7 Days In Portugal Without A Car: Portugal Itinerary (2023)

Are you wondering how to spend 7 days in Portugal without a car? I’ve got you covered!

After extensively travelling around Portugal, I devised a perfect 7 days in Portugal itinerary to hit all the best spots in Portugal in one week, without a car.

When planning my backpacking Portugal itinerary, I saw many Portugal road trip itineraries that didn’t work for me.

Having backpacked around Europe for years as a solo female traveller, I know public transport is great in most places – also amazing for your backpacking Europe budget.

Also, renting a car was complicated because of the car rental rules in Portugal: no car without a credit card. 

On this trip, you’ll admire Porto viewpoints, eat pasteis de nata in Lisbon and swim on scenic Algarve beaches.

If you’re ready to start travelling in Portugal without a car, let’s jump right in!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. I hope you find the information here helpful!

sunset over ribeira, porto

1 Week Portugal Itinerary: At a Glance

  • Day 1 Porto: Explore the city of Porto and find the best viewpoints
  • Day 2 Porto: Stroll the city or take a day trip to Douro Valley for wine tasting
  • Day 3 Lisbon: Explore Baixa and Bairro Alto 
  • Day 4 Lisbon: Visit Belem and explore the Alfama neighbourhood 
  • Day 5 Lisbon: Take a day trip to Sintra castles
  • Day 6 Algarve: Explore Faro or Lagos 
  • Day 7 Algarve: Kayak to Benagil Cave or hike Lagos Coastal Walk

Or the other way around! Star from Algarve and travel up north. 

The way I suggest you structure your trip is:

  • Summer and winter: both work
  • Autumn: south to north
  • Spring: north to south


So you can take advantage of warmer weather and enjoy Algarve beaches at their best. While it won’t make much difference in summer and winter, warmer days in spring and autumn might mean you can go for a swim!

There are airports in both Faro and Porto. I suggest you fly in at one and out of the other if possible. 

Use Skyscanner to figure out which option is more affordable!

How to get around Portugal without a car?

You don’t need to worry about getting around Portugal without a car. Public transport in the country is great, and you can reach virtually every tourist spot by bus or train.

While a car is the most comfortable way to get around, you don’t need to rent a car for a week in Portugal.

When travelling by public transport, you’re restricted by the departure schedule. Depending on which bus or train you take, you’ll have more or less time at your destination.

That is why you need to consider that on travel days you’ll only have half of the day to explore the city. 

If you’re travelling to Portugal in winter, the sunset is already around 5 pm!

Travelling in Portugal by train

It is possible to do 7 days in Portugal by train. All the cities on this itinerary are connected by rail, so this could easily be Portugal by train itinerary.

The thing about the trains in Portugal is you have to book in advance if you want to travel cheaply.

If you book your ticket in advance, a trip from Porto to Lisbon can be just10€. However, if you book it last minute, it is about 30€. Significant difference!

So, if you prefer trains over buses, book your train tickets in Portugal as soon as possible. 

Travelling in Portugal by bus

Portugal is not a large country, so bus travel can still be pleasant. 

The time difference between taking a bus and a train isn’t dramatic. On average, a bus will take 15 minutes longer than a train. 

I travelled around Portugal by bus, as I found buses to be much cheaper than trains. Seriously, you can find a 3€ Flixbus from Porto to Lisbon!

I use Omio to compare the prices and book all my transportation tickets.

a girl looking over porto landscape - cover for backpacking europe budget

Day 1 Porto: Explore the city of Porto and find the best viewpoints

Porto is my favourite city in Portugal and the first stop on our itinerary – unless you’re doing it south to north, then it is the last.

Porto has that small-city charm, despite being a relatively big city. You’ll find cobblestone streets, colourful houses and incredible views everywhere you go.

Take a free walking tour

It’s no secret that free walking tours are my favourite way to discover a city. When you take one in the first city you visit in Portugal, you will learn more about Portugese history from a local. 

It will be helpful as you’ll get to use that knowledge throughout your trip!

a girl with brown hair looking at blue tiles in sao bento station, porto
church with blue and white tiles on the exterior in porto, portugal

Find all the blue-tiled buildings

Porto is best known for its unique blue-tiled buildings and churches. Unlike most churches around the world that are decorated inside, the Portuguese decorated the exterior of their churches with vivid blue tiles!

This decoration technique is called azulejo tiles.

The best places to see azulejo tiles in Porto:

  • São Bento Station
  • Igreja do Carmo
  • Capela das Almas
  • Igreja de Santo Ildefonso
  • Porto cathedral

Watch the sunset from Miradouro da Vitória

Sunset lovers will love Porto as there are many incredible spots to watch the sunset in Porto! 

Miradouro da Vitória is one of the best viewpoints in the city and a great place to see the sun setting over the colourful houses of Porto.

a view of porto landscape from viewpoint in front of Miradouro da Vitoria

Taste some port wine 

You have to try regional wine when you’re in Porto! 

Port wine has a unique, full taste. It is served in small glasses and has a rather high alcohol percentage.

I like it, but I am a sweet wine kind of gal.

Discover Porto nightlife

Start your trip strong with a night out. You can enjoy the nightlife in Porto even as a solo traveller, and Portugal is well known for its lively nightlife.

If you stay in a social backpacker hostel, like Hostel One Ribeira, you’ll easily meet people to go out with and discover the best bars.

Alternatively, join a Porto pub crawl and visit 3 bars and a popular nightclub, with a group of like-minded travellers.

Day 2 Porto: Stroll the city or take a day trip to Douro Valley for wine tasting

On your second day in Porto, you can either stay in the city or take a day trip to the famous Douro Valley. 

Day trip to Douro Valley

Take a day trip to Douro Valley and discover Northern Portugal as you learn why this region is famous for its wine-making tradition.

If you are a wine lover who wants to splurge on one experience in Portugal, this Full-Day Douro Wine Tour with Lunch and River Cruise should be on your itinerary.

The tour will pick you up in Porto and take you to the heart of Douro Valley. There, you will visit 2 wineries and enjoy 6 different wine tastings. 

The tour also includes a river cruise along the picturesque Douro river overlooking the vineyards.

I picked this tour among many Porto day trips to Douro Valley as it is the best-rated, and they accommodate vegans when you notify them in advance! 

If you’re travelling as a vegan, you know how annoying it is worrying about if there will be anything for you to eat on tours. 

This is a full-day tour, so you’ll be back in Porto for sunset.

🍇Book Full-Day Douro Wine Tour with Lunch and River Cruise Now!

Explore the picturesque Ribeira 

Alternatively, stay in the city and explore the neighbourhood of Ribeira, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ride Porto Coastal Tram line 1 to the Atlantic Ocean

Did you think you could only see historic yellow trams in Lisbon? Then you need to know about Porto tram line 1.

This tram takes you along the coast from Infante station to the Atlantic Ocean.

But be warned, it is a popular touristic activity and it can get crowded.

sunset over a sandy beach with surfers in the background, portugal

Stroll along the river

Once you’re back in the city, cross the lower bridge and admire Ribeira from across the river!

The walk is relaxing, and you get to take in the whole historic side of Porto, with colourful houses lining the hills.

See the city from the unique perspective of Gaia cable car

You can take the Gaia cable car in both directions, but I suggest you save your money and take it just up to the Jardim do Morro.

The alternative is climbing a very steep hill.

Gaia cable ride is quite short. However, the view is amazing. It is a unique activity to add to your Portugal itinerary, as not many places have cable cars with such incredible views.

Watch the sunset from Jardim do Morro/ Hill Garden

Jardim do Morro is the most popular spot to watch the sunset in Porto. 

It is not just the best sunset spot in Porto, it is a whole experience. Hill Garden is a gathering place where hundreds of people come to sit on the grass and have a picnic as the sun sets behind the river.

If Jardim do Morro gets too crowded for your liking, continue up to the Miradouro da Serra do Pilar. It is a viewing platform in front of the Monastery of Serra do Pilar. Great for photos and sunset watching.

sunset over a bridge in porto, portugal with " small boats in the river

Where to stay in Porto?

Porto is not a large city, but if you want to avoid using public transport, you’ll want to stay around the city centre.

Best backpacker hostel in Porto: Hostel One Ribeira

Best mid-range accommodation in Porto: Go2oporto – Fontainhas Apartments

I stayed in Go2oporto – Fontainhas Studio and absolutely loved it. The location was great, just a 15-minute walk to the city. The flat is fully furnished with a washing machine – great if you pack in a personal item only and run out of clothes.

How to get to Porto?

Assuming you’re flying into Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport, you can simply take a Metro line E to the city centre.

Duration: 30 min

Approximate cost: 2€

Alternatively, if your flight is late or you just can’t be bothered to take the metro to the city centre and figure out how to get to your accommodation – go for a pick-up service

With Welcome Pickups, you can order your ride in advance and know exactly how much you’ll need to pay. 

How to get around Porto?

Porto is a walkable city, and the best way to discover is simply by walking. If you stay in the city centre, you probably won’t need public transport.

If your accommodation is further from the city centre, Porto has an extensive public transport system, with a metro, trams and buses!

Did you think you could see typical yellow trams only in Lisbon? You’re in for a surprise! They are all around Porto as well!

Day 3 Lisbon: Explore Baixa and Bairro Alto 

You’ll start your third day in Portugal bright and early. Try to catch one of the first trains or buses from Porto to Lisbon to make the most of your day. Travelling and settling in your next accommodation will take about 5 hours out of your day.

Stroll Rua Augusta

Discover the city centre of Lisbon, starting with Lisbon’s most popular walking street.

view of lisbon castle and city centre from santa justa lift viewpoint

See the view from Santa Justa

You don’t need to wait in line and pay to use the elevator to admire the view from this beautiful lift.

Skip the line and climb the viewing platform of the Santa Justa elevator from behind the Carmo Convent for a stunning, free view of the city.

Admire the large Praca do Comercio

You’ll be in awe as you reach Praca do Comercio, one of the largest squares in Portugal. The square was built on a place where the palace used to stand before the 1755 earthquake.

See the famous Elevador da Bica

This lift car-tram is one of the iconic spots in the city. You can ride it up the street or observe it as it glides up and down one of the steepest roads you’ve ever seen.

Enjoy the sunset from Miradouro de Santa Catarina

Catch your breath after climbing the hill and enjoy your first sunset in Lisbon from this incredible viewing platform.

This is one of the less visited sunset spots in the city, and it offers an amazing view of the Ponte 25 de Abril.

Discover nightlife in Bairro Alto

The narrow cobblestone streets of Bairro Alto are lined with bars and clubs where you can spend the night dancing and partying as the Portuguese.

lisbon cathedral and a historic red tram

Day 4 Lisbon: Visit Belem and explore the Alfama neighbourhood 

On your second day in Lisbon, you’ll visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Alfama neighbourhood and the Belem Tower.

Take a coastal tram to Belem

If you went out last night, you’ll enjoy the relaxing ride in the iconic yellow tram along the coast to Belem – If you’re lucky enough to get a seat in the yellow tram. 

Otherwise, a regular tram works perfectly fine!

belem tower on a rainy day with people with umbrellas walking around

See the Belem Tower and Jerónimos Monastery

If you get Lisbon Card Pass, you can climb the Belem Tower and visit the  Monastery for free.

If you want to enter the attractions, you’ll have to pay an entrance fee. But it is free to admire them from the outside, and on a busy day in Lisbon, it is enough for most travellers.

Try vegan pasteis de nata

Belem neighbourhood is known as home to the original pasteis de Belem. Unfortunately, they aren’t vegan.

Luckily, you can try delicious, vegan pasteis de nata in Vegan Nata in the city centre of Lisbon! 

Discover the narrow streets of Alfama 

Alfama is the oldest neighbourhood in Lisbon. It is the only area that survived the earthquake in 1755 and kept its medieval chaotic appearance throughout the centuries.

a girl in a dress overlooking the sunset over lisbon at senhora do monte viewpoint
three small tables with chairs and yellow plant decorations in a cobblestone street of alfama, lisbon

Watch the sunset from Senhora do Monte’s viewpoint

This courtyard is the highest point of the Graca neighbourhood. It is the best spot to enjoy the sunset after exploring Alfama.

Senhora do Monte’s viewpoint is incredible, as you can see the castle, Alfama, Baixa and Bairro Alto.

Day 5 Lisbon: Take a day trip to Sintra castles

Sintra is the most popular day trip from Lisbon. On your final day in Lisbon, discover the fairytale-like castles in UNESCO-listed Sintra

Take Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais Full-Day Tour

Joining a guided tour is the best way to explore this picturesque area as you avoid long walks between the castles and the train station.

This Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais Full-Day Tour is the best-rated tour you can take. It is great value for money as you will visit the Pena Palace in Sintra and the Atlantic coast. 

You will also visit Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe!

Book Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais Full-Day Tour now!

Where to stay in Lisbon?

Ideally, you would stay in the city centre – around Baixa and Bairro Alto. If not, as it is the most expensive area, most of the city is well-connected by public transport. 

As long as you’re close to the metro, you’re in the city centre within 20 minutes.

Best hostel for backpackers in Lisbon: Goodmorning Solo Traveller Hostel

Best mid-range accommodation in Lisbon: Seven Dreams Suites

I stayed in Seven Dreams Suites and loved my stay. It is not a luxury hotel, but it feels luxurious. It was right next to the metro station, so I was in the city centre in no time!

How to get to Lisbon from Porto?

You can get a bus or a train from Porto to Lisbon.

Duration: The trip takes the same time by bus or train – about 3-3.5h.
Approximate cost: 6-40€, depending on how in advance you book your ticket

I always use Omio in Portugal to compare the prices of buses and trains.

How to get around Lisbon?

Lisbon is a big city. More importantly, Lisbon is a hilly city! Don’t be fooled when you see something that is just 1.5km away – it is 1.5km uphill!

Unless you’re staying in the city centre, you’ll have to use public transport. Luckily, public transport in Lisbon works great.

Metro is quick and reliable, and you know their yellow trams are super photogenic!

Unfortunately, there is no 2-day public transport pass, only individual tickets and 24h tickets. If you plan on using public transport a lot, I suggest 24h ticket.

Good to know: With Lisbon Card: 24, 48, or 72-Hour Pass, you get unlimited access to public transport! If you want to visit some paying attractions, it is a great option to skip the lines and save money.

girl facing backwards looking at a church on a main square in faro, portugal

Day 6 Algarve: Explore Lagos or Faro

On day 6, you will make your way down from Lisbon to the Algarve coast. As always, go for one of the first morning departures to maximise your time on the coast.

If you visit Portugal in the summer when the days are longer, you could have time to visit both Faro and Lagos before sunset. Otherwise, pick one and book a direct train or bus from Lisbon.

Best things to do in Faro

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of the historic centre
  • See Arco da Vila
  • Visit Igreja de Santa Maria
  • Admire the unique Igreja do Carmo and its chappel of bones
  • Visit the Ria Formosa Natural Park on this catamaran tour

You can see most tourist attractions in Faro in one day and then go on a day trip on the second day.

Best things to do in Lagos

  • Discover the best beaches in Lagos
  • Admire the stunning interior of Igreja de Santo Antônio
  • Medieval Lagos Castle and the city walls
  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of the city centre
  • Admire the stunning sunset from Ponta de Piedade

If you want to enjoy nightlife while you’re in Algarve, maybe Albufeira is worth visiting. This Portguese coastal town is well known for its lively nightlife and countless bars and clubs.

a girl walking on cobblestone streets of faro, portugal
sandy beach and bright blue sea washing up in gentle waves in lagos, portugal

Day 7 Algarve: Benagil Cave or Lagos Coastal Walk

On your final full day in Portugal, you’ll explore one of the best sights in the Algarve.

Getting to the Benagil Cave without a car is nearly impossible, so you should join a tour.

There are plenty of Benagil cave tours in the Algarve, starting from nearly every city along the coast!

If you’re in for an active vacation and want to swim in the cave, go for a kayak tour.

Alternatively, Benagil cave boat tours are a good way to see the caves but more for families than young backpackers.

Best Benagil Cave tour from Faro

This full-day tour to the Benagil Cave from Faro or Tavira is one of a kind, with a full day of activities planned!

It is my favourite Benagil cave tour from Faro, as it includes a visit to the Benagil cave and the 7 Hanging Valleys trek – the most popular hike in the Algarve.

You will have time to kayak in the Benagil Caves and designated swimming time. 

Many others are just boat tours!

🌊 Book Tour to the Benagil Cave from Faro NOW!

Algarve coast kayak tour from Lagos

If you decide to stay in Lagos, you can join this 2-hour Kayak Tour. 

The tour takes you from the city centre of Lagos to Ponta de Piedade, where you will explore the stunning rock formations and swim in the sea caves!

🛶Book a 2-hour Kayak tour in Lagos NOW! 

benagil cave, a cave with a whole in the ceiling
a girl facing backwards on a wooden boardwalk in lagos, overlooking the rock formations on the beach

Hike Lagos Coastal Walk

If the weather isn’t kayak friendly, or you want to stay on a budget, hiking Lagos Coastal Walk is a great free alternative activity to add to your Lagos itinerary!

The Algarve coast is one of a kind, with many great coastal hikes. The hike in Lagos is a leisurely walk along the cliffs on a wooden boardwalk. 

Start from the city centre of Lagos and just follow the trail along the coastline. The hike is about 3.5km long to Ponta de Piedade, but you can continue onwards to Porto Mós Beach for a total of 6km.

The views are incredible, and the sunset from Ponta de Piedade is magical.

How to get from Lisbon to Algarve?

You can take a bus or train from Lisbon to the Algarve coast. I suggest you book one of the first departures in the morning to make the most of your day.

Both train and bus from Lisbon to Algarve take about 3-4h.

I always use Omio in Portugal to compare the prices of buses and trains.

Where to stay in Algarve?

Pick one town as a base for both days. Lagos and Faro are my top picks if you are indecisive about where to stay in Algarve without a car.

Where to stay in Lagos?

Best hostel for backpackers in Lagos: Cloud 9 Hostel 
Best mid-range accommodation in Lagos: Lalitana Townhouse 

Where to stay in Faro?

Best hostel for backpackers in Faro: Casa da Madalena Backpackers Hostel 
Best mid-range accommodation in Faro:  Le Jardin Secret De Faro

If you’re travelling in high season, book as far in advance as possible. The best places sell out quickly!

a girl sitting down overlooking a sandy beach with rock formations in the sea in lagos, portugal

Is 7 days enough in Portugal?

As you can see, 7 days in Portugal is enough time to get a taste of the country and see the main highlights.

You can’t see everything in just 7 days, and many people choose to focus on one region to explore in one week in Portugal. 

However, if you’re backpacking Portugal as a part of your backpacking Europe itinerary, you want to see as much as possible in the short time available.

When you have limited time, and travel without a car, you’ll have to save some spots, like the impressive Nazare waves and Coimbra, for your next visit.

This 7 days in Portugal itinerary covers all the must-see spots in the country, with plenty of time to enjoy the hidden gems around the cities.

How to get to Portugal?

Portugal is well-connected to the rest of the world by air and land. If you’re already in Europe, it is easy to reach both Faro and Porto. 

I suggest you fly into Porto or Faro airport and leave from the other one for this itinerary. However, you can take a 3h bus or train back to Lisbon if those two don’t work for you, you’ll just have to adjust your itinerary.

It is easy to hop on a bus from Sevilla to Faro if you’re already backpacking Andalucia,

You can easily continue your backpacking Europe route from both Faro in the south and 

sandy beach in lagos portugal with people walking in the shallow sea

When is the best time to visit Portugal?

Portugal is an incredible country to visit any time of the year. 

When summer comes, tourist flock to the south to enjoy the incredible beaches of the Algarve coast.

Portugal is also one of the best places to backpack in Europe in winter, as winters in Portugal are relatively mild.

However, winter in Porto is rather wet, with many rainy days. For a winter sun destination, consider spending more time backpacking Algarve.

To get the best of both worlds, nice weather, lower prices and fewer crowds plan your trip in spring and autumn.

How much to budget for 7 days in Portugal without a car?

On average, your daily budget for backpacking Portugal will be at least 50€.

That average will increase if you visit in summer as the accommodation and activities prices go up significantly!

Your biggest expense will be accommodation, while you can find hostels for 20€ a night, the best ones are closer to 40€ a night!

To save on transportation, book your bus and train tickets as far in advance as possible.

Portugal is not a cheap country. Whoever tells you that Portugal is one of the cheapest countries to backpack in Europe either has a large budget or hasn’t visited in a while.

backpacking algarve guide, girl overlooking the beach in albufeira

What Do To If You Have 10 Days In Portugal?

With 10 days in Portugal without a car, you can add a couple of more cities to your itinerary.

You won’t have to choose between visiting Lagos or Albufeira since you’ll have time for both. 

With more time in Portugal, you can try surfing. Portugal is one of the best European surfing destinations!

Consider discovering the less visited cities in the north like Braga and Coimbra.


Is it easy to get around Portugal without a car?

Yes, it is easy to get around Portugal without a car. Portugal has a reliable and extensive public transport system with trains and buses connecting virtually every tourist spot in the country. You can check the schedule and book your tickets online for a carefree journey.

Is Portugal safe for solo female travellers?

Yes, Portugal is safe for solo female travellers. Violent crimes are rare, and the biggest danger you’ll face in big cities like Porto and Lisbon is pickpocketing.

Is Portugal expensive to visit?

Portugal can be expensive to visit, especially in summer. The Algarve coast is a popular summer destination. Budget-friendly places and cars book out months in advance. 

If you want to visit Portugal on a budget, consider planning your trip in shoulder season. On average, backpacking in Portugal costs about 50€ a day.

How to travel in Portugal without a car?

Portugal is well connected by public transport, and you can reach virtually any tourist destination without a car, by train, or by bus. Trains and buses in Portugal are reliable and affordable, especially if you book in advance.

Final Thoughts: 7 Days In Portugal Without A Car

This concludes this action-packed 7 days in Portugal itinerary without a car!

You don’t have to worry about how to get around Portugal without a car, as public transport works great.

If you’re traveling in Portugal without a car, you’ll be on the road quite a bit, but you’ll still have enough time to enjoy the best Portugal has to offer.

As you only have a week in Portugal, you won’t be able to see everything. You’ll have to decide between spending another day exploring the cobblestone streets of Lisbon or going on a day trip to Sintra.

However, remember this is a holiday and take your time to enjoy your Portugal trip.

If you found this one week in Portugal itinerary a bit too rushed, how about spending the whole week discovering the picturesque Algarve coast following this 7 days in Algarve itinerary?

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