With 2 weeks to explore the country, you aren't as rushed, of course, as you might have been with the agenda proposed above. With more breathing time, you can visit the second city of Portugal, Porto, as well as some of the more intriguing destinations in the plains, especially the historic city of Évora.
Days 1 to 7
Refer to the 1-week itinerary.
Day 8 Porto: Port Wine & the Gateway to the North
After leaving Coimbra, continue north to the city of Porto, a distance of 116km (72 miles). Plan on arriving in the late morning, so you'll have time to take our walking tour of the inner core of this old city on the water.
Porto is known, of course, as the main distribution center of port wine. Sampling port and touring the wine lodges is the main reason to come here. If you have time to visit only one lodge, we recommend Caves Ramos Pinto, one of the most famous and one of the best. If you have time left over for a second visit to a lodge, we suggest Porto Sandeman.
After touring some lodges, plan a festive dinner at one of the city's highly rated restaurants, such as Restaurante Portucale. If that is beyond your budget, you'll find plenty of local taverns serving good-tasting and affordable fare.
Day 9 Nazaré & Fátima
If you have another week, the north of Portugal, lying above Porto, awaits you. But if you have to confine your schedule to 2 weeks, we suggest a return south to hit the highlights before driving back to Lisbon.
On the morning of Day 9, you face a choice: either drive to the fishing port of Nazaré, a distance of 217km (135 miles) south of Porto, or, especially if you're Catholic, head south to Fátima, a distance of 191km (119 miles) from Porto. Nazaré and Fátima are two completely different experiences.
Nazaré is the most famous fishing village in the country, and it also has some of Portugal's best beaches. You can make a day of it wandering this ancient port and watching the fishing boats come in with their catch, or lounging on the sands. Be sure to budget some time to shop for some of the famous Nazaré fishermen's sweaters, too.
Conversely, if your interests are more religious than secular, descend on Fátima, world famous as a pilgrimage site because the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared here in the early 20th century. The faithful from all over the world flock here to see the Chapel of the Apparitions.
Day 10 Tomar & Elvas
Depending on your base for the previous night, either Nazaré or Fátima, you can begin Day 10 by driving to the southeast of Fátima to explore the old city of Tomar, a distance of 39km (24 miles). Tomar was the former headquarters of the Knights Templar, and its attractions, mainly Convento da Ordem de Cristo, can be explored in 2 hours. You might stay in Tomar for lunch before heading on, striking out this time to the southeast to visit the city of Elvas, a distance of 229km (142 miles). You should arrive in the midafternoon. After checking into a hotel for the night, set out on foot to explore the attractions of Elvas, wandering its narrow, cobblestone streets. Elvas boasts a good pousada and some fine estalagems (inns) for overnighting.
Day 11 Évora: Capital of Alto Alentejo
On the morning of Day 11, drive southwest from Elvas to the city of Évora, a distance of 85km (53 miles). This city of bubbling fountains, whitewashed houses, and cobblestoned streets will be the highlight of your tour of the Portuguese plains. After checking into a hotel for the night, set out to explore the main attractions, which include the Templo de Diana; the Sé, or cathedral; and the Igreja de São João Evangelista. In spite of the charm of these particular sites, the real allure of Évora is the beautiful city itself. It is filled with monuments from the 14th to the 16th centuries, and most of these can be enjoyed simply by strolling its streets. Évora also boasts the best and most atmospheric accommodations in this part of western Portugal. Our favorite place to stay here is Pousada dos Lóios, a historical monument from the 15th century that nonetheless contains modern conveniences.
Day 12 Beja: Capital of Baixo Alentejo
Leave Évora in the morning and drive 76km (47 miles) south to the ancient city of Beja, which, it is said, was founded by Julius Caesar. After checking into a hotel, you can spend the rest of the morning wandering its colorful streets. After a typical lunch in a local restaurant, visit the Museu Rainha Dona Leonor in the afternoon, followed by a trip to the 14th-century ruins of Castelo de Beja. If time remains, shop for handicrafts along Rua Capital João Francisco de Sousa in the town center.
Day 13 Setúbal & Palmela
On the morning of Day 13, leave Beja and head northwest to the old city of Setúbal, a distance of 144km (89 miles). At Setúbal, you'll be only 40km (25 miles) southeast of Lisbon. After checking into a hotel here, we suggest you drive to Palmela, a distance of 8km (5 miles) north of Setúbal for lunch in the Castelo de Palmela Pousada, one of the best government-run country inns in Portugal. You can also overnight here if you prefer not to spend the night in Setúbal.
After lunch, return to Setúbal for your exploration of this old city, said to have been founded by a grandson of Noah. Its chief attraction is the Convento de Jesús, a stellar example of 15th-century Manueline architecture. You can also visit Museu da Setúbal in the afternoon, and perhaps shop for local handicrafts. Factory tours are available in the environs of Setúbal for those who want to make the trek.
Day 14 Sesimbra on Your Return to Lisbon
Spend a leisurely Day 14 by driving back along the coast south of the Tagus to Lisbon, where you can overnight before departing Portugal. After leaving Setúbal in the morning, drive west along the southern coast, enjoying the mountain scenery of the Serra de Arrábida. The fishing village of Portinho da Arrábida makes a good luncheon stopover if you got a late start from Setúbal -- its coastal road features lots of sandy coves, perfect for exploring if the weather's nice.
Your major stopover for the day can be the little resort and fishing village of Sesimbra, lying 26km (16 miles) southwest of Setúbal and 43km (27 miles) south of Lisbon. You can spend at least 2 hours wandering its harbor and exploring its streets, including a walk along the ruined battlements of the ancient Castle of Sesimbra. Afterward, you can make the half-hour drive north to Lisbon.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.