In May, 2019 we visited Portugal for the first time. We only had time to visit 4 areas, but we've already decided we want to go back, because there is so much more to see! Portugal is beautiful and the people are lovely. (My normal camera is too heavy to lug around on vacation so all photos shown here were taken with Iphone or Lumix FZ1000)
Portugal's Southern Coast - The Algarve
We flew into Lisbon, immediately rented a car and headed south to the coast - it was about a 3.5 hour easy drive. We spent 3 nights in the Algarve, in a town called Lagos. We day tripped from Lagos each day to visit other areas of this coastal region. You really need a car in Algarve as it made it so much easier to get around and there isn't alot of mass transit. We did a 12 mile hike along the coast called 7 Hanging Valley Trails - it was stunning! The next day we did a boat tour from Portimao that took us to see the Sea Caves that we had been hiking on top of the day before. I was obsessed with seeing Benagil Cave - which is the famous one you always see in photos of Algarve. The 2 hour boat tour was a blast and seeing the Benagil Cave did not disappoint. We visited an interesting museum in Portimao that was all about the history of the Anchovie industry. Sounds weird, but actually pretty interesting. We had the opportunity to try the famous dish in Algarve called Catapulana. We picnicked by the water and walked around the little towns and really enjoyed the Algarve.
We left the Algarve and headed North back to Lisbon but first had a one-night stop in Evora. Evora is the gateway to the Alentejo region of Portugal and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of Portugal's most beautifully preserved medieval towns filled with enchanting historical sites, interesting architecture and great restaurants.
We stayed in Lisbon 4 nights in an Airbnb that was in a great location. Lisbon is hilly with lots of steps - and oddly it seems that you're always headed up, and never down!! We got our workout in this lovely city. Lots of different areas to explore, good restaurants, beautiful views, tile everyhwere! We visited the National Coach Museum and the National Tile Museum - we enjoyed both of them. We walked and walked and walked some more.
Saved the best for last! We explored Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon....but we wished we had more time. There is simply too much to see in Sintra in one day in our opinion. It is like a Disneyland for adults of Castles, Villas, Palaces and ruins with incredibly lush and beautiful gardens to wander and hike through. We only had time to see Pena Palace and the gardens, the Moorish Castle Ruins and Quinta da Regaleira and its gardens. We felt like we could have spent an additional day here. Everywhere we went in Portugal was really incredible, but Sintra was my favorite. We will be back for sure!