This past September Natty Guy and I traveled to Portugal. It’s an on-trend destination for travelers right now and we personally decided to visit after two young relatives each spent a semester abroad in Europe and both proclaimed it their favorite place in Europe.
After visiting I can see the appeal. Portugal boasts:
- a mild climate
- inexpensive, high quality food and wine
- the best beaches I’ve seen in my life
- a feeling of authenticity (we saw no American chains a la Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, etc. outside Lisbon)
We didn’t use any point tricks on this trip. That’s right, friends. We got to pay for everything the old fashioned way, with good, ole cash! Luckily it’s quite affordable compared to many European destinations.
As I mentioned in this post, we often investigate flying into one city and out of another. In this case flying into Porto and out of Lisbon (or vice versa) resulted in one of the travel days being 17+ hours from start to finish. Kinda silly when visiting a country only 6-7 hours from the east coast so we decided to just go in and out of Lisbon.
Upon landing, we took a train to Porto where we spent a few days sampling ports and seeing the city. We then picked up a rental car and drove to Obidos via the town of Coimbra. Basing out of Obidos allowed us to focus on day trips to Nazare and Alcobaca. When we were done sightseeing we could come back and enjoy this touristy city by night – with all the day trippers back at home. Bliss!
From Obidos, we drove to the Algarve to check out the incredible beaches. They are truly among the best in the world, with rugged cliff backgrounds and all sorts of interesting caves to explore. Favorites were Marinha and Benagil. From the Algarve, we headed back to Lisbon where we then dropped off our rental car.
In Lisbon, we enjoyed wandering the streets of the Alfama, Baixa and Bairro Alto as well as taking day trips to the outlying suburb of Belem and, even further out, the town of Sintra.
Can’t Miss Portugal
- Port sampling in Porto. Taylor-Fladgate and Koepke were two of our favorites!
- Dining by the Duoro River at Bacalhau in Porto. Fantastic food and view!
- The Stock Exchange Palace in Porto
- Bar Ibn Erikk Rex in Obidos
- Wandering the back alleyways and medieval walls of Obidos at night
- The seafood stew for two at Alfonso’s in Nazare (near the funicular station to the upper city)
- Exploring the many caves and hidden beaches of the Algarve
- Lisbon by night. The lights of the city combined with the sheen of the tiled sidewalks make for magical light and photography.
- A drink at Pharmacia – they’ll prescribe something for whatever ails you
- Dinner at Solar dos Presuntos – cured meats, octopus and sea bream, the very best of Portuguese food
- The Time Out Market in Lisbon for lunch – great food and authentic souvenir shopping
- Stopping at Quinta da Regaleira while in Sintra. Pena Palace is the number one site in Portugal for a reason and shouldn’t be skipped but DO make time for the magic of this lesser known Sintra site. You’ll feel like a kid exploring the underground lagoons, dark caves and passageways and popping up in Masonic initiation well. Such an adventure!
Portugal Photo Highlights
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Trip Tales: Portugal