Porto is considered the most beautiful city in the country due to its location on the river Douro, its unique architecture, and its historic old town. Ribeira is one of the most beautiful districts of the city and has a very special charm with its labyrinthine alleys, old buildings and traditional restaurants and cafes. The Sao Bento train station and the Lello bookshop are popular attractions; it was opened already in 1906 and is even said to have inspired J.K. Rowling for her Harry Potter novels because of its impressive bookshelves, playful wooden railings, antique busts, and paintings.
Another highlight in Porto is the port wine, named after the city. The bridge Ponte de Dom Luis I leads from Porto Ribeira to the opposite bank of the Douro. There lies the town of Vila Nova de Gaia, the center of the port wine production. The spicy sweet wine is produced exclusively in the northern Portuguese Douro valley and matures in so-called port wine cellars over several decades. Wine lovers can explore the area on a day tour – wine tasting included. Also visit the garden Jardins do Palácio de Cristal do Porto. From there you will have the best view over Porto, especially at sunset with a glass of port wine.
Stay in one of Porto’s hostels and get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €18 a night.
For approximately €30 we’ll continue by bus to Ericeira. The small city at the Atlantic coast is the ultimate surfer's paradise. The coast of Ericeiras has even been declared a wave protection zone, which attracts surfers from all over the world. Those who have never stood on a board before should definitely take the chance and learn surfing here.
From the local surf schools you can hire a board and book individual or group lessons. Relax on the endless beaches and watch the pros surf. The charming old town with its narrow alleys, traditional shops and white-blue houses is also worth a visit.
You can get a bed in a 6-person dorm at a local hostel for €17 a night.
Continue your trip and head to Lisbon for about €8. The Portuguese capital is located on the banks of the Tagus River and is particularly popular among travellers. The old town equals a maze of labyrinthine alleys and historic tram lines, surprising you at every corner with hidden squares, charming cafes and traditional stores.
There are numerous shopping opportunities in the Rossio district and if you want to get to know the lively nightlife of Lisbon, the Bairro Alto is the place to be. Well known sights are the cathedral Sé Patriarcal, the Basílica da Estrela and the Jardím de Estrela. In the Alfama district, the historic centre of the city, you will also find the historic fortress complex Castelo de Sao Jorge. A must-see is of course the impressive bridge Ponte 25 de Abril and the Cristo Rei statue, which was built after the famous Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro.
From there you also have a magnificent view over the city. The historic monument Torre de Belém was built to welcome arriving ships and is located slightly outside Lisbon. Here you'll find what is probably the best photo motif for backpackers – a huge world map made up of thousands of mosaic stones on which you can walk around. If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, you can go on a day trip to the historic villages of Cascais, Sintra or Obidos.
You can get a bed in a 10-person dorm for €15 a night.
From Lisbon, the trip continues to the south of Portugal to Sagres for approximately 22 euro. The city is less known for its sights but more for its surf spots. However, for many backpackers, the main reason to travel to Sagres is the Cabo de Sao Vicente within a distance of 5 kilometers. Before its discovery, the south-western tip of the European mainland was considered "the end of the world".
There are legends about the Cabo de Sao Vicente, and in different cultures it is regarded as a holy place where the Gods live and where the sun sinks into the sea. With its impressive steep coast and cliffs that plunge up to 70 meters into the Atlantic Ocean, the place definitely has something magical about it. So you shouldn't miss the chance to let the wind blow around your ears at the most south-western point of Europe. Furthermore, from the lighthouse Cabo de São Vicente you have a fantastic view over the Algarve.
It is recommended to rent a bike in Sagres and to stop at one of the idyllic beaches along the route of the mountain ranges of Cabo de Sao Vicente.
You’ll get a bed in a 6-person dorm for €20 a night at one of Sagres’ hostels.
A bus will take you to Lagos for about €5. The historic city offers not only numerous historical sites and buildings, but also a picturesque center with narrow cobbled streets, pretty houses and a beautiful harbor promenade that invites you to stroll. Popular sights are the Bandeira Fort, the church of Santo Antonio and Europe's first slave market Mercado dos Escravos.
Explore the region around Lagos and get to know the fascinating landscape of the Algarve. Visit the Ponta da Piedade, a formation of golden sandstone cliffs with grottos, sea arches and caves. Relax on the kilometre-long beach Meia Praia or visit the beaches Praia do Pinhaó and Praia da Batata, which count to the most beautiful ones of the Algarve and are only a stone's throw away from Lagos.
We also recommend an excursion to the grottos of Lagos, which you can explore for example during a kayak tour. Whether surfing, kayaking, trekking, mountain biking or climbing – Lagos offers the ideal conditions for outdoor activities of all kinds. You can also undertake a day trip to the historic trading city of Silves.
Stay at one of the local hostels and get a bed in an 8-person dorm for €18 a night.
We’ll continue by bus for about €5 to Faro. As the capital of the region of Algarve is overrun by the more popular holiday resorts along the coast, you will find here the typical Portuguese flair instead of mass tourism and hotel chains. The town gate Arco da Vila forms the entrance to the old town of Cidade Velha, which is situated within the medieval walls.
Worth seeing historical buildings are the cathedral of Faro and the Igreja do Carmo, a baroque church built in the 18th century. The somewhat macabre highlight of the church is the leg chapel, whose interior walls are decorated with bones and skulls of monks from the 19th century. It served on the one hand to honour the dead and on the other hand as a reminder of the transience of earthly life.
A special highlight is the southern Ria Formosa, one of the most beautiful nature reserves in Europe. It consists of a coastal strip of the mainland, a lagoon and a chain of islands that separates the lagoon from the sea. The Ilhas Desertas, the desert island, can be reached by ferry in 45 minutes from Faro's port. Walk along the idyllic, deserted beaches and discover the desert-like flora and unique fauna.
You can stay at a hostel by the beach and get a bed in an 8-person dorm for €18 a night.