Portugal Travel Guide: Itinerary and best places to see | Milesopedia
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Lisbon

Portugal Travel Guide: sip your port and savour your tarts

To the point Portugal is a great vacation destination with beautiful scenery, good wine and delicious tarts!

Portugal is a destination that lends itself to all types of travel: road trips, solo, as a couple, with family or friends!

Porto 6

Portugal: the best places to see

Porto

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, the gateway to the Douro Valley and the capital of… Port, a dessert wine. The city has plenty of choices for tasting ports wine or visiting factories.

Then, for those who love hiking, it is also possible to start the pilgrimage to Compostela from Porto.

Finally, the sunset views over the Douro River are a great panorama of the city.

Porto 3
Porto

Building in an open circuit or multi-city route is an excellent way to save time. Indeed, you can arrive in Porto and leave from Lisbon during your trip to Portugal!

Douro Valley

Most of Portugal‘s Port and wine are produced in this mountainous region. The vineyards are located at the top of the valley, allowing you to enjoy breathtaking views while sipping your drink.

Ideally, it is best to rent a car to travel through this region of Portugal to discover as many vineyards as you want and at the pace that suits you.

Vignoble de la Rosa—

On the other hand, multiple organized tours are available on Viator to explore the Douro Valley; most include visits to 2 or 3 wineries. You won’t have to limit your alcohol consumption since you have a driver!

Guimarães

This small village near Porto has great importance in the foundation of Portugal. It was here that the first Portuguese king, Afonso Henriques, was born.

The historical sites are well preserved, including the Palace of Guimarães, the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza and the old town.

Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães – Small Luxury Hotels—

Aveiro

Located south of Porto, the tourist city of Aveiro is an ideal location for a getaway from Porto or on the itinerary of a road trip in Portugal.

Aveiro is best known for its canals, colourful boats, and architecture.

Aveiro - Crédit Valérie
Aveiro - Crédit Valérie

Nazaré

The Praia da Nazaré extends for several kilometres and is one of the best beaches on the coast; this beach is sheltered from the currents and winds coming from the Atlantic Ocean. So it’s a great place to relax and for a family vacation.

On the other hand, in winter, the waves of Nazaré will satisfy the surfers. You can see waves as high as 30 meters forming in this small corner of Portugal!

Sintra

The small town of Sintra is located in the hills, not too far from Lisbon. You can discover splendid castles through its pine forest and transport yourself into a fairy tale.

Sintra’s abundance of historical sites and beautiful scenery make it one of the most popular attractions in Portugal. In addition, a trip to Sintra is easily accomplished from Lisbon’s Rossio train station.

Sintra 2

it is best to stay for a few days to get a feel for the place as there are so many palaces and mansions to visit that

  • Palacio Nacional da Pena
  • Palacio Nacional de Sintra
  • Quinta da Regaleira
  • Castelo dos Mouros
  • Palace of Monserrate
Sintra

Lisbon

Lisbon has gained a lot of popularity in the last few years as the cost of living is very affordable, and it is a great place to live!

The capital of Portugal is a beautiful place with many museums, historical buildings, restaurants and cafes where you can taste pastéis de Nata. Moreover, the views are magnificent.

Lisbonne 5
Lisbonne 3

In addition to the city of Lisbon itself, a short trip to Belém is a must! For food lovers, Portugal’s pastéis de Nata originally come from Belém.

Lisbonne Belem  - Crédit Valérie
Lisbonne Belem - Crédit Valérie
Belem

Évora

In Portugal’s south, you’ll find the city of Évora, which is part of UNESCO Heritage. Évora is a destination for history lovers; unlike Lisbon, Évora was spared the great earthquake of 1755, and has a more authentic appearance.

Within its walls, we can observe a picturesque landscape with numerous public squares, Gothic art, Renaissance palaces and… a macabre chapel covered with human skeletons!

Evora.chapelle.dos - Crédit Valérie
Evora.chapelle.dos - Crédit Valérie

Algarve

Although the beach of Nazaré is lovely, it is not comparable to what you can find in the Algarve. The choice of beaches is enormous for beach hopping.

This region of Portugal is beautiful! The weather is perfect, the landscapes are unrealistic, and the villages are charming.

Faro and Lagos are important historical and cultural centers of the region. These are excellent bases to discover the Algarve.

Algarve.vallées Suspendues  - Crédit Valérie
Algarve.vallées Suspendues - Crédit Valérie
Algarve Grotte Benagil - Crédit Valérie
Algarve Grotte Benagil - Crédit Valérie

Organize your trip to Portugal

How to prepare for your trip to Portugal?

Before leaving, nothing is better than being equipped with addresses, recommendations from friends, books, sites, and forums. As always, excellent books to read on the Ulysses Guides to Portugal website, available in PDF version too:

Fabulous Portugal Ulysses Guide
Fabulous Portugal Ulysses Guide
Spain and Portugal
Spain and Portugal

When to visit?

Portugal is a beautiful destination to discover at any time. The best time to visit Portugal, taking advantage of the pleasant climate and the low tourist traffic, is in spring and autumn, i.e:

  • mid-March to early June
  • from September to November

The summer can be so hot in Portugal, and the number of visitors soars as it is a trendy country for budget travel compared to other European destinations.

Lisbonne 6

How much time is required to visit?

I did a one-week itinerary between Porto and Faro. However, it is a long road (about 2,000 kilometres through the Douro Valley).

If, like me, you only have a week: focus on one or two regions when visiting Portugal. Like:

  • Major Cities: Porto + Lisbon
  • Wine Route: Porto + Douro Valley
  • Southern landscapes: Lisbon + Algarve
Fado

How to get to Portugal?

Aeroplan points

There are several options with Aeroplan to get to Portugal from Canada, including Air Canada and TAP.

If you are flying from Montreal, the advantage is that a flight with an airline partner such as TAP to Lisbon or Porto is included in the first Aeroplan fare band:

  • 35,000 one-way economy points
  • 60,000 one-way points in business class
Portugal TAP Aeroplan

You could even stop in one city and leave in another (adding 5,000 Aeroplan points).

A Montreal-Lisbon-Porto-Montreal flight would cost 75,000 Aeroplan points in Economy Class.

  • Segment #1: Montreal – Lisbon (stop) – Porto (destination)
  • Segment #2: Porto – Montreal

Portugal can also be combined with a trip in Morocco!

With Air Canada, the fare varies according to the market. On the other hand, choosing a flight operated by Air Canada can be a significant advantage for families: you can benefit from a free checked bag for you and eight people on the same reservation! Under the Condition, of course, to be an Aeroplan credit card holder.

If you plan to use your Aeroplan points to travel on TAP, calculate your points’ value.

TAP often offers excellent prices between Montreal and Lisbon. It is not uncommon to see a round-trip ticket for $500-600. Therefore, it is preferable to apply travel points on your reservation (see next section) rather than using Aeroplan points.

Travel points

With airfares to Portugal often attractive, it is very convenient to have a bank of points that can be applied to travel purchases, such as the NBC Reward Travel Points from National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard®.

When booking airfare on the NBC Rewards à la carte portal, you can use your NBC Rewards points directly on the flight purchase at 10,000 points per $100. This is the best redemption rate for these points.

Portugal BNC

Also, don’t forget that this card comes with travel insurance, and you can use travel credits to select your seats or add luggage!

How to get around in Portugal?

Public transportation

A trip to Portugal is very well done with public transport, to get from one city to another with the train and bus network.

You can pay for bus and train tickets with a credit card. So, if you use a no-conversion-fee credit card like the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® you can save the 2.5% foreign currency fee. Then, unlike cash payments, collecting points on these purchases will be possible!

Within the cities, it is usually possible to explore all the sights on foot, with public transportation or by streetcar!

Lisbonne 2

Car rental

The major cities of Lisbon and Porto can be seen easily without renting a car.

However, I recommend renting a car to explore certain parts of Portugal, especially if you are travelling with your family.

Lisbonne—

To pay off the bill for a car rental in Portugal, you can collect a lot of TD Rewards points with the TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card without much effort and make your reservation on Expedia for TD.

You’ll have many choices; the prices are pretty competitive. Finally, you can use your TD Rewards points optimally on this platform.

location voiture italie td
location voiture italie td 2

If your driver’s license was not issued in the European Union, it is best to obtain an international driver’s license before leaving Canada. The rental counter will not require an international driver’s license, but you are putting yourself at risk for fines.

Where to stay in Portugal?

Independent hotels

There are plenty of reasonably priced hotels on sites like Agoda or Booking.com in Portugal. As this is a trendy country, demand will dictate accommodation rates. So, expect to pay a little more during the peak of the summer; check out the youth hostels; there are sometimes excellent prices for private rooms!

However, it is not uncommon to find bargains for hotel rooms throughout Portugal in the spring and fall.

Booking.com Portugal

House rentals

If you want to spend your summer in Portugal, looking at VRBO’s house rentals would be interesting.

Indeed, life in Portugal is lovely for its temperature and gastronomy! You won’t get tired of pastéis de Nata and seafood!

Airbnb

The prices of apartments on Airbnb in Portugal are affordable.

Families will also be pleased to know that there are plenty of Airbnb accommodation options in Portugal. Indeed, this country is an excellent destination for young children and having a kitchen and the opportunity to do your laundry is very convenient.

Airbnb Portugal

Marriott Bonvoy Hotels

In Portugal, the hotels of the Marriott Bonvoy program are widely present in the cities of Lisbon and Porto as well as in the tourist regions; there is something for every taste and every wallet since there are several banners.

We have just visited these hotels of Marriott Bonvoy in Portugal:

To earn Marriott Bonvoy points quickly, you should look to credit cards co-branded with the program or those offering membership rewardstransferable to Marriott Bonvoy.

Finally, many hotels cost less than 35,000 points, while the cash rate can be more expensive. Thus, you can use free night certificates. These are the annual benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card or the American Express® Marriott BonvoyTM Corporate Card.

So, if you play your cards right, you can stay at expensive hotels for less money with certificates.

Moxy Lisbon
Porto 4
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