I love traveling to Europe! While I have not visited every country (yet) one of my favorite places is Portugal. The people are kind, the beaches are beautiful and the historical architecture is amazing! We also took a day trip into Seville, Spain which I would HIGHLY recommend! So here are some pictures from our trip as well as the itinerary! We were in Portugal for 8 days in August, so the weather was warm and sunny the whole time.
Day 1: Lisbon (two nights)
We arrived in Lisbon in the evening on day 1 so we decided it was best to take it easy as it was a long tiring flight; we explored the area around our hotel and got a taste of the local cuisine to enjoy the night.
Day 2: trip to Sintra
The next day we hopped onto a train for a day trip to Sintra, it’s only about 30 minutes away from the capital and IT IS GORGEOUS! Sintra is a quaint little town just north of Lisbon nestled in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains with narrow roads and history all over. We hiked up to the Castle of the Moors (though you can grab a cab or take an official tour of the area which includes transportation); the walk up was a little scary as there are no sidewalks and cars/mopeds fly by you, but we weren’t the only ones doing it. In addition, we went to the Pena National Palace, both were beautiful and I’d highly recommend visiting both locations. We had lunch at a local hole in the wall restaurant where we sat outside and enjoyed the wonderful people watching.
Day 3 – 4: Faro (two nights)
We traveled to Faro our third day after waking up and taking a leisurely morning in Lisbon which included stopping by a cute cafe for breakfast. Cafes are everywhere and you can grab a pastry and an expresso for about $5 USD. In addition, we bought rail tickets the day of our travel when we went to the station. We took the rails everywhere we went (including from the airport to our first hotel) it was pretty convenient and like I said you can buy thickets the day of or you can get a week pass for 2 travelers for $250 USD ahead of time. See here for rail information
As far as Faro goes I would actually not recommend stopping here, just stay on the train and keep going south. There was nothing to do in Faro and it was gross. There was dog waste and needles littered on the sidewalks. Luckily I went there so now you all know not to stop by! Also, we went out to dinner that night and my husband ordered a steak and when the food came we discovered they brought us a larger stake and different side dish. We brought it to their attention -“hey this isn’t what we ordered”- and they apologized for the mix up, but told us we could keep the larger steak then proceeded to charge us for the more expensive dish which was not ideal. One positive was that we were able to take a day trip to Spain from Faro; once we figured Faro was a bust we booked the tour last minute.
Seville, Spain (day trip from Faro on the 4th day) – Seville was spectacular! So we got onto a tour bus at 5 am and we go back around 8 pm. The bus ride was only about 2 or 3 hours and the cost was included in our tour price which was $50 USD per person. Once in Seville there is a ton to see and it is very walkable. Most notably are the Seville Cathedral (which hosts the tomb of Christopher Columbus), the Royal Alcazar Palace (where the Spanish royal family still stays part of the year) and the Plaza de Espana. You can also enjoy a walk along the Guadalquivir River where there are endless views. While you’re there make sure you get a taste of the culture by enjoying tapas and drinks for lunch at Espacio Eslava.
Day 5 – Albufeira (spent the day here)
The sun was shinning and it felt like a beach day, so when we planned a stop in Albufeira when we were traveling from Faro to Lagos. If we could do it again I think we would have just stayed in Albufeira for a night. It was relaxing, clean and there was not only a lot to see, but there is also a lot to do! We mostly remained beach bums, but there were a ton of markets with local gifts and food to enjoy as well. There are kayaking tours, bicycle tours you can take and hikes too. *Warning, the beaches are a little busy and theft is apparently high there (we learned this from a local on the bus with us on our way to the beach – thank you sir for the tip!). So unless you want to lose your stuff, leave someone behind while the rest of you enjoy the waters and rotate.
Days 5 – 6: Lagos (two nights)
We arrived in Lagos in the evening so we just checked into our hotel (we stayed at the Tivoli Lagos), it was nice looking, but they are a popular place to stay so when our room smelled like cigarette smoke there was nothing they could do as there were no other rooms open. I would have stayed near the beach if I could go back. One perk of this hotel was that you were offered a free shuttle to and from the beach, beach towels, chairs and boogie boards. The weather was so great we spent one day at the beach and exploring the area and the other day we went one kayaking tour; we ere able to kayak through caves and along the sea side cliffs, it was indescribably beautiful and I would highly recommend it. The tour was pretty affordable at $35 USD per person.
Days 7 – 8: Lisbon
When we came back for Lisbon in the afternoon and went to the aquarium which I would recommend, especially if you are traveling as a family; it’s inexpensive (right around $20 per person from adults, they have cheaper tickets for children and it’f free for those 0-3 years of age) and it is one of the largest aquariums in the world!
After the aquarium, we explored the city a little more, it was walkable where we stayed (near the old town area). There are a ton of little restaurants for all budgets. My husband likes trying Mcdonalds in every country we go to, so we had to stop there, but there are plenty of other options!
Finally on the last day my flight left pretty early, before the rail was open, so I took a cab to the airport from our hotel. It felt safe and I had the hotel call the cab.
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Have you been to Portugal? Where have you been in Europe? Where do you want to visit?