HOW TO SEE PORTUGAL IN 9 DAYS
By Ian Robert Knight
Portugal is getting a lot of attention these days, and for good reason. Not only is it one of Europe’s most affordable countries to visit, but it’s also one of its most enjoyable. Hugging the west coast of the Iberian peninsula, it’s got one of the best stretches of beaches in all of Europe. Toss in some spectacularly beautiful cities and towns with ancient castles, plus some of the best wine in the world, and you’ve got a destination for your bucket list. Read on for our advice on how to see Portugal in nine days. You’ll be eating egg tarts and singing Fado tunes in no time.
The simplest pathway into Portugal is through Lisbon. Transferring from the airport into the city is pretty quick, taking about 30 minutes. Lisbon is a great place to start your adventure, with plenty of things to see, eat and experience over a few days. Lisbon is known to be one of the oldest cities in Europe, and was the centre of a large Portuguese Empire covering a large portion of the globe for centuries.
Today’s Lisbon is a mix of modern and historical influences, each very evident throughout the city. Much of the city has undergone a renewal, providing modernization where it was needed. The old charms of the city are still very visible, and still very accessible. Taking the famous Tram 28 through the winding, hilly roads of the city is something everyone should do.
Not far from the capital, there are a few other areas worth checking out, that you can easily do on day trips. The popular Sintra district, located about 30 minutes west from Lisbon, is quite beautiful. It’s filled with palaces, castles and mansions for the Portuguese elite. The Castle of the Moors and the National Palace of Pena are some of the finest castles in Europe.
The small town of Cascais, located south of Sintra, was once a sleepy fishing village. But now, it serves as a popular destination for beach holidays. With plenty of excellent restaurants, a charming historic centre, and a collection of artists studios, it makes an excellent day trip.
Portugal is not a very large country. You can actually drive the length of the country in about 7 hours, if you don’t stop. But in reality, you’re going to want to stop – a lot. To the south, is The Algarve, and to the north is the Douro Valley and Porto. It doesn’t matter which direction you go first, just as long as you see both areas. To the east, toward Spain, is the central area of Alentejo, with its regional capital city of Évora.
To The South
As you head south, you’ll end up in The Algarve. Covering the southern part of Portugal, The Algarve is a paradise for surfers and beach lovers. With many beautiful beaches, soaring cliffs, and sea caves, there is something for everyone to see. One of the most recognizable sea caves in the world, the Benagil Cave, is in this area. And don’t skip the regional capital city of Faro. It is often overlooked as a tourist destination, but shouldn’t be. It’s filled historically important buildings, cobbled streets and cozy cafes.
To The North
Heading back north, you’ll pass through some wonderful small towns like Tomar and Aveiro. As one of Portugal’s fifteen UNESCO sites, Tomar is one of the most historically important towns in the country. It occupies some of the most fertile land in Portugal, and is surrounded by forests and olive groves.
Aveiro is a small city that would remind most people of Venice, Italy. This maritime city is crisscrossed by canals, with many arched bridges spanning them. You can tour the city on moliceiros, a small boat not unlike the gondolas you see in Venice. The quaysides host charming art deco style houses painted in pastel colours.
Up to Porto
Drive a little bit further north from Aveiro, and you’ll arrive in Portugal’s second largest city, Porto. This city is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the mouth of the Douro River. Similar to Lisbon, the city has countless old colourful buildings, sprawled across hilly streets. Porto is one of the cultural highlights in Portugal, and is thought to have the best cuisine and wines in the country. Wandering through the ancient streets, you’ll see plenty of baroque style architecture, showing the influences from other parts of Europe.
The wine-growing region of the Douro Valley is one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in Europe. With terraced vineyards carved into the steep hillsides along the Douro River, it’s one of the most beautiful parts of the county. Most people would be familiar with Port wines, but not likely the large variety of Ports that are available. In the Douro Valley, you’d be able to sample everything from Vintage, Tawny, Ruby and White Port. A visit to Portugal would not be complete without a wine-tasting trip through this region.
Portugal doesn’t get all the attention it deserves. It’s one of the most colorful, charming and welcoming places in all of Europe. Once you visit, you’ll quickly see just what we mean. Come to Portugal with us and see why we like it so much. We visit twice per year, and can’t wait to return.