I was already in Europe when I decided to plan a last-minute week to Portugal. My trip consisted of a night in Faro, 4 nights on São Miguel Island a couple of nights in Lisbon. First of all, I would like to say that this is NOT enough time for any of these places.
My first stop, Faro, is at the southern point of Portugal. I really didn’t have a lot of time here so I mostly explored the town, walked and ate. The town is very charming and small and is definitely worth a visit. However, if you are looking for a beach getaway, this may not be the beach destination for you. Faro is primarily a commercial port and beaches and islands require travel and planning.
That being said, Portugal is small enough that I’d actually recommend traveling by bus. I hadn’t though about distances but ended up flying to Lisbon (for my trip to the Azores) even though Faro-Lisbon is under 3 hours in a car.
My 5 days on São Miguel Island were incredible. This island is beautiful, the people are very friendly and I felt like it was a cool destination as a solo female traveler. I recommend staying for more time and anticipating many delays. Because the Azores are about 2 and a half hours from the coast of Portugal, the weather is unpredictable out there and delays are very, very common.
I only stayed on São Miguel but I wish I had time to visit the other islands which also looked incredible.
The BIG tip I have is to be aware that these islands are NOT walkable. If you want to get to good hiking spots and be able to explore the island at ease you will nee to rent a (manual!!) car. I tried getting around by bus and the buses were not reliable. Also, surprisingly enough, the trails to get to the viewpoints are not very clear and about 95% of people simply drive up to see the views. Although I will always prefer to do the hike, you will end up walking about 16km just to see one view (from where the bus drops you off) and will most likely need to take a taxi back to your hotel. Ponta Delgada as a town is also very charming and eating fresh seafood is highly recommended!
My time in Lisbon was mostly spent visiting an old friend so I didn’t do anything too touristy but as a city I LOVED Lisbon. It is small but not too small, has a European but also a Latin vibe. I generally recommend Portugal as a solo female traveler because the people are very friendly, the towns and cities are pretty small and the locations are beautiful.