The very title of this tour is a misnomer. There is no way you can see all of Portugal in 1 week, merely a few of its highlights. But you can have a memorable vacation in Portugal if you budget your time carefully. You can use the following itinerary to make the most out of a week in Portugal, but feel free to drop a place or two to save a day to relax.
Days 1 to 3 Lisbon: Gateway to Portugal
Lisbon is the highlight of Portugal, as befits a capital city, and it also happens to be the arrival point for most rail, plane, and bus trips. Try to arrive in Lisbon as early as possible in the morning to get in a full round of the city's attractions.
After checking into a hotel, head for the Alfama, climaxed by a visit to the Castelo de São Jorge (St. George's Castle), where you'll also be treated to the most panoramic view in all of Lisbon. Wander around the narrow streets of the Alfama for 2 hours.
In the afternoon, head for the suburb of Belém, where you can visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Torre de Belém, and later the Museu Nacional dos Coches (National Coach Museum). Spend the night going to a fado club where you not only can enjoy a regional dinner but also listen to some of the country's favorite songs.
On Day 2, travel outside Lisbon to glorious Sintra, the single most beautiful town in all of Portugal -- Lord Byron likened it to Eden. You can spend an entire day here wandering about, losing yourself in its quaint streets. However, allow enough time to visit its two major attractions, Palácio Nacional de Sintra and Palácio Nacional de Pena. Return to Lisbon for the night.
On the morning of Day 3, mop up the major attractions of Lisbon you didn't have time to see on Day One. Among these is the Museu da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, one of the world's finest private art collections, assembled by the tycoon Calouste Gulbenkian, and now beefed up by new bequests. Allow an hour and a half for a visit. Follow this with a late morning visit to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, which will take up at least another 1 1/2 hours. This is the country's grandest museum and a showcase for its national treasures, which include some of Europe's grandest old master paintings.
In the afternoon, after lunch in a typical Lisboan tavern, take our walking tour of Baixa, the center of Lisbon, and the Chiado. This will take up to 3 hours of your afternoon. If time remains, get in some shopping by walking such streets as Rua Áurea or Rua de Prata.
Days 4 & 5 Costa do Sol: Lisbon's Riviera
Leave Lisbon in the morning and head west along its Riviera, the Costa do Sol. The best place here for overnighting is the former fishing village of Cascais, now a major beach resort. You can stop off and explore Estoril in the morning, as it lies only 24km (15 miles) west of Lisbon. In this former stamping ground of royalty, walk through the Parque Estoril in the center of town and maybe spend an hour or two on the beach if time allows.
Continue on to Cascais, 6.5km (4 miles) west of Estoril, for the night. You can arrive early enough in the day for a seafood lunch, which can be enjoyed after you check into a hotel. The rest of the day can be spent wandering its narrow streets, shopping, and sightseeing. Although the city has museums, none is more intriguing than the streets of the town itself. In summer, make hotel reservations way in advance. If you skipped beach time in Estoril, you can head for the sands at Cascais.
If you want to take an afternoon excursion, make it to the Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell) to see its thundering waves from the Atlantic.
On Day 5, after time on the beach in the morning, devote the rest of the day to nearby excursions. Numero uno is the Palácio Nacional de Queluz, the most brilliant example of the rococo style of architecture in Portugal. After spending an hour and a half exploring the royal palace, dine at the Cozinha Velha (The Old Kitchen), one of the most evocative in the area and the former kitchen of the old palace.
Later that afternoon head for Guincho to take in the treacherous ocean scenery, some of the most dramatic in Europe. Return to Cascais for the night.
Day 6 Óbidos, Alcobaça & Batalha
If you can't visit all of these attractions in 1 day, make it to Óbidos and Alcobaça on Day 6, and stop off at Batalha en route to Coimbra on Day 7. To see the most enchanting medieval town in all of Portugal, continue north from Lisbon for 93km (58 miles) to Óbidos, or a shorter distance if you overnighted in Cascais.
If you leave the Greater Lisbon area early enough, you can be in Óbidos in time for 2 hours of sightseeing, followed by lunch at the Castelo de Óbidos, the most famous restaurant -- and justifiably so -- in Portugal.
Leave Óbidos after lunch and drive to Alcobaça, 38km (24 miles) northeast of Óbidos. Once here, you can spend an hour visiting the Mosteiro de Santa Maria, once one of the richest and most prestigious monasteries in Europe, dating from 1178. Seek out, in particular, its lavish Gothic tombs.
After a visit, continue northeast to Batalha, spending an hour and a half exploring its Mosteiro de Santa Maria da Vitória. Still celebrated for its royal cloisters to this day, in the 14th century this was the most luxurious and grandest monastery in all of Portugal -- much of its former glory remains.
Accommodations are limited in both Alcobaça and Batalha. If you didn't make reservations in advance in summer, you might have to continue to our final stop, the city of Coimbra, for the night .
Day 7 Coimbra: The University City
Outside of Lisbon and the second city of Porto, Portugal's most romantic and historic city is Coimbra, lying 198km (123 miles) north of Lisbon. It can be easily reached from Óbidos, Alcobaça, or Batalha, if you stopped at either of these places on Day 6.
In 1 full day of sightseeing, you can take in Coimbra's major monuments, including Sé Velha, the old cathedral, and Velha Universidade, the university that was founded here in 1537. Also of interest are the Biblioteca Geral da Universidade, the university library, established in 1716, and Igreja e Mosteiro da Santa Cruz, dating from the 12th century.
Overnight in Coimbra before making the 1 1/2-hour drive to Lisbon in the morning for transportation back home.