I can’t believe that we were in Portugal for less than a week! The days feel so long when you’re wandering the streets in Lisbon or when you’re exploring the caves in Algarve. I feel like we did so much in just four nights. Please put Portugal on the list of places to travel to if you haven’t already.
Here’s the snapshot of our itinerary:
- Thursday night- Lisbon (Lisboa to the locals)
- Friday- Lisbon
- Saturday- Sintra & Cascais
- Sunday- Algarve (I’m not sure if it’s Algarve, or The Algarves)
- Monday- Algarve
9/24/15 Thursday: My first night in Lisbon was on my own because Corey had a working dinner. The nights here feel like the Bay Area with a cool breeze (layers needed), yet the neighborhoods feel like more like NYC. The neighborhood Bairro Alto felt similar to the Lower East Side, full of shops, restaurants, and bars which you feel like you’ve earned the right to patronize after walking up and down so many hills. On Sachi’s recommendation, I headed to Taberna Da Rua Das Flores and had an amazing octopus salad. After dinner, I went back to the hotel for drinks with Corey and his coworker, Ali.
9/25/15 Friday: While Corey went to his meetings on Friday morning, I toured the neighborhood Belem, keeping a strong focus on the highest priorities- pastel de nata (egg tart)…sprinkle cinnamon and powdered sugar on top, and eat at the bar! This was the central reason for my travels to Belem, a slightly out of the way neighborhood.
After fueling up on the egg-custard tart, I walked about 5 miles through Belem towards Baixa (a neighborhood closer to the tourist center). It was such a gorgeous day to check out the Padrao Dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries), Central Cultural De Belem (I only went into the gardens), Torre De Belem (Belem Tower) and the winding streets in the neighborhood.
At this point, I needed to cab to meet up with Corey since I was late after all this meandering. For lunch, we had frango y chips (chicken and fries) in Baixa- the neighborhood near Bloomberg’s satellite office. The chicken is a local favorite and the spot, Bonjardim Rei Dos Frangos, knows how to rock this dish!
After lunch, Corey needed to change out of his work clothes and I needed a catnap after walking so many miles in the morning. We regrouped at the hotel and then went out for the second part of our sight-seeing adventure.
We had to get to Castelo St. Jorge for an incredible view of Lisbon. The castle is on a hill above the neighborhood, Alfama. Then we walked all the way down through the ambling streets of Alfama, peering into shops and cafes. We headed to A Vida Portuguesa, a lovely shop with items made entirely by Portuguese artists and craftsfolk. We finished our shopping just in time for our dinner reservation at Cervejaria Ramiro, literally the best and freshest seafood I’ve ever eaten! The langoustine, percebes, and jumbo tiger prawns are still dancing in my dreams. The crab was also super tasty. Before you go, I can teach you how to eat percebes now, and be aware that you might need to duck flying shells and bits of seafood meat as people are cracking open the treasures at this restaurant. Corey also mentioned that folks end their night by ordering a small filet of steak- that seems blasphemous to me, but to each their own.
Our night ended at Pensao Amor, a historic brothel turned into a dimly lit lounge with tasty drinks. Lisbon, thank you for such an amazing visit!
9/26/15 Saturday: We picked up our rental car and drove out to Sintra, the hometown of Pena Palace. We rode in a Tuk Tuk to the top, a fun yet bumpy ride. The castle was the most colorful thing I’ve seen, and full of tourists snapping panoramic shots and selfies- we may have been guilty of a few of these ourselves (see below). We both loved the architecture, the tiles, and the delicately crafted carvings in the castle walls.
Carry on to Cascais’ Old Town, a vacation spot right along the water! Being at this beachtown reminded me of being in Alicante, the town in Spain where Jamie Lynn studied abroad. We ate a tasty seafood lunch (yes, octopus for me again!) and then wandered through the streets buying up small souvenirs, and stealing shots of the locals. We caught the sunset along the harbor of Baia De Cascais (bay), and along Praia Da Ribeira (beach).
Back in Lisbon, our last stop of the day was TimeOut’s Mercado Da Ribeira! It’s an marketplace with gourmet food right along the water’s edge.
9/27/15 Sunday: We got an early start to the Algarve as it’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Lisbon. The drive took us through Portugal’s countryside, complete with sea mist (fog), and pine trees growing atop the rolling hills. We didn’t have a set agenda for this leg of the journey but soon found that it didn’t matter. Just stop at as many beaches as you can, and you’ll feel full of life! Our favorite beaches were Praia Do Marinha and Praia Do Albandeira. Marinha has such breathtaking cliffs and was wonderful for jumping into the crystal clear aquamarine water. Albandeira had crazy rock formations and caves, yet the waves were too big for swimming (at least based on the rule “don’t swim in the water if locals aren’t in the water”).
I’m getting ahead of myself….The first stop on our trip was Ponta Da Piedade. This is a time where a picture is worth more than a thousand words. I must’ve taken the same picture so many times because I just couldn’t get over how beautiful it was at this look out.
We drove on to Praia Do Marinha….a must see when you travel to Algarve (so far everything feels like a ‘must see’ as you can already tell). We checked into Quintinha Village, laid out at Praia Dos Pescadores, and caught the sunset on our rooftop. We knew we wanted to visit the neighboring town, Ferragudo, where our friend, Sam, is from. She suggested we eat at Fim Do Mundo. This restaurant had the friendliest servers and we ate so well. Cheers to the “end of the world” and muito obrigada to Sam for this suggestion!
9/28/15 Monday: I couldn’t believe that we’d only been in Portugal for just four nights. Our last day- though half a day- still felt wonderfully relaxing and full. Praia Do Albandeira is off the beaten path and was such a gem of a beach. I highly suggest visiting as there are very few tourists- we got there and only one other couple was laying out. Corey and I explored the caves and rock formations. The waves were pretty shocking which we attributed to the Red Moon (earth science?! don’t quote us on that hypothesis).
We had the itch to check out just one more spot, and made our way to Praia de Benagil. While Corey laid out, I was enamored with the thousands of shells along the beach. The restaurant, Cinco, looked out over the water and was a welcome meal after missing breakfast due to our excitement to get to the beaches. The drive to the airport was about 45 min but felt like a quick trip thanks to belting out Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson (not mad at the Portuguese mixture of megahits with American tunes).
Girlcar definitely needs to add Portugal to the list, the Algarves does have an airport in Faro!
Shoutout to Sachi for being my personal tripadvisor! Your recommendations were top notch.
Shoutout to Sam for your Fin Do Mundo suggestion.
Shoutout to Erica and Brian for visiting Portugal to your honeymoon trip- can’t wait to gush about this place in person!