Arture Explores : Portugal
When thinking of a vacation in Europe, Portugal is probably not one of the first destinations that comes to mind. However, our love and fascination for cork ended up taking us to this not-so-mainstream country (The Cork Oak is Portugal's national tree, because of its abundance in the region), and it was hard not to fall in love.
Here’s how our 8 days in Portugal were spent.
Day 1 and 2 were spent at this beautiful coastal city in the Algarve (the Southern-most region of Portugal). Though Faro is probably a more popular city for tourists, Lagos turned out to be a great choice. The lack of a crowd adds to the charm.
No matter where you stay in the Algarve, it is easy to go beach-hopping and be greeted by one amazing view after the other. We spent time at Praia Do Camilo and Ponta Da Piedade.
A boat ride also took us to the famous Benagil Caves - Natural coastal caves formed by 20 million year old sandstone deposits! Though we didn’t get the time, a must-do would be to spend some time at the Benagil beach as well.
Highlight : The walks, pastel-coloured buildings and seas in multiple shades of blue.
Day 3 and 4 were dedicated to Porto - one of the most popular cities to visit in Portugal - and rightfully so. We’re going to start out by talking about the fascinating tile art (called Azulejo) that’s hard to miss no matter where you go in Porto. A special mention has to go to the São Bento station - which comprises of 20,000 Azulejo tiles by Jorge Colaço, dating from 1905-1916. It leaves you in awe.
The Porto Ribeira square and the colourful winding streets that lead to it are part of the historic centre of the city, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Porto is also the home of Port wine and if you’re interested, the Riberia district is home to a multitude of wineries who also offer wine tastings and tours.
Highlight : Walking across the top of the Dom Luís bridge at sunset, lovely small boutiques selling azulejo tiles, earrings, rings, coasters and so much more.
Days 5 through 8 were spent at Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal. This city has so much to offer - interesting museums of every kind, monuments with fascinating architecture, and beautiful historical districts.
The Alfama is one of the oldest districts in Lisbon. It’s easy to get lost in the winding cobblestone alleys and find yourself discovering little cafés and eateries.
There are a lot of day trips possible from Lisbon, 2 of the most popular being Cascais and Sintra. We picked Sintra, and it was beautiful!! With limited time available, we just chose to do the one hour trek up to the Pena Park. Was the walk worth it? Absolutely.
On the last day there, we visited the Estufa Fria (Cold Greenhouse). This greenhouse is 1.5 hectares large and comprises of 3 parts - the main cold greenhouse, the tropical zone, and a zone dedicated to cacti and succulents. If you are a plant person, don’t miss this.
Highlight : Just take a metro from anywhere to anywhere in Lisbon and you’ll find yourself discovering a hidden art gallery underground. Each station pays homage to Portugal’s tradition of tile art in its own unique way. There is SO much to see and words just can’t do justice. Be sure to look out the window. 🙂
Don’t Miss :
Favourite travel accessory : The Aki Compact Wallet
- It helped keep things light, with cash, coins and a travel card all in one place.
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