Let me start by saying that Portugal is awesome! Old cities with streets covered in slippery cobblestones, painstakingly steep hills sneaking up to palaces and castles, the bluest January sea… I thought that in two weeks I would have enough time to go through all of Portugal, and even though I have been able to cover most of the highlights, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface and I’m left wanting more.
While I’m typing this, it’s my last night in Europe. My hostel has quieted down (It’s only 11 p.m. on a Friday, where is everybody anyway?) so I’ve had time to finish watching Gravity Falls (and tried very hard not to cry in front of the hostel people because, as they say, all the feels) and pick out some of my favourite shots from the past eleven days. As this post comes out, I’ll probably be on my way to my hostel in Salvador, Brazil, so stay tuned for updates from there! I’ve also filmed some video clips during my time in Portugal, and I’m trying to get the full video out next weekend.
I started my trip from Algarve, the south coast of Portugal that is known or its silky white beaches and wild stag dos. In January the crowds are rather sparse but the weather is better than anywhere else in Portugal, reaching up to +30 degrees Celsius during the day.
One of Faro’s greatest attractions is the National Park of Ria Formosa (‘Lovely Laguun’), located right outside the town marina. The wetlands are a home to 240 different species, including flamingos, dolphins and even orcas. During the winter season the spectre of species is a little narrower, but cruising along on a boat between the little islets was still a nice experience.
On my second day in Faro, I headed to Lagos with some friends I’d made at the hostel. It takes about two hours on the train to get there from Faro, but it is worth visiting for its stunning coastline.
Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage listed town north from Faro. While it was fun to visit, low season had wreaked havoc in my hostel and I ended up being the only guest, and I think my time in Évora was affected by that feeling of loneliness since I felt slightly underwhelmed by the city.
Capela de Ossos – the Bone Chapel, which, as the name says, is decorated with bones and skulls of locals.
I really liked Porto. It’s Portugal’s second city, known for port wine and azulejos, those blue decorative tiles that are generally associated with Portugal. (A bit later in this post you’ll see a collection of the tiles that I photographed while in Lisbon.)
Porto is also home to Livraria Lello, which has in many occasions been dubbed as the most beautiful bookshop in the world.
Coimbra, yet another UNESCO site, is a university town dominated by the castle turned into university on top of a very steep hill. Its parks aren’t as much to boast for as I expected looking at the map, but its fun to explore the maze of streets that make up the old town.
Parque Serra da Lousã
Since Coimbra didn’t offer that much to see for multiple days, I headed out to the nature and took a bus to the nearby town of Lousã. It’s got a small historic centre, but what I was really there for were the hiking trails climbing up the nearby hills. The most popular track runs from castle ruins through the small village of Talasnal and provides amazing views over the valley under. It was good to get to the great outdoors again, and the mountain with its quiant villages built from stone was one of my favourite stops in Portugal.
My last stop was Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal and one that a local man in Faro on my first day in Portugal had proclaimed to be the most beautiful city in the world. While that may be a broad claim, I can tell I definitely understand the hype. I haven’t been able to find that many points of interest for classic sightseeing, but I’ve spent my days wandering through the colourful streets and steep hills, stumbling into pieces of street art and classic postcard imagery.
I’m just a sucker for UNESCO sites, OK? Sintra is a popular day trip destination from Lisbon so I followed the crowd and found myself in one of the seriously most beautiful places I have ever visited. Sintra is a base for exploring a multitude of palaces and castles tuked away in a national park. My only regret is that I didn’t have the full day or even two days to explore the whole extend of the park and I only got to see two places. Originally I intended to visit more, but at some point I realised I had spent two and half hours at my first stop. Here’s that stop, Quinta da Regaleira:
My second stop was the most visited palace in the area, Palacio de Pena.
Have you ever visited Portugal or are you planning to do so?