One week roadtrip through Portual, from Porto to Faro via Aljezur and Lisbon.
We arrived early in the morning at the airport (OPO) and took a train to the city (only a few €). On our way to the apartment we made our first stop at the Mercado do Bolhão (local market). We instantly fell in love with Pastéis de Nata, an egg tart pastry typical for Portugal. Just make sure you eat one every day, you will not regret it! They usually sell for less than 1€, fresh ones are obviously the best ones. Our Airbnb place was quite central to almost everything and was located right next to Estação de São Bento (railway station) with its pretty frieze on the walls.
We took an Uber (quite cheap, only ~6€) to a lighthouse (Farol de Felgueiras) and made our first contact with the Atlantic ocean. The place is great on a sunny day, we stayed for a fews hours and had a good time shooting photos. Be aware – you might get wet from the high waves (I experienced this myself) ;-).
The next day we strolled through the city, checked some of the more touristy places (Chathedral Sé do Porto, São Francisco Church, Cais da Ribeira, Bridges, etc.). We even did a boatride on the river, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There have been way too many tourists and exploring by foot is much more fun. Instead go climb the “Escadas das Verdades” (Stairs of truth) and enjoy the small streets and the nice views! And of course you can make a stop at Livraria Lello, a bookstore where Joanne K. Rowling was inspired for the moving stairs in Harry Potter. They do charge you for the entry and it is often very crowded, so you have to be patient to get photos without people on it.
In the evening we went to see the sunset at “Passeio das Virtudes” where you can enjoy a cold one with a view :)
After two days in Porto we picked up our car and hit the road for Lisbon. We tried to use the smaller roads but quickly realised this way it took is much longer. But via those tiny and sometimes “not so great” roads we found a few Like the Monumento Natural do Cabo Mondego (a national park with lighthouse on top of the cliffs), small villages with cute houses, abandoned houses or the beachside of Cabo Mondego.
In the evening we chose a random bar for a bite. It turned out to be a place where locals and visitors mixes up and share a few longer tables. Strolling through the streets and falling into those experiences is what travel is about! Speaking of which: The nights in Lisbon are very active and you will not have to go far to find company and have a great time. Lisbon seems to be a very international city, we met travellers from Australia, Britain, Belgium, Netherlands and more.
The next morning - while my two travel companions were not to wake up – I went for a morning coffee down to the bridge (which has a bit of similarity to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, USA) and enjoyed the sunshine and the breeze in my face for a while. For the ultimate hangover cure we visited the Mercado Da Ribeira where you can find all kinds of food. The rest of the day was filled with exploring the city and a slow evening with a bottle of porto vino (white ones are better then red imho). By my brothers recommendation we visited the “Restaurante Casa dos Passarinhos”. It is quite offside of the beaten tourstic path (they don’t speak english or have an english menu) but usually filled with friendly Portuguese. You have to try the “Açorda de gambas”. It is a mix of bread, garlic, olive oil, egg and topped with Gambas. While it looks “interesting” the taste is amazing (and it fills you up easily).
Leaving Lisbon for the next stop on the western side of the country we made a few stops to jump in the (cold!) water of the Atlantic sea. Again: If you have time, don’t use the motorways but go for the slower and dusty roads aside the ocean. You will see much more of the countryside.
Waking up with a beach view is one of the best things in life and this was no exception. Before the midday sun hits we decided to go for a little bit of cliff hiking. The coast of Portugal is overwhelming. While you have to be careful at the cliffs you will be awarded with great views.
This part of Portugal is good for surfing which we enjoyed at a beachday only 15 minutes from our Airbnb (Praia da Arrifana). We saw many camper-vans with surfboards around. That looked like quite an adventure to do some day. The Arrifana area is also good for a pretty epic sunset view and having fresh fish from a wood-fired stove!
The last two days we had reserved for the famous beaches at the Algarve in the south of Portugal. And we haven’t been disappointed. While there are of course many crowded places (though not too bad as it hasn’t been high season during our trip) there are some secret spots to explore. We spend a full day at Praia da Balança, a beach which can only be accessed via a climb or via boat. Besides from a few kayaks that made a stop every now and then there have been only 8 people all day. You can even swim into a cave and experience the sunlight coming down through a hole on the top - just like on the photos.