Portugal Travel Guide
Portugal is one of the lesser known gems of Europe where the old and new collide in a mish-mash of culture and design! Portugal has a lot to offer from quaint, colorful villages to white sandy beaches, stunning sea caves to beautiful ancient structures, all of this topped with some delicious Portuguese wine! Portugal has all the ingredients for an unforgettable vacation. We must also mention that Portugal is also one of the most affordable countries to travel to, thereby making it all the more attractive to visit on your next vacation! If you’re wondering where to start, we have put together a guide for navigating your way through the best and most beautiful cities of Portugal to make your planning process a lot easier!
Start your Portuguese travel from the capital city of Lisbon. Colorful, charming streets through the middle of which runs vibrantly colored, vintage trams!The streets are lined with quaint buildings, ancient monuments and delicious restaurants. So put on some comfortable shoes and begin your sightseeing journey through the buzzing city of Lisbon. Start off by heading straight to the center of the city called Praca do Commercio, which is Lisbon’s main square which has numerous restaurants and is a shopper’s paradise. A 5 minute walk from the main square will get you to Santa Justa Lift which is a 45 meter high elevator that was initially built to connect two neighborhoods, and now makes a fantastic place to get a 360 degree view of the city! Grab your lunch from one of the many restaurants on Pink Street. As the name suggests, the street is painted pink and makes for an amazing location for some great photos! From here, hop on for a ride in Tram 28 to reach Alfama - a locality that looks like something out of a storybook! Narrow cobblestoned streets lined with beautiful, colorful houses with quaint, cozy cafes to take a break at and watch vintage yellow trams chug past you! In Alfama, you can visit Se Catedral which is the oldest church of Lisbon! End the day by watching a spectacular sunset from Miradourodas Portas do Sol!
On the following day, take a quick 30 minute train ride to Belem to visit the Belem Tower which for a long time was a prison surrounded by water. From there you could head to the architecturally stunning Jeronimos Monastery. After your short trip in Belem head back to Lisbon and visit the Time Out Market which is a market that has numerous restaurants serving all kinds of local cuisines. End your day by visiting Castelo de S. Jorge to catch a mesmerizing sunset from this castle set atop a hill overlooking the city!
A 40 minute train ride from Lisbon is the fairy-tale like town of Sintra with majestic castles, luxurious gardens and a part of the town where its seems like time has stood still since the 1900s! We would recommend spending a couple of days in this whimsical town so that you can take your sweet time exploring all the beautiful and almost mystical castles in Sintra. However, if you are short of time, you can always opt for a day long organized tour that would take you to all the main attractions in this UNESCO site! Before we begin, do try to get all your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long queues. Start your tour with a visit to the gorgeous, red and yellow, whimsical Pena Palace or as the Portuguese call it Palacio de Pena, which is a palace that was built at the highest point in town, by a king in 1854 as his summer house!
After exploring this beautiful palace, take a stroll through the lush Pena gardens which have a variety of exotic trees from around the world! A short walk from Pena Palace will get you to the Moorish Castle, which was once a military fort and is also the castle where Lord of the rings was filmed! Walk along the walls of the Castle of Moors and enjoy the breathtaking view of the city from the top of the castle! After some castle hopping, make your way to old town of Sintra where you will find cobbled alleyways, lined with vibrant shops selling souvenirs, handicrafts and clothes.
On day 2, start by visiting the regal and architecturally gorgeous Monserrate Palace. The beauty of this palace will surely take your breath away with intricate designs inspired by Indian and Arabic architectural styles. The ornamental balconies look over a lush garden with numerous blooming flowers and exotic trees. From here, head over to the gardens of Quinta da Regaleria. This garden was designed to hide a network of tunnels and passageways. Here you would find wells which actually lead to underground tunnels through a spiral staircase! Another palace that you must visit is located in the center of the town called Palacio Nacional de Sintra which is a huge white palace with ornamental windows and two giant chimneys!
A 35 minute bus ride from Sintra will get you to the charming seaside town of Cascais. Try and reach here early and spend the morning strolling through the cobblestoned streets of Cascais that are lined with pastel colored houses adorned with vibrant, blooming flowers in the balconies! You can spend your afternoon relaxing on the beaches in town such as Sao Pedro do Estoril or Praia da Rainha! Don’t forget to grab your lunch from the beach side restaurants for some fresh seafood! You could also visit the Historic center and the beautiful fort called Cidadela de Cascais. You can either chose to spend the night here or head back to Lisbon by a 40 minute train ride.
The next morning, start your journey to reach the quaint, fisherman’s town of Nazare, either by train, bus or car. Nazare is very famous for having the world’s tallest waves and hence the beaches are quite crowded on weekends during summer. In Nazare, spend a day lounging on the beach and eating fresh seafood from the numerous beachside restaurants and end the day at the beach watching a spectacular sunset! In between lounging on the beach, you can visit the fisherman’s district where you can catch a glimpse of the traditional local life as you will be able to spot many old ladies wearing traditional Nazare clothing. Apart from this, the town of Nazare is quite close to the UNESCO World Heritage Site- Alcobaca Monastery, which is one of the oldest monasteries in Portugal. You must also visit the stunning and intricate unfinished chapels in Batalha!
AVEIRO &COSTA NOVA
After spending a couple of days in Nazare, continue your travel through Portugal by visiting the picturesque town of Costa Nova! If summer season were to be represented by a town, it would be Costa Nova! A beautiful beachside town with houses painted in colorful striped patterns, making a perfect backdrop for your pictures!You can spend the daytime in this cute town clicking pictures outside beautiful houses or lounging on the beach. From here you can visit the neighboring town of Aveiro and take a boat ride in the canal! You can either spend the night in Aveiro or drive an hour to reach the beautiful city of Porto.
Porto is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal and also is the second largest city in the country. On your first day in Porto, you can either drive or opt for one of the organized tours to the beautiful DuoroValley to taste the famous Port wine! Walk through the terraced vineyards and have a picnic at a spot overlooking acres of vineyards. Spend the next day exploring the beautiful city of Porto. Opt for a Duoro River boat tour or walk along Porto’s picturesque riverfront, explore the numerous galleries and the ancient church of Sao Francisco and Clerigos and visit the Sao Bento train station to admire the stunning Portuguese tile work. Apart from this you can also visit the LivrariaLello (the Harry Potter Bookstore), Palacio de Bolso stock exchange palace and the Port wine cellars! Also, on 23rd June every year, the Sao Jao Festival is celebrated in Porto with a lot of fireworks and a night filled with dancing! So you could plan your trip accordingly: D
Algrave lies to the south of Lisbon, so the journey from Porto to Algrave is a long one with approximately 6 hours by train or 5 hours by car or 3 by flight. But since it is not far from Lisbon, you could end your Portugal vacation by spending a couple of days in this stunning beach town with azure, sparkling beaches and a stunning coastline, before heading back to Lisbon for your flight back home. Start beach hopping from Praia de Dona Ana which is a beautiful beach that is surrounded by steep cliffs and turquoise blue water. A short walk away from Dona Ana beach is the smaller and quieter Camilo beach which is just equally if not more stunning than Dona Ana! Another spectacular beach is the Marinha Beach which is only 10 minutes away from the beautiful Benagil Beach which is known for the Benagil sea caves. Hire a boat tour or kayak from Benagil Beach to see the many majestic, beautiful sea caves which are a wonder of nature! Another azure beach is the 6 km long Falesia Beach and the most visited Rocha Beach! Algrave is a beach lover’s paradise with so many beautiful beaches to visit!
When you’re travelling to locations as beautiful as Portugal, you would want pictures that are just as beautiful. So take a day (or more) off from selfie stick photos and hirea local photographer from Travographerwho can take professional pictures of the memories that you created in Portugal!