2 Weeks in Portugal – a Post-Trip Recap

Portugal - Journal Sketch
Front page of my journal!

Olá! I’m back from 2 weeks in Portugal, my annual solo trip for this year… Well semi-solo this time around, since the first half of it was spent with dear Y in Lisbon and Lagos before she took off for Spain and I hung around in Portugal. It’s gonna be super busy in the upcoming weeks getting all the posts together, so here’s a bit of a pictoral round up just to give you a bit of a teaser of my entire trip.

Portugal - Sintra Pena Palace Selfie
Selfie with Y at the Pena Palace – love the lego yellow happening here

Portugal is a pretty amazing country to visit. I didn’t know very much about it going in, other than that it was next to Spain and I was probably gonna see a lot of castles and churches there, but it surprised me with its various other facets – from the amazing street art not just in Lisbon, but in almost all the cities I visited!

Portugal - Lagos Street Art Aryz
mural done earlier in the year by Aryz found near the Lagos bus station. More Lagos art here

The widespread use and sheer variety of Azulejos, the decorative tiles introduced by the Moorish back in the day embraced and adapted to Portuguese style also kept me quite busy taking pix throughout the trip.

Portugal - Azulejos Tavira
This collection of tiles comes from Tavira

and of course to the great hearty food that’s generally cheap and filled me right up to the brim. It was mostly pork and seafood, and I’m heartily sick of ham and cheese at this point.

Portugal - Lagos Casinha Catalana
Cataplana for 2 is like feeding an entire Asian family! A soup stew with clams, pork and prawns, it was absolutely amazing.

And the walking, all that walking and the endless hills to climb – Portugal apparently is known for producing good quality shoes, and it’s no wonder given the extremely hilly terrain they have to deal with! I bought myself a cute pair of cork booties as a nice souvenir of the city, so we’ll see whether that is true in the long run.

Lisbon was where I started and ended my trip, and some highlights include listening and learning about Fado, trying the authentic Portuguese egg tarts called Pasteis de Belem;

Portugal - Lisbon Pasteis de Belem
Only called Pasteis de Belem in this store, it’s known as Pasteis de Nata everywhere else in Portugal! More on the little district of Belem here


as well as queuing 4 hours to visit the Galerias Romanas, something even the locals don’t always have the chance to do!

Portugal - Lisbon Roman Galleries Manhole
Where does the hole lead to? I’ve got the scoop on this rare annual event here

A day trip out to nearby Sintra to check out the medieval ruins ended up in an unexpected detour to Cabo da Roca, the quite stunning western-most point of Europe.

Portugal - Cabo da Roca Pano
The western most point of Europe at Cabo da Roca

The weather in the Algarve was very lovely and appropriately warm and sunny, and we enjoyed both the coastal cliff beaches of Lagos and the beautiful flat sandy beach in Tavira. Again, unexpected encounters with street art in Lagos ended up in a really tiring but enjoyable art discovery of the little beach town, while the quiet little town of Tavira was a great midpoint break and a nice way to start off the solo half of my trip.

Portugal - Tavira Beach Feet
Chilling out one afternoon at Tavira Island’s stunning beach

After that I headed all the way up North to Porto, which is a stunning city right from the get-go, as you enter the city via train and the valley comes into view. Even the train station is a work of art in itself!

Portugal - Porto Douro River
Porto along the Douro river, taken from the Gaia river side

Naturally I had a lot of Port and probably ate my weight in meat, spent a lot of time by the Douro river and while it rained down on me during several bits of the trip, I still had a great experience overall.

Portugal - Porto Port Wine
Port wine tasting on the rooftop of Porto Cruz

A day trip out to the medieval town of Guimaraes was a nice change of pace from the wine, if perhaps not the most exciting.

Portugal - Guimaraes Castle
It’s a small cute quiet town, definitely a different vibe from busy Porto

A quick 1-night stop in the university town of Coimbra on the way back to Lisbon was definitely worthwhile even if it rained on me half the time as well, with one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen,

Portugal - Coimbra Santa Clara a Velha Path
Santa Clara a Velha in Coimbra on a rather rainy day – a very beautiful site

And of course no trip is special without the sheer variety of random friends and acquaintances you make on it, however fleeting they may be. Dutch mum and balcony neighbour Vivian had a nice leisurely exploration of Tavira together, while Puerto-Rican native Lui from New York became a familiar face who made the various walking tours more fun. Aussie-Polish couple Sean and Joanna whom I ran into twice quite serendipitously in Porto were really cool folk I’d love to get to know better and even the various older folk (mostly Canadian or German) that I got to know at various junctures definitely made the travel more fun, whether it was sharing some really strong alcohol in Coimbra, or just waiting in the long queues for the bus in Sintra.

Big shout out to Bloghouse buddy Julika from Sateless Suitcase who gave some really great tips on Portugal. And thanks to the folk from Oppo Singapore who loaned me a Oppo N1-Mini phone to test on the trip – the majority of the photos you’ll see are from this phone, which has a flippy camera that makes taking selfies easier. This trip was the first time I tried booking AirBnB accommodations as well which resulted in some pretty cool stays.

Portugal - Oppo Phone
taking the Oppo N1 Mini for a spin. The details on using this phone with the swiveling camera here.

Obrigado Portugal for an excellent trip! Now, where to begin blogging about it? Besides the usual fare like accommodation reviews and city guides, you’re also likely to see a bunch of street art guides as well, and I think I’ll need an entire post just to dedicate to my obsession with Azulejos too…

It’s gonna be a busy time ahead, stay tuned!

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2 comments to 2 Weeks in Portugal – a Post-Trip Recap

    • awesome Adina! I do love seeing what other people saw, even if we went to the same place – it’s amazing what different stories or experiences you get even by visiting the same place 🙂

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