Seeing the best of Portugal in 8 days: where to go

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Portugal is a country that just keeps on giving with its sunny skies and warm weather, historical wonders, panoramic views and delicious grub. Although I had visited the country before, I knew there was so much more to it than first meets the eye. 8 days is a wonderful amount of time to see 3 different locations, the best sights and get a feel of the country's culture and overall vibe.

If you're planning a long break to Portugal, here's my guide on seeing the best of Portugal in 8 days: where to go, featuring Porto, Sintra and Lisbon.

Seeing the best of Portugal in 8 days: where to go

Porto: 4 days

Day one

I fell in love with Porto when I arrived in the city as it has a modern, hipster appeal, gorgeous weather and plenty of activities to keep you busy over 4 days. Plus, it's a hub for day trips with many northern destinations in Portugal not too far away.

Clerigos Tower

To get a gorgeous look at the city, climbing Clergios Tower is a great place to start your venture around the city. Tickets cost 8 euros and I'd recommend booking them in advance as it can get pretty busy, especially in peak season. The climb can be steep and claustrophobic so I would bear that in mind if heights or tight spaces worry you. The view of the city, especially on a blue-sky day is glorious.

Wander around the city and get your bearings

Porto has hidden gems wherever you look, from quirky coffee shops, independent stores, characteristic roads, parks and beautiful art dotted around, and the best part to see it all is to wader. With any location, everyone has their favourite spots but this is your opportunity to find the places you love and get your bearings where the main attractions are.

Igreja Do Campo

Porto is renowned for the staple blue mosaic tiles with plenty of buildings and art featuring them. The Igreja Do Campo is famous for its exterior, showcasing the stunning blue and white tiles, ideal for the perfect candid photo backdrop. Inside, there's a church, just as beautiful (if not more beautiful) than the outside. 

Porto Cathedral

I adore cathedrals and roaming around them and Porto Cathedral blew me away. It gave me a Hogwarts vibe and the exterior was just majestic in every way. Entrance is free but you'll need to pay 3 euro for any extras, such as the cloister.

Day two

Bolhao Market

I love a market and to get a taste of the local culture and this place hits both nails on the head. Bolhao Market serves up all the produce for a grocery shop, plus drinks, bakery items and hot food. You can grab something for breakfast, smoothies on the go or local produce for a food shop, cooking up a meal in your Airbnb.

Explore Riberia

Riberia is completely different to the main hub of Porto, located on the water's edge and boasting colourful and rustic homes throughout. It's a charismatic area of Porto to explore, roaming around the independent shops, stunning riverside restaurants and market stalls. 

Go to Mercado De Gaia 

Over the river from the main part of Porto is a strip of shops, restaurants, market stalls and the Mercado De Gaia. This is like a typical indoor food market of dreams with plenty of choices from pasta to sandwiches. I'm still dreaming of the focaccia sandwich I had here and would love to eat it again and again.

Gardens of Crystal Palace

To experience a taste of nature in the city, the Gardens of Crystal Palace is a manicured garden, perfect for sitting and eating ice cream, reading your book or sunbathing. As it's a free spot, you can spend as long as you like here, walking around the wonders of the green space.

Liberia Lello

I'm a book lover and when I heard about this bookshop, I had to visit it. I have to admit, it is incredibly crowded so you don't get the usual peace of a bookshop, but the beauty of it is something else. And, they even offer special editions of classic books, such as The Wizard of Oz.

Watch the sunset over the city

Sunset is my favourite time of day and seeing it over a city is everything to me. The best place in Porto to see the sunset is Jardim do Morro as it's set perfectly above the river and the city. Especially as most nights, they have live music here so it adds to the ambience.

Port and chocolate tasting 

Portugal is home to port and I couldn't leave the country without trying it. Although, I wasn't sure I liked it and that's why I decided to try it at Vintevinte with a chocolate tasting as well. I was right in that I didn't enjoy the port, but the chocolate was absolutely delicious! You can book port tastings throughout the city, whether you'd like it at a local bar or at the nearby Douro Valley.

Day three

Day trip to Douro Valley

As I said, Porto is the ideal location for many day trips up north, such as Douro Valley. The Douro Valley is the heart of where port and port wine is created and a must-see when you're staying in Porto. You can easily get the train down to one of the towns within Douro Valley and explore as much as your heart desires. We got the train to Regua and spent our time exploring the town, going to the museum there and wandering along the natural beauty of the rolling hills. Here, you can also book tours to sample the port and the other wines on offer.

Day four

Day trip to Braga 

Porto is also easily accessible to Braga by train, which is a sweet town with a few sights and humble appeal and a bus ride away from Bom Jesus Do Monte (a must-see). In Braga, you can spend your time walking around the shops and the cathedral and chill in the many coffee shops. A bus ride away is Bom Jesus Do Monte, a religious retreat with a gorgeous church and open green space. I loved it here as we could just sit and take in the gorgeous lake, marvelling at the buildings.

Sintra: 2 days

Day five 

Explore the historical old town

Sintra was a charming town to spend a couple of days and explore the main sights. The old town area isn't big at all but there are a few gems to see, such as the quirky stores, restaurants, coffee shops and museums. It's lovely to spend time wandering here and grabbing some souvenirs for you or your loved ones.

National Palace of Sintra

Sintra is renowned for some phenomenal sights, such as the National Palace of Sintra. Tickets cost 13 euros and the palace is located in the historical centre. This palace is a gorgeous spot to learn more about the history of Sintra. 

Quinta Da Regaleria

Classed as a UNESCO sight, the Quinta Da Regaleria is a must-visit, near the main historical centre with tickets costing 12 euros each. This site is a 16th-century property and has a taste of nature and majestic buildings, giving you a look at what a Renaissance manor is.

Day 6

Moorish Castle

The thing about Sintra is all the sights are pretty far away from each other and you have to get on a bus to see them. There are different bus routes for different sights and I'd recommend Moorish Castle as one of your top choices. This castle gives you a stunning glimpse of Sintra and beyond as you climb your way to the top. The stone castle has walkways which wind up into the heels and if you get a blue sky day, the sights are even more beautiful.

Pena Palace

As the colourful picture you see on all the postcards, Pena Palace boasts red, yellow and blue coloured buildings and is a dream to roam around. The Romanticist castle is seen wherever you look in Sintra and it makes the long walk up the hill worthwhile, through the park. The price for this palace is 13 euro each and I'd recommend booking in advance. Out of all of the sights, this one is the most popular and you'll likely be queuing for a while before you let in.

Lisbon: 2 days 

Day 7

Praca do Comercio

Lisbon is an hour's train ride from Sintra and as the capital city, it's a little pricier than the other locations. Praca do Comercio is set on the harbour and has a little beach area and plenty of waterside restaurants to enjoy. It's also the entrance into the main hub of Lisbon with gorgeous shops, restaurants and cafes.

Wander around the city

Lisbon is a colourful and rustic city with trams everywhere and a charismatic look, compared to modern Porto. With that in mind, there are plenty of areas to wander around, such as Alfama. Take a browse around and discover your favourite gems in the city, from tucked-away shops, independent coffee spots and local restaurants.

San Jorge Castle

San Jorge Castle is one of the most popular sights in the city and it's worth buying your tickets in advance for (15 euros each), otherwise, you may end up queuing for a while. The historic castle is located up one of the many hills in Lisbon and is wonderful to walk around. You'll witness the significance of history as you admire the structure and see the gorgeous city views as well.

Lisbon Cathedral

I love a cathedral as I've mentioned and Lisbon's sits on one of the corners of the city and doesn't shy away from beauty. It's definitely worth ensuring you visit this cathedral just to say you've done it.

Pink Street

Pink Street has become some sort of tourist hotspot with the iconic 'pink street' and the range of bars and restaurants available throughout. It's a great location to wander at night, and grab some dinner or a refreshing drink after a day of city exploring. 

Timeout market

If you're a foodie, the Timeout market should be top of your list. This market is a food lover's paradise with a variety of cuisines, drinks and desserts. It features some of Lisbon's best restaurants, allowing you to sample food, from classic Portuguese to gelato.

Day 8

Head over to Belem

Belem is near Lisbon and offers many sights, such as the Belem Tower and the Jerónimos Monastery. You can spend the morning here, exploring these sights. The tower isn't massive but it's great for a view of the water and ticking off another sight on your list. The Jerónimos Monastery is one of those buildings which blew me away with its beauty.

LX Factory

The LX Factory is a great way to spend your last afternoon in Lisbon and Portugal overall as it's a hub for arty shops, cafes and restaurants. You can find yourself a gift, grab the iconic chocolate cake at Landeau or have some lunch.

Take a tram ride

The city is the heart of trams and you can't leave here without jumping on a tram, whether it's the classic 28 route or one of the more modern rides.

I hope you enjoyed this post. When are you planning your trip?

Thank you for reading <3

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