When thinking of Europe and all the countries that are on my wishlist to visit, Portugal was never at the forefront of my mind. But after Trav’s sister, Gale, moved to Spain, we immediately planned a trip to explore both Spain and Portugal.
If you are a person inspired by bold colors and beautiful architecture than you might be as pleasantly surprised with Portugal as we were.
- We started our Portugal road trip at the bottom of the country and stopped in Lagos – a beautiful and quaint seaside town with gorgeous cliffs and turquoise water.
- The main thing to do in Lagos is hike along the coast to the Ponte de Piedade to see the beautiful grottos popping out of the crystal clear water.
After hiking along the trails by the cliffs and eating lunch in the picturesque old city we headed to Lisbon.
You might have sensory overload when arriving in Lisbon because every corner of this historic city is absolutely gorgeous.
We walked through one of the main squares in Lisbon to our accommodations – the Lisbon Destination Hostel, which was located in an operating historic train station.
This hostel is one of the most fascinating places Trav and I have stayed and has made both of our top ten lists!
Lisbon has a similar feel to San Francisco because of the steep hills, proximity to the ocean, distinct districts, and even the cable cars that run through the charming Bairo Alto quarter.
After spending a few days in Lisbon we made our way north to Porto, but not without stopping at what was soon to become Trav’s favorite castle in the world – Palace da Pena in Sintra, which is only thirty minutes outside of Lisbon.
The Pena National Palace sits high upon a hill above the city of Sintra – which is an amazing town to visit on it’s own and we did wander around and have a late lunch there after exploring the palace.
We drove up the cobblestone road/path at about 5km/mile without shifting from first gear (there are also buses available if you don’t have a rental car) and it was a surreal experience.
On either side of the narrow road there is a moss covered forest which makes one feel as if they have been transported to some medieval castle.
When you finally reach the top you must walk or take a trolley even further up to the castle entrance. And then it is there – in all of its glorious color and bizarre architectural styles that somehow work together.
A few hours later we pulled ourselves away and continued the road trip to our final destination in Portugal – Porto.
The romantic city of Porto is situated on the Douro River which makes for a beautiful city landscape. The same architect who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris designed the Luis I bridge in Porto.
It is very reminiscent of the Eiffel tower and at night it casts an enchanting glow around the river.
Our unique accommodation in Porto, Casa dos Guindais, was located in a great spot with scenic views of the river and the bridge.
We spent three short days exploring the city, tasting Port wine, visiting the famous Majestic bookstore, and eating excellent local cuisine at numerous cafes and bakeries.
We reluctantly left Porto for the trek to Madrid. Now that we have been to Portugal, we cannot wait to go back and explore the areas we missed out on the first time.