Our traveller Vijay Ram discovers Portugal and lets us in on all the epic things to see in Portugal. Read on for more! Hit us up when you are ready to go.
On my last visit to Goa, I found the Portuguese connections very intriguing and added Portugal to my bucket list. That was quite a while ago and I recalled a quote that goes, ‘Don’t listen to what people say, go see’. So I booked the next cheapest flight, accommodation and was all set to explore the country my way. Portugal turned out to be a trip which had a flavour of everything, pristine sunny beaches with turquoise waters, forbidden and colourful palaces, castles on top of mountain, vibrant and charismatic city life full of amazing food and drinks.
Portuguese weather makes it even better, where its mostly warm and pleasant throughout the year. All in all it was a perfect holiday for me. As it’s at the tip of Europe and it isn’t connected with other European countries, not a lot of people visit which means it’s less crowded and you can experience a great holiday. Another good part about the country are its people who are so friendly and helpful and speak decent English, food is really cheap where we get excellent local dishes, wines for cheap rates.
Handy Tips before flying to PortugalThe best time to visit Portugal is between March to May or September to October. June to August is very hot in Portugal.
Faro has cheaper flights compared to Lisbon at times, better to check and book the rightplace. Not to forget the best beaches are there in Faro and Algarve.
Places like Albufiera, Faro, Lagos, Porto don’t have much of public transport as in Lisbon, hence might have to rely on taxi at times. Else there are buses with less frequency which needs to be checked for bus timings to commute.
If planning for more than a week, Spain can be clubbed with Portugal which is very close by and there are cheap flights/buses going to Spain.
Top Things to see in Algarve and Faro
Benagil Sea Caves
Considered one of the worlds greatest natural wonder, Benagil sea caves are Portugal’s hidden gem. One of the main reasons for me to visit Portugal were these caves. While I had seen these in pictures, the actual sight was awe inspiring indeed – totally worth the visit. I had to take a boat from Benagil beach to reach here, and the ride was a beautiful one along the green waters of Algarve’s coast. These caves and its arches were naturally formed over a centuries, making them a stunning ogle-worthy part of nature. There is an option to swim all the way to the caves if you’re interested, or even take your own private boat for which booking needs to be done. Weather also plays an important role and if it’s too windy you can’t go to the caves. A must visit on your Portugal trip.
Portimao – Algarve coast
The coast is extremely scenic and has some of the most amazing beaches in the world. I had randomly chose few coastal areas to visit and Portimao hadn’t disappointed me. The best part of these beaches are that they are very clean, with pristine clear green waters and preserved well. You can stay all day long and enjoy the beautiful sunsets with Portuguese wine and seafood. They are even less crowded which makes it relaxing and peaceful.
Albufiera was where I stayed for 2 nights as it was convenient to access the Benagil caves as well as other places such as Lagos, Lisbon etc through public transport. Albufiera has its own range of beaches and sea sport options for the more adventurous. I firmly believe that every trip needs to have an adventure and so I chose parasailing here, an unforgettable adventure. It wasn’t as scary as skydiving or bungee jumping and certainly very safe and reliable with life jackets on.
Things to do in Sintra and Lisbon
Located in Sintra, the Pena Palace is one unique landmark in Portugal. It is located on top of a mountain and can be reached by local buses going from Sintra station all the way to the palace. The palace is probably the most colourful landmark in all of Portugal, surrounded by green forests. Must visit for three reasons – you get amazing views of Lisbon and Portugal from the top of palace. It is also an UNESCO world heritage site and national monument of Portugal. Third, much of vibrant stories to be taken from this historic landmark. Portugal’s greatest mark of romanticism totally floored me.
Quinta De Regaleira
Yet another world heritage site by UNESCO, it was even better than Pena palace I would say. Surrounded by dense forest, it had initiation wells, ancient gardens and historic buildings that will keep you occupied easily for 3 hours. The walk around is quite a scenic one and every corner gives you a different perspective of this place. The architecture is a unique combination of Gothic, Egyptian and Renaissance styles. While you should admire the palace itself, don’t miss out the secret wells that lie beneath the palace. Want to know what the secret is? These well were not water storing wells, they were used for secret rituals! Must visit again!
More than a day is needed to do Sintra for its rich history and diverse locations. The Moorish castle was another medieval castle located on a hill nearby the Pena palace. As I hadn’t got much time, I couldn’t visit the castle. I would definitely plan it over my next visit to Portugal. I was lucky enough to take the photo of a castle from Pena palace top.
Christo Rei Statue
No this is not the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro! This is Christ the Redeemer of Lisbon. It’s selfie time folks! The iconic landmark of Lisbon stands tall on the banks of the River Tagus. A pleasant place to catch some good views.
Tram 28 Lisbon
Anyone who visits Lisbon should not miss out the Tram 28 experience. Its classic yellow tram which is very famous in Lisbon and takes you around popular tourist attractions. These trams have been there since early 19th century and its one of best tours to cover Lisbon. Its best to take the tram early morning or late evening to avoid the crowds and board at Martim Moniz to get seats.
Top foods to try here:
A trip to Portugal is not fulfilled without trying their food. Here are some traditional dishes which I tried during my stay there:
Portugese Codfish shredded into fish cakes, my favorite
Being an ardent fish lover, I loved the grilled Sardines!
Seafood people, check out the famous octopus grilled with garlic olive oil.
Sweet Rice pudding
With condensed milk/egg a treat for dessert lovers.
Made of egg custard with cinnamon, doughnut type. Give it a try!
Traditional drink from Madeira from sugarcane, honey, lemon and with flavors
Port Wine and Sangria
I had the best wines from port and a pint of Sangria beer.
Signing off with few beautiful memories from Portugal which I’m sure would be on your list of places to do !
Read more: Other works of Vijay Ram!
Vijay is a techie, globetrotter, a bookworm with an endless bucket list. Began with a trip to Asia with his friends, he has travelled across Africa, Middle East, United Kingdom and Europe. 43 countries and counting.