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Portugal 14 day itinerary: Highlights and off the beaten track destinations

This 14-day Portugal itinerary will show you the highlights of the country and some off-the-beaten-path destinations that are loved by the Portuguese but overlooked by most international tourists.

We know how planning a trip to a new destination can be difficult. There is always so much to do and usually too little time.

That’s why we created this sample Portugal itinerary for 14 days.

A well-balanced trip that combines nature and culture destinations, that includes the not-to-be-missed highlights, but at the same time also takes you away from the tourist crowds.

You’re of course free to deviate from this suggested itinerary but we trust that it will give you a good starting point for an epic road trip in this amazing country.

There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

How to get around in Portugal in 2 weeks

In Portugal, rental cars are generally cheap and driving is very relaxed.

You won’t need your car in Porto so our advice would be to pick up your car from one of the many downtown locations when you leave for the Douro region.

Here are some tips and things to keep in mind when renting a car in Portugal:

  • There are many car rental agencies in Portugal. You will find the international household names along with several smaller local brands. To easily find the best deal you can use Discover Cars (this site has proven to best one for us lately), or Rentalcars.
  • Don’t go for a large car if you don’t really need one. Portugal has numerous narrow streets with sharp turns and maneuvering these with large vehicles requires nerves of steel.
  • There are several toll roads throughout Portugal and some have only electronic gates. They no longer accept cash or debit/credit cards. You should either configure your GPS to avoid toll roads (but know that even Google Maps and Waze are not always accurate, we experienced this again during our last road trip) or you can rent a so-called via Verde device together with your car.

Read Also:

Everything you need to know about renting a car and driving in Portugal is bundled in this article.

Ribeira de Gaia Porto Portugal
Ribeira de Gaia, the place to taste Porto and enjoy life

Portugal 2 week itinerary

Here you find a quick overview of our 2 weeks in Portugal itinerary.

Porto – Day 1 & 2

We start our tour in Porto. According to us one of the prettiest cities in Portugal. It’s a charming small-scale version of Lisbon.

You will find narrow cobblestone streets lined with houses with colorful facades.

The city is, of course, famous for its Port wine.

In addition to that, it boasts numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites as well as some things that are not as widely known.

For example, did you know that J.K. Rowling got a lot of her inspiration for the Harry Potter books in Porto? Here you can read more interesting facts about Porto.

As you can see, there is a lot to discover in the coastal city of Porto.

How to spend 2 days in Porto

The best way to explore Porto is by walking, so the first thing you should do is get some comfortable shoes and prepare for a long walk.

Would you rather not go on foot? No problem, here are some alternatives.

  • The Porto Card. This card offers unlimited access to public transport (metro, trams, busses, and the suburban trains). In addition, you can visit 6 museums for free and get a discount of up to 50% at numerous tours and other attractions. The card is available for 1, 2, 3 or 4 days.
  • A hop-on hop-off ticket for two days. This includes 2 sightseeing bus tours, a tour of the Calém wine cellars, and a river cruise on the Douro.

We suggest that you start your exploration at the Ribeira neighborhood, which is one of the most beautiful areas in Porto and where you will find many landmarks such as the Dom Luis I Bridge, the Ribeira Palace, as well as the Port Wine Cellars.

The Ribeira district

This district was once the trading center of the city, today it is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a charming maze of colorful narrow alleyways.

The best way to visit it is to just get lost in the backstreets.

Igreja de São Francisco and the Palácio do Bolsa

Things you shouldn’t miss when exploring this district are the Igreja de São Francisco and the Palácio do Bolsa.

It took almost 70 years to complete this palace and many rooms are lavishly decorated.

The Arab room is the most well-known and is today still used to welcome heads of state who visit Porto.

The Porto card gives a 25% discount on tickets for the Palácio da Bolsa.

Exploring the Ribeira district
The Ponto Dom Luis I

If you see a picture of Porto it is likely one of this bridge.

The Ponto Dom Luis I bridge is the iconic sight of the city.

The bridge crosses the Douro river and connects the city of Porto with Vila Nova de Gaia.

The bridge was the first of its kind when it was inaugurated in 1886. It took 5 years to construct it.

This was done by Société Willebroek and Belgians will probably directly see the connection with the huge iron lift bridge in the village with the same name.

For others, the name Gustave Eiffel will almost certainly ring a bell. His bureau designed the double-deck bridge and one of his disciples oversaw the construction.

Today the upper deck is closed for cars and only used by pedestrians and trams. It offers amazing views of the river below.

You can see the boats that offer cruises on the Douro and along the quay, you can see the wineries where you can do the tastings.

With a view like this, it’s easy to lose track of time. The best time to come is around sunset. You can combine this with a Port wine tasting and a dinner. There are many restaurants in the area.

Everybody is enjoying the sunset
Jardim do Morro

Across the bridge, at the Vila Nova de Gaia site, lies this relaxing green square.

It’s a popular hangout spot for the locals who come here to exchange stories and watch the sunset.

There’s a bar but many people just choose to sit in the grass and enjoy their own food and drinks.

Opposite of the square is the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar.

You can walk up the driveway to the square in front of the monastery for an even higher vantage point.

Port Wine Cellars Porto, Portugal
Various Port Wine Cellars can be visited in Porto
Savor the local Port wine

A visit to Porto is not complete unless you have savored this local delicacy.

It’s widely available in all bars and you can learn about the history and the production process in the various wine cellars in the city.

Most of them can be found in Vila Nova de Gaia, along the Douro River, very close to Ponto Dom Luis I. This is a relic from the time when the wine barrels were transported over the river.

TIP: There is a discount for tastings and cellar tours with the Porto card

Sé de Porto

Porto’s cathedral is an interesting mix of architectural styles.

You can find both Romanesque and Baroque elements on the outside. It is worth a visit for several reasons.

One reason is the decorations with the azulejos. You will find them on the inside as well as certain outside walls.

Second, are the views. The cathedral is located on a hill from where you have distant views over the city.

Lastly is a visit of the inside and the cloister.

With the Porto card you get a 1€ discount on your entrance ticket to the cathedral.

The Baixa district

By visiting this district you can check off many of the city’s popular sights. You should reserve at least half a day to explore this area.

Igreja do Carmo

The Igreja do Carmo is just as beautiful on the outside as on the inside.

The east facade is completely tiled with the iconic blue azulejos.

All walls in the train station are covered with azulejos
São Bento train station

This is another building that is popular among tourists because of the azulejos. These are real masterpieces depicting scenes from the history of the country.

Torre dos Clérigos

The bell tower of the Clérigos Church can be seen from various corners of the city.

With a height of 76 meters, it towers above the city.

If you don’t mind climbing 240 steps to the top you can enjoy the distant views from its balcony.

You get a 50% discount with the Porto card.

Livraria Lello

This is not your ordinary bookstore.

The interior is gorgeous and every detail is worked out to perfection. The eye-catcher is of course the beautiful red staircase in the middle of the store.

J.K Rowling was a regular customer at this bookstore when she taught English in Porto and has supposedly got the inspiration for several aspects of her first book in Porto and in this particular bookstore.

These days the Harry Potter fans have the upper hand over the normal customers so expect a line to get in. And yes, this may be the only bookstore where you need to buy a ticket to get in. The entrance fee can be deducted from your purchases in the store.

If you are a Harry Potter fan you will most certainly like this Harry Potter tour!

It is a walking tour that takes you along all sights and monuments that form the basis of the Harry Potter books.

Câmara Municipal do Porto

The town hall is a beautiful building with a distinct Neo-Gothic style.

On weekdays you can take a glimpse inside to admire the interior along with the artworks on display.

Here is a list of more things to do in Porto.

Where to stay in Porto

We would recommend you to stay in the historic center. As we said before, it is easy to explore the city on food and this way you are within walking distance of the main attractions.

Luxury: Intercontinental Porto: This luxury hotel is ideally located for sightseeing. You will stay in comfortable rooms. In the morning you can enjoy a wonderful breakfast.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Comfortable: PortoBay Teatro: This 4-star hotel lies in the historical center of Porto. It’s a great hotel within walking distance of many interesting sights.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Basic: Moov hotel Porto Centro: Perfect location close to the main attractions. Guests love the friendly and helpful staff. Good value for money.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Douro Valley Portugal
Vineyard galore in the Douro valley

Douro – Day 3 & 4

The Douro is of course known for its many vineyards.

However, you will find that it has much more to offer its visitors. There are beautiful viewpoints, quaint villages, and many charming roads.

It is a wonderful region to visit.

Driving

Depending on where you stay in the Douro region the journey will take between 1h15 and 1h45 if you follow the A4 highway. This is a toll road and at the time of writing the tolls are just short of 8€.

It is possible to avoid the tolls and at the same time follow a slightly more scenic road. It will add about an hour to your drive but in return, you will get some nice vistas on the Douro river.

How to spend 2 days in the Douro Region

Visit Lamego

Lamego is a small and charming village in the Douro region that has about 26,000 inhabitants.

These days the village is popular among tourists because of its rich cultural history.

There’s a castle dating back to 1139 when the very first king of Portugal was crowned in Portugal.

The castle is very well preserved, no doubt partly due to the fact that it was never used, and can be visited today.

In addition to that, you will find a beautiful cathedral and the much-photographed and Instagram famous Baroque staircase leading to the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios sanctuary.

Azuleos at the train station in Pinhão
The train station in Pinhão
Visit Pinhão

Like Lamego, Pinhão is nestled on the banks of the Douro.

It’s inferior to Lamego in terms of charm, yet it is the starting point for many popular boat tours in the Douro valley and therefore it should not be missing in this itinerary.

If you are in Pinhão you should definitely check out the train station that is richly decorated with Azulejos.

Go wine tastings

You can also visit several nearby vineyards.

Quinta Das Carvalhas

Quinta Das Carvalhas offers several different guided tours daily and also offers visitors the opportunity to explore its grounds independently along a network of trails.

Guided visits include wine tasting and everyone is welcome to drop by the shop for a tasting during opening hours.

To go to Quinta das Carvalhas you just need to walk across the bridge at the train station.

Quinta Do Bomfim

Quinta Do Bomfim is even closer to the center.

This wine house is diagonally opposite the train station where the street turns towards the bridge. They have a lovely terrace where you can have lunch overlooking the river.

You can also explore their grounds with a trail map and it will come as no surprise that they offer several different tastings.

The price of the tastings varies depending on which wines you want to taste.

Quinta de la Rosa

Quinta de la Rosa is a little further out of the center, it is a short 5-minute drive.

You can visit the cellars, do a guided tour of the vineyard or have a delicious lunch paired with some of their best wines.

Make a boat tour

A boat tour is a nice and relaxing way to see the many vineyards that line the Douro.

Where as a driver you otherwise always have to keep your eyes on the road, you can feast your eyes during a boat trip and enjoy the view.

Typical trips usually last 1 to 2 hours or you can opt to rent your own private yacht and sail along the vineyards for up to 4 hours.

Discover Peso Da Regua

This village has profiled itself as the visitor hub of the Douro and is home to the Museu do Douro.

A small but informative museum where you can learn about the history of wine production in the Douro region and aspects that are involved to produce quality wines.

The museum houses a bar and restaurant and you will be offered a glass of port at the end of your visit.

The village is surrounded by Quintas, you can taste port to your heart’s content. Quinta Seara d’Ordens offers tours and tastings. There’s also Quinta do Vallado and Quinta do Pessegueiro.

Ride the Douro Steam Train

During the summer months, it is possible to go back in time with a ride on a historic steam train.

The restored steam train makes a daily trip from Peso Da Regua to Tua and back.

Along the way, there is a stop in Pinhão.

Tua is 50 kilometers to the east and the train ride roughly follows the river and treats its travelers to beautiful views.

The journey takes about 3 hours.

Guests are entertained by a group of musicians and singers and can sample a glass of Port and local candy.

TIP: If you don’t care for the entertainment program and just want to take in the spectacular views you can do the same trip with a regular train for a fraction of the price.

You can also extend the journey by continuing to Pocinho. The stretch between Tua and Pocinho is also very photogenic.

Miradouro Casal de Loivos
Miradouro Casal de Loivos
Enjoy the view from the Miradouros

The Douro valley is dotted with several magnificent viewpoints. Here are some you shouldn’t miss.

Miradouro de São Domingos

This miradouro is close to Peso Da Regua.

At 758 meters it is one of the higher viewpoints in the region. It offers distant views.

To the north, you can see the mountains of the Serra do Marão looming while looking in a southward direction you should be able to spot Lamego.

Miradouro de São Leonardo Galafura

This miradouro is often recognized as one of the best.

It sits at 640 meters and you can see the river along with the parishes of Fontelo, Sabrosa, and Armamar.

Miradouro São Salvador do Mundo

This viewpoint is near the small village of São João da Pesqueira.

At the site is one of 10 chapels of the São Salvador Do Mundo Sanctuary.

All 10 chapels were built during the 16th century on different hilltops surrounding the valley.

This one, along with the one at Ermo, offers the best views.

You might see knots in the branches of the trees around the chapel.

This dates back to an old tradition. If a woman can tie a knot in the branches with her left hand, it is believed she will get married within a year.

The legend normally only applies to the chapel at Ermo but today you find knots at several other chapels as well.

Miradouro Casal de Loivos

This viewpoint is close to Pinhão, at the adjacent village of Casal de Loivos.

It’s a 12-minute drive from Pinhão along some narrow winding roads.

The view totally makes up for what can be a bit of a stressful ride.

Miradouro Alto das Vargelas

Another beautiful view over the Douro valley. There’s a picnic table so this is an excellent spot for a lunch break.

This viewpoint is relatively far east, it is almost a full hour drive from Pinhão.

The above list will keep you busy for a while.  There are many more miradouros that are worth checking out if you have the time.

Tip: If you don’t have time or don’t want to spend a couple of days in the Douro region you could also opt for a guided day tour.

This tour will give you a good impression of this beautiful region.

You will visit 2 wine estates where you will have the chance to do a wine tasting. Enjoy a typical Portugues lunch. In the afternoon you will make a river cruise on the Douro to take in the wonderful scenery.

Guests find this an amazing tour that is absolutely worth the money;

Check prices and availability:
Douro Day Tour

Where to stay in the Douro region

Most of Douro’s highlights are in a region encompassed by Lamego, Pinhão, and Regua.

Here you will find numerous Quintas, many of which also offer rooms.

Quinta’s come in all price ranges.

Some will offer packages including tastings, others have upscale restaurants and have gourmet arrangements.

We stayed in Quinta da Barroca. The Quinta is located in a peaceful location. We enjoyed the wonderful views of the vineyard. It’s a great place to relax for a couple of days and enjoy nature.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Parque Nacional Peneda-Gerês – Day 5 & 6

This beautiful national park is often overlooked by visitors.

It is located along Portugal’s northern border with Spain and it is the only national park the country has.

The park continues into Spain where it is known as Serra do Xurés.

The landscapes are unique, inhospitable, and rugged. There are large granite rocks, idyllic waterfalls, and untouched nature as far as the eye can see.

You can reach several places of interest by car and there are several kilometers of hiking trails to explore the region even further.

Driving

The quickest way to drive from the Douro to Penda-Gerês is along the A24 and A7 highways. You will need approximately 2 hours. The toll fee for this route was €5.65 at the time of writing.

It’s possible to avoid tolls by following the national roads. That journey would take 2h30.

Cascata de Pincães

Top sights in Peneda-Gerês

Waterfalls in Peneda-Gerês National Parks
Cascata de Leonte

This is the first waterfall you will come across if you start your drive from Vila do Gerês towards Spain. It is close to the road. This is a small waterfall that sometimes dries up completely.

The waterfall near the old Roman road of Mata da Albergaria

This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls of the whole park.

It’s also located along the road leading northwards from Vila do Gerês to Spain but you won’t see it from the road, you need to walk for a few meters to reach it.

Unfortunately, there’s no parking spot anywhere close to the waterfall.

A good landmark to know that you’re at the right spot is the old lonely house you will see next to the road.

Portela do Homem

This is the most well-known waterfall.

You drive right past the falls with the car but there’s no parking at the waterfall.

You will need to park at the border post from where it is a short walk back along the road to the bridge.

If you fancy a refreshing dip you can follow the dirt road to the right of the river. It keeps following the riverbed and you will pass several places where you can easily enter the river.

Cascata do Arado

While the first three waterfalls were all next to the N308-1 road leading to Spain, getting to the next waterfalls will require a GPS.

There are almost no signs but Google Maps will guide you there without any problems.

It is pleasant cruising on the narrow winding roads that lead to the falls. That in itself makes a visit worthwhile.

The Cascata do Arado is very popular and the viewpoint can be busy at times. It is a succession of small waterfalls in a narrow gorge. In summer, or during extended periods of drought, it can dry up completely.

The Fecha de Barjas is a series of small waterfalls with pools on each level
Fecha de Barjas

The water comes down in several stages creating small pools at each level. That makes it possible to bathe at these wonderful waterfalls that are often referred to as the Tahiti falls.

The safest place to do so is at the bottom of the falls. There’s a dirt road that you can follow that leads all the way down.

Cascata de Pincães

Here the Pincães river drops 20 meters to create the Cascate de Pincães.

The waterfall can be a little hard to find but if you drive to the pin on Google maps and then follow the dirt road along the irrigation canal you should have no problems.

It is about a 1-kilometer hike and you will start hearing the waterfall as you get closer.

The quaint espigueiros in Soajo
The quaint espigueiros in Soajo
Charming villages in Peneda-Gerês National Park
Soajo

Soajo is a small village with less than 1000 inhabitants.

It is well-known for the picturesque espigueiros, granite granaries that were used to dry the coarse corn.

The granaries have special pilars that should prevent the rodents from feasting on the corn.

Also, take some time to wander through the streets of Soajo. It feels like going back in time a few years.

Lindoso

Lindoso is 10 kilometers westwards and even smaller than Soajo. The medieval castle towers above this small village. It dates back to the 13th century but also played an important role in the Spanish – Portuguese wars during the 17th century. You can enter the castle for free.

Next to the castle is another impressive collection of espigueiros.

As you’re driving from Soajo to Lindoso you will pass the Alto-Lindoso dam, an impressive structure. It is 339 meters high and 5 villages were flooded when it was constructed in 1983.

Due to the extremely low rainfalls of the last years, the water level has dropped significantly and the abandoned village of Aceredo can now be seen again.

Even the cows come to this sanctuary on pilgrimage
Peneda

The main attraction of Peneda is its sanctuary.

It is one of the most important of its kind in northern Portugal and each year it attracts thousands of pilgrims during the festivities in the first week of September.

The sanctuary’s location, in a steep ravine with huge rocks looming over it, is very photogenic.

When looking to the left of the sanctum you can see a steep waterfall.

Castro Laboreiro

With about 700 inhabitants this is another sleepy village in the national park. Here you can visit the ruins of the Romanesque castle.

Although little remains of the castle, its location on an isolated hilltop makes it worth a visit for the views of the park.

The Ponta Nova de Cava da Velha can be seen 3 kilometers south of the village.

It was originally built in the first century and later improved by the Romans and it still stands today.

It has been classified as a national monument in 1986.

Pitões das Júnias

Compared to the other places of interest, this village is somewhat remote.

If you find the time, the abandoned monastery and the nearby waterfall are well worth a visit.

A 4 km long trail starts at the cemetery and first takes you to the monastery before it descends into the valley to end at the waterfall viewpoint.

It has a lot of stairs but it’s a family-friendly hike nevertheless.

Miradoura de Pedra Bela
Viewpoints in Peneda-Gerês National Park
Tibo viewpoint

This viewpoint is close to the mountain village of Tibo and overlooks the Vale da Peneda.

It sits at a height of 800 meters and offers astonishing views of the Peneda mountain range.

The Peneda sanctuary can be seen in the distance.

Miradoura de Pedra Bela

This is another breathtakingly beautiful vantage point, this one overlooking the Cávado river with the village and the iconic Ria Caldo bridges in the background.

Miradoura das Rocas

This viewpoint is close to the Arado waterfall.

It is easy to combine both.

From a height of 800 meters, you can overlook the national park.

The Arado valley with the river of the same name lies on your feet.

Ponto do Diablo
Other places worth visiting around Peneda-Gerès
Ponte do Diablo (Ponte da Misarela)

This beautiful historical bridge is technically located outside of the park’s boundaries but it is such an impressive sight it would be a shame not to mention it.

I still remember how awestruck we were when we got closer to the bridge and could take in the view of the bridge with the roaring canyon river underneath.

The bridge may not be that much different from the Ponta Nova de Cava da Velha, the canyon with its huge rocks and waterfalls is what makes this place a must-visit.

Termas do Gerês

Vila do Gerês has been a spa for several centuries.

The Romans already discovered the benefits of the thermal waters in the region and the first bathhouse was built in the 17th century.

Drinking the water can heal various kinds of discomforts.

Patients arrive with doctor’s prescriptions for 1 or 2-week treatments and go to the Fonte da Bica daily to drink the medicinal water.

There’re also spas where you can soak in the thermal waters and treat yourself to massages.

Opposite the Termas do Gerês is the Parque das Termas.

For a small entrance fee, you can explore the beautifully landscaped park and during hot summer days you can cool off in the natural pools.

Sanctuary the São Bento da Porta Aberta

This sanctuary is named after Saint Benedict, the father, and patron of Europe.

It attracts over a million pilgrims every year from July to September.

This makes it the second most popular pilgrim site in Portugal, after the world-famous Fatima.

In 2015, during the celebration of the 400th birthday, Pope Francis granted the status of basilica.

Where to stay when visiting Peneda-Gerês

The park covers an area of almost 696 square kilometers.

Most of it is desolate except for a few tiny villages.

One of the larger and centrally located villages is Vila do Gerês. Here there are several hotels and restaurants.

It’s a good central location to explore the park.

We stayed in Quinta Da Mouta which lies a 20-minute drive from Peneda-Gêres. The Quinta lies in a very beautiful location with views to die for. You will stay in a clean and spacious room. Breakfast was good, but we stayed for 5 nights, and unfortunately, it was always the same.

Overall a good address to stay at while you are visiting this amazing area. While we loved our hotel we do see the benefits of staying closer to the park if you have less time to explore the region. Here’s a selection of hotels in Vila do Gerês.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

View of the Alfama district in Lisbon
The Alfama district in Lisbon

Lisbon – Day 7, 8 & 9

Portugal’s capital should of course not be missed. It’s a long drive from Peneda-Gerês so, unless you’re an early riser, you will probably arrive some time in the late afternoon.

While 3 days would be optimal to visit the city of light, so-called because it has on average 220 days of clear open skies every year, we had to make choices for this itinerary and have only reserved 2 full days.

2 days will still be enough to see the city’s highlights.

We recommend that you start from this comprehensive itinerary and focus on the sights mentioned for the first 2 days. These are, in our opinion, the top sights of Lisbon.

Read Also:

In Lisbon you don’t need your car.  The city has good public transport.  Here we share how the public transport in Lisbon works.

Here are more travel tips for Lisbon: Discount passes, free museum visits, and more…

Driving

Today we have a long drive ahead of us. The quickest option is to drive to Lisbon is along the A1 toll road. It will take 4 hours and 30 minutes and cost €25.50 in tolls. It is possible to avoid the tolls but this makes the route almost twice as long in time and it doesn’t really make it more scenic. We advise against it.

About halfway we pass the beautiful university city of Coimbra. This makes for a good stop to stretch the legs. You can visit the historic university with its imposing library, stroll through the adjacent botanical gardens or just relax and have a drink and some food at one of the cafés in the city.

Where to stay in Lisbon

We’ve been to Lisbon several times and stayed in several different locations.

Nothing beats the charm of staying smack in the middle of the Baixa district but the truth is that you can’t go wrong as long as there’s a subway stop nearby.

If you don’t want to avoid the stress of driving all the way to the old town you can opt to stay in one of the adjacent districts.

We recommend the Cais do Sodré region along the river, Martim Moniz, or one of the hotels along the Avenida da Liberdade that is also known for its upscale boutiques.

Comfortable hotel: NH Collection Lisboa Liberdade This hotel is located on the Avenida da Liberdade, close to a metro station. Stay in a beautiful room, have a lovely breakfast, and enjoy magnificent views from the roof terrace.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Evora Portugal
Évora

Évora – Day 10

Today we head eastwards towards Évora.

As you approach Évora you will start seeing wineries.

This region is famous for its delicious red and white wines and those who like this divine drink can visit the wineries and book wine tastings.

We took home some bottles of Pêra-Grave after a very enjoyable tasting in their lovely inner courtyard.

Driving

The quickest route takes us along the A2 and A6 toll highways and takes 1 hour and a half. This route will cost you €9.15 in tolls. (at the time of writing) You can choose to avoid tolls which would add half an hour to your journey.

What to see in Évora

The cathedral

The cathedral sits on the highest point of the city and can be seen from many corners of the old town.

You immediately notice how big it is, it is the largest medieval cathedral in all of Portugal.

A visit to the church includes access to the roof from where you have a beautiful view of the city and the surrounding region.

Roman temple

This temple is probably Portugal’s most significant landmark related to the old Roman civilization.

It is believed that it dates back to the first century and it is surprisingly well-preserved for a structure that is so old.

The 14 remaining Corinthian columns stand gracefully in a wide-open square in the old town and it’s hard not to be impressed by the historical value and the beauty of this age-old temple.

Capela dos ossos
The Capela dos Ossos

This rather horrific chapel is part of the Saint Francis church.

The church itself is a dime a dozen but the chapel is special, to say the least.

The wall of the chapel is completely covered with the bones and skulls of an estimated 5000 corpses.

When the chapel was built in the 17th century the monks wanted to convey the message that life on our planet was fugacious.

You will find many macabre texts such as “We bones that are here, for yours we wait” and “The day that I die is better than the day that I was born”.

Aquaduct

This aqueduct was constructed in the 16th century to ensure an undisrupted water flow to the citadel. At that time the aqueduct was 18 kilometers in length, twice as long as what is still remaining today.

The tallest arch is 26 meters in height, it is safe to say that this bridge was a true masterpiece for that time and still evokes admiration today.

As you explore the old town you can see how houses and shops have been built underneath the aqueduct’s arches.

Almendes Cromlech
Almendes Cromlech
Megalithic and Monolithic sites near Évora

Three megalithic sites can be visited with just a short drive from Évora.

Almendes Cromlech

Chances are you’ve never heard of Almendes Cromlech before.

This is however the largest megalithic monument of the Iberian Peninsula and it is about 2000 years older than Stonehenge.

If you don’t know what a Cromlech is: this is a name for a prehistoric circle of standing stones, like Stonehenge for example.

The site did feel a bit like Stonehenge and it felt quite surreal to know that way back in time priests must have performed rituals at this exact spot.

The Almendres Menhir

There’s also a Monolithic site, the Almendres Menhir. A monolithic site is formed by a single large stone block, called a Menhir.

This menhir is 13 feet tall and historically it probably was part of the same formation as Almendes Cromlech, it aligns with that site during the winter solstice sunrise.

Anta Grande do Zambujeiro

The third and latest site is the Anta Grande do Zambujeiro, this is a dolmen, a prehistoric tomb. It is one of the largest of its kind and it is surprisingly well-preserved.

All these sites are free to visit and we were surprised to find we had the place to ourselves while we were there.

Alto de São Bento
Alto de São Bento viewpoint

This is a nice viewpoint over Évora.

The local youth often come here to enjoy the sunset and you can’t blame them.

The view is truly unparalleled.

At the site you will also find several restored historic windmills, they’re no longer operational but they are very photogenic for sunset shots.

Go wine tasting

An excellent way to end your day in Évora is with a wine tasting.

You will find many winegrowers within a few minutes’ drive of the city.

They will probably require advanced bookings for their wine tastings so make sure to give them a call to arrange a time.

Next time we are in the area we will for sure pick up some extra bottles of Pêra-Grave Reserva.

Where to stay in Évora

Évora is a compact town with a walled historic city center. There are several hotels within the ramparts and some more just outside of the walls.

If you stay at any of these places all of the city sights will be within walking distance.

If you stay outside of the walls it will probably be easier to find a (free) parking spot for your car.

We decided to stay outside the walls and opted for the Vitoria Stone Hotel. This boutique hotel lies a short walk from the town center. We stayed in a very spacious room. The hotel served a good breakfast. As a guest, you can enjoy the rooftop pool ( we visited in winter and it was closed at that time). Free parking was a plus for us.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Full name: Kris Caluwaerts Case: 6580367 Booking: 2IQYXB E-mail: kris.caluwaerts@gmail.com I just want to continue about the case we were talking about.
Hiking the Fishermen’s trail

Costa Vicentina – Day 11 – 12

The official full name of the Costa Vicentina is Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina.

The natural park hugs the western coast of Portugal all the way from Odeceixe in the north to Burgau in the south.

While the Algarve draws hordes of international tourists every year, this park, which is at least as imposing, is mainly popular among the Portuguese.

Driving

Hooray, there are no toll roads today! The route from Évora to the Costa Vicentina leads us along a combination of national roads. After about 2 hours of driving, we are on site.

You can choose to follow the N262 or N263. The ride takes about the same time. The N262 is probably a little more scenic and takes you past Vila Nova de Milfontes where you can stop to stretch your legs exploring the charming town.

If you opt to follow the N263 instead you can stop in Odemira, another charming town where you can visit a restored working wind mill.

The trails of the Rota Vicentina

Things to do in Costa Vicentina

Hiking

The Fishermen’s Trail was voted among the 6 best coastal trails in the world by Condé Nast.

The trail follows the dramatic coastline and offers a succession of spectacular views.

The full trail is 226 kilometers long, it starts in S. Torpes and takes you all the way south to Lagos. It’s split into 13 sections of 10 to 20 kilometers each.

In addition to these linear trails, there are also several pleasing circular hikes ranging from 5 to 17 kilometers that follow a part of the Fishermen’s trail.

These may be easier to do from a logistics point of view.

The walks are mostly flat but can be a bit heavier than expected due to stretches of loose sand.

The trails are very well-marked. All information can be found on the website of Rota Vicentina.

Biking

The Fishermen’s trail is a narrow trail that runs along the coastal cliffs. It is not suitable for biking.

Cyclists can follow the Historic Path which runs more inland.

It’s 120 km long and starts in Santiago do Cacém to end in Odeceixe.

There are no sea views and the scenery is nice but not nearly as impressive as the coastal route.

Fortunately, in 2019 Rota Vicentina has expanded the cycling network with additional routes, some of which are closer to the coast and will certainly offer more spectacular views.

All information can again be found on the Rota Vicentina website. The routes are clearly laid out on a map, along with their length and difficulty.

Kitesurfers in action in Costa Vicentina in the Algarve
Kitesurfers in action in Costa Vicentina in the Algarve
Beaches

The beaches along the Costa Vicentina are certainly keeping up with those in the Algarve.

Better yet, the lack of crowds compared to peak season in the Algarve will give you a much more pristine experience.

One beach worth visiting is Praia da Amoreira. It’s loved by families with kids because it has an easy approach to the ocean. Next to it is Praia de Monte Clérigo. Further up north is the Praia da Samouqueira, this beach is not easily accessible. Those who don’t shy away from clambering down are rewarded with an almost private experience.

To the south, you find Praia da Bordeira and Praia do Amado which are both popular among surfers.

This is just a small selection of the many beaches out there. Many beaches are equipped with all facilities, but there are also several wild beaches.

Don’t forget to look this up if you’re planning a beach day so you know what to expect.

Zambujeira do Mar
Charming towns
Zambujero do Mar

This coastal town offers magnificent views over the ocean. The white-washed houses nestled along the cliffs are very photogenic.

During the first week of August, the beach is the scene of the Festival do Sudoeste, one of the largest music festivals in Portugal.

Vila Nova de Milfontes

Vila Nova de Milfontes, located at the mouth of the Mira river, is one of the larger towns in the region.

At the heart of the town is the São Clemente Fort. It was built at the start of the 17th century to protect the town from Moorish pirates.

Today it serves as a hotel.

The village has a laid-back vibe and is characterized by the typical narrow streets paved with small tiles.

You can stroll along the river towards the lighthouse from where you have a nice view of the village and the fort. It’s also possible to catch a boat to the Praia das Furnas on the opposite side of the river.

Vila Nova de Milfontes
Vila Nova de Milfontes
Odemira

Odemira sits land inwards on the banks of the Mira River.

The village is built against a mountain and from the highest point, which used to be a castle but nowadays houses the library, you have distant views over the city, the river, and the surrounding green landscape.

You can stroll along the river on the boardwalk and visit the riverside garden.

You may see several rowers.

The 30 kilometer stretch from Odemira to Vila Nova de Milfontes is very scenic.

Canoes and kayaks can be rented in the town.

As you explore the town you will also come across the restored windmill. It was originally constructed in 1874 and after its restoration, it is now again used in the traditional way.

Cabo de São Vicente

This is the southernmost tip of the natural park. The cliffs at this part are incredibly dramatic. It is an almost vertical wall of 75 meters.

Together with the often rough sea, it makes for a majestic spectacle.

At this point, you find the most powerful lighthouse of Europe along with the ruins of a former monastery.

It is a good place for bird watching and, with some luck, you may also see sea otters sunbathing at the bottom of the cliffs.

Where to stay in the Costa Vicentina

Scattered throughout the park you will find many small villages. There are almost no hotels, unless very small-scale, but you will find several guesthouses and houses that you can rent.

Staying in a central location like Carvalhal and Odeceixe will make it easier to explore the stretched-out park.

We stayed in Monte da Boavista in a comfy well-designed house in the middle of the countryside. You can enjoy beautiful views from your terrace or cool off in the small pool. The lovely owners brought us fresh bread every day. Highly recommended.

Check prices and availability:
Booking.com

Carvoeiro Beach Algarve Portugal
Carvoeiro Beach on a sunny day in Winter

Algarve – Day 13-14

Today we continue our journey to the Algarve. It’s only a short drive to the southern coast and you’ve already had a taste of the beautiful beaches during the past few days.

Driving

The driving time today is very much depending on what location you will choose as your base to explore the Algarve.

It takes under an hour to reach Lagos. If you choose a village more to the east, such as Olhão, it will take 1h30 to 2 hours.

Note that the A22 is a toll road with electronic gates. If you don’t want to pay tolls you can follow the N125 which runs parallel with the A22.

Ria Formosa seen from above
Ria Formosa seen from above

What to do in the Algarve

It’s not because the Algarve is known for its beaches that there are no other things to do.

You can go hiking, have fun in the water parks or visit some of the charming towns scattered throughout the region.

Here is a long list of ideas of things you can do in the Algarve and here is an example itinerary to spend 2 or more days in the region.

As nature lovers, there’s one part of the Algarve we think you shouldn’t miss, the Ria Formosa. The Ria Formosa is a lagoon in front of the coastline.

It starts in the west in Faro and ends in Tavira. It is full of wildlife and offers excellent bird-watching opportunities.

You can take boat cruises to the barrier islands or just explore the parts along the coastline on foot.

Read our complete guide about the wonderful Ria Formosa here.

Benagil Cave - Algarve caves boat tour
A boat cruise to the Benagil Cave

Another highlight is the Benagil cave.

The only way to see this cave in all its glory is with a tour. There are several boat tours, kayak tours, and SUP tours daily.

To help you choose we have made an overview of all the Benagil tours.

You will not get bored easily in the Algarve, there is a wide selection of activities and something for everyone.

There are off course water activities such as surfing, and parasailing. Golfers can choose from many golf courses.

Adventurers can go canyoning or skydiving. And for an aerial view of this beautiful coast without the adrenaline shot, you can go paragliding. We did this last year and explain what to expect in our in-depth review.

The Faro Harbor in Portugal
The yacht harbor in Faro

Algarve – Day 15

Today it is, unfortunately, time to say goodbye to this beautiful country.

It’s possible to fly back from Faro airport but if flights from Faro are more expensive you have the time to drive back to Lisbon or Porto.

Where to stay in the Algarve

The Algarve is a vast area and where you want to stay will depend a little on what you want to do. For surfing, it’s best to stay along the western side, near Sagres.

Golfers and hikers will find that there are golf courses and trails along the whole coastline.

We usually recommend the Vilamoura region for its well-groomed courses to golfers and Carvoeiro for its central location to hikers.

For the pros and cons of other destinations, have a look at this article where we dive deeper into this topic.

Conclusion

This itinerary took you along several highlights of Portugal.

A country of incredible nature and many wonderful cultural and historical treasures.

We have traveled here often and have come to appreciate the country more and more over the years.

We hope that with this 14 days in Portugal article we have been able to pass on our love for Portugal and that you will appreciate the country as much as we do.

Have a good trip.