Wherever we travel, we’re always in search of the best pictures. After all, we love all the pretty things! We spent two weeks exploring Portugal, and while there’s so much more we wish to see, we experienced enough to safely declare that we love it! We know you’ll fall in love with Portugal as well, especially with the help of these photos.
If you’re flying to Portugal, chances are you’ll come in through the beautiful city of Lisbon. Sitting right on the Tagus River, the city offers history, hills, and plenty of photo ops.
Monuments and Landmarks
One of the most iconic sites of Lisbon is undoubtedly the Torre de Belém (Belém Tower). However, there are several more worth checking out if you’re in the area.
These include the nearby Monument of Overseas Combatants, and the Elevador de Santa Justa and the Convento do Carmo at the center of town.
Closer to the water, you’ll also find the Rua Augusta Arch. Or you could be intrigued by the beautiful Vasco da Gama Tower and its adjacent gondola.
Speaking of the water, there’s no better way to spend a warm afternoon in Lisbon than by wandering the extensive waterfront. Pick up an ice cream from one of the many local shops, or stop in for an espresso while you enjoy the sea breeze and street musicians.
Be sure you don’t miss the odd artistic cairn garden full of painted rocks stacked to look like sharks and beach bums.
Wandering the City
One of the best ways to experience a city is simply by getting lost in it. Admire everything from the trees to the statues, the beautiful architecture, and the friendly people.
Look up toward the sky, and don’t forget to see the art at your feet all throughout the city.
When talking about Portugal, most rave about Porto. And it’s easy to see why! There’s so much to love about this culture-rich city.
The city’s architecture tell a story of the past, a sad history ruled by a dictator. Many surfaces have become a tapestry of colored tiles – azulejos – both inside and out, lending a unique beauty.
The city’s centerpiece, the Clerigos Tower, can not only be seen from all over the city, but it also plays a wonderfully beautiful bell sequence every day at noon.
One cannot visit a city as old as Porto and not learn some of its rich history. From the old train station to a tiny bookstore that inspired J.K. Rowling, the city has so much to discover.
Fun fact! Just across the Douro River from Porto is the old city of Gaia – also once known as Cale. This was originally the center of town, with its northern neighbor merely being its port – “Portus Cale.” As the two expanded into a much wider territory, they were jointly referred to as “Portucale,” which of course later became “Portugal.”
While Porto is known best for its port wines (in which we indulged plenty!), it also features some delectable food!
Most know of the all-famous pasteis de nata – small custard pastries. But few have experienced the massive heart-attack sandwich that is the francesinha. Containing five meats, cheese, sauce, and even a fried egg, you don’t even need the bed of french fries to be intimidated. But it’s a must-try if you’re in town. Just bring a friend with whom to share it!
(You can make both of these at home with these recipes!)
Porto and Lisbon are both wonderful cities, and if you only have a few days in Portugal, either will make for a great stop into the country. However, if you have the time, do yourself a favor by spending a day or two in Sintra.
The most colorful attraction is by far Pena Palace. A bright flash of red and yellow, it’s impossible to miss atop the mountain at the center of Sintra.
Wander the palace and soak in the fairytale colors. Be sure you don’t miss the really cool surprise in the chapel, and leave extra time to explore the surrounding gardens afterwards!
Quinta da Regaleira
Talk about some fun photo ops! We originally saw pictures of the Initiation Well and knew we had to make the extra trip to this less-colorful palace – even with only an hour to spare!
More than just a fancy building, this is one of the most unique sites in Sintra because of its vast garden and wonderful network of hidden passageways.
Go to the bottom of the Initiation Well, and take your time finding all the little surprises at the ends of the tunnels. We only wish we had more time there!
Castle of the Moors
Sintra is clearly a city of royalty. If two palaces weren’t enough, it also features a sprawling castle. We had to be selective in how many things we paid for, so we didn’t get a chance to go inside this time around. But the Castle of the Moors promises lots to photograph, even from afar.
Part of what makes Portugal so beautiful is its cities. But it is also known for its stunning coastline. Rocky, sandy, covered in greenery, we were never bored venturing out to the Atlantic.
We enjoyed explorative hikes along coastal paths and calm sunsets in the company of screaming gulls.
We even witnessed some fierce waves at the head of a storm.
And the little towns only add to the charm. Torre Vedras, Cascais, Cabo do Roca – each has its own personality.
Since we only had two weeks, we didn’t even make it to the most beautiful stretch of coast – including the Algarve region – but that just gives us plenty of reason to return!
Portugal stole our hearts, and I’m sure you’ll love it, too!
What area of Portugal are you most inspired to visit?
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