Portugal is a European paradise no matter what you’re in to. Food, wine, beaches that rival the Greek isles- Portugal has got a little bit of everything you’d want in a vacation destination, and a few things you didn’t even know to ask for.
At first glance, Porto seems a little rough around the edges, but underneath the facade is a beautiful city full of life- and wine… lots of wine. I have to admit that I was not a fan of Port Wine, but I did find a more than acceptable substitute. I fell in love with a Portugese rosé called Mateus that I HIGHLY recommend when you get of drinking port wine.
You probably will get very tired of port wine, very quickly, but one thing you won’t tire of is the architecture in Porto. Tile-lined buildings crowd the steep inclined streets that will have you out of breath cursing them one minute and gazing in wonder over the city the next.
PS- You can fly to Porto from Madrid for as little as $25, so it’s definitely worth trying to add to your trip.
Although we were only there half a day, the small beach town outside of Porto known as Matosinhos was easily my favorite part of the trip. The beach is lined with restaurants grilling up the catch of the day. We had bottles (yes multiple) of Portugese rosé, fresh fish, steak, and salad- easily the best meal I’ve ever had- all for less than the price of a mediocre bottle of wine here in the U.S. (You may notice that I often use wine as a comparative currency). For non-wine drinkers it came out to about $15.
Matosinhos also offers one of the most terrifyingly beautiful cathedrals I think I’ve ever seen. The Igreja Matriz de Matosinhos, while dark and slightly ominous looking on the outside is completely adorned in gold on the inside.
THE ALGARVE- ALBUFEIRA
The Algarve is a region in Southern Portugal dotted with white-walled, ocean front towns that are reminiscent of the Greek isles. We chose to stay in a small town called Albufeira. The town itself was adorable, but we definitely felt as if we had been lifted out of Portugal and into the middle of England. The town really catered to tourists, so you really don’t get any type of authentic Portugese feel. I personally think the Algarve is still worth a visit, but it definitely shouldn’t be your only stop in Portugal.
Although Lagos is a part of the Algarve, I felt that it deserved its own bullet because of it's uniqueness from its other Algarve neighbors. Lagos has some amazing beaches encircled by steep cliffs and caves that can be reached without much effort.
LISBON & SINTRA
Lisbon was my first Portugese love. It was the first trip I ever took while living abroad so it always holds a special place in my heart. One of the coolest things to do in Lisbon is actually to day trip to a neighboring town called Sintra. I’m not even really sure how to explain Sintra except it’s somewhere between Legoland and a scene from Indiana Jones. It really is a place you just have to experience for yourself, and if you find yourself in Sintra you definitely should.
Comment with your fun experiences in Portugal!