Planning, planning, planning, this is why we are here! While the situation seems to readjust around the world, our hopes for travel during summer it’s real. And we all wondering if we can and how it will look like during this pandemic. When it comes to travel, most places, for now, have restrictions or are under lockdown due to the pandemic. Don’t forget to make sure to check government requirements before traveling. You have to travel safely, so you must prepare for it! If for example, is required a 72h covid test before the departure, or self-isolation upon arrival.
I will bring you back to my trip to Portugal, one of the most beautiful countries worth visiting from top to bottom! I visited Porto, Faro, and Lisbon, all breathtaking for a way or another. One thing you should know if you are planning to rent a car: It’s expensive. I paid to rent a standard vehicle for five days, 300 euros. And every city you go to, you have to pay for parking and a highway ticket. But at the same time prices for food are affordable, kind of balance your expenses!
Before we start, it’s essential to discuss which is the right season for visiting the country.
High season: July – August. Hotels are 30% higher than usual, Algarve (the most famous seaside location) it’s full of tourists. The heat makes walking around the cities hard.
Low season: December – March. Prices are lower and not a lot of tourists around. The main attractions have different opening hours, so essential to check. The days are shorter and rainy, and cold in the internal part of the country.
Midseason: May, June, and September. To me, the best time to visit the country! The days are longer, the temperature mild, perfect for outdoor activities. There are many festivals around June, and the prices for hotels are on average and not crowded.
It is difficult to imagine a more romantic city than this, the second largest in the country. Porto is full of narrow pedestrian streets, baroque churches, theaters, and large squares. The Ribeira district, situated along the Duero river, it’s been declared a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. Take time to explore the city by walk, all the streets, up and down the city. And do not forget to go to the ancient distilleries of Vila Nova de Gaia. Where you can taste excellent Port wine, exported and appreciated all over the world.
Among the other activity to do in the city, is the visit to Libraria Lello. Also known for the inspiration given to JK Rowling for the creation of Harry Potter. There is always a big queue so better to book this ticket in advance. About 2 min walking from there, you can see the Igreja Cappella Dal Almas, one of the most famous baroque churches in the city.
Fancy local food? Francesinha is the most popular snack in Porto after a hangover! Is a meat sandwich covered with melted cheese and how to forget about the crisp Pasteis de Nata? The most loved custard tart in the world! I am not gonna lie, every morning I had to have one.
To conclude your tour in Porto there is nothing better than a viewpoint! The Miradouro da Vitoria, from here, you can see a complete view of the city for free. Another one of my favorites, is Torre dos Clérigo. You do have to book a ticket for this, so make sure you do ahead. And for the sunset lovers, unmissable the view from the Dom Luis I bridge.
Faro and Algarve.
If you are more for romantic gateway and seaside, the south of Portugal is what you are looking for! I went to Faro, a lovely city easy to visit in a day or two, the old town, near the seaport it’s full of great restaurants. But how about going to a beautiful place, not full of tourists? From Faro seaport, you can take the boat and visit the Ilha Deserta, the southeast part of Portugal.
Finally discovering Portugal’s capital! Immerse yourself in the soul of the city, walking around the Alfama neighborhood. Alfama represents the past of the city. Start your walk under low archways, up tiny staircases to Castelo de São Jorge as the destination! Here you get one of the best views of the city, and on your way some of the best street art pieces too! You will pass tiny grocery stores, colorful buildings, street art, and cozy taverns. For the street art amateur, I recommend also read this article made by Giulia Blocal.
Opposite to Alfama neighbor, we have Bairro Alto, definitely a fancier neighborhood. White cobblestones, white walls, and many trendy bars and restaurants. During the weekend there are some outdoor parties with many young people. I hope we can have that again once this pandemic is over!
From Bairro Alto, make your way to Praça do Comércio, going first to Elevador de Santa Justa, for another of the best views. Continue to discover all the tiny narrow streets and hidden gems. Then stop at Manteigaria – Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata, one of the best in the city, where you can see how are made. As I mention, this custard tart will be your best friend for all the trip!
Then take the busy Rue Augusta and at the end, you will see Arco da Rua Augusta.
Between the unmissable places to visit in Lisbon, we find the Tile Museum. Museum of an art form, visible on many buildings around Lisbon. The Jerónimos Monastery, late Gothic style of Portuguese architecture known as Manueline. Both are located in Belem, just outside the city center. As an unusual spot, the Livraria Ler Devagar. A bookstore worth seeing even if you don’t read Portuguese, and you can capture cool pictures.
Talking about experiences, take a ride with the electric tram. It cost only 3,70€ each way, remember it’s local transportation that has different numbers and directions. The most touristic one is the 28 but I will recommend downloading the tram map so you can visit the area that you like.
For taking the shot of a tram, like me, you need to go to the stop Bica – Lg. Calhariz.
Do you have more pieces to add to this guide? I would love your opinion!