An underrated destination that doesn’t top the list on favourite places to visit in Europe. Known for its sandy beaches, surfer waves and port wine, Portugal had my heart from the time I set foot and if I’m being honest, I didn’t want to leave. With winter nearing its end, Porto and Lisbon were sunnier than ever. It was refreshing to finally receive some vitamin D after the last few months. It’s the perfect getaway for culture, adventures and most importantly, amazing Portuguese food. Though I didn’t get a chance to really explore Porto as I arrived in the evening and left next morning, the little that I did see earned a revisit to this coastal paradise.
WHERE I STAYED
A well-designed aparthotel located slightly on the outskirts of the city centre of Porto. The main motive for choosing this hotel was for the pool, which unfortunately was under renovation. The apartment was spacious, modern and near all major activities and tourist sites of Porto.
If I could give this aparthotel 6 stars, I would. It’s located in the middle of everything from restaurants to shopping to other charming areas of Lisbon. For the price paid, it really did exceed my expectations.
WHERE I WENT
With only one full day in Lisbon, we joined a free walking tour with Tours of my Life to explore the city.
SANTA JUSTA ELEVATOR
Used as a transport service to connect Baxia to Largo do Carmo, the Santa Justa Elevator became a major tourist attraction in Lisbon. What makes this lift quite different from the rest is the gothic-style wrought-iron look that could catch almost anyone’s attention. At 148ft in the air, at the top, it gives a spectacular viewpoint of Lisbon’s neighbourhood. Just a fun fact, the lift was built by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard who was a student of Gustav Eiffel. A clear case of great minds think alike.
Founded in 1732, the Livraria Bertrand is the oldest operating bookshop in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records.
Filled with cobbled streets and steep hills, this old village survived the 1755 earthquake that created fires and tsunamis that destroyed most of Lisbon. It’s easy to get lost here but it’s absolutely worth it. Alfama is rich in history and is known as the origin of Fado music in the 1820s. Fado is the infamous genre of Portuguese music that’s very melancholic and usually played using guitars and mandolins.
LARGO DA ESTAÇÃO DO ROSSIO
One of the most beautiful train stations I’ve ever seen.
LISBON TRAM 28
The iconic tram system founded in 1873, that has become one of Lisbon’s main tourist attractions. Tram 28 journeys through most of Lisbon including Alfama, Baxia, Graca etc.
WHAT I ATE
No trip to Porto is complete without Port wine. It’s a popular European fortified wine that’s quite sweet. It’s so rich that sometimes it’s enjoyed as a dessert but often accompanied by cheese. There are so many different styles of Port ranging from intense berry to chocolate flavours. We kept it simple with red and white Port.
This cosy restaurant is located near the Santa Justa lift. It offers authentic Portuguese dishes and compared to surrounding restaurants, the prices were fantastic! A 3-course menu for €10? Um, yes please. It was so heavenly that we kept doubting ourselves as to whether it’s really €10. The menu even came with a carafe of wine! Win-win!
PASTEL DE NATA
Our free walking tour allowed us to try this Portuguese favourite. It’s a custard pastry tart that’s so dangerously good. I could have eaten at least 3 or 4 of these. Pastel de Nata (cream pastries) originated from Belém, just west of Lisbon by Monks who used egg whites to starch their clothes and the yolks to make this rich, creamy decadent pastry.
Look who! Remember Duarte? If you don’t, check out this post to refresh your memory. It was only right to reconnect with him when we visited his hometown!
ZE DOS CORNOS
We ate Bugs Bunny 🥺. Recommended by Duarte, this little restaurant is quite hidden that if wasn’t for a local we definitely wouldn’t have found it. You get traditional food at really cheap prices and a nice big bottle of house wine. I had arroz de feijão which is the Portuguese version of beans and rice. The dish was accompanied by ribs and rabbit which were equally scrumptious.
Enjoying some Bagaço (aka Aguardente [fiery water] ) after this amazing dinner.
My plans next visit
Apart from revisiting Lisbon, I’d love to spend a bit more time in Porto as time was a bit too short.
VISIT FARO & LAGOS
Two other cities located in Algarve region of Portugal. Algarve is a popular tourist destination besides Lisbon and Porto, and I’d love to see what’s happening in the south side.
I also had the pleasure of collaborating with Caribbean Millennial to capture my day in Lisbon on Instagram. Check it out in their highlight reel @TheCaribbeanMillennial
Is Portugal on your bucket list? What’s the first thing you plan to do?