There’s no better deal than two for the price of one — especially when it comes to vacations. That’s why several savvy airlines, like Icelandair, offer two or three-day stopovers that let you double your number of vacation destinations for no extra cost. TAP Portugal is the latest airline to pick up on the trend, offering stopovers in Lisbon for up to five days. So, how do you make the most of 72 hours in Portugal? Here’s a basic itinerary to help you out.
Day one: Lisbon
10 a.m. Start your day with a coffee and a pastel de nata (a famous Portuguese custard tart, available for next to nothing on nearly every city block). Enjoy them while gazing out over the city from one of the main lookout points. We suggest Miradouro da Graca for its shady pines and its view of São Jorge Castle.
11 a.m. Walk 10 minutes south to find the winding alleys of the multicultural Alfama neighbourhood. Explore the tiny shops and cafes there, like Azulejos de Fachada, where you’ll find handmade, modern Portuguese tiles turned into home decor items. Once you’ve worked up an appetite on Alfama’s hilly streets, stop at one of the hole-in-the wall cafes/bars for cheap beer or sangria and snack on excellent charcuterie and cheese boards served with fig jam and bread (you can’t survive on custard tarts alone — just trust us on this one).
1:30 p.m. At the hottest point of the day, you’ll want to ride instead of walk. Skip the beautiful but incredibly crowded old tram cars that the rest of the tourists are crammed into and take an open air cart (a.k.a. a Tuk Tuk) around town instead. They may seem expensive at 60 euros per hour, but they can seat up to six people, so if you can round up a group, it’d be pretty reasonable.
2:30 p.m. Have your Tuk Tuk driver end your tour at the Time Out Market — Lisbon’s most-visited tourist spot. It’s an amazing space dedicated to cuisines around the world, but we recommend sticking to what Portugal does best: seafood. Escape the market’s crowded main floor and head for the building’s southern alley, where you’ll find a half-dozen spots dedicated to traditional and modern Portuguese cooking (also: seats!).
4 p.m. Walk 10 minutes north to find some of the city’s best shops in Lisbon’s Chiado neighbourhood. And less than 10 minutes west of the area is the Santa Justa Lift, an iconic landmark and another excellent opportunity for an aerial view of the city. The lift is a must-see (even if you’re not a fan of heights) — the Neo-Gothic caged elevator was even designed by Gustave Eiffel’s student.
7 p.m. Treat yourself to a dinner in one of Bairro do Avillez‘s incredible dining rooms. At Páteo, for example, you can watch the restaurant’s chefs at work, creating dishes that will appeal to both your eyes and your stomach. We recommend a) trying the grilled squid on black rice with chorizo and garlic kimchi mayo, and b) making reservations to be sure you get in.
9 p.m. Head to a fado club. You don’t want to miss Lisbon’s musical culture, and a night of fado is well worth sacrificing sleep and fighting jet lag for. Adega Machado or Casa de Linhares are two good bets when it comes to hearing the genre’s best singers.
Day two: The Douro Valley
8 a.m. With commuter flights departing every hour out of Lisbon, it’s one quick hop over to Porto (you’ll spend less than an hour in the air) and a little over an hour-long drive to the Douro Valley. The highway route is faster, but the winding back roads are so scenic that it’s worth spending the extra time. Stop at a highway fruit stand for fresh figs or cherries when they’re in season.
11:30 a.m. You deserve a special trip, so why not splurge and stay somewhere extra special? Check into Six Senses Douro Valley, a hotel and spa housed in a 19th century manor, is nestled among the valley’s rolling hillside vineyards. While the urge to lie poolside all day long is completely justified, the hotel also offers a full schedule of health and wellness-related activities, like aerial yoga, guided runs, massages, Tibetan singing bowl meditation and tree climbing.
4 p.m. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, you can also attend a natural cosmetic-making workshop at the spa’s alchemy bar, using ingredients grown from the hotel’s organic garden.
5 p.m. Okay, now it’s definitely pool time.
6:30 p.m. Join the hotel’s sommelier, Juao, in the wine library for a guided tasting session, where you’ll get to sample the region’s best wines. There’s a small store on-site, so if you fall in love with a bottle, you can buy it to take home.
8 p.m. Between the chef’s table, the vegetarian Terroir restaurant and the Quinta tapas lounge, it’s impossible to make a bad choice when it comes to dinner at Six Senses. That said, we recommend the vineyard-adjacent barbecue area. The chefs will serve you course after course of grilled meat, fish and perfectly seasoned vegetables.
Day three: Porto
8 a.m. Hit the road early to return to Porto. Catch the train in Caldas de Moledo for a leisurely and scenic riverside ride back to the city. A first-class ticket will cost you less than $20 (or around 13 euros). The train doesn’t run everyday though, so book your trip for when it does or be prepared to rely on a car service or rental.
10:30 a.m. Beat the crazy afternoon crowds by heading straight for Livraria Lello bookshop. Two brothers opened the store in 1906, which played a big part in inspiring J.K. Rowling to write the Harry Potter series. One look at the shop’s winding central staircase and you’ll know where Rowling borrowed Hogwarts’ aesthetics from. Tickets to the shop cost 5.50 euros, but the value can be put toward any book in the store, which has a large selection of English material.
11 a.m. Just a few steps away, on Rua Galeria de Paris, is A Vida Portuguesa. Head to the second floor to find actual treasure: Portuguese-made ceramics, hand-woven rugs, kitschy toys and bath and body products packaged the same way they’ve been wrapped for over half a century (so beautifully it’ll break your heart to actually use them).
11:30 a.m. Wander up the car-free Cedofeita streets for more shopping, but mostly to check out the gorgeous, mosaic-tiled street itself. From there, walk southeast to the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, a stunning blue and white-tiled baroque church dating back to 1739.
1 p.m. Hungry? Don’t worry, your next stop is Capela Incomum for snacks and drinks. Sip a super-refreshing Porto Tonico (dry, white port with tonic and some herbs) alongside your Queijo Curado, a dish of melted Portuguese cheese, honey and rosemary meant to be spread on crisp squares of bread — it’s one of the best things you’ll eat in Porto.
2:30 p.m. From Capela Incomum, you’re just a 10-minute walk to the Gardens of Palácio de Cristal, a 19th century-designed botanical garden that might be the most beautiful outdoor space in Porto (and that’s saying something). One section of the park overlooks the city while the other offers views of the Douro river.
3:40 p.m. Hop in a taxi (a midday ride will cost you about $9 or 6 euros) and head for Casa da Musica, a revolutionary concert hall. There are hour-long guided tours in English everyday at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. that detail its architecture and its use as a practice and performance space for Portugal’s best musicians — both established and up-and-coming.
5:15 p.m. Cross the Douro to Gaia, where most of the region’s famous wine cellars are located. Cockburn’s, located on Rua Serpa Pinto, offers tours (the last one is at 5:30 p.m.) and tastings ranging from 12 to 45 euros. Head to their site to book your tasting ahead of time.
7 p.m. Before hopping on a plane, go back over the river to Porto for dinner. Michelin star chef Rui Paula runs Restaurante DOP out of the centuries-old Palácio das Artes, where he and his staff serve up traditional Portuguese dishes that appeal to a modern, international palate. Have your camera ready — both the food and the dining room itself are Instagram-worthy. Pro tip: unless you consider yourself extremely lucky, reservations here are a must.