3 Reasons Why You Should Explore Portugal

Anyone who reads or hears about Portugal probably immediately thinks of beautiful beaches underneath breathtaking cliffs, spectacular surfing and delicious Pastéis de Nata.

Portugal is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination. The country is experiencing a tourism boom, in fact – and there are good reasons, as this land on the western edge of Europe has so much to offer. Here we look at three of the reasons why a holiday in Portugal is definitely worthwhile.

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Summer, Sun & Beaches

Despite its relatively small area (92,212 square kilometres), Portugal has one of the longest coastlines in the world. Overall, the Portuguese can dig their feet in the sand over 3,000 kilometres. The popular holiday islands of Madeira and the Azores are part of this, of course – but even on the mainland, coastline is everywhere. A drive from Faro in the south to Viana do Castelo in the north is particularly recommended, and it provides a comprehensive insight into the culture and beauty of Portugal. You can experience this adventure even during a short break – by car, for example, you can complete this trip in less than seven hours.

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Last summer I went on a two week holiday to the famous Algarve Coast in Portugal. We went to new beaches on the Algarve daily and explored the beautiful Algarve area that has so much to offer. (Read more in my travel guide articles about that trip!)

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Many Possibilities to Explore & Adventure

Holidays are very important, giving us the opportunity to relax and escape from everyday life. At the same time, however, we also want to develop ourselves. We don’t want to spend all of our time just lying on the beach and drinking cocktails – we also want to experience the country that we visit. Portugal offers many opportunities for this, catering for a range of interests. After all, the country combines beautiful landscapes and beautiful beaches with a rich and distinctive culture. Whether it’s the big cities like Porto or small places on the edge of the streets – visitors will always find new corners and new opportunities to develop themselves.

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That’s why Portugal is also the country of road trips. To appreciate it fully, the western side of the Iberian peninsula should really be explored by road. The good news is that the roads of Europe are now safer than they have ever been before – in 2013, the EU even set itself the target of reducing road deaths by 50%. True freedom and opportunities do not appear at the hotel pool, but out there on the road.

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If you want to experience the real Portugal, you have to do this in contact with the Portuguese themselves. It’s highly recommended to visit one of the many local wineries, for example. You can buy fine wines for little money directly from the producer, and they often have special offers too.

As well as testing the local foods, that are not as known as Italy’s pizza and pasta but just as mouthwatering. The sweet little pastry cakes ‚Pastéis de Nata‚ can be found at every corner and taste like heaven to me.

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Lisbon

No list of Portugal’s highlights is complete without a mention of its capital. This beautiful city is spread over several hills overlooking the Rio Tejo, rewarding the explorer with breathtaking panoramic views at every turn. Whatever you’re looking for – whether it’s history, culture, or an exciting range of bars and cafes – you’ll find it in Lisbon. If you want to escape the tourist crowds, the cobblestoned streets of Alfama is the area of Lisbon for you. Chat with the locals here and relax, watching the world go by. This is the real Portugal.

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I visited Lisbon for two days myself last summer and got a general overview of the beauty it has to offer, but I am already keen to go back and explore more! The city is also very famous for great vegan cafés and restaurants, that I want to try myself as well as wandering through the beautiful and colourful streets.

Besides Lisbon, I am also super keen to visit Porto! Another beautiful city in the northern part of the country that I’ve heard many great things from.

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Have you been to Portugal yourself? Where have you been & what do you recommend? Is it on your bucket list? 

 

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Two Days in Lisbon

Now it’s time to finally talk about our two-day trip to Lisbon. As you already know from my previous blog posts we stayed in Portugal at the Algarve coast for two weeks and in between, we drove the three hours north to visit the capital city for two days.

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Previous Portugal blog posts:
- number one including general information & recommendations for your own Algarve 
vacation as well as our favorite towns to scroll through and the yummiest food places 
- the second posts talks about our favorite beaches and breathtaking views you should 
not miss

We didn’t want to arrive and leave from different cities/airports and instead booked a cheap hostel for one night to stay in Lisbon in between our time at the Algarve because this was much cheaper.

We rented a car for our whole trip which I highly suggest you if you want to see more than your local beach and drove the 300 km to Lisbon early in the morning and left the next day in the afternoon.

It takes about three hours to get to Lisbon but for the way out you will need more time especially at evening rush hour.

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To get to the city from the south you will pass the red bridge „Port 25 de Abril“ which slightly looks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco :D and you will see the impressive statue of Christ.

Our hostel „Pensoa Praca da Figueira“ was located very centrally. It wasn’t luxury at all but super clean, cheap and everything we needed for the night. The breakfast was alright for that price, but I would rather go to a bakery next time.

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Sightseeing

We haven’t had enough time to really fully visit the city and do proper sightseeing. Also, we didn’t go to a museum which usually is a must in Lisbon because it has plenty of them.

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We rather focused on walking through the streets and experiencing a bit of the typical Lisbon instead of the touristic attractions. Bairro Alto and Alfama are beautiful districts we scrolled through. We walked past several beautiful buildings such as Terreiro do Paco, Belém, Padrao dos Descobrimentos and Castelo de Sao Jorge.

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We searched for the most popular picture spot in Lisbon with the old Tram…

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And enjoyed the view from Miradouro da Senhora do Monte and Miradouro das Portas do Sol.

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We walked along the Tajo Bay to see the Porte 25 de Abril from closer and took a Tuck Tuck to get back to our hostel.

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Another thing I want to mention is that the houses in Lisbon are pretty old and not in a very good condition which is super sad because they could be made very pretty. But sadly there is not enough money to do so.

We had two great days in Portugal but I have to say that I feel like I haven’t seen anything of the city :D So I am for sure coming back to explore Lisbon some more and test their amazing vegan food places – if you didn’t know, Lisbon has many vegan places to offer but sadly I didn’t manage to go to any of them…

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Have you already been to Lisbon? How do you like it? Would you want to go soon?