Whenever I get back from travelling, love to sit down (with a glass of wine) and browse through all my photos. Portugal is a bit of an undiscovered gem. In talking with several locals, sounds as though tourism is on the rise here. Traveling in October, we missed the height of the crowds/tourists, enjoyed a few days on the beach (Algarve, Portugal), and, when raining, used it as an excuse to spend the afternoon eating and sampling the local wine and port.
Porto is Portugal’s second largest city after Lisbon. A vibrant, lively, charming town. Lucked out with some beautiful, sunny blue skies, perfect for strolling along the Douro river and taking a rest at the river bank to admire Porto’s beauty.
The port wine cellars are located across the river, accessible by foot, over the pedestrian bridge, at Vila Nova de Gaia.
Enjoying grilled sardines and seafood at Taberna do sao Pedro, Afurada, Porto…
Alto Douro (wine country)
Coimbra, the medieval capital of Portugal and site of the country’s greatest university, is set on a hill on the east bank of the Rio Monde.
Be sure to catch a fado session. Fado is a traditional type of Portuguese music that can be traced back to the early 1820s. Performed with the Guitarra de Coimbra (a kind of Portuguese guitar) and typically accompanied with an acoustic guitar. In Coimbra, fado is connected with academic traditions and sung exclusively by men (as opposed to Lison fado); traditionally, singers and musicians wear dark robes/capes and fado is sung at night in city squares and streets.
Óbidos, a picturesque, medieval, fortified, walled city with a hilltop castle and a labyrinth of cobbled streets, is a fun place to wander around. It’s a bit on the touristy side, but worth a visit (it’s incredibly cute). Walk along the castle walls surrounding the village for a spectacular panorama of the city.
Ericeira, a small, seaside fishing community on the western coast of Portugal, just 20 miles northwest of Lisbon. Stopped here for a very good bite to eat…
Evora, situated in the Alentejo region, is another of Portugal’s wonderfully preserved medieval towns. It’s partially enclosed by medieval walls, contains various large monuments, including the remains of a Roman temple. Evora is also a lively university town and possesses excellent restaurants at which to sample local Alentejan cuisine.
“In the Alentejo, you eat and drink very well.”
Megaliths are stone circles that date back to the Paleolithic period. Their meaning and function are still a matter of discussion. The location on a gentle slope clearly dominant over the eastern horizon, as well as its equinoctial orientation seem to confirm an intentional relationship with the cyclic movement of the Sun and the Moon. This strengthens the assumption that this is a sacred place, where agro-pastoral communities in the region would gather to celebrate the great cycles of nature. The remains of carvings are visible on some of the stones.
Algarve (Southern Portugal)
Beaches, waves, sun, spectacular sea cliffs, seafood and fish (don’t miss the cataplana. seafood stew cooked in a copper pot known as a cataplana)…
Lisbon has it all — a walkable city with great food, restaurants, pastry shops (yum, pastel de nata), a giant food hall (the Mercado da Ribeira), great music (fado) in the Alfama neighborhood, shopping, museums, history (gothic cathedrals, majestic monasteries, etc.)…