Finding destinations which allow you and your family to stretch limited vacation time while providing value for money can be a tricky endeavour. In this article, we explain how you can visit Portugal in one week and cover four destinations that will give you a taste of this Iberian destination. With multiple connections and daily flights between cities, flying the nation’s flag carrier airline, TAP Air Portugal, makes this a lot easier.

Disclosure: We received sponsored flights from TAP. However, all thoughts expressed are ours.

 

Why Visit Portugal?

We love Portugal! This country simply excels as a value-for-money travel destination.

On offer are seven diverse regions (Porto e Norte, Centro de Portugal, Lisboa, Alentejo, Algarve, Madeira and the Azores), each one with enough to satisfy the most curious and intrepid traveller.

It is possible to visit Portugal in one week. However, be warned! You will get a taste that will leave you wanting more!

View of bridge in Porto | Visit Portugal in One Week

TAP Air Portugal makes planning a one-week trip a lot easier by offering affordable daily flights from several European cities to multiple destinations across Portugal. Innovative stopover programs also encourage visitors to see and do more in one trip.

And that’s exactly what we did.

 

Visit Portugal in One Week – An itinerary

On a recent family trip to Portugal, we challenged ourselves to stretch one week of travel to cover as many meaningful experiences as possible.

Visit Portugal in One Week and Get a Taste of Four Destinations

Flying from London via TAP Air Portugal, our odyssey began in Lisbon, Portugal’s dynamic capital city. From there we flew to Funchal, the heartbeat of the autonomous Portuguese islands of Madeira.

While in Madeira, we island-hopped across to Porto Santo, to experience one of the most pristine beaches we have ever come across in Europe.

Porto, a vibrant northern city synonymous the mighty Douro River and UNESCO World Heritage status, was our final destination.

 

Family vacations can be challenging!

To complicate this one-week itinerary even further, we had family flying in from three different airports in the United States (California, Denver and Washington DC) into Portugal.

Family holidays in Madeira | Visit Madeira with TAP Air Portugal

Although they flew different (indirect) routes and carriers into Europe, TAP Air Portugal’s connections from other European cities provided good options for their inbound and outbound journeys.

 

Monday – Olá Lisboa!

An early morning TAP Air Portugal flight ensured that we arrived early in the day and to make the most of our scheduled 24-hour stop in Lisbon before meeting up with other family members in Funchal the next day.

Street art in Lisbon | Visit Lisbon with TAP Air Portugal

With hotel check-in not available until midday, we stored our luggage, changed into good walking shoes, picked up a map and headed out for a self-guided tour. Despite the hills, Lisbon’s historic district is best explored on foot.

We wandered around the old city, spotting the neo-gothic Elevador de Santa Justa, Praça do Comércio, Lisbon’s grandest square and Castelo Sao Jorge.

Tram in Porto town square | Visit Portugal in One Week

Soon, we found ourselves in the middle of Alfama, the city’s oldest district and one of the parts of Lisbon to emerge relatively unscathed from the great earthquake in 1755. While navigating Alfama’s backstreets, the smell of roasted chestnuts and grilled sardines hastened our hunger pangs.

We decided to check out the Time Out Mercado de Ribeira, a food court promoting high-quality local dishes – including lots of bacalhau (codfish) – from some of Lisbon’s leading chefs.

Mercado de Ribeira, Lisbon

However, that popular market has become a victim of its own success. Fancying something a little less crowded, we ended up in Chiado, a neighbourhood regarded as the centre of Lisbon’s cultural life.

Over a hearty Boa-Bao Malaysian yellow curry, the rest of our itinerary began to take shape.

HDYTI Tip: Where to stay in Lisbon? Brown’s Boutique Hotel offers urban-vintage design, access to the heart of the historic district and proximity (25-minute taxi ride) to the airport.

HDYTI Tip: Time Out Mercado de Ribeira shows up in many recommendations of ‘places to eat in Lisbon’. We sai AVOID. Lisbon is home to MANY authentic, affordable and unpretentious restaurants. Start here for some ideas. 

 

Tuesday – Captivated by Madeira

Breakfast in Bairro Alto the next morning turned out to be a good choice before we headed to the airport to catch our mid-afternoon, 90-minute TAP Air Portugal flight to Funchal.

Eulanda dancing on street in Funchal, Madeira | Visit Portugal in One Week

The island of Madeira (hometown of international soccer sensation Christiano Ronaldo) feels like a world away from mainland Portugal.

Located off the northwest coast of Africa, Madeira combines the luxury of a year-round subtropical climate with a 600-year-old Portuguese culture.

View of Funchal from Cable Car | TAP Air Portugal flies to Funchal

Madeira’s natural beauty is perhaps its greatest attraction. Add to that a great food and festival culture (flower, wine, and New Year’s Eve are some examples) and Madeira offers enough to satisfy the most intense wanderlust.

Levadas in Madeira | North West Jeep Safari with Green Devil Safari

Upon arrival in Madeira, we picked up a rental car and some of the family who had arrived and spent our first day driving around the island, mainly to get acclimated with the roads.

HDYTI Tip: With limited public transportation and an excellent road tunnel network, the best way to get around Madeira is to rent a car and drive. Note that Madeira’s narrow and twisty roads require good driving skills.

View from Ribeira da Janela, Madeira | Family holidays in Madeira

A picture-perfect driving itinerary in Madeira includes small villages, lush-green terraces, fruit plantations, and waterfalls plunging from cloud-covered volcanic mountains straight into the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Couple exploring outdoors in Madeira, Portugal

Before sunset, head to the Funchal city centre (paid parking available). Take the cable car up to visit the fantastic Monte Palace Tropical Garden and enjoy stunning views of Funchal bay.

View of harbour in Funchal, Madeira | Visit Portugal in One Week

HDYTI Tip: Where to stay in Madeira? Ocean-view villa rentals are the way to go. There is no need to stay in Funchal if you have a car. Consider districts such as Calheta and Santa Cruz.

 

Wednesday and Thursday – Food Experiences in Funchal

Madeira offers options for active tourism. Think aquatic activities (e.g., whale and dolphin watching), jeep safaris and canyoning. There are also numerous hiking trails along ancient levadas (aqueducts) spread across the island.

By now, all the family had arrived. A consensus decision led to soft adventure experiences involving Madeira’s food culture.

Visit Mercado dos Lavradores, Funchal’s main market | Madeira

Food tours are great for travellers seeking to maximise limited travel time and are one of the best ways to authentically experience a destination’s local culture. This is why food tourism almost always makes it to the top of our travel ‘to do’ list.

Our family thoroughly enjoyed a walking food tour led by Jaqueline Freitas of Madeira Exquisite Food on Foot Tours. The tour provided insights into Madeira’s food culture and included visits to local markets, artisan bakeries and local restaurants.

Woman pouring poncha into glasses in Funchal, Madeira

HDYTI Tip: In Madeira, be sure to try ‘Bolo do Caco’, a sweet potato bread.

Continuing our food focus, we attended an immersive cooking class with one of the island’s rising female chefs Luisa Freitas. The Madeira Cook Experience features simple dishes that take participants behind-the-scenes of the food culture in Madeira.

Luisa’s cooking class begins with a visit to Mercado dos Lavradores, Funchal’s main market, where she shops for ingredients for the class. This is a great opportunity to interact with the locals, learn about local ingredients and share in Luisa’s passion for the island’s gastronomy.

 

Beach Friday – Porto Santo

On Thursday evening, you’ll want to catch the 7 PM ferry from Funchal to the neighbouring island of Porto Santo.

Ferry ride to Porto Santo | Visit Portugal in One Week

HDYTI Tip: Prices are approximately €58 per adult (round-trip). Journey time is 2hrs 15mins.

Stepping off the ferry, Porto Santo’s tranquillity immediately embraces you. The parish of Vila Baleria is the island’s only ‘city’ and is worth a leisurely stroll. However, exploring the island’s landscape is the real prize on Porto Santo.

Couple walking along beach in Porto Santo

What awaits you is one of the best beaches we’ve ever seen on our travels in Europe (in our opinion). Highlights include nine kilometres of golden sand and inviting blue waters which contrast starkly with the island’s arid volcanic landscape.

On Friday morning, we rented an electrically-powered Renault Twizzy and set out on a self-guided tour of the island.

A drive from the southern plains to the northeastern cliffs took just 30 minutes – not including stops at multiple viewing points that allowed us to soak in the dramatic landscape at our own pace.

For a more chilled out afternoon, head to one of Porto Santo’s beautiful beaches (the sand is said to have therapeutic properties). End the day at one of the many quality seafood restaurants in Vila Baleria.

Tuna steak in Porto Santo | Family holidays in Porto Santo

HDYTI Tip: The limited Porto Santo to Funchal ferry schedule means that an evening departure is your best option so don’t miss the Friday night ferry!

 

Saturday and Sunday – Visit Porto

Back in Funchal, we enjoyed the island’s nightlife one last time before saying goodbye to the family, some of who remained behind to continue their holiday. We caught an early morning TAP Air Portugal flight to Porto.

Porto city sign | Visit Porto with TAP Air Portugal

Forget your one-week itinerary! Porto’s authenticity and beauty will charm you to bits.

Woman on balcony in Porto | Visit Portugal in One Week with TAP Air Portugal

Walking in Porto’s Ribeira (riverside) district – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – you get the feeling of being caught between the past and the present, both complementing each other with respect and grace.

View of Douro River from the Dom Luís I Bridge | Visit Porto with TAP Air Portugal

Abandoned neo-gothic buildings sit side-by-side with beautifully restored neo-classical properties. Ancient and narrow cobblestone streets lead you to hidden tabernas, art galleries and beautiful gardens. Blue and white azulejos (tiles) tell stories of saints and sinners, of kings and peasants.

 

Things to do in Porto?

Themed walking tours, a Douro River cruise, port wine tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia and a rich nightlife are just some examples. For a spectacular sunset, be sure to head to the Dom Luís I Bridge (an architectural masterpiece) early enough to secure a prime viewing spot.

Sunset over the River Douro - Porto - Visit Portugal in One Week with TAP Air Portugal

Sunset image of the Dom Luis I Bridge that spans the River Douro in Porto

 

If you only have one week to visit Portugal…

That would be a big shame! There’s so much more of this beautiful country to see but it would take a lifetime to truly experience Portugal, time that most people can barely squeeze around their jobs and life’s other commitments.

TAP Air Portugal’s city connections and multiple daily flights make it possible to visit Portugal in one week… BUT only to get a taste that will make you come back!

Sunset from villa with ocean-view in Funchal | Family holidays in Madeira

 

Travel Information

TAP Air Portugal flies daily from London City, Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester to Madeira with stopovers in Lisbon or Porto. Prices start at £180 return including all taxes and surcharges.

For further information, visit www.flytap.com or call 0345 601 0932

TAP Air Portugal Stopover - multi city - layover programme

 

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Co-Founders & Curators at HDYTI

Eulanda & Omo Osagiede are London-based freelance writers and award-winning social influencers who run the popular travel, food, and lifestyle blog HDYTI (Hey! Dip your toes in).