Looking for a Portugal Itinerary of 5 days? You will be pleased to know that although your time there is relatively short, it’s actually possible to see LOADS in Portugal in this amount of time, provided that you are fit and healthy and don’t mind quite a packed schedule!
Introduction to Travelling in Portugal
Portugal is an amazing country full of culture, history and religion. It’s a Catholic country and at one point in history had more Catholic Churches tan Italy! Portuguese are friendly and welcoming to tourists and foreigners and it is an easy place to travel – most train websites (cp.pt) and bus websites are available in English and you can book everything in advance online.
The other added bonus is that it’s a very safe country and great for solo female travellers. I’ve been to Portugal over 5 times now and loved every trip! In fact, I loved it so much that I have finally decided to live and retire there!
It is easy to get to Portugal from the UK and USA. Both Easyjet and Ryanair fly into Porto, Lisbon and the Algarve from many UK destinations including Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London. Lisbon is well serviced by the Portuguese international Airline TAP (Air Portugal). Although slightly more than Easyjet and Ryanair, it’s a comfortable and reliable option.
Remember to check the current Coronavirus regulations, which may be different depending on whether you are vaccinated or not. Be sure to double check whether you need an Antigen or PCR test to enter the country.
What to Pack for a 5 Day Portugal Itinerary
For 5 days in Portugal you should pack light, but make sure that you take a variety of clothing to suit all weathers. If you are travelling in the winter (October to Feb) then I would advice predominantly jeans and jumpers as temperatures are much lower. If it’s a summer trip then you can get away with the majority of your wardrobe being shorts, T shirts and dresses.
The Portuguese sun can be strong particularly in the summer months and so I would recommend packing sun cream, a sun hat and potentially a sun umbrella. However, include a rain coat in your packing in case the weather changes. It can also be quite windy on the Atlantic coast!
Your Visa or Mastercard may well work in Portugal, but I would advice taking some cash money in Euros – I didn’t realise this but much of Portugal still operates as a cash based society. This can mean that no cards are accepted in some restaurants and tourist sites.
Here’s a list of essentials that you need to remember:
- Passport and Covid documentation
- Flight tickets (digital now often accepted)
- Smartphone with relevant apps downloaded e.g. Coimbois de Portugal
- Shorts, T-shirts, dress(es), 1 pair of jeans and 1 jumper
- Underwear including a couple of pairs of walking socks
- Comfortable walking boots or at least trainers
- One other pair of ‘dress shoes’ if you want to go out on the evening
- Cash money in EUROS
- Credit and or Debit card with back up money
- Bum Bag (Fanny pack!) or Money belt (can be useful for travelling)
- Swimming shorts, swimming costume or bikini (lots of swimming opportunities)
Budgeting for a Portugal Itinerary 5 Days
Depending on whether you want to have picnics and hostel it, or eat out in fancy restaurants and stay in hotels, you should budget somewhere in the region of €50-150 per day. You can get decent 3* or 4* hotels in Porto and Lisbon for around €75-100 a night depending on the season. You can also get dorm beds for around €15-20 if you don’t mind sharing your space.
Meals out in Porto and Lisbon can be as cheap as €10-12 per person, especially if you go off the main streets and shop around. Most restaurants offer a daily set menu which can include a main, dessert and glass of wine for €10 or €12. If you want to splurge a bit you can get a really nice Portuguese meal with dessert and drinks for around €30-40.
On my recent 5 day trip to Portugal I managed to spend €40 a day on accommodation (hostel) and food (supermarket shop for lunch and eating out on the evening) – that’s a total of €200 which included the odd few beers! I then had a tour budget of around €300 on top of that which enabled me to go to the Douro valley from porto and Sintra from Lisbon. For 5 days including travel I spent just €500 and I thought that this was excellent value. Flights are on top of course, but I was lucky enough to get Ryanair flights into Lisbon and out of Porto for just £20! So my total trip budget didn’t exceed €600 in total!
If you have a healthier budget, it will definitely help to do some private or group tours as you will see a lot more with a local driver and guide than on public transport. So I would recommend budgeting around €300 for walking tours and private trips if that is possible. If not, don’t worry too much – you can see a lot in Portugal by foot and by train.
Deciding Where to Stay for your Portugal Itinerary
If you have 5 days in Portugal, there are several ways that you can do this and I will give a couple of popular options. Firstly, you need to decide if you want a one or two centre holiday. An excellent two centre holiday would be Porto and Lisbon, but prepare for a packed and intense itinerary! You will probably need a holiday to get over the holiday!
The other option is to choose a one centre holiday because you can actually see and do a lot as day trips. My favourited 5 day trip to Portugal is 5 days in Lisbon with day trips to Sintra and Cascais. If you add another day trip from Lisbon (such as Obidos and Nazare) you will find that you can cover quite a lot of ground!
The third option is to choose a destination to stay in the Algarve, because the Algarve is well set up for tourism and you can see a great deal from either Faro or Lagos. You may even choose to stay somewhere popular with tourists such as Albufeira. The Algarve coastline is drivable, so if hiring a car is an option, you will definitely have more freedom and see a lot more this way. But there is also a good train network connecting the Algarve coastal cities, so that is an option too.
Portugal Itinerary 5 days Option 1 – Porto and Lisbon
For this itinerary I suggest that you fly into Porto and out of Lisbon (Or vice versa!) I flew into Lisbon and out of Porto on my last trip and it worked really well.
3 Days in Lisbon
You will have 3 days to spend in Lisbon with this itinerary (two and a half if you factor in the travel time to Porto which is an afternoon or evening). Here’s what I would suggest….
Day 1 – Take a Lisbon Walking tour or Tuk-tuk tour in the morning and have lunch in the Time Out Food Market. Follow this with a trip to the castle (Sao Jeorge) and or a Museum of your Choice (I chose the Museu Nacional do Azulejo)
There are some free walking tours in Lisbon that start from Praça Luís de Camões. You then pay tips depending on what you think that the tour is worth. My favourite walking tour is the Lisbon Chill Out Tour which is very authentic and run by locals.
Day 2 – Explore Belem in the morning (Torre de Belem, Monument to Discoveries and Jeronimos Mon and the modern part of Lisbon (Parque das Nações) in the afternoon (this can include the Aquarium which is amazing!)
One more thing – if you have time while you are in Lisbon, you should ride one of the Historic Lisbon yellow trams – the Remodelado trams (tram 28 is great for site seeing of the main landmarks) and also the funicular trams which are the ascending and descending trams!
You can book your train from Lisbon to Porto on the cp.pt website. Remember to input your passport number when booking and carry your passport with you so that it is handy on the train journey. Then it’s welcome to Porto!
Day 4 – Take a walking tour of Porto in the morning. Free walking tours go from the Camara (town hall) at 10.30am. You can book online or just rock up and join. Most walking torus will show you the main landmarks including Porto University, Torre de Clerigos, Se Cathedral and Igreja dos Grilos Church.
In the afternoon of your fourth day you can choose to visit one of the museums or historical places of interest – I recommend the Bolsa Palace (with luxurious gold Arabic room) and/or the Igreja do Carmo (this is the tiled Church with the blue Azulejos).
You might also enjoy this blog on how to see Porto in one day.
Day 5 – The last day is all about relaxing and enjoying the gorgeous Port – let’s face it, you simply cannot come to Porto without doing a Porto wine tour! I recommend doing the 6 bridges boat tour down the river Douro in the morning and following this up with an afternoon of doing a Port wine tour on the other side of the river Gaia.
I have also written a full article on the Port houses of Porto here. Some of the best ones to choose are Croft, Sandemans and Calem.
Portugal Itinerary 5 Days Option 2 – Lisbon Centred
If you base yourself in Lisbon for 5 days there is a lot that you can see, especially if you can afford to hire a driver.
Follow the three days in Lisbon as above which will include:
- Day 1 – Lisbon Walking tour in the morning plus Sao Jorge Castle and a Museum in the afternoon
- Day 2 – Belem in the morning and Parque das Nações in the afternoon
- Day 3 – Sintra Day trip
You then have two more beautiful days in and around Lisbon. I would suggest using one more day in Lisbon or maybe exploring the Lisbon Coast such as Carcavelos and Cascais and then taking another day trip outside of Lisbon to explore some of the fabulous destinations in Portugal such as Tomar, Obidos, Fatima and Nazare.
- Day 4 – Lisbon Coast – Carcevelos (beach morning!) and Cascais (beautiful architecture and seafood restaurants.
- Day 5 – Day trip to Obidos, Tomar, Nazare or Fatima. Some tours do multiple destinations and although a bit rushed, you can see quite a lot in one day with a private driver.
Portugal Itinerary 5 Days Option 3 – Algarve Centred
The Algarve is famous for its sunshine and pristine beaches – it’s a popular holiday destination for the Brits. Again it is possible to do either a single destination trip and stay somewhere in Faro or Lagos, or to do it as a two centred holiday. But it is so easy to travel along the coast either by train or private driver I would say that one destination would make it easier and more comfortable.
Here are my suggestions for 5 days with Faro as a base, or you can fly into Faro and out of Lagos (or vice-versa!)
- Day 1 Faro – Old Town historical tour, climb the steps of the Cathedral and if time allows, a boat trip on the Ria Formosa Lagoon.
- Day 2 – Albufeira: Praia da Coelha, São Rafael and City Center.
- Day 3 – Praia da Marinha and Benagil Cave.
- Day 4 – Portimão: Praia dos Três Irmāos and Rocha.
- Day 5 – Lagos city and street art, Meia Praia and sunset at Porto de Mós or Ponta da Piedade.
I hope that these ideas for a 5 day Portugal itinerary have been helpful. I’d love to hear which option you choose. Please write on my blog below and share your trip and ideas!