Why I’ll Definitely Visit Portugal Again
Every year I try to visit a country I have never been to. And in 2016 I made it Portugal. I spent there 4 days: 2 nights in Porto and 2 nights in Lisbon. And I must tell you it was so incredibly little time. So, make your trip to Portugal a long one because there is a lot you’ll want to do there.
Here is a to-do list for Portugal, I added some photos and information about the activities I actually did.
Visit the famous Livraria Lello [Porto]
When you enter this old bookstore, you can’t help noticing that this place has a clear Hogwarts vibe. By the way, J.K. Rowling lived in Porto while writing her first Harry Potter book. Coincidence? Livraria Lello is a lot smaller than it looks on photos, but you won’t be disappointed: the interior is unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Walk down Dom Luis I bridge [Porto]
When you step your foot on the upper level of Dom Luis I bridge, the views you see literally take your breath away. This a double-decked bridge constructed by Téophile Seyrig, the student of Gustave Eiffel. And if you are slightly afraid of heights, like I am, the walk will be scary exciting and totally worth it. After all, the second level of the bridge is 60 meters above the river!
Go to the beach
I didn’t, but you totally should. After all, it’s not every day when you can admire the beauty of the Atlantic ocean.
In Portugal you can treat yourself to some amazing pastry. And the one thing you should definitely taste is pastel de nata. Some people instantly fall in love with this dessert, others find the egg cream weird. Don’t set your hopes to high, and just taste them!
Go on a free walking tour in Lisbon
Free tours are not for everyone. They normally last more than 2 hours and some people would rather spend this time exploring the city by themselves. I’m a big fan of free tours and visit them everywhere. And the one in Lisbon was one of the best. We spent 3 hours walking around the city, climbing the hills, and learning a lot about the history of Portugal, the wonderful area of Alfama, and the Great Lisbon Earthquake. At the end of the tour I felt like I’ve been living in Lisbon for a while although I had arrived there just 7 hours earlier.
Go to Sintra and make it to the most westerly point of Europe
I did neither. But you should, an here is why. Sintra is a small town, a 40-minute ride by train from Lisbon where a very impressive castle is located. And from Sintra it’s easy to take a bus to Cabo da Roca and enjoy the sense of ultimate freedom while watching the ocean from Europe’s most westerly point. The itinerary for the day writes itself.
Go to Belem [Lisbon]
This is an area in Lisbon that is a little far away from the center. If you decide to spend a day here, here are some things to do. Visit the bakery that is believed to make the tastiest pastel de nata, check out Torre de Belém, visit one of the many museums, and have a look at 25 de Abril Bridge which bears very strong resemblance to Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
Spend an evening in Time Out Market [Lisbon]
At some point of your trip to Lisbon you may find yourself near Cais do Sodré railway station (for example, on your way from Belem) And that is when you should drop at Time out Market. Long tables and lots of tasty foods! Grab a couple of friends and you are sure to spend an amazing evening. The place is open till 2 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The only downside is that on weekend nights it may be hard to find enough chairs for a big company. That’s because people keep coming and no one feels like leaving.
Shop Portuguese design
Portugal is the country where you definitely won’t be tempted to buy Made in China magnets. Because there are just so many alternatives: from T-shirts with Sardines print (sardines are really a thing in Portugal) to cosmetics and canned food in the exact same packaging they were sold decades ago. A Vida Portuguesa is a great chain of shops where you can quickly stock up on Portuguese design. I also like this store in Porto.
A few more tips…
- Learn a few words in Portuguese. Because it’s just so beautiful. I wonder how many people promise themselves to learn Portuguese after hearing how beautiful it sounds. I’m one of them.
- Travel by train. It’s cheap, quick, and convenient. Make sure to buy your tickets online 10 days in advance or even earlier when they are about half of their original price. Trains between Lisbon and Porto go very often, and you can use free WiFi on board.
- Don’t forget to download offline maps of Lisbon and Porto and don’t forget to charge your phone. It’s easy to get lost.