Oh Portugal….With borders closed, the days of international travel seem to be too far for comfort.
I had pictured maternity leave a whole lot different than how it’s been going – but hey, such is life.
It seems fitting that on day 3590 of quarantine, I choose to escape to Portugal for a bit.
Portugal was our last stop on our honeymoon. After a 7-night Mediterranean cruise to and from Barcelona we hopped on a plane and landed in Lisbon. Although, our journey didn’t stop there; we continued about 30 minutes out of Lisbon and stayed in Estoril. We were less than 5 minutes walking distance to beautiful beaches, bars & restaurants and a short 15 minute Uber into Cascais. Portugal completely caught us off guard with its history, beauty, delicious food and kind people. In the words of our controversial Canadian pop star Justin Beiber, it was a No Brainer to write this next post.
So…why should Portugal make it onto your list of places to travel too once travel bans are lifted?
Portuguese are some of the friendliest we’ve encountered during our travels. When we first arrived to our AirBnB we were disasters. We couldn’t figure out the lock box to get the key out, for the longest time. Then finally got into the building and then couldn’t figure out what unit was ours. I was suffering from delayed sea sickness from getting off the cruise that day and then enduring an entire day of travelling. Hands full with luggage (lol I can’t wait to do this all with Huntly one day 😂) we had a few moments of feeling defeated.
That is until the friendliest elderly man offered to help us get in, call the owner, assured us we were in the right place, even offered to help with bags. It was such a lovely way to be introduced to the country and to finish our long day off. From restaurant waiters who were friendly, easy going and chatty to Uber drivers who invested in our love story the kindness was endless.
The Portuguese take pride in their country and its natural beauty. Because of this they take good care of their cities and beaches. With many trash containers around; there was hardly any debris on the ground or at any of the beaches. Even in downtown Lisbon the only smells that would tickle your nose were ones of delicious foods and European colognes. It was by far one of the cleanest European countries we have been to (along with the Netherlands – you can read about the best hidden gems to visit in Amsterdam here). To some this may seem like a bizarre point to make but for other’s who have travelled around the world there are many places were the scent of urine and trash consume your nostrils. It was so clean in fact that I would have felt comfortable walking around bare foot (only if I had to though!)
The food was some of the best we had on our trip. Just remember the key is to always stay away from restaurants that have pictures in the menus and are standing on the streets trying to haul you in!
We found this delectably delicious Italian restaurant that I dream about often. The food was some of the best Italian I have ever had (& I’ve been all over Italy!) Our experiences proved that the Portuguese take pride in fresh, healthy and balanced recipes. There were a ton of fresh juice/smoothie bars, multiple options for delicious salads, açai bowls, coffee shops with some of the most delicious lattes and iced beverages. We had some of the best sea food as well along with delicious burgers. The best part is, everything came at a good price.
There is a ton to do and see in Portugal. So much so that the hubby and I are wanting to go back because we still feel like we missed so much.
From spending your days drinking sangrias on the beaches to exploring Sintra and the many colourful castles and beautiful gardens to catching a Fado performance in Alfama the country is filled with history, beauty and entertainment for everyone.
Portugal is cheap, another awesome reason to go. Flights for us Western Canadians was the most expensive part and there are no direct flights which was kind of a bummer. But definitely not worth holding back on visiting!
Your average cost of a beer is under 2 euros. You can grab an espresso and pastry for under 5 euros or a larger breakfast with waffles and lattes for under 15. You can average a sandwich and drink for lunch to cost you around 10 euros and dinner around 25. They have a ton of options and all at a reasonable price.
The tram was quite cheap as well – under 2 euros to go from town to town. For a 10 minute Uber it would run you under 5 euros. Air BnB’s average around 115 CAD which is 74 euro’s or 85 USD.
Beautiful Beaches & Awesome Weather
Let us first talk about the weather. Portugal has a warm climate with an average of 16 degrees in the winter and 28 in the summer. Just like most warm climates there is always a wet season which would be the winter months. December being the worst. If you’re in Lisbon in the heat of the summer its hot! I suggest staying close to the beaches/water as the ocean breeze helps cool down the area. Most Air BnB’s don’t have A/C.
The beaches are beautiful and there are tons of them. The sand is soft, beaches are clean, water refreshing and although there are a lot of people at the beaches we never felt crowded…at least not like we do when visiting a lake at home! What’s even better is all the beaches we went to had life guards on duty who also helped keep the beaches clean. It also adds that extra level of safety and comfort knowing someone is watching.
The water was so clear you could see fish and jelly fish swimming around you (don’t worry — not the stinging ones). Most of the beaches we visited were down below cliff sides which made you feel separated from the town as well as provided a lot of nooks and crannies for you to post up and feel as if you have your own private area.