My history with Portugal goes right back to when I was a child. My parents often took me to the south of Portugal for our family holiday and although I might not have realised it growing up, I was getting to know an incredible country from a young age. I still have fond memories of the people and the incredible beauty of the country. Years later, I lived on the border between Spain and Portugal and spent many weekends there and later I travelled the length of the country. Here you have my Portugal Top 5!
I have decided to choose Porto as my number one as it really does have a special something. The first time I went, I liked it a lot. The second time, I completely fell in love with the city. It was the only trip I could take in 2020 and I didn’t want it to end (so much that I did extend my stay- the beauty of remote working!). I love the cobbled streets and the architecture of the whole city. You can find an abandoned building but examining it further can surprise you! Of course we can’t mention Porto without mentioning the famous bridges- the views are incredible of course from the Ponte Luis IX and taking a walk along the top or bottom of the river is a great way to admire Porto and all its beauty. In particular, I enjoyed the Jardins do Palacio de Cristal where you can take a long walk and get a great view of many different points of the city.
Lisbon naturally takes my second place- in fact I almost want to award it tied first. It’s a city I love going back to again and again. Get ready for leg day every day with its famous seven hills but at least from those hills, you get some amazing views (the castle is a great place for a panoramic shot!). I love the different neighbourhoods and how they can all have a different feel. My favourite is Belém where you will find the Torre de Belém (it’s small but not to be missed!) and the monument Padrão dos descobrimientos where you will find a tribute to Portugal’s famous explorers- remember that Portuguese is spoken in most continents so it has quite a history! Lisbon has a great transport network which is pretty cheap too making it a very easy capital city to explore.
Évora is a charming city in the middle of Portugal where I made a stop on my South to North trip. It’s a city surrounded by medieval walls that have preserved the historical sights inside. One highlight in particular is the Chapel of Bones (no explanation needed) and the temple (I love a good temple!). Portugal is very well connected by bus and trains that are fairly cheap too. Évora is definitely worth a stop on the tour and it’s very easy to do so.
I couldn’t write a blog on Portugal without mentioning the famous Algarve region. There are many towns I could have happily chosen for the list each with its own charm and amazing beaches. I decided to choose Lagos for my Algarve entry on the list. It’s a small town with beautiful beaches and caves. I spent a few days here relaxing and having a drink at the marina watching the world go by.
Coimbra is a city famous for its university- the oldest in the Portguese speaking world. For this reason, it has a very chilled, international vibe as it attracts a lot of students but it isn’t too overrun with tourists so it can be a nice change of pace on your Portugal trip. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time in Coimbra but I really enjoyed walking around and checking out all the old buildings on the University campus and in the Old Town.
Although I feel I have spent a lot of time in Portugal, I still have places to explore- Braga and Sintra are still pending and I could take a trip to the Algarve anytime! What I love about Portugal is the people- they are always so welcoming. I speak Portuguese and they always want to know how I came to learn the language so learning a few words will always go down well with the locals. It’s relatively easy to travel round by bus or train and the cities aren’t more than a few hours apart.
Let me know your Portugal recommendations! There is always something new to discover!