2 Weeks in Portugal: Christmas & New Year’s Holiday

Portugal was such an amazing country to visit during the Christmas and New Year’s period. It was not too crowded, the food was fresh and tasty (and it was great to taste the Christmas cakes/breads that are only available during this period), buildings have architecture that I have never seen before, the landscape looked like it was out of a movie and the people were friendly and happy to help. To say the least, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Portugal and would go back in a heartbeat. If you are looking for a European holiday during the Christmas and New Year’s period, I would highly recommend Portugal.

If you are looking for a jam-packed itinerary of Portugal, look no further. I am excited to share our two-week itinerary of Portugal and happy to answer any queries you may have on Portugal. We started our trip in the north of Portugal in Porto and worked our way down south to the capital of Portugal, Lisbon. Of course, you can change the order of travel but this worked well for us.

 So, here we go 🙂 

Day 1: Madrid → Porto

  • Arrived in Porto; 
  • Porto is a coastal city known for its stately bridges and port wine production;
  • Transport: Ryanair from Madrid (Ryanair is an Irish budget airline);
  • Stay: Go2Oporto River apartments. Highly recommend this apartment – not only were the rooms clean, the staff were very professional and willing to help at any time of the day. It is in the old city and part of the UNESCO heritage buildings. The best part with the apartment is the river views that we got from rooms – it was surreal 😊;

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    View from our apartment in Porto.
  • Things to do: Explore the old city of Porto and take in the architecture, buy some groceries/snacks from local supermarket (the apartment has cooking facilities);
  • Snack: Portuguese egg tarts (yum!) and Christmas bread from local bakeries;
  • Dinner: Home cooked as it was Christmas Eve and no restaurants were open;
  • Take it easy and relax for the rest of the night and enjoy the river views from our apartment.

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    Pretty architecture in Porto


Day 2: Porto (half day trip to Braga)

  • Breakfast: Home cooked as it was Christmas Day and no cafes were open; 
  • Half day trip to Braga (northeast of Porto):
  1. Braga is known for its religious heritage and events. Hence, visiting Braga on Christmas Day was an auspicious affair;

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    Entrance to Braga town centre.
  2. Transport: Regional train from Porto (took just over an hour);

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    Poncha in Braga.
  3. Walk to the main area of Braga (which is east of the train station) and explore the many shops and cafes, attend a Christmas mass (or just a mass) at a cathedral, try Poncha (rum + orange juice), admire the many churches and buildings with beautiful and unusual architecture;

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    Christmas mass in a church in Braga.
  • Remaining half day in Porto:
  1. Visit monuments around Porto (churches, the castle);
  2. Watch the sunset by the Porto Bridge;

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    Sunset by the Porto bridge. #nofilter
  3. Walk up to Santa Marinha which has spectacular view of the Douro River and the Porto Bridge (in particular at night when all the lights are switched on);

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    View from Santa Marinha.
  4. Dinner: Rib Beef & Wine restaurant – has mouth-watering steak and tasty Porto sour.

Day 3: Porto → Ferradosa (the Douro Region)

  • Porto:
  1. Breakfast: Local sweet and savoury pastries at a café;
  2. Things to do: Walk around Porto town centre and enjoy its amazing architecture;
  • Ferradosa:
  1. Ferradosa is in the Douro region and is home to some of the best-known Portuguese port wines;
  2. Transport: Regional train towards Pocinho (almost a 3-hour journey) – after the first hour on the train, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Douro region;
  3. Stay: Douro Chalets & Yachts – has amazing views of the Douro region. It was very relaxing, away from the hustle and bustle of the Porto city, has no Wi-Fi and only its tranquillity to enjoy. This would be the perfect getaway during the summer months as there are yachts/boats you can use to see the Douro region on the river;
  4. If you love wine, then you must get off at Pinhao on the Pocinho train and there are multiple wineries you can visit for wine tasting as well overnight escapes;

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    View from our chalet.


Day 4: Ferradosa → Porto

  • Ferradosa:
  1. Breakfast: Home cooked as the only restaurant available was closed;

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    Breakfast with a view 🙂
  2. Things to do: Enjoy the beautiful sunrise in the Douro region from our chalet – this was breath-taking, hike the vineyard trails, paddleboat/swim the Douro river (weather permitting);
  • Porto:
  1. Transport: Afternoon regional train back to Porto;

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    Pretty architecture inside Sao Bento train station in Porto.
  2. Stay: Living Porto apartments – this was in the new city of Porto and it was not as nice as the Go2Oporto River apartments;
  3. Snack: Local food of Francesinha and more egg tarts in local café in Porto;
  4. Things to do: Port tasting tour at Graham’s Port. I highly recommend this even if you do not like port – I do not like port but thoroughly enjoyed this tour and learning how port is made in the Douro region. If you love port/wine, I recommend going to more wineries for tasting;

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    Inside Graham’s Port.
  5. Dinner: Ostras Coisas – extravagant seafood dinner. This restaurant is known for their seafood and it did not disappoint;

Day 5: Porto → Coimbra

  • Porto:
  1. Breakfast: Local café near Living Porto apartments;
  2. Things to do: take a tourist tram and admire Porto’s beauty (we took tram 18 and it was a 30-40-minute round trip);

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    Tourist tram in Porto.
  • Coimbra:
  1. Coimbra is in the central region of Portugal and a university town to Universidade de Coimbra;
  2. Transport: Afternoon intercity train to Coimbra (took approximately 90 minutes) – it is a good idea to book your tickets online as you do not want to risk tickets being sold out when you arrive at the train station (this goes with any intercity trains);
  3. Stay: Airbnb duplex in the old city of Coimbra which is part of the UNESCO heritage listed site – centrally located and only a 10-minute downhill walk to the town centre;
  4. Things to do: Explore Coimbra town centre, see cathedrals and buildings with beautiful architecture;

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    Coimbra town centre.
  5. Snack: Savoury flakey buttery pastry filled with meat – we tried cod, veal and spicy chicken;
  6. Dinner: Fangas Maior (opposite our Airbnb) – have a selection of petiscos (Portuguese version of tapas).

Day 6: Coimbra

  • Breakfast: Briosa Pastelaria – has a range of sweet and savoury pastries as well as sandwiches and western breakfast of eggs and toast;
  • Lunch: Frangos Chicken – makes traditional grilled chicken with Portuguese spices. Half chicken + chips + rice for only €4.50!!;
  • Snack: Nicola café – has a selection of delicious sweet and savoury pastries;

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    Universidade de Coimbra.
  • Dinner: Tapas nas Costas Bistro & Café – have a selection of petiscos;
  • Places to visit: Botanical Garden (Jardim Botanica) – there is a beautiful view of the Montego river/bridge at the top of garden, walk across the Montego river on the bridge towards Santa Clara, Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, hike up the old city to visit Universidade de Coimbra (large university with many campuses)

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    Botanical Gardens in Coimbra.


Day 7: Coimbra → Lisbon

  • Coimbra:
  1. Breakfast: Pestana café – has a selection of delicious sweet and savoury pastries;
  2. Things to do: Explore Coimbra Centro, search for unique souvenirs at local mom and dad shops and relax before your train ride to Lisbon;

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    Monument in Coimbra town centre.
  3. Lunch: Purchased savoury snacks/pastries from Nicola café for the train ride to Lisbon;
  • Lisbon:
  1. Lisbon is in the south of Portugal and the capital of Portugal;
  2. Transport: Afternoon intercity train from Coimbra to Lisbon (took approximately 2 hours);
  3. Stay: Airbnb near Martim Moniz train station – it was an uphill walk but the apartment has beautiful views of Lisbon;

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    View from our Airbnb.
  4. Things to do: Explore Lisbon town centre;

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    Exploring Lisbon town centre.
  5. Dinner: Did a traditional Portuguese cooking class with a local.

Day 8: Lisbon

  • It was NYE, so it was going to be an extra special day;
  • Breakfast: Local café in the big square of Lisbon – as many Portuguese cafes, this café was no different with a large selection of sweet and savoury pastries;
  • Lunch: Ramiro – known for its fresh and delicious seafood. Highly recommend this restaurant but be warned you may have to wait up to 45 minutes for a table;
  • Dinner: NYE dinner at A Travessa – had the special NYE menu which encompassed of 10 starters, a main with sides and three desserts!;
  • Things to do: Take a ride on Tram 28 and enjoy the view from the tram, walk up to the Castello de Sao George, Santa Justa Elevator, explore the Alfama district (the city’s oldest district).

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    Tram 28 in Lisbon.


Day 9: Lisbon → Lagos

  • Lisbon:
  1. Breakfast: Nicola café in Lisbon’s big square – has a large selection of sweet and savoury pastries;
  2. Things to do: buy some souvenirs to remember your time in Lisbon;
  • Lagos:
  1. Lagos (pronounced Lagoosh) is a city in the Algarve which is the southernmost region of Portugal, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean;
  2. Transport: Bus from Oriente train station (takes 3.5-4 hours) – worth the long bus rise;
  3. Stay: Aqualuz Suite Hotel – located just 15-20-minute walk from Lagos town centre
  4. Dinner: La Palacio Chinese restaurant – has good Chinese food. If you are feeling like some Chinese food, I highly recommend this restaurant;
  5. Things to do: Explore the Lagos town centre, walk along the beach.

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    Church in Lagos.


Day 10: Lagos

  • Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel (€8 pp) – had a wide selection of juices, coffee/tea, cereal, western breakfast, savoury/sweet pastries, croissant, yogurt, fruit, bread, etc;
  • Lunch: Taninos (near Santa Maria church) – has a selection of petiscos;
  • Dinner: Portofino’s Restaurante Italiano – located on the marina and has one of the best Italian food that I have had in a while;

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    Posing by the marina in Lagos.
  • Things to do: Go for a swim at the beach, take a boat ride across the islands of Lagos (there are usually little boots set up along the marina selling tickets for this), walk along the marina/sea walls, enjoy cocktails at the beach bar, walk along the beach, explore the Lagos town centre during the day, buy some souvenirs.

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    The marina in Lagos.


Day 11: Lagos → Lisbon

  • Lagos:
  1. Breakfast: Café Britaica snack bar – located in Lagos town centre;
  2. Things to do: Enjoy a morning stroll along the beach/beach walls before departing for Lisbon;
  • Lisbon:
  1. Transport: Bus – takes 4 hours depending on traffic;
  2. Stay: Airbnb – it was a 3-bedroom apartment located just off tram 28 line and close to Lisbon harbour in Principe Real;
  3. Dinner: Faz Gostos – has fresh seafood and the lamb shank was falling off the bone;
  4. Things to do: Walk along Lisbon harbour and explore the town centre at night to experience Lisbon’s nightlife.

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    Building in Lisbon town centre.


Day 12: Lisbon (Day trip to Sintra)

  • Sintra:
  1. Sintra is a town in the Estoril coast region (which is part of the Lisbon region) of Portugal. It is 28km from Lisbon and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with multiple castles and palaces;

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    Castle in Sintra.
  2. Transport: Morning intercity train from Lisboa Rossio station – takes 40 minutes;
  3. Breakfast: Café Saudade – highly recommend having breakfast in Sintra at this café rather than in Lisbon. This café has a range of pastries (sweet and savoury), panini, croissant, toast, delicious cakes, etc. It is just a 5-minute walk from Sintra station;
  4. Lunch: Try some good seafood in Azoia (a local fishing village);

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    Cabo da Roca.
  5. Things to do: Rent an eBike or eCar to see the palaces and castles around Sintra – we went with Go2Cintra Tours, located just opposite Sintra station. If you have limited time, make sure you see Quinta da Regaleira, Cabo da Roca, Castelo dos Mourus and Palacio da Pena;

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    Palacio da Pena.


  • Lisbon:
  1. Dinner: Bairro do Avillez – it is a Peruvian Portuguese restaurant – make sure you make a booking as this restaurant tends to be packed on any day of the week.

Day 13: Lisbon

  • Breakfast: Local café in Lisbon’s big square;
  • Dinner: We did not have a big dinner but just got some Portuguese chicken takeaway from a local shop and enjoyed the meal in our Airbnb apartment;
  • Things to do: Walk along the harbour (if you are lucky, you will get to see cruise ships – we saw Queen Elizabeth the II), see the Ponte 25 de Abril (sister bridge of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge), Ponte Vasco da Gama, visit the Belem district (and do not forget to try their famous egg tarts – they have the best egg tarts in Portugal), Jardim Botanica, Praca do Comercio.

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    Praca do Comercio.

Day 14: Lisbon → Home

 After having your breakfast, it is time to go home

I hope you find this itinerary useful.

Happy travelling,

Xx

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Cannot get enough of the Douro region.