Alfama, return to Baixa district to visit Dom Pedro IV Square, also known as Rossio. This is the central square of Lisbon with European square features such as fountains, monuments and cozy cafes. For me, there’s nothing better than take a break after a day of wandering around with a lovely cup of coffee and watching people rush by. If you come on the last weekend of the month, stop by the Praca da Figueira Square near Rossio. On this occasion, locals set up stalls in the square selling hot street food and other local goods.
While in Baxia, the Lisbon’s most bustling downtown area, you can take advantage of admiring the architecture of Rossio Railway Station (Address: R. 1º de Dezembro 125, 1249-970 Lisboa, Portugal) and then visit Praca dos Restauradores Square nearby. The experience of riding the Elevador de Santa Gloria (Glória Funicular) tram since 1885 slowly run through the steep street connecting Alfama with the Bairro Alto district is also very interesting. At the end of this tram, you will walk a bit to Largo do Carmo. This is another square well worth visiting of Lisbon. Nearby is the 14th-century medieval monastery ruins of Convento da Ordem do Carmo (The Convent of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Address: Largo do Carmo, 1200-092 Lisboa, Portugal). From here, you can stroll along shopping street Rua Garrett for both enjoying street scenes while shopping.
Evening is the time when nightlife lovers who love vibrant, bustling can come to Pink Street (Rua Nova do Carvalho) to enjoy the nightlife of Lisbon. A bar that my friend took me to that I would recommend is Pensao Amor (Address: R. do Alecrim 19, 1200-292 Lisboa, Portugal) located at the entrance to Pink Street. The bar that used to be a brothel has now been converted into a lounge with great music and comfortable seats.
How to spend 5 days in Portugal — Day 2: Belem
Let start your brand new day by taking the tram no. 15 to Belém – Lisbon’s must-visit place with its two UNESCO heritage sites, monuments and museums.
The Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) was built in 1515 with defensive function and is today recognized as a UNESCO heritage site because of its rich maritime history. The tower is quite small but the line to visit and climb up the tower is very long, so you should start the trip early in the morning.
Address: Av. Brasília, 1400-038 Lisboa, Portugal
Construction started: 1514
Height: 30 m
Next, you strolling along the Tagus River to visit the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (The Monument of the Discoveries) where commemorating Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, and those who explored the world and found their way to the lands as far away as the Far West, India, and the Americas.
Address: Av. Brasília, 1400-038 Lisboa, Portugal
Opened: August 9, 1960
Elevation: 50 m
Away from the sea, you pass through Belém Park to Jerónimos Monastery — another UNESCO heritage site built in the 1500s with sophisticated architecture and interior decorations about seafaring life showing the role of the monastery in this period. This is where sailors come to pray before each voyage and is also the resting place of the great Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama.
Address: Praça do Império 1400-206 Lisboa, Portugal
Hours: 10AM–5PM/Monday: Closed
Construction started: January 6, 1501
By the way, if you’re here, try the famous Portuguese Custard Tarts (also known as Pasteis de Nata) at Pastéis de Belém, you maybe have to queue but it’s worth it.
Pastéis de Belém
Address: R. de Belém 84 92, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal
On the tram ride back to central Lisbon, get ready for a new culinary adventure when you visit the Mercado da Ribeira. The market itself is not too enticing, but the Time Out Food Court area is worth a try because the different stalls bring out great flavors of food. The layout style is in the style of a shared dining area, so you will feel free to choose until you see the favorite dish.
Mercado da Ribeira
Address: Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-109 Lisboa, Portugal
Hours: 6AM–2PM/Friday: 6AM–10PM/Saturday, Sunday: Closed
Is 5 days in Portugal enough? — Day 3: Sintra
Just 32km from Lisbon, Sintra is the right choice for a day tour for those looking for a relaxing experience filled with castles, palaces, and history. Coming here you will understand why this is a favorite destination of the Spanish Royal Family in the past and tourists today.
Pena Palace, located on the top of a hill like stepping out of the pages of a fairy tale, is a must-visit spot to admire its romantic appearance covered in bright colors of red and yellow. From the Palace Garden you come to Pena Park and from there go up the hill to the Moorish Castle. Along the walls are small stone steps leading up to the castle that will take you back to the old days and look out over Pena Palace and the surrounding areas.
From here, return to Sintra’s historic centre to continue go to the Sintra National Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. Quinta da Regaleira, now a UNESCO heritage site, originated as the estate of a Brazilian merchant who hired an Italian architect who had designed the opera house, with the request to combine the artist’s style with the Knights of the Temple (Knights Templar) and other Masonic symbols. The result is a mysterious blend of inlaid design, beautiful gardens, secret tunnels, caves and watchtowers. Meanwhile, Sintra National Palace is the only palace located in the historic center of Sintra, built during the Moorish period but later used by the royal family as a summer palace.
Portugal itinerary 5 days — Day 4: Porto
The next two days will be devoted to Porto – The Portugal’s second largest city located on a large hill along the Douro river. (If your time is tight, you can completely visit Porto in one day, but 2 days will be more relaxing and enjoyable).
Train travel between Lisbon – Porto is quite convenient, it takes only about 2.5 – 3 hours. The main route is from Santa Apolonia station in Lisbon to Porto’s Campanha station and from there transfer to the points you want to go. Porto is harder to go than Lisbon and Sintra, so if you are afraid to find your way, you can choose the Walking Tour here.
Let start by exploring the Ribeira district and the Douro River, with its medieval design, narrow streets and alleys crisscrossed with colorful old houses dotted with lovely cafes and shops. Ribeira Square is recognized as a UNESCO heritage site, today it is a gathering place for tourists but in the past it was a place for a local market.
Walking along the Douro River, seeing the two sides of the city on the Ribeira side and the Vila Nova de Gaia side connected by the Luis I Bridge. When the bridge was completed in 1886, it was the longest bridge in the world. You can go to the 2nd floor of the bridge to see the special architecture of the bridge and see the whole view of Porto.
In the afternoon, you can experience a very special pleasure of Porto is tasting Port wine. A port wine is a sweet, red wine, fortified with grapes distilled especially from the Douro River valley, often enjoyed with desserts. The origin of Port wine is in Porto, so there is nothing better than tasting this wine in its own homeland, if it is delicious you can buy it as a gift.
How to spend 5 days in Portugal — Day 5: Porto
Visit Church of Saint Francis (Address: Rua do Infante D. Henrique, 4050-297 Porto, Portugal), a 15th-century Gothic church recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Next, head to Sao Bento Station (Address: Praça de Almeida Garrett, 4000-069 Porto, Portugal), whose beautiful tiled walls create pictures of the countryside and important historical events.
The next spot is the Livraria Lello Bookshop, one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal with a decorative ceiling, wooden spiral staircase and stained glass windows. This is also the bookstore listed as one the most interesting bookstores in the world according to Lonely Planet.
Livraria Lello Bookstore
Address: R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal
Climb the Clerigos Tower (Address: R. de São Filipe de Nery, 4050-546 Porto, Portugal) for panoramic views of the city, the Douro river, and its vibrant red-orange roofs.
Free to explore beautiful Porto for the rest of the day before returning to Lisbon or departing for your next destination.
Some useful notes for the trips
+ The Portuguese are very friendly, ready to help even though they know you don’t speak Portuguese at all. You can use English, French, Italian, Spanish to talking with them.
+ A few simple words for your convenience:
- Ola = Hello
- Bon Dia = Have a nice day (a more polite way of saying hello)
- Por Favor = Please (add this word to every sentence you want to ask to help)
- Obrigado = Thank you
+ If you want to book a table at a luxurious restaurant, you can use thefork.pt
Remember to keep your subway ticket because you need it to get out of the station.
+In Lisbon there is Uber service, and Uber is cheaper than taxi.
+ Trams and trains are commonly used in Lisbon, but remember that the trains are small and the cabins are small, so they are often quite crowded. If you want to use this transport to tourist destinations, you need to go early to avoid waiting in line.
+ Museums are usually closed on Mondays, so check the opening hours before coming.
+ You will have to climb a lot of stairs or steep slopes, so you should wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers.
+ To use public transport, you can buy a Lisbon Card for unlimited travel with trams, buses, and subways with 24h, 48h or 72h tickets.
+ Don’t run out of wifi capacity because you’ll definitely need google maps to find your way through Alfama’s maze of streets, alleys, nooks and crannies.
+ Which area should you stay:
- In Lisbon: You can choose to stay in Bairro Alto district or between Bairro Alto and Castelo deo Sao Jorge because it is centrally located, with many restaurants and nightclubs. If you prefer to be quieter, you can choose to stay along the river for convenient travel and close to many attractions.
- In Porto: It is recommended to stay in the old city center or near Sao Bento Station to explore the whole lovely little city.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in and from Lisbon you can refer to
- Private City Transfers between Lisbon and Porto
- Shared Lisbon International Airport (LIS) Transfers for Lisbon
- Lisbon City Card
- Lisbon Experience Walking Tour
- Best of Lisbon Walking Tour
- Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril Day Tour from Lisbon
- Lisbon Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours
- Lisbon Small Group City Tour: The Most Complete
- Secret Food Tour in Lisbon
- Fatima & Porto Guided Tour from Lisbon
- Belém and Sintra Pena Palace Small Group Day Tour from Lisbon