Remember that time I said I was going to post way more often? A big thing called life happened and so much has gone on! I finally am certified to teach yoga and have been busy leading classes. This summer has been SO good to me, but has left me with little free time. I’ve been wanting to post about Portugal since I came home. I have to be honest, this is the first moment that I’m actually sitting down and really looking through the photos that I took. There are copious amounts, (thousands to be exact LOL) so maybe I’ve been procrastinating because I really wanted to be present to relive each moment.
My first visit to Europe was quite magical, I feel like this is on everyone’s bucket list…as it should be. We had quite a few things on our agenda, with the help of Black Tomato we really were able to pull this trip together within a short amount of time. Now lets get to the good stuff.
We took a red eye flight and flew directly into Lisbon. I was super spoiled as I had a seat in first class with my parents. I was able to fully recline my seat, so literally I fell asleep in Philly and woke up in Portugal.
Once we finished up at the airport we were picked up by a driver and taken to the Four Seasons Hotel for our two night stay in Lisbon. Upon check-in we were literally treated like royalty. We were told we had an upgrade and were taken up to our rooms. To say this was an upgrade would be an understatement. They put us in a gorgeous multi-room suite. The view from our balcony was just perfect and the entire place was impeccable.
We ate lunch at the Four Seasons as we had a walking tour shortly thereafter. Our tour consisted of some of the most traditional places in Lisbon. Our tour guide, George, was very informative. As we roamed the streets he was sure to answer all over our questions and wanted to make sure that we saw and tasted it all. The streets were steep with most sidewalks laid by hand, the statues were breathtaking and the history of Lisbon is very rich. We stopped at A Ginjinha Espinheira for a taste of the famous A Ginjinha cherry liquor. I would highly recommend you ordering it with the cherries in it. An acquired taste, but a bucket list must do. Rumor has it, Anthony Bourdain visited here so for me it makes it all that much more special.
As you stroll, it’s easy to look up at all the statues and beautiful buildings. Make sure you look down and take note of the intricate designs in the road/sidewalks hand laid by the Pavers. The shops are also something to be admired!
Throwing coins as it had something to do with good luck and marriage haha, while enjoying the flower wall in the background.
I’m telling you, the shops are hard to resist.
Clay roofs for as far as the eye can see.
We walked through Igreja de Sao Domingos, a breath taking church that has survived earthquakes and a fire…you will be blown away from the second you step foot inside.
Sardines are very popular in Portugal. My grandmother is a huge fan, so this was the perfect souvenir to bring home to her. Conserveira de Lisboa, located downtown, is a beautiful shop with tons of history that dates back to 1930. Even if you aren’t a fan of sardines, the shop is worthy to check out.
Being a pastry chef, I was over the moon excited to try the pastel de nata. What is it you ask? It’s a Portuguese egg tart dusted with cinnamon. The outer shell is crispy and the inside is warm and filled with custard. The most delectable one that I tasted was from Manteigaria. The line was long, but moved quickly. This was a recommendation from our tour guide and a good one at that. We couldn’t get enough of these throughout our trip, these were by far the tastiest in my opinion!
Once our tour was over, we walked a bit more then decided it would be fun to see Lisbon by taking a ride in a Tuk Tuk. It was nice to give our legs/feet a rest, but still get to enjoy the outdoors. The Jacaranda trees were in full bloom when we were here, they lined the streets with color as the purple flowers are really quite pretty.
TimeOut Market reminded me a whole lot of our own Reading Terminal Market. With many traditional Portugese dishes, I’d dare to say there is something for everyone…this place was buzzing with life. I would highly recommend coming here for lunch.
Nine times out of ten, your meals in Portugal will include olives, bread and cheese. They do bring these items to you as soon as you sit down, you can choose to send them away or to enjoy each and every bite.
Once we finished lunch, we walked to Carmo Archaeological Museum. I had seen some pictures online and knew I wanted to see it with my own eyes. We paid a few dollars to enter and enjoyed the views. We did a self guided tour to see the two mummies inside as well as ancient artifacts that were on display.
We had dinner reservations at Lisboa a Noite. The food was authentic Portugese, filled with tons of flavors and lots to choose from. The night that we had dinner here, we enjoyed what became our favorite cocktail throughout our trip. White port, tonic and lime. So so tasty! We had cocktails outside on the patio at the Four Seasons after dinner. The fire burning beside us, the view and the cool air felt like something out of a movie.
On day three we self drove out of Lisbon to Santa Cruz. Finding a few picturesque spots on the way. It was recommended by our travel agency, that we take the “Marginal” road to Cascais then to Sintra then to Ericeria.
Ericeria is a small fishing town that was the perfect stop for lunch. The roads are VERY narrow so we held our breath as we drove through to find parking. We were quickly seated at Esplanada Furnas where we enjoyed the catch of the day and our view of the water. The fish was cooked then plated for us table side. It was simple, but one of our best meals.
After lunch we made our way to the coast for our stay at Areias do Seixo. By far, our favorite hotel. If you are looking for a romantic, charming, detail oriented eco friendly hotel, you will be in Heaven. We stayed here for one night and did not want to leave! Upon check in, we were offered a piece of homemade cake and herbal tea. My parents had the honeymoon suite and I check in to “Mi Ma Bo” located next door. Dinner and our buffet breakfast were both something to rave about. The entire property is swoon worthy, straight out of a Pinterest dream.
Before check out, my mom and I visited the spa for treatments. I chose the Indian Ayurvedic massage, it was the perfect way to bring together mind, body, spirit and extreme relaxation.
Day four led us to Porto with a stop in Obidos, a quaint medieval town. Again finding a few picturesque spots on the way.
Finally arriving in Porto for our two night stay at the Yeatman Hotel. With views of both the Douro River and the city, we were in a great location.This was my favorite city in Portugal. Rich in history, impeccably crafted buildings, great restaurants and adorable shops.
The following morning we had a half day guided walking tour of Porto. We began our walk by touring the Church of Sao Francisco. Breath taking from the moment we stepped inside this Gothic church, otherwise known as “the cave of gold”. Taking pictures inside is forbidden/frowned up, so we soaked it up with our eyes.
My favorite store in Porto, filled with the best traditional Portuguese souvenirs was A Vida Portugesa. The building itself is a site to be seen. We spent a good amount of time in here with our tour guide hearing the history behind so many items.
A must have lunch item in Porto for all of my fellow foodies is the Francesinha. What is it you ask? A delicious medley of meats, bread, cheese and spicy sauce. We had ours at N’O Mercado per our recommendation from our tour guide.
Another one of our favorite dinner spots was Cantina 32. Right in the middle of Porto. For dessert or a mid day espresso/chocolate stop, I would highly recommend Chocolataria Equador which is nearby the restaurant I just mentioned. This was the best sweet shop, I’ve been dreaming of this place since I returned to the US.
While in Porto, we did a tour of W & J Graham’s winery. This should be a MUST on your trip to Portugal. Our tour here was lovely, with lots of information. We chose to end our tour with a cheese plate as well as a tasting of their fantastic Port collection, as we enjoyed the picturesque view from our table.
Day six of our trip led us out of Porto and into the stunning Douro Valley. We had the day to take our time and enjoy the drive. We chose to have lunch at Doc, which ended up being our all time favorite restaurant. So much so, that we visited there two more times. The Chef was quite lovely and greeted us upon walking into his space. The staff was impeccable, they embraced us with huge smiles and the utmost hospitality. The food was to die for. I don’t love that saying, but I’m salivating just thinking of those intricately prepared meals that burst with texture and flavors. I would love nothing more than to pick this entire restaurant up and move it to Pennsylvania, I know that my parents feel the same!
We stayed at the Vintage House Hotel while in the Valley. As far as views goes, I give this place a 10/10.
On day seven we had a private cruise down the Douro river. Going into this we were unsure of what to expect. As we made our way down to the dock, we realized which yacht was going to be taking us on our tour. We were SO excited, as FeelDouro really takes the experience above and beyond. This was the perfect way to enjoy our surroundings from another viewpoint. With sprawling views of the water and vineyards as far as the eye could see, I had to take a deep breath to soak it all in.
Later in the afternoon, we drove to Quinta de Pacheca, one of the best known estates in the region. We had a private tour and tasting with Carla…I’m sure you can make a request for her, if so, please do! Their Tawny port selection as well as their Vintage bottles were all remarkable. This was the perfect place to pick wines that we loved, as they made it very easy to order and ship a box home to the US. I would highly recommend taking a look at their website and planning a stay here as they have the CUTEST accommodations. If the thought of sleeping in a wine barrel is as exciting to you as it was to us, you can thank me later. Had we known about this, we most definitely would have planned this into our trip.
We had another private tasting, closer to where we were staying along the river at Quinta do Bomfim. This property was stunning, we learned so much about the history of wine and gained a whole new appreciation for making it.
That night we had dinner at Six Senses. When planning the trip, one of the requests that I had was to stay here. Unfortunately, this beautiful property is in high demand and there was no availability for our entire time in Portugal. We did get lucky enough to score reservations for dinner. That being said, if you can book a room here, it’s a must…if not, do come here to enjoy an exceptional organic meal and a greeting from their furriest employee.
For the final part of our trip, we drove to our stay at Sublime Comporta. We did not have much on our itinerary from this point forward as we knew after road tripping for so many days we would just want to relax. My mom and I booked spa treatments, I took a yoga class, we ventured to the beach and went for a peaceful bike ride. It’s easy to lose yourself in time here, the entire property is beyond serene.
We did drive into the town of Comporta, we found a bunch of shops as well as some antique stands along the way. We discovered a ton of stork nests all throughout the town and enjoyed them as we walked. Our final dinner in Portugal was at Museu do Arroz. We all agreed that this was such a wonderful place to end our trip.
Throughout our ten days in Portugal, we really did feel like we got to see and do it all. From the big cities steeped in history, to the wineries filled with Port wine, to the Portuguese restaurants, to the wide open beaches, to the sprawling countryside and so much more. All of the wonderful people we met along the way made this trip that much more special for us. I was so lucky to get to enjoy all of this in the company of my parents. If you’re planning a trip or this post gets you itching to go, please do reach out to me if you have any questions or need any more tips! I would be happy to share! Until next time…