Discover must visit cities in Portugal, right here!
Portugal was the 50th country on our world tour and it is a surprising country! Having stayed in Spain before arriving in Portugal, we expected to see a similar culture and scenery. Well, we were wrong. Everything is different there! The landscapes, the architecture of its cities, the cool climate, the sea food and the people’ mentality in Portugal are all very unique. And it was not to displease us!
The must visit cities in Portugal
Elvas is an impressive fortified city surrounded by a 4 km belt of city walls and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is famous for its 8 km long aqueduct, composed of 843 arches.
We enjoyed the setting sun in Belem, a district of Lisbon that boasts some of the city’s most emblematic attractions: the Tower of Belem and the Monastery of Hieronymites. Belem is also known as the place from which many great Portuguese explorers left on their journeys around the world. In particular, it is the place from which Vasco de Gama left on his way to India in 1497. The latter’s tomb is located in the Church of St. Mary of the Hieronymite Monastery, close to that of Camoens (the Portuguese equivalent of Shakespeare). Belem is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was pleasant to walk the narrow, sloping streets of Lisbon’s Alfama district, to stop at some of the many “miradouros” or viewpoints, and to see how the famous trams contribute to the dynamics of the historic center.
Just 20 minutes from Lisbon lies Sintra, a rich city surrounded by sumptuous palaces and castles, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We preferred to focus our visit on two major attractions: the medieval Moorish Castle and Quinta da Regaleira.
Quinta da Regaleira consists of a romantic palace, a chapel, a park with caves lakes, fountains, tunnels and wells. The most famous attraction of the domain is the “initiatory well” which, according to the mystical tradition, would symbolically “lead” the initiate from darkness to light through several “levels”. For history, Quinta da Regaleira is renowned as one of the places with the most references to alchemy, Freemasonry and the Knights Templar of Portugal.
The medieval Moorish Castle dates back to the early occupation of the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors in the 8th century. It is really impressive and offers spectacular views over all of Sintra! Its walls perfectly match the edges of the mountain on which it sits.
Tomar is more commonly known as “the city of the Templars”, you know, the ones Dan Brown talks about in his Da Vinci Code! There is the Convent of the Order of Christ, which is today one of the most important historical monuments in Portugal. Dating back to the 12th century, it was originally a fortress built to house the headquarters of the Order of the Temple, the religious militia that participated in the crusades to Jerusalem as well as the Iberian reconquest against the Moors.
Halfway between Lisbon and Porto is the city of Coimbra, which is home to Portugal’s oldest university, dating back to 1290. It’s a medium-sized city where it feels good to stroll.
Porto, the 2nd largest city in Portugal, is known for its Porto wine of course. But it is its architecture and its narrow and cobbled streets that have left their mark on us the most. Porto has captivated us with its prominent location on the banks of the Douro River, as well as its majestic bridges that connect it to Vila Nova de Gaia.
For a better preparation
We only stayed in Portugal for 5 days, which allowed us to see Elvas, Lisbon, Tomar, Coimbre and Porto.
To visit Portugal, we had the same car we rented in Spain. It was more than practical when it came to visiting the regions on the outskirts of major centres, such as Sintra and Belem. However, we felt that car traffic in urban areas was more complicated than in Spain, and more particularly in terms of parking.
We have rented accommodation within walking distance of the center of Lisbon (3 nights) and Porto (2 nights) for easy access to the attractions.
Portugal surprised us with the quality and variety of its food! As meat lovers, it was a delight!
When we were in Macau, I introduced you to the delicious Macau egg pies. As a result, we were told that they were called Pastéis de Nata and were originally from Portugal. Macao having been colonized by Portugal for 400 years, I had no difficulty believing it. But I wanted to know for sure whether they were better in Portugal or not. We therefore tasted those “Pasteis de Belem“, the place where these famous pies were created in 1837. Well they were excellent, but I invite you to visit Macao to get an idea!
I must confess that we were also won over by the other Portuguese pastries!
We had the impression that Portugal would be a cheap country. It turned out to be a little more expensive than we expected. The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is:
- 801,00 EUR (976.66 USD);
- 160,00 EUR (195.09 USD) per day;
- 40,00 EUR (48.77 USD) per person and per day.
|Expense Category||Amount Spent|
|Accomodation||295,00 EUR / 359.69 USD|
|Transport (including gas, toll, parking)||240,00 EUR / 292.63 USD|
|Eating out||173,00 EUR / 210.94 USD|
|Groceries||40,00 EUR / 48.77 USD|
|Activities||54,00 EUR / 65.84 USD|
|Total||801,00 EUR / 976.66 USD|
In a nutshell
|Dates||2019-08-06 to 2019-08-11|
|Number of days||5|
|Cities we visited||Lisbon, Coimbra, Porto|
|Inbound||Spain by car|
|Outbound||Spain by car|
|Mode of transport||Rental car|
|Distance travelled (car & foot)||966 km|
|Number of photos taken||3300 (660 per day)|
|Currency||The Euro (1,00 EUR = 1.22 USD)|
Portugal is a small country, but it has so much to offer. Our short stay in this country has left us hungry for more, which will probably lead us to return there one day.
Our stay in the Iberian Peninsula has come to an end. We then took advantage of 3 days in Paris to conclude our world tour!