Sunny Portugal offers sea, fresh air, incredibly tasty food and adventure!
If you are looking for the perfect European summer retreat then look no further than Portugal.
It seems like everyone (and their aunt) had been to visit Portugal, except us! And so, with that in mind, we set out planning our road trip around the central and southern parts of the country.
If you like a warm climate, salty sea breezes, delightful seafood, terrible drivers (sorry, had to throw that one in there), spectacular seascapes and nature then Portugal cannot be missed!
These are some of our best places to see and things to do when visiting Portugal:
A view over Lisbon, Portugal.
1: Sights and Tastes of Lisbon City.
There is so much to do and see in Lisbon, but if you are into street art like we are, then you won’t need to look much further than the nearest wall to see some of the local (and international) talent on offer. Pieces by CRONO, including Momo, Blu, Sam3, Os Gemeos, and Vhils are dotted around the city, so reserve an entire day to walk the street in search of them.
During your tour of the city, there are many places to stop off for a bite to eat, but we 100% recommend trying the following places:
Copenhagen Coffee Lab: There are several locations around the city, but once we found this place, we were happy to eat breakfast here every morning. For just €10 per person, you can get a full breakfast including pastries, bread, eggs and fruit juice. For all the walking that you will do in Lisbon, a big breakfast is needed!
Time Out Market: This indoor market is a must see. Not only is it conveniently located centrally within the city, but it is home to a vast assortment of food vendors, so there is something to suit everyone. We suggest trying out the charcuterie platters at Manteigaria Silva, the sushi at Confraria, and the ice-cream at Santini. We also came across our (now) favourite wine, Camaleão, a local wine made in the Douro region.
2: Supping on Lagoa de Albufeira.
Paddleboarding/supping is not something that immediately springs to mind when you picture a city visit in Lisbon. However, you should definitely make the time to spend a day with Hugo at his secret lagoon. This experience is a must if you want to integrate with some locals and see a part of the country that you wouldn’t discover alone.
Everything for the entire day is taken care of, from the transport to the lunch and equipment. Hugo is an excellent instructor and will have you standing on a paddleboard in no time at all!
This experience is well worth the €65 per person cost.
3: Exploring the Algarve Coast.
There is so much to see and do along the coast of Algarve, so we chose a fairly central spot to stay, a converted horse carriage on a rural farm close to Luz. This cosy spot was not cheap but was well worth it for a fun night under the stars and a delicious full breakfast in the morning.
A 30-minute drive south-east takes you to a must-see natural marvel: the Arco da Albandeira in Vale de Engenhos. For the more adventurous, you can wade into the waters under the arc and experience the private, hidden coves of sand.
After a day of exploring, we recommend stopping off at Chiccas Restaurant in Luz. It offers some of the most delicious local and international cuisines we have ever tasted. Try out the lentil salad, it won’t disappoint!
Before departing from the Lagos coast, make sure to watch the magnificent sunrise. A top spot, which we made some great shots was Farol da Porta da Piedade in Torralta.
4: Nature in Santiago do Cacém.
This particular spot in Portugal made us fall head-over-heels in love with the country. With breath-taking, colourful sunrises and sunsets, to the abundance of natural cork trees, lavender bushes and rosemary to the gentle sound of goats bleating in the distance. There is nothing more tranquil than the countryside of Santiago de Cacém.
We were lucky enough to meet the owner, Antonio, of Reserva Alecrim where we stayed for the duration of our countryside exploration. He is building some of the most ecological and self-sustaining glamping domes, safari tents and farmhouses in Portugal.
The number of things to do and see in this region of Portugal is abundant, and Antonio has cleverly put together a comprehensive list of the best restaurants, beaches and activities in the area.
You can easily spend an entire week exploring and relaxing in this area.
5: History in Sintra.
For an authentic taste of the country’s history, then a day or two in Sintra is for you.
With panoramic sea views, surrounded by natural forests, it’s easy to feel transported back to a simpler time.
Our absolute favourite piece of Sintra was Quinta da Regaleira, an early twentieth-century palace with underpasses, an incredible garden, chapel, and museum.
If you are planning on staying in Lisbon, then a visit to Sintra is just a short 30-minute car ride away. Fair warning, this ancient city is gorgeous but teeming with tourists. If you want to attempt a visit then arrive very early, park your car, and enjoy the city on foot. You will walk up to 25km or more in a day, depending on that sights you want to see, so dress appropriately!
For more on our time in Portugal, check out the pictures below, or leave us a comment:
The streets of Lisbon city, Portugal.
Caravan Camping under the stars in rural Lagos, Portugal.
Arco da Albandeira, Vale de Engenhos, Portugal.
Farol da Porta da Piedade, Torralta, Portugal.
Praia de Odeceixe-Mar, Odeceixe, Portugal.
Reserva Alecrim, Santiago do Cacém, Portugal.
Take the scenic route! Whilst there are top-class, well-connected highways in Portugal, we recommend driving along the coast. These alternative routes don’t take very much longer to get from city to city as you might think. And there are many hidden spots to stop at and admire the view from.
Get inspired to plan your next weekend getaway by viewing our Landscapes Gallery.