Destination

Top Ten Things to do in Portugal

This post is long overdue from me and Emily’s time in Portugal in September. We had just one week, but it was jam-packed and I think we managed to see a lot of the country in such a short period of time. Here are the top 10 things we saw in our one week.

Day Trip to Sintra

Our day in Sintra was definitely one of my top two favorite days, if not my favorite day. We visited Pena Palace, Monserrate Palace, and Quinta de Regaleria. My full post on Sintra is here.

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Alfama District

Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon, full of winding streets and azulejo. In Alfama you’ll find the famous Lisbon trolleys, Sao Jorge Castle and Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora. Emily and I enjoyed the Igreja (if you climb to the top there’s a great view), but the Castle was honestly pretty boring. All there is to see is some rock walls and dirt.

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Belem

Belém is an important stop in Lisbon for the Belém tower, Jerónimos Monastery, and of course the Pasties de Belém (OMG yum). Lines were sooo long for everything though, I wish we had booked tickets a head of time.

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Porto

We only really had one day in Porto, but I really wish it had been more. The city is so beautiful; it really caught me off guard. I thought it would be more like a stopover before training over to the Douro, but Porto really deserved more of our time. The amount of azulejo and beautiful architecture was just really special.

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Douro Valley

Taking the train to Pinhao from Porto was very easy. We visited two vineyards in Pinhao: Carvalhas and Bomfin. Carvalhas bused us up the mountain and around their vineyards before finishing with a wine tasting. Bomfin, spent more time explaining how port is made, so visiting the two ended up being a great combination for our day. A lot of alcohol was consumed that afternoon.

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Lagos, Algarve

Lagos was so beautiful, I want to go back and spend more time just sitting on the beaches there. The water was clear, the beaches were soft (which was a nice change from the rocky beaches of Croatia), and the rock formations were stunning.

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Benagil Sea Cave

Also in the Algarve, was the Benagil sea cave. What I wish someone had told me before we paid to rent kayaks to see the cave, is that the cave is a very very short swim from Benagil beach. You can’t see it from the shore, but it’s literally just around a cliff corner. So if you are trying to figure out how to get to the cave, just swim. Anyways, This cave is a massive dome with a skylight. It looks like a natural cathedral.

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Convento de Cristo

Emily and I stopped by here on a whim and became literally obsessed. This place is visually stunning, and has fascinating history. My full post is here.

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Batalha Monastery

After being won over by Convento de Cristo, Emily and I decided to check out Batalha Monastery, since it is often compared to Convento de Cristo. The best part of the Monastery is the unfinished chapels. The large, intricate church, with no ceiling has heavenly vibes to it.

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Alcobaça Monastery

Alcobaça Monastery is also located a bit out of the way, like Convento de Cristo, but worth the trip. The history is a dark one, but fascinating. King Pedro I fell in love with his wife’s lady in waiting Ines de Castro. After the death of his wife, Pedro’s father banished Ines from court in order to avoid the political ramifications of a marriage between the two. However, the two secretly eloped, and upon learning this, Pedro’s father had Ines assassinated. When Pedro ascended the throne after his father’s death, he had Ines’s body exhumed, placed on a throne and crowned queen. He then made members of the court kiss her hand. Their tombs are together in the cathedral, feet to feet, so that on judgment day, the first thing they will see when they rise is each other.

A second, more lighthearted piece of history is the monks apparent debauchery at the monastery. Multiple historians wrote that the monks at Alcobça were gluttonous heavy drinkers. It became such a problem that they built a very thin doorway and each monk would have to walk through it at mealtime. If they could not pass through the door they had to fast until they could.

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The monks had to fit through this door if they wanted to eat!

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Tomb of Ines de Castro

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