I have had multiple people approach me after my trip to Portugal who are planning on travelling there shortly, looking for any sort of recommendations or tips. This country seems to be gaining a lot more popularity with tourism recently, so this prompted me to write in detail about my 10 days spent there! The following post explains my 10 days in Portugal (specifically Lisbon and the Algarve) in detail.
DAY 1: Arrival
My family and I took an overnight flight from Toronto, which left around 7pm and arrived in Lisbon around 7am. I had arranged an early check in into our Airbnb because I knew we’d be exhausted from the long flight. Our Airbnb was in the old historic Alfama district, and was a gorgeous little apartment perfect for our 3 nights in Lisbon. Once we arrived, we slept for a few hours and got ourselves organised. We then went for a walk to explore the city! We wandered for a couple of hours through the Alfama district, and stopped for drinks with a view around Portas do Sol. We found a small restaurant to eat on the way, and we stayed out for sunset to take lots of photos. That area and the streets surrounding it are full of people but are so full of life and fun!
DAY 2: Exploring Lisbon
My parents saw Tuk-Tuks the day before while we walked around and were set on a tour in one of them. So we walked back to the Portas do Sol area where there are over 20 different Tuk-Tuk tours you can choose from. Every one offers pretty much the same services, a set amount of money to take us to all of the tourist spots in the city. We spent the whole afternoon seeing every famous church, view, park, monument, and bakery in the Alfama and Belem districts. Lisbon is so full of history and personality, I am glad we got to see everything. I personally love taking the city’s public transport to see these tourist spots usually, but this was a fun and easy way to condense all of these sights into one day, as well as hearing some of the history while we did it. I do suggest if you have the time, take a tour through the city on famous tram 28 to see everything, it’s cheap and convenient.
That night was our amazing Fado experience, a MUST do if you are in Lisbon. I wrote in detail about this in my trip highlights post, which you can read about here!
DAY 3: Sintra, Cabo da Roca, and Cascais
I had booked this day tour in advance before arriving, because I had heard this was something we couldn’t miss. We left in the early morning with our group so we could arrive at Pena Palace before the crowds. We explored with our guide and learned all about the history of the palace and surrounding area. We then got time to explore the town of Sintra and grab lunch. Afterwards we made a quick stop at Cabo da Roca to see the gorgeous view. Then spent some time in Cascais exploring and grabbing drinks. I talked about this tour in my trip highlights post as well, and linked the tour if you are interested. Click here to go to that post!
After the all day tour in the hot sun we were exhausted, so we spent a chill night grabbing food at a restaurant close by and having some wine and snacks in our Airbnb.
DAY 4: To the Algarve
We checked out of our Airbnb in the morning, went and picked up our rental car, and were off to the South coast! The drive was just under 3 hours, and if you take the train instead of renting a vehicle it’s about 4 hours. We then checked into our vacation rental (we were VERY impressed with it, check it out here) and got settled in.
At this point it was mid afternoon, so we ventured into town to go explore the beach! Our first was Praia Dona Ana (we later checked out Praia do Camilo as well) and it took our breath away. Walking down those wooden stairs to the golden sand, to be surrounded by cliffs was incredible. We explored some caves around the beach, swam, relaxed, and took it all in. Every night when we got back to our rental my brother and I would swim in the outdoor pool for a bit and hangout, it became our little routine. So we did some more swimming, then we made a nice family dinner and enjoyed it on our patio that had a gorgeous view.
DAY 5: Beach day in Lagos
Our first full day in Lagos we wanted to see the town and enjoy more beaches. We ate at an AMAZING breakfast spot, called Goji Lounge Cafe, where we devoured tasty smoothies and variations of avocado toast. My whole family loved it and I would highly recommend it for a healthy and yummy start to the day. We then walked around the streets of Lagos and checked out all of the shops. There were so many little stores, street performers, restaurants, and bars to enjoy. We ended up buying a few things then walked towards the beaches. This day we visited Praia da Batata, Praia dos Estudantes, and Praia do Pinhao. Again there were many different caves to explore, which we really enjoyed. It was also very wavy so we swam and crashed into the waves, my brother and I are like fish in the water.
That evening we decided to visit Ponta da Piedade for the first time to watch the sun go down. I talked about this in my highlights post as well, I can’t even describe to you how absolutely stunning this area is. It was pure magic being able to slowly watch the sun set over the cliffs and ocean with my family. This is one place you NEED to go if you are in the south of Portugal.
DAY 6: Beach BBQ boat tour from Albufeira
This was another tour I had booked ahead of time, linked here. We arrived in Albufeira which was such a cute place, full of colourful buildings lining the downtown area. Our boat tour was around 6 hours long, and started with about 2 hours venturing along the coast going through and past caves (including Benagil caves). The boat was quite large but was able to get into all of the caves we wanted to see which I didn’t expect. It was open bar with lots of snacks, it was like a huge party and our guide was hilarious. We arrived at the beach and they had fresh BBQ’d meat and seafood, chips, salad, and more drinks! After the meal we were able to play games, paddle board, snorkel, or just relax and take it all in. After about 2 hours on the beach we went back to the boat for the ride home. It was basically a big dance party on a boat full of tourists and we had such a great time. All in all just a relaxing fun day where we were able to see the coast from a different point of view and some really cool caves.
DAY 7: Sagres
This day was actually the day I planned a surfing lesson for my brother and I. We got up early, headed out for the day, got picked up by the surf school, went to the beach, and unfortunately the conditions weren’t correct for surfing. It was crazy windy, and the way it was blowing in was flattening all of the waves so it was absolutely flat on the water. We were disappointed but understood there was nothing we could do. The company we booked with (Raven Surf School) was absolutely incredible and kept us in the loop with what was happening and were prepared for everything.
Since that ended up getting cancelled early, we decided as a family to drive over to Sagres. We explored the Fortress and Cape St. Vincent as well as the small town. If you’re into history and great coastal views this area was full of that! Around late afternoon the wind finally started dying down and the conditions on the West became perfect for surfing. So we went down to Praia do Beliche and watched the surfers while having some drinks. I had never actually seen people surf well before so being able to watch, especially in a location like that, was a really cool experience.
That night we got ready, went to the marina in Lagos, and ate at a fantastic restaurant called Quay. Everything we ate was fantastic and the view of the marina was gorgeous, I highly recommend it.
DAY 8: Final beach day
We wanted to relax at the beaches one last time, because we knew we wouldn’t see anything like it for a while. First we returned for breakfast at Goji Lounge Cafe because we couldn’t stop thinking about it since our meal there. We basically repeated our entire Day 5 because we enjoyed it so much. The waves weren’t as large but we still swam lots. We also enjoyed our last nightly swim in the pool and one final family dinner on our gorgeous patio. The only main town we didn’t get a chance to see was Faro, but we enjoyed Lagos so much we truly didn’t feel the need to.
DAY 9: Return to Lisbon
This day we had to make our way back to Lisbon because we were flying home the next day from their airport very early. We checked out of our vacation rental and said a hard goodbye. We decided to go back again to Ponta da Piedade for one last look at the wonderful coastline. There were a lot more people than our first visit here, but still just as beautiful. I’m glad we went twice so we were able to see it at different points of the day. We said another difficult farewell then we were on the road again.
Once back to Lisbon we checked into our hotel (Holiday Inn) which wasn’t far from the airport. It had a wonderful rooftop pool and bar so we hung out and grabbed a few drinks while talking to a few other Canadians who were also on our flight the next day. We then went to an amazing restaurant for dinner, called Mae Restaurante. A smaller menu but everything was done to perfection. I would highly recommend it if you enjoy fresh seafood. We were lucky enough to experience Benfica (a Lisbon football team) win Nationals while we were walking home from dinner. We joined a massive crowd on the street watching the game and cheering. The city was alive all night with honks and screams celebrating.
DAY 10: Back to Toronto
Unfortunately our day of travel to fly back to Toronto. I was not ready to leave the beautiful weather, delicious food, and gorgeous views.
After the trip and going through the itinerary, I think we did a pretty good job with seeing everything we wanted to in 10 days. If I were to redo it, I think the only thing I might change would be 1 more day in Lisbon and 1 less in Lagos, so we didn’t have to condense most of the tourist sights into 1 day in the big city. My family wanted the focus of this trip not to be sightseeing the entire time, so it was nice to have some relaxing days (which I’m not used to, because my travel style is usually GO GO GO). When I return, I think I’ll go see places we didn’t get to visit, like Porto, Faro, Madeira, and Azores. All in all, this trip was one for the books! I hope this itinerary gives you a little bit of insight and help if you’re looking to plan your own trip to Portugal 🙂