Portugal Travel Guides for Backpackers

Lisbon: Portuguese Pavements and Pastel de Natas

I have been blessed with friends that will send an out-of-the-blue message like ‘how do you fancy going to Lisbon?’ I, of course, accepted and soon found myself flying with them from Stansted to Lisbon Airport. Upon arrival, we got a bus to the city center and located our accommodation. An Artsy Arrival Good Morning Hostel Good Morning Hostel is accessed through a small unassuming giftshop and features quite the staircase to get to the reception. The hostel was great and managed to put our group in a room together even though we booked separately. The accommodating staff were also very helpful with their suggestions for things to do and the hostel organizes walking tours and themed food and entertainment nights, they also have a small bar which offers re-usable cups rather than giving out new ones each time. I still have mine at home! Pastel de Natas – Lisbon, Portugal Fábrica da Nata By an amazing stroke of luck, our hostel was right next door to Fábrica da Nata, one of many cafes across Portugal selling their traditional custard tarts, Pastel de Natas.  They were of excellent quality and were very reasonably priced, 1€ for a Pastel de Nata or 2,50€ if you add a (very good) glass of Port. Sitting outside the cafe in the sun assured me I had made the right decision accepting this travel invitation. Miradouro da Graça Street Art Mural – Lisbon, Portugal Street Art Mural – Lisbon, Portugal Street Art Mural – Lisbon, Portugal Street Art Mural – Lisbon, Portugal And inviting Lisbon continued to be, as we made our way on a (slightly rushed) walk to one of many miradouros (viewpoints). I would recommend a more leisurely pace, as we were chasing the sunset and I would have enjoyed stopping to enjoy the various pieces of art painted on the walls. Our incline up to Miradouro da Graça was delightful, and the art was bright and dynamic. I had not heard about this aspect of Lisbon, but have come to learn that the city highly encourages local and international artists to create murals around the city, some of which can be appreciated on Galeria de Arte Urbana’s site. The Miradouro itself was very picturesque, with panoramic views across the terracotta-roofed city, from the castle to the far-off bridge. We sat and got some drinks from a small bar and enjoyed the setting sun accompanied by soft guitar music from a nearby busker. As the sun went down it got cooler (we went in April which can mean quite the range of temperatures) and the bar provided blankets. As a perpetually chilly person, any bar or restaurant that has blankets for cold evenings instantly goes up in my estimations. We also visited the speakeasy bar The Red Frog and were enjoying our cocktails when a member of staff opened up a bookshelf to our right to reveal a completely separate room, so if you like something a little unexpected it may be worth a visit. The City and […]

Porto Local Travel Guide

The city of Porto is famous for its reputable production of wine the Vinho Verde. Situated in the north of Portugal near the coast, Porto attracts millions of visitors each year.  Its charm and its weather also make it a very attractive city.  You can enjoy many activities during the day and appreciate the vibrant nightlife of the city. Here are some highlights of how to visit Porto, Portugal in an unforgettable way! Tour from Matosinhos beach to the Douro River by foot In the beginning, it may seem far on Google Maps, but it’s not. The tour takes about 2 hours with stops. What counts is that you will enjoy observing different landmarks along the coast. There’s a bit for every taste.  From beaches, monuments, to cafés. In case you are wondering how to start, I created an achievable and fairly easy itinerary. How to plan your itinerary First thing first. Take Line A (or line blue)  of the subway with direction to Senhor de Matosinhos. You cannot get lost as it is the last stop of line A. Matosinhos neighborhood is more of a modern area. Don’t feel baffled that you may feel like in another city!  Once you stop at Senhor de Matosinhos,  all you do is walking towards the beach which is only a few blocks away heading north. This should take 5 minutes or so and here is where your walking tour begins. Here are some highlights of the different landmarks you will see along the coast and some tips on how you can make the most of it! Visit the circuit of beaches Starting with Matosinhos beach, or most commonly known as the surfers’ beach.  If you are into surfing or you are keen on learning this sport, surf schools are available near the area. As you walk forward, you will arrive at Praia do Castelo do Queijo. Here you will see a seventeenth-century fortress named Sao Francisco Xavier. The fortress is on the top of a small cliff and it offers an amazing view of the Atlantic ocean which you can enjoy from the top of the fortress. Another great landmark to stop by is Praia dos Ingleses. The beach is calmer and adapted for swimming. Although when the winds are strong it is not recommended to swim. However, such time can be great for kite-surfing. Why not give it a try? This could be your chance. On the same beach, there is a restaurant & bar named after the beach. So if the weather is not favorable,  it could be just the perfect time to get yourself a beer or a coffee! What to see in Foz do Douro district Visit Faro de Filgueiras & Fortress Sao Joao Baptista Halfway through this tour, you will arrive at Foz do Douro district. The first attraction to look for is a sixteenth-century fortress Sao Joao Baptista. Inside the fortress, you will find this mystic area where ritual ceremonies may have taken place. Entrance is free and […]

An Alternative Guide to Porto, Portugal

Porto is the second biggest city in Portugal. This economic and cultural hub of the North has attracted lots of attention over the last few years—and for good reason. The carefully preserved historic center of the city is a UNESCO world heritage site. Mild weather, welcoming people, and rich food and drink leave visitors eager to spread the word about charming Porto. But the recent influx of international attention has left the city somewhat overwhelmed. Stagnant salaries for locals have driven many out of their homes and businesses to make way for tourists with deeper pockets. Read on to find out how to enjoy a spectacular stay in Porto while supporting a sustainable, vibrant local culture and economy. What to do in Porto Take a walk I would start the day as early as possible down in the Ribeira district. Pack a light picnic breakfast, grab an espresso at one of the cafes, and gaze out over the Douro River and the port wine cellars of neighboring Gaia. Then go for a nice long wander. With one loop and some good walking shoes, you can hit all the major sites including the cathedral, São Bento, Rua Santa Catarina, Mercado do Bolhão, Aliados square, Rua de Cedofeita, and the Casa da Musica. There’s no need to rush. Get lost in the alleys, admire the street art, and take frequent breaks for coffee and pastries. Find a street performer you like, enjoy for a while, and leave some coins in gratitude for the show. Just before sunset, take some cold beers (and an instrument if you’ve got one) and finish the day at the Parque das Virtudes. From here you can watch the sun go down over both Ribeira and Gaia, surrounded by Portuguese and foreigners from every walk of life. Make some friends and you just might learn of something fun to do at night. Enjoy the art scene Porto is a great city for art lovers. Rua Miguel Bombarda is a treasure often overlooked. Starting at Rua de Cedofeita and finishing at the Jardim Palacio Cristal, blue flags line the street. Each one marks an art gallery showcasing local artists. The surroundings are full of high-quality, locally-owned shopping and food. Serralves, the modern art museum and park, is a little bit outside the city center, but it boasts gorgeous gardens and a wonderful collection. You’ll often find special exhibits, and if you catch their yearly all-night party you’re really in for a treat. Experience the Festivals São João Porto is a city that loves a good party. São João occurs throughout the night of June 23rd, but in recent years, Porto and other northern cities have extended the festivities to include special events during the entire month of June. The night itself can be pretty epic. Stay out on the streets until dawn and you’ll find yourself surrounded by new friends of every nationality. Other festivals One of my favorite smaller festivals (there are many) is the annual Feminist Festival, […]

Historical Landmarks in Faro

Great food, great beaches, great weather.   This, without fail, is part of every single newcomer’s answer whenever I pose the question: “what attracted you to the Algarve in the first place?” It doesn’t surprise me since as a native, every year I see our streets flooded with thousands of tourists from all corners of the world, drawn by our year-round sunny weather, breathtaking coastal views and heavenly Mediterranean food. I always thought that it was this idyllic lifestyle that made many foreigners chose to upgrade the Algarve from vacation destination to their home; but when I began asking some of them why they stayed, there hasn’t been anyone that didn’t respond with: “the people.”   Many of the characteristics that I associate with my culture come from its history. One of the many beauties of the South of Portugal lies in how the population responded to the hardships and the many invasions that it has suffered since its beginnings. Instead of becoming closed off, and protective of what it’s ours; we instead became warm, generous and welcoming in all of our trademark laid-back glory. The Capital of the Algarve, Faro, is filled with amazing historical marks, which showcase the region’s rich heritage.     Muralhas the Faro (Walls of Faro) Muralhas de Faro   The Muralhas de Faro surround the oldest urban part of the city, which we call the Cidade Velha (Old City) or Vila-Adentro. The coolest part of the walls, in my opinion, is that they oversaw the city through most of its history. I remember learning in high school that some of its structure dates to even before the Roman invasion, meaning that it is well over 2000 years old. It was built over and recovered over the centuries by the Visigoth, the Romans, the Moors, and the Portuguese. It has elements from all of them. It was also severely damaged during the English invasion in 1596 and due to the devastating earthquake in 1755. It’s truly incredible that something that natives and tourists alike pass through every single day, was present during almost every single important event of the city’s history; as well as outlasted everyone alive today by well over a thousand years. Nowadays it’s right by bars, restaurants, and shops; creating this juxtaposition of modern and ancient.     Arco do Repouso (The Arch of Rest) Arco do Repouso   Throughout his history, the Algarve has been occupied by an extremely varied array of civilizations and religions. From Celts to Visigoths, the Romans to the Moors; the Portuguese conquest, the Jewish rise, the Catholicism take over, the English invasion, the French invasion, and so many more in between. My favorite thing about the region is that all of them left their mark somehow. Despite the Algarve having been taken away from the Moors during the 13th century, marks of the Islamic stunning architecture can be seen all over town. The Arco do Repouso, which gives […]

Lourinhã, Portugal – What to do and what to see

I can bet you have no idea where Lourinhã is. I can also bet that you have no idea how to pronounce the name of this seaside quiet little village in West Portugal, 65 km from Lisbon’s airport. Fortunately for you, none of these things matter, if you decide to give this one a chance. Lourinhã’s people are used to mispronunciation and also to receiving the many tourists that invade their little village every other weekend and in the summer months. The population sometimes doubles in size during those months, but don’t worry, you will not feel crowded. Lourinhã has only 175 inhabitants per square kilometer. When you compare it to Lisbon’s more than 5000 inhabitants per square kilometer, you get the idea. There is plenty of space, but also plenty to see. It may seem remote, but trust me, you will feel very welcomed. So, what can you do while in Lourinhã? Sit tight and I’ll show you. Portugal’s west coast is a surfer’s dream Yes, all the West Coast is very well known for its fine surfing conditions, and Lourinhã is no exception. With stunning beaches all around, that somehow capture the essence of what it is to fully coexist with nature and the beautifully shaped tides coming from the Atlantic, if you’re a surf or bodyboard enthusiast, you will not be disappointed. If you don’t know how to surf, but would like to try it anyway, don’t sweat. Lourinhã was able to capitalize on one of its main assets, so surf schools, camps, and whatnot are all around. The temperature of the water is a bit chilly compared with other Portuguese beach destinations, but you will find it somewhat comfortable during the summer months. If you prefer to sunbathe, a constant light breeze will allow you to do so without getting too hot. Just remember to use sunblock. A lot. Portugal’s UV levels are usually high, so if your country is not very sunny, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t become a part of the infamous lobster people. Eating in Lourinhã The Foods The food. Italians have a saying that states life is too short to eat bad food. Portuguese agree with that 100%. In Lourinhã seafood rules. Nothing strange, if you think they have the sea at their doorstep. In the municipal market, you’ll be able to find the freshest fish and seafood local fishermen bring to shore every day. If by chance you choose to stay at a private home instead of a hotel, many streets receive daily visits from fishermen, bakers, and fresh produce vendors, that sell out of their trucks, right at your doorstep. You have not tried bread before if you haven’t tried western Portuguese bread. And that is a fact. Lourinhã is also very well known for its sweets and cakes, namely Areias Brancas, a 200-year-old recipe that will get you hooked. If you’re up for some adventure, Lourinhã is one of the three European demarcated regions producing wine […]

An Alternative Travel Guide to Évora

I want to share with you a treasure – Évora, the city where I spent three beautiful years of my life. Évora is like an unexpected treasure, a small city that rises surprisingly in the middle of the golden fields of High Alentejo, on the south of Portugal. The fields are gold of wheat, and Évora rises like one more wheat spike, strongly living under the sun since more than two thousand years ago. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage city is visited by an increasing number of tourists. Touristic tour guides will tell you about the roman Diana’s Temple, the Água de Prata Aqueduct, the Cathedral, the Chapel of Bones, or the Royal St. Francis Church… and I assure you all this are must see places! However, you will find easily all the information you need about it. My role, now, is to make you know some secrets that other travel guides will not tell you. Come to take an alternative tour in Évora with me!   by olafpictures   A City Full of Art I lived in Évora as a theatre student. The first secret I want to share, and the one that most amazed me, is the artistic and cultural offer of this small city. Scattered around the city center you can find several “windows” with posters of cultural programming. Check it out! Otherwise, follow my tips: getting to know the right places, you will find a familiar artistic circle and a rich and cheap cultural program for each day of your stay!   Theatre Évora is a city strongly linked to theatre. The Municipal Theatre Garcia de Resende is a place where you should definitely stop by – not just for the theatre plays (as the program isn’t very regular, in fact), but above all for the building itself, an amazingly conserved baroque theatre. Besides this beautiful big theatre, you can find some independent spaces with an interesting program, although not so regular. Check out Igreja de São Vicente, Casa de Bonecos or Teatro do Imaginário. Santo Aleixo Puppets This puppets, known in Portuguese as Bonecos de Santo Aleixo, are very special and typical from the region of Évora. There is just one company playing in the city, and the performances are very rare. So, if you are eventually lucky enough to attend a performance, do not miss the opportunity! The plays use to happen in the Garcia de Resende Theatre, or in the Municipal Library.   Cinema Amazing news: in Évora you can find free or cheap movie sessions almost every day of the week! Here I leave you my clues of a few nice independent cultural places to check out. Firstly, Mariana Soror Auditory, with one or two good movies a week, normally for free donation. In Igreja de São Vicente there used to be also a weekly movie session for free – pass by during the day and ask about it! Finally, take a good look at Harmonia (or SHE). Here you will be […]

Espinho: the go-to guide to this hidden paradise

Located right in the North of Portugal is Espinho, an undiscovered city by the sea with so much to offer. At this point, you may know Porto, so it would be ideal to hop on a train and get to know this small city with endless beaches. We’re about to tell everything you can’t miss in Espinho. Where is Espinho and why it is so unique Espinho is about 20 minutes away from Porto (by car), one of the hottest cities in Portugal right now. As well as the “North’s capital”, Espinho is also bathed by the sea, with some beautiful beaches you should meet. However, in case you don’t have a car, you can always hop on a train and arrive at this city in half an hour. The station is right in the heart of the city, so you can visit everything on foot. This is indeed a very unique city. Actually, did you know that Espinho and New York are only cities in the world where the streets have no name? We know you immediately started to sing the iconic U2’s song, but the truth is as simple and that. Just like in the Big Apple, Espinho also has numbered streets, unlike the majority of cities around the globe. Things to do in Espinho We’re talking about a small town which can be quickly and easily visited by foot. If compared to others, Espinho does not have a wide range of monuments, museums nor churches to visit, but it has some other landscapes to appreciate – such as the beaches. Espinho is famous for its waves, but let us name some top things to do when in the city. Surf Even if you do not practise this sport, you can either consider yourself an enthusiastic or just someone very curious about it. Anyway, you must not miss the perfect endless waves in Espinho since they are very famous in the North of Portugal, and actually considered one of the bests – either if you are starting at surf or if you are an experienced surfer. You can find at least 3 schools in case you want to try a lesson out (bodyboard and longboard included): Espinho Surfinn Company; Green Coast; Academia do Mar. Espinho Market With decades of existence, the Espinho Market is one of the most preserved traditions around. In Portugal, these types of markets are very popular but they have been disappearing as time passes. The one held in Espinho, which happens every Monday of the week, is one of the most antiques in Portugal and currently one of the few still happening in the country. There, you can buy almost anything you can think of. From food to clothes, you can find any product at a much friendliest price since it is directly sold by the producers or the owners of the items. This market can be found right in the middle of the city, something you should not miss since it is such […]

Best Top 10 Panoramic Views in Lisbon

Ever wonder why so many people have stated Lisbon as a must-go city but few get to know the secrets behind its success. The capital of Portugal had exponential growth in tourism in the last decade for a city that remained hidden from the top tourist destinations in Europe for so long. In this article, we will climb the hilled city and reclaim our reward in its beautiful panoramic views.   1. Miradouro do Arco da Rua Augusta The city’s most famous square (Praça do Comércio) and Europe’s largest seems not so impressive for the other guides however if you happen to be on a very hot day in Rua Augusta, right before reaching the square on the left corner, you’ll see the stairs that will offer you this panoramic dream and will raise you from the crowds. This square was the stage of the 15th century’s spices market brought from the Americas, India, and Africa. Due to its historical relevance, today is a national monument and the stage of the city’s most important festivities. 2. Padrão dos Descobrimentos  Built in 1940, to welcome the Portuguese World International Exposition and to give homage to the Discoveries’ protagonists, the 56 meter-tall monument offers the best view of its neighborhood Belém, one of the most visited areas in Lisbon. On top of that, you’ll be able to visit it inside and be mesmerized in its unique architecture. 3. Miradouro do Jardim da Cerca da Graça  Right in the center of Lisbon’s historical neighborhood Mouraria lies this beautiful vertical-shaped garden. Go down the stairs and turn right, ask your favorite drink and take a sit in the wide grass field then be rewarded with the immensity of the top-hilled monuments. This garden never gets crowded due to its demanding climb but it must not be left behind. 4. Miradouro do Castelo de São Jorge The castle has remained intact for thousands of years and it’s really well preserved, allowing visitors an almost time-travel experience. The guests are allowed to patrol the walls, verify the canons and take as many photos of the views as possible. There is an archeological interpretation center for the curious and some excavations going on so there will always be surprises. Go at sunset for best awe moments. Don’t miss the biggest tower for more adrenaline infusion. 5. Miradouro das Portas do Sol  This beautiful cascade square was once one of the castle’s perimeters entries. Its name, The Doors of the Sun, could not be more literal: it’s the best view to the riverside one can get and when the sun reflects in the river is even more mesmerizing. It is located in Alfama, one of the oldest quarters in Lisbon known by it’s very narrow almost impassable streets. If you’re trying to flee the crowds, come by nighttime: the sun reflection is replaced by the city lights, the traffic noise by live music but the view will still be magnificent. 6. Miradouro do Parque Eduardo VII de Inglaterra We have a saying in […]

Why Sagres, Portugal Is a Hotspot for Backpackers

Portugal is a favorite vacation and holiday spot for many, so what does the remote and quiet south-western town of Sagres offer backpackers? An unconventional and unique experience, which can be adapted for relaxation to intensive sports, depending on your preference. And you’ll get a local culture infusion, too.   Why Portugal Is Great for Backpackers Yachts in Sagres Harbor: Photo by Mel Candea   It’s fairly easy to reach, either by bus or a rental car. It also avoids the thick, messy crowds that have become the norm lately in Algarve. Its location means it’s mild year round, with the water being more temperate than other locations. And it’s less expensive than most of the region, making it affordable for backpackers.   When to Visit   The off-season is a favorite for backpackers, since it’s more budget-friendly and the weather is still warm, especially in September and mid-May. It’s also a lot drier than other regions in the Algarve, though you might have some windy days.   Things to Do and See in Sagres Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse: Photo by Mel Candea The town is pretty small and intimate. It has supermarkets and a fresh market; local shops (clothing, surf stuff, beach gear); restaurants that typically serve the ‘catch of the day’ or regional cuisine; and a few news kiosks. Luckily, the Portuguese don’t really do siestas, so most are open all day.   Relax on the Beaches Portugal’s famous for its stunning beaches, and Sagres offers several. Praia da Mareta is the main one that many of the bars and restaurants face and is good for sunbathing. If you’d like even less of a crowd and more privacy, try Praia do Martinhal, which is a short walk from the town.   Surf Surfers worldwide visit Portugal, which is best in the winter months because of the stronger winds. If you’re backpacking, you can find surf rental shops; if you’re a beginner, you can take surf lessons from one of the schools. The lightest waves are at Tonel Beach and the sturdiest at Praia da Mareta. Surfing in Sagres: Photo by Paolo Simao Hike There are two major hiking trails that start from the Cabo de Sao Vicente lighthouse. For passionate hikers, the trek to the Spanish border ‘Via Algarvian’ (GR13) takes several days. Another hiking option in the area is the ‘Rota Vicentina,’ towards the north. Of course, both can be broken up into shorter day hikes.   History: Check out the Fortress and the End of the World Lighthouse   The fortress, Fortaleza de Sagres, was built in the 15th century by Prince Henry the Navigator to ward off pirate ships. There are structural parts still standing and it offers a great vista view.   Cape St. Vincent lighthouse is roughly 4 miles from the town and you can reach it via bus, taxi or rental car. It’s also called ‘the end of the world,’ because in ancient times mariners believed it was.   A Few Extra […]

5 Things to do in Porto that only locals do

Once you have visited a few European cities, you will start noticing that most of them have the same structure. People usually end up doing the same things over and over again – visiting the main attractions, eating out wherever it says online and photographing the same landscapes where every tourist goes on a guided tour. Although there is nothing wrong with that and this might be a very good way of getting to know a city, after wandering around for one or two days, you might be the type of person who would like to get a grip of how a local lives, what they do and where do they go to eat. After all, travelling nowadays is not only to get to know a place, it is all about the experience you get from it. In Portugal, one of the smallest countries in Europe but with loads of history, you can end up doing exactly that – visiting all the exact same things that other people see. Having said that, if you are looking for a different perspective of the second largest city in Portugal – our lovely Porto, and want to avoid being stuck in touristic places, here’s a list for you to pretend you live in the area (even if you are in Porto for just the weekend!) Drink a beer by the beach at Praia da Aguda I begin this list with one of my favourite spots in the whole district of Porto – the wonderful Aguda beach. Not only is it part of the long coast of Gaia, but it is also far from the public eye. To get there, you only have to take the train (at São Bento or Campanhã train stations) towards Aveiro or Ovar (make sure you take the one that stops at Aguda). Once there, go towards the coast and head to Ela’s bar – 465, R. Dr. Alfredo Dias 221. You can enjoy the view while drinking a beer or eating something. My advice? Go before sunset and you will love the vibe of this place! Spend your Sunday morning in Parque da Cidade If you are a Nature lover, you will definitely enjoy a walk at Parque da Cidade, where people come to do sports, walk their dogs, have a family picnic or simply to keep up with their reading. Whatever you feel like doing, if you are lucky enough to have sunny days whilst your visit, this is something you want to add to your list. This park is located in Matosinhos and to get there you can either walk from Casa da Música towards the coast and you will find an entrance, or you can take the bus – no. 205 or 500. Whatever you decide to do, you will get there very easily as the site is not so far from the centre. Enjoy your time, relax and watch the geese and ducks as they swim on the many lakes that can be found there. Have your […]

Cascais, a paradise close to the heart of Lisbon, Portugal

This beautiful fisherman’s village 30km from Lisbon is distinguished by the intense smell of the sea, the tasty fresh grilled fish and by its outstanding landscapes that you’ll find along the coastline, it’s a town you’re sure to remember. How to get there? Arriving from Lisbon airport, jump into the subway directly from the “Aeroporto” line and change trains at “Alameda” station towards Cais do Sodré. Hop off at Cais do Sodré and then take the service too Cascais which departs every 15 minutes and enjoy the ride along the coast, soaking in the beautiful views of the river Tejo along with the scenic tranquillity of the Atlantic ocean until you finally arrive at Cascais central station. The whole journey shouldn’t take you more than an hour or two. If you decided to visit Cascais another day, just take Lisbon metro wherever you are and get to Cais do Sodré station. From there, you can take most trains to Cascais. Once in Cascais Once at the Train Station seaside and after feeling dazzled with Cascais’s picturesque beauty, pick the street right opposite to you and start enjoying the summer ambience that locals enjoy throughout the year. Although you’ll see a lot of tiny interesting streets, you’ll soon find the main street; just keep following it (or explore the others, because you’re unlikely to get lost ). You’ll arrive at “Baía de Cascais“ (Cascais Bay) where you’ll see the beach called “Praia dos Pescadores – Fisherman’s Beach, and you’ll find lots of fishermen going about their daily business along with their gorgeous tiny boats anchored in the bay in preparation for the next catch.  Walk along the shore and be sure to pass by the Fortress of Cascais and by the Marina of Cascais.   Farol de Santa Marta (Lighthouse of Santa Marta) After passing by  Marina de Cascais, prepare yourself for one of the most outstanding views you’ve ever seen: the sea and a lighthouse, the light, the shinning green and blue water. A true living dream. You will love it. Enjoy the view and make sure to take photographs to show to your friends or keep them for yourself. Boca do Inferno Keep walking for about 20 minutes further past the marina, and you’ll soon arrive at a place called “Boca do Inferno”, directly translated as the mouth of hell but loosely translated to, ‘The gates of Hell’. It’s called this because you can actually visualize a mouth or entrance hole inside the rock formations that seem to be a collapsed cave. The sea enters this hole with great strength, which can scare the bravest during winter days when the sea is more agitated. It’s a great place to sit and contemplate the blue ocean and is definitely a wonderful spot to enjoy sunsets alone or with friends. Although being a very busy spot during summer, somehow people tune into the calm vibes of the place and eventually, the ambience becomes very peaceful. Guincho Beach’s Once you’re there, you can […]

Madeira Island: What to do in this Portuguese paradise

Madeira Island is considered for the 4h time the World’s Leading Island Destination, so you may pack already your stuff and visit this “Atlantic pearl”, as tourists like to call it. This Portugal’s archipelago is full of breathtaking landscapes, sunny days and loving, caring people. I lived in Madeira Island for 18 years and it still surprises me, as I’m always finding new places to explore. There are plenty of things you can do on this island paradise and you are probably wondering what to do in Madeira Island. It´s funny because it is not a big island but you never run out of things to do, see and visit. Full of mountain areas, waterfalls, lagoons, small villages, and amazing weather conditions, this place won’t let you stay in bed even on Sundays. I’m certain that you will feel at home as much as I do when I revisit this place. But let’s get into action. What should (must!) you do while visiting Madeira Island? Nature and Sports Scuba Diving Have you ever dreamed of swimming next to the fishes? Or even touching and petting them? Well, you found the right place. Madeira Island has a natural sea reserve in Garajau, Santa Cruz and it is one of the best places to scuba dive. The main species of fish you will find while scuba diving is a grouper and they are so used to people diving there that they come close to you so you can pet them. It is an experience you just won’t forget. Scuba Diving in Garajau, Madeira Island.   Canyoning What about exploring a stream watercourse in Laurissilva´s forest? This is an activity full of adrenaline and wonder, as you will feel like an authentic explorer of nature. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete the route and you may swim, jump, climb and rappel. All of it combined in one activity, how cool is that? It’s an experience available all times of the year, depending on weather conditions. Canyoning. Levada Walks Madeira is known for its walking routes across the mountains, or “levadas” as it is known on the island. There are more than twenty routes and the majority of them are accessible to anyone. You can’t help feeling amazed by its fantastic views, waterfalls, and lagoons that often stand at the end of the routes. Originally created to carry water from the northern region, today they are walking routes where tourists and locals find the most beautiful spots and hidden views of the island. You can try walking the little ones (4km) or the big ones (22km). “Levada do Rei” or King’s Levada. Madeira Island Whale and Dolphin watching Madeira’s location makes possible to watch dolphins and whales (and sometimes turtles), all times of the year. If you ever dreamed of seeing these majestic beings in their natural habitat, Madeira’s seas are the right place to do it. Madeira’s best sightseeing And of course, you must experience the best sightseeings of the island. You can go to the […]

5 secrets spots in Lisbon unknown from tourists

As I had been living in Lisbon for more than a year I can tell that I had explored a lot of different places in the city of the seven hills, and I know a lot of her little secrets. I can tell that I had never got bored in this city, there are really tons of things to do and for all the tastes. For my part, I liked getting lost in the streets and explore the small alleys of the Alfama and It has led me to many unexpected and unknown places for tourists. And I am gonna share with you in this article my five secret spots in Lisbon. 1-Miradouro da Graça Point of view in the Miradouro da Graça This point of view is located just a little further from the Alfama and overhangs a great part of Lisbon and the Martim Moniz’s square. This is a really nice shaded place situated on the main square of Graça where you can sit and enjoy the view by day and sunset, take nice pictures and I have a drink if you wish to. Indeed, the district of Graça offers you choice for having a drink or having something to eat, by the way, I discovered my favorite brunch restaurant in this area. And if you are lucky to be in Lisbon in June, the most animated period of the city due to the “festas populares” that takes place throughout the month in all around the city, you definitely have to go there enjoy your Sagres and eating local street food like grilled sardines for 3 euros, dancing and having fun on typical Portuguese  songs. You will not regret the relaxed and joyful atmosphere, this is Portugal friends!   2-Rua da Bica This is a street where you can catch and photograph the famous “elevador da Bica” a funicular railway that is going down this street with the Tagus in background view. This is the most typical photography and one of my favorite that you can take of the city. Moreover offering you a nice pix, this place offers you a good alternative to the “Barrio Alto”. If you want to find cheap alcohol and a friendly atmosphere this is a good place to hang out by summer evening with friends. It is situated  5 minutes walk from the metro station Baixa Chiado, under “the barrio alto” known as THE street of thirst in Lisbon and over Pink street where you can finish partying. Definitely, a good place to start the evening, as you can easily switch between the Bairro alto and Pink street and then end up in a club on the Docks for the most motivated   3-Campo de Ourique I had been living in this nice district of Lisbon during almost my entire year there and  I can tell that I have chosen to live there and I absolutely don’t regret. It is really typical of Portuguese life, not only because […]

12 Things to Do in Porto

Porto is an ancient magical city on the shores of the Atlantic. It is the second biggest city in Portugal and, according to the locals, the best one. Whether you’re coming to Porto for a day or for a few days there are some things that you just cannot miss. Porto is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited and had the pleasure to live in. Here are a few places I’d recommend you to visit and a few things to do during your time in Porto.   1. Ponte Dom Luis Bridge The iconic landmark of Porto is, of course, its magnificent two storey bridge. The Dom Luis bridge was built in the 19’th century. You can walk across the top part of the bridge and gaze at the beautiful view of the city and all of its hills. On the bottom deck of the bridge, you can find local teenage boys willing to jump from the bridge for a euro.   2. Ribeira Ribeira gives you a gorgeous view and a wide selection of cafés and restaurants where you can sit outside in the sun, sip sangria, watch the boats pass by and listen to some live street music, all on the shores of the river Douro. The prices are generally a bit more expensive in Ribeira than in the rest of the city but the view and the atmosphere makes it worth it. Ribeira is particularly beautiful at night when all the lights come out.   3. Rua das Flores Undoubtedly, one of the prettiest streets in Porto, Rua das Flores takes you from the famous blue-tiled São Bento train station down to Ribeira. It is also a jewel of its own, particularly in the evening. The streets are lined up with musicians, restaurants and cafés as well as cute shops where you can buy some souvenirs.   4. Foz and Matosinhos Ah, the seaside. A trip to Porto is not complete without visiting the ocean. The best part about it is that you can get to Foz from the centre by using one of the famous old retro trams. They depart from in front of the Church of St.Francis near the river.  Foz is an upscale area of Porto that has a beautiful promenade and numerous beachside cafés and restaurants where you can try local seafood. The beach in Foz is a little rocky, so it’s better for strolls along the sea. However, if you keep walking further up the promenade then you will arrive at Matosinhos, where you can most definitely go for a swim in the ocean. I’ve got to warn you though, the water is freezing.   5. The Wine Cellars Porto is also famous for Port wine. Port wine was made in Porto by using the boats to deliver grapes from the vineyards in the Douro valley. The same boats were then used for importing the wines to Britain and other parts of the world. Currently, there are over ten […]

From Cape St.Vincent to the beach: tour around Algarve.

It was some time at the end of February. It was cold and dark here in the United Kingdom so we decided to escape to Portugal for a week. We managed to find cheap flights from Edinburgh to Algarve, leaving at the end of March. A few years ago, I went to a surf camp in Algarve and absolutely loved it. There were places I wanted to visit again and take my boyfriend to. There were beaches I have not been to before. We also wanted to do a little bit of surfing. Some of the beaches are very secluded so we hired a car for our trip. For the first night, we stayed in Faro. As we love nature, we purchased a Birdwatching guide to Algarve. Drive to Sagres On the second day, we drove towards Sagres. We stopped in Luz. The beach there is beautiful, see the picture below. Luz beach   However, having spotted a pub selling ‘ All day British breakfast’ we decided that this is not really our sort of place, as we love exploring local culture and food. We continued driving. We stopped at a supermarket Apolonia, which is part of a new chain, a sort of upmarket store, similar to British Waitrose. We bought some local specialities; cheese, bread and various types of olives and drove to Burgau where we stopped for lunch on the beach. From there, we drove to Sagres. We stayed at Memmo Baleeira Hotel, which was overlooking the fishing harbour.   Evening in Sagres   After unpacking our stuff, we went for a walk in the harbor. Then, we drove to have a look at Fortaleza de Sagres, a maritime defense system, which protected Portugal from enemies. From there, we went back to the hotel to take advantage of the Spa. Since we were quite tired after the journey, we decided to eat dinner at the hotel restaurant. I had an amazing fish soup and an octopus risotto. Breakfast the next day was even better, as there was something for everyone: a full cooked breakfast and a continental buffet with a great selection of fruit.   From Sagres to Cape St.Vincent Well fed and hydrated, we drove to Cape St. Vincent. It is not far to get there from Sagres, it is only 6.8 km and it is a nice drive. Even if it is not on your way, you should go there, it is well worth the visit. Cape St.Vincent is the most southwestern point of Europe, which makes it really special. The cliffs are spectacular. They really make you appreciate the power of nature. When you get there, there is a free car park for the visitors. You can also get yourself a souvenir made of cork. My boyfriend got himself a cork hat, the one on the picture below.   Cork hat   Algarve is famous for its cork production, there is a lot of oak cork trees growing there. With boyfriend prepared for the blazing sun, […]

Carvoeiro: Amazing Beaches, Caves and Fantastic Views in Algarve

In the south coast of Portugal, there is a land of stunning views, amazing beaches and poetic sunsets. This magical place is the city of Carvoeiro, located at Lagoa Council in the Algarve region. Blessed with sunny days this beach holiday destination has a full lot of attractions to please the travellers who come for a visit. Beaches, cliffs, caves, historic towns, boat tours, shopping, wineries and good food is part of the options available to experiment. In 2018 Carvoeiro was named European Best Beach 2018 by a known online portal dedicated to tourism. Come along to explore this world of possibilities! Things to do Carvoeiro Beach Located in the heart of the town, Carvoeiro Beach has a small sand strip protected by breathtaking cliffs. Reserve some time to spend the day between the bars, restaurants and shopping, then come back to sit and watch the spectacular Sunset. During the day it is possible to take a boat tour to visit the caves and other beaches located along the coast, buy your trip at the beach entrance. Tips: Bicycles are available to rent, cards are acceptable to pay Algar Seco An incredible Boardwalk connect the Carvoeiro Beach to Algar Seco. Walk from Carvoeiro Beach to reach the Fort Nossa Senhora da Encarnação, then take the elevated wooden path. Don’t rush your steps, take time to appreciate the breathtaking cliffs. There are many places to sit along the coastline, so might you come back later to watch the Sunset and take pictures. Walk through the car parking to find the steps to the visit the caves and the pools. Don’t miss the Boneca, a grotto in the heart of the rock with open windows to the ocean. Spectacular views are guaranteed! The Boneca Bar & Restaurant is an option to have lunch or a relaxing drink during your visit. Vale de Covo Beach A small beach located 1.2km from Carvoeiro, behind the Tivoli Resort, the stairs to access are bit trick; the best way is to get access by boat. The view is outstanding! Centeanes Valley Beach Distant 2.3km from Carvoeiro town, the Centeanes Valley Beach is a quite good option to have a perfect beach day. There is a small beach near the Stop Restaurant and bigger strip the other side. The restaurant offers good food and drinks with a stunning view. Treat yourself and spent time appreciating this incredible place. The restaurant also provides the toilets facilities. Marinha Beach It is a famous beach in the region providing cinematographs views. The cliffs are amazing, and the M Rock is enchanting. Tip: bring sunblock and food/water, there is one restaurant on the beach, but the prices are not attractive. Benagil Caves Benagil is famous in the entire world for the incredible Caves. The best way to get access to this speechless place is taking a boat tour. There are plenty of options to choose including a Beach Barbecue. Check this website for more details: experitour.com Day trips from Carvoeiro Ferragudo […]

The golden beaches of Porto Santo

One of the things I love the most about Portugal is the diversity of landscapes. Some years ago, I had the chance to go on vacation to Porto Santo, the little island of Madeira archipelago. In spite of distancing only 68km from the Madeira, this island couldn’t be any more different from the big island. At first, I must say I wasn’t very excited about it but my mood changed as soon as we landed on the golden island. The weather, the landscapes, the people – it all gave me such a feeling of serenity and peace. It’s definitely a place to return. History Porto Santo is part of the Madeira’s islands and was discovered in 1418 – a year before the big island (Madeira island) – by João Gonçalvez Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira. As a result of the successive and massive attacks by pirates, nearly all the population was murdered and enslaved until the Philip III of Spain determined the construction of a fortification to protect the people and allow the repopulation of the island. The Island Porto Santo is, par excellence, a beach destination that attracts many tourists for its turquoise waters and 9km of golden sand beaches. This lil’ island’s sand is well known for its rare therapeutic features – due to its main component, calcium carbonate, the sand has very particular thermal properties which makes it highly sought for the hot sand’s treatments. Nature and unique landscapes are as well as the beaches one of the island’s strengths. You can rent a car and discover them on your own or you can book a tour and get to know the island with a guide. Of course, both options have advantages and disadvantages, so I suggest you choose the one that suits you best. In my case, I went with a group that stayed in the same hotel as me and we spent the day learning more about Porto Santo while we were amazed by the outstanding views we found along the way. Despite the different paths you might take to discover the island, some of the must-sees of the island are: Miradouro das Flores Portela Ponta da Calheta Pico da Ana Ferreira Fonte da Areia Porto Santo’s marine In the case you are bored on land, there’s always the option of exchanging it by the sea and spend the day diving, doing stand-up paddle or simply taking a boat ride, even though these are just a few of the multiple activities you can do, whether at the sea or land.   Nevertheless, don’t leave the island without spending a day or two in the wonderful city of Vila Baleira. Discover the little treasures of this city, from the cute flowered streets and nightlife to the hospitality of the locals, always welcoming the tourists the best way they can. As you walk through Vila Baleira, don’t miss the chance to get to know a bit of the historical past of this island and visit the house where Christopher Columbus lived part of his life. Accommodation […]

The Best Beaches Close to Lisbon

Living in Lisbon not only gives you the opportunity to live in one of Europe’s most charming cities, you will also have close proximity to some of the most beautiful beaches. I’m a huge beach person, so moving to Lisbon was like living in paradise. I felt like I was on vacation everyday.  When I first came here, everyone told me to go to Cascais because it’s both very easily accessible and the beaches were amazing. I went there 2 weeks after I arrived to Lisbon and I have to be honest… I was quite disappointed. Maybe it’s because I’ve been to places like the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia and Brazil, but I was not impressed. I’ve become a beach snob basically, so the search for the perfect beach close to Lisbon continued. Luckily, I met a friend here that has a car, which made it possible for us to venture a bit outside of Lisbon and get to the less accessible places. I found three beaches that I really like and I will tell you why (and how to get there from Lisbon): 1. Ribeira do Cavalo This is one of the most popular beaches close to Lisbon and is situated in Sesimbra, Setúbal district. In order to get there, you need to do a little hike. This is one of the easier hikes I’ve done here though, and I even did it with my Birkenstocks (which I always do!). It takes about 30 minutes from where the trail starts. If you come here with a car, you can start by the trail. There will be signs… and probably other people as well. This is quite a popular beach amongst locals, so if you are planning on going high season, don’t count on being alone. Especially on weekends. However, the beach is spectacular and the view before ascending down makes it all worth it. The water is calm as well, so it’s a great place to swim – but always expect the water to be freezing! Although after laying in the scorching sun, you will be thankful that the water isn’t the same temperature as your body. If you decide to come by bus, you can take the bus to Sesimbra and take a boat from the marina to Ribeira do Cavalo. Otherwise you can also take a taxi to the beginning of the trail – I’m sure the taxi driver will know where it is. If you feel lazy on the way back, you can always take the boat for 5€. The last one goes at approximately 18:00. Pros: Beautiful sand beach with calm water (which can be hard to find in Portugal). Also not that hard to hike down. Cons: A lot of people during high season and boats that comes to pick people up and drop them off. Ribeira do Cavalo Beach 2. Praia dos Galapos & Galapinhos Me and my friend had heard about this beach from her colleague so we thought – why not explore a […]

Portugal: A Visit to the Algarve for Great Beaches and Good Food

Portugal’s southern region, The Algarve, is very well known in Europe but many others have never heard of this beautiful Atlantic coastal area of amazing beaches, inexpensive food and wine and pleasant hotels. Three major cities along the coast. Albufeira is the largest city Located in the center of the region, about 267 km south from Lisbon down the E1 toll highway you merge with the east-west A22. Then another couple of miles south you find the town and beach. The city is a former fishing village that is now a major tourist destination, especially in the summer months. It has wonderful sandy beaches, an active nightlife of bars and clubs and plenty of restaurants; some right on the beach.  The downtown area by the beach is a shoppers paradise for souvenirs of all kinds. Lagos is a 45 km drive west. You can take the A22 or you can take the slower, two-lane local roads for a better view of the local countryside and small villages. Lagos is best known for its walled old city which is full of shops, coffee and pastry bars, outdoor cafes.  The beaches at Lagos are hidden in a sandy cove which is reached by climbing down steep wooden steps. Faro, the capital of the Algarve 40 km to the east from Albufeira is the only airport in the region. It has direct flights to and from Lisbon as well as flights from many other cities in Europe and England.  Faro is known for the remains of an ancient Moorish wall and gate to the city as well as a 13th-century cathedral. Fun, Food, Sightseeing Driving in Portugal The toll roads in Portugal are similar to the interstate highways in the U.S. or the autobahns in Germany. We were warned by the rental car agent that there are no police patrolling the highways. Instead, there are electronic boxes hidden away monitoring the traffic that automatically sends tickets to speeders. Fuel is expensive compared to what we pay in the States. We had a hybrid electric with a diesel engine which was a good choice considering the cost of filling it up. We figured the fuel cost about $7.50/gallon which explains why the streets are filled with motorcycles and electric motorbikes. Driving the local roads you find the Algarve is a maze of small towns and picturesque villages with houses and stores built right up to the roadway. It requires slow, leisurely, careful driving. Also, every intersection is a “roundabout”  which took some getting used. The Beaches Ah! The beaches of the Algarve. The reason for all the driving was to find and explore the beaches hidden away in coves down the steep, narrow streets of small villages. We quickly figured out that the signs saying “de Praia” were telling us how to get to the beach. Relaxing on the soft sand One of the interesting ones is the Beach of Caves. From the top of a hill, open below us suddenly appeared this beautiful vista of a small beach in a […]

5 reasons to visit Braga – Portugal

Braga proved to be a nice surprise for me. Although I knew that’s a third big city in Portugal and one of the oldest, with a great historical heritage, I never thought that will be so cozy, with such warm people and beautiful places. This city is located at the North of the country, near of the well known Oporto city, connected to that by the urban railway. Braga is called the “Portuguese Rome” because of their many religious monuments. Let´s start with that! 1. Religious Heritage Braga has more than 30 churches. The most magnificent and oldest is the Cathedral of Braga, also called the “Sé” of Braga. It was built in 1070 and her beauty comes from the presence of distinct artistic influences, being the romantic one the most important. You can buy a ticket which gives access to the cathedral, the 5 chapels and the high choir. Another must-see church is the Santa Cruz Church and the Santa Cruz Plaza. This church was built in the baroque style and the gold carving in the interior is impressive. Another interesting place is the Sanctuary of Sameiro. It figures at 566 meters of altitude, on top of a hill with the same name. It attracts many Catholic pilgrims mainly by the Marian worship. But for me, the most amazing place is the well known Bom Jesús de Braga. It certainly needs a bullet for itself. 2. Bom Jesus de Braga church This place is magical… my favorite in Braga city and maybe in all Portugal. More than just a church, all the path to reach the top of Bom Jesus is beautiful. Starting with the baroque stairways to go to the church (represents the ascend to heaven) and going with the surrounding parks, forests and amazing views over Braga. But for those of you who don´t love to “hike” the 580 stairs, there´s a funicular that gets you there. This is a place for families but also for people who like to walk, breath fresh air, meditate… Yes, meditate… And this takes us to my favorite area in Bom Jesus, the cave. This is magical, with flowers and you can go inside and be quiet for a while. There is a little lake inside that reflects a beautiful blue color when the sun enters… If you go there don’t forget to throw a coin and make a wish! Besides all of that, you can make a picnic in the park, rent a boat to cross the lake, or just observe the astonishing views in the high terrace. You should reserve one morning or one afternoon to visit this place because it´s not inside the city. You can reach it by car or taking a bus that departs from the city’s center. 3. Braga’s historical center A walking tour in the center it will take around 4 hours. It´s there where most of the historic monuments are. You already know about some churches (although you going to find many more […]

Lisbon: Freedom, Fado and Food

What do you think of when you think of freedom? Sand… blue sky every day …with sun of course…? Or wandering through small and cute streets somewhere without purpose? Lisbon can offer both and many more. I lived there for 5 months as an Erasmus student and I have felt free in so many ways. All this is perfectly collaborating with the melancholic famous style of music – fado and a range of good food. Freedom In my opinion, this is the best thing about Lisbon and Portugal, as I have been in all parts of it. Maybe now you can’t imagine, you think that you are free now too. And most likely you are, but in Lisbon, I’m talking about freedom in all aspects : freedom of walking without fear at 4 a.m. as we are walking to our apartment after the Halloween party; freedom of living with a small amount of money – because it is so cheap, my expenses per month excluding the rent were 200 euros ; freedom of talking in English because almost everyone knows it or at least they will do whatever they can to understand and help you freedom of not wearing winter clothes because there is no such season freedom to be who you are without the fear of discrimination because there are so many people from different nationalities and Portuguese are very tolerant. What is more, the calmness of the people is contagious and it is not hard to feel like a local already on the second day.   People chilling next to river Tejo   Fado This is a Portuguese music that sounds to me as someone is singing their heart out. Most of the time I didn’t know the meaning of the lyrics but you can feel that it is something very deep. Moreover, it is not only because of the singer but also the musicians, because every fado is accompanying by guitar man. Best place for fado in Lisbon: When you search in Google places for fado it says that “Tasca do Chico “ is the best place and I believed it. This was a mistake. Not always the most common things are the once that are worthy. This place is very famous and that is why it had turned itself into just a place for money. The singers gave me the feeling that they are there only because it is their job. There was no feeling of something personal, no connection between you and the music. On the other hand, my Brasilian friend recommended me a place in Alfama called Tascabeat do Rosario. I have never been in such a real connection with the musicians. These people are artists and they live for and through music. In the pauses, they are talking with the guests and the feeling is like you are part of their friend’s circle. On top of the great atmosphere, there are also cheap drinks and food. The most famous Portuguese fado singer – […]

Lx Factory: The Spot You Shouldn't Miss in Lisbon

From the first day until the day I left, I fell in love with the city. From amazing nightlife to walking tours near street arts, all kind of museums to infinite beaches, every part of the city gives you joy. Besides being the capital of Portugal, the cost of living is low and living standards are high for those who love living active, doing outdoor sports, especially surfing, hiking or playing beach volleyball. Lisbon, The City Of Arts One of the musts; listening to Fado music. Fado is the musical expression of Lisbon and Portugal. The word “Fado” comes from “fatum” in Latin, which means destiny. This music genre was associated with the dictatorship of Salazar but nowadays it is encompassing melancholia, longing, and nostalgia. You will be hearing lots of reproof about love. But if you catch up with the second style of Fado, you will be singing as a choir, clapping your hands all night in the restaurant with the others! Best attractions of Lisbon are, Praça do Comercio, Rossio Square, Jeronimos Monastery, Belem Tower, the monument of discoveries and the list continues with beautiful streets, beaches… Besides them, there are some local places that probably most of the tourists don’t aware of, that helps you to capture the spirit of the city. Feel more like a local, live more like a local and take all what city of dreams gives you. ”By day Lisbon has a naive theatrical quality that enchants and captivates, but by night it is a fairy-tale city, descending over lighted terraces to the sea, like a woman in festive garments going down to meet her dark lover.”  Erich Maria Remarque, The Night in Lisbon It’s been a while that I come back home from Lisbon/Portugal. That place, I will tell you about, will be missed so much. I promise it will be your favorite place to drink your daytime coffee, spend your Friday nights with amazing cocktails or just spend your weekend in the view of the Targus River. Lx Factory Lx Factory is in the Alcantara district. It is, was, not one of the touristic places in Lisbon. Shortly it is unlikely to show up if you search for ”Where to go in Lisbon for 3 days?”. So take notes and put it on your bucket list for sure! It opened in 1846 and was considered a significant company in Lisbon’s industrialization. I recognized, how interesting what different countries can do with areas that were likely old industrial warehouses, areas. In this case, it was turned into a cool bookstore, a bunch of hipstery coffeehouses, bars… On Sundays, there is an open shop,( a marketplace) that sells a bunch of products; jewelry to clothes, kitchen decorations to glasses. Mostly these products are cheap and well designed so try to catch it in the Sunday afternoon! When you step in Lx Factory, you will feel that the atmosphere is completely different. You will, most likely, hear the sweet melody of Jazz music. After that, your eyes will catch up concept stores. It is hard to stop yourself […]

A Travel Guide to Lisbon

After living in Lisbon for almost 10 months and going for 12, I am no expert in guidance, but will say that I have gained a somewhat whimsical perspective in the city. After this long journey with many bumps and unexpected events, I have already lived in 4 different locations all around this Portuguese river-town. Maybe you are going on holidays in Portugal, maybe you have made plans to study/work here, maybe you are just interested for the hell of it? For whatever it is worth, I hope you will have gained some kind of insight after reading this article. Lisbon is the capital of the rectangular country called Portugal, which you probably already know. Lisbon has a population of a little more than 550.000 people and is considered a small capital with its 100 km2. The Lisboans, along with the rest of the Portuguese population, adore their fado (a Portuguese music genre that stems from Gypsy and Flamenco), their football (Benfica and Sporting are the biggest teams from Lisbon), their sardinhas and/or bacalhau (the two most popular fish to eat, sardines and codfish) and last but not least, their port wine (which is mostly produced in the north of Portugal, around Porto, the 2nd biggest city). Of course, this is speaking in a general matter, as I unfortunately do not know every person in Portugal.   These are the most important things to see: Rua Augusta and Praça do Comércio Rua Augusta is the biggest shoppingstreet in Lisbon and ends in the triumphal arch and the big square, Praça do Comércio. Take the green metro line to Rossio and begin your stroll at the top of the street, through the area called Baixa. You will find many restaurants, boutiques and street performers, which is definitely worth experiencing, as it is considered the heart of Lisbon and the perfect 1st stop on your journey to gain an overview. Alfama and Castelo de São Jorge From Baixa, begin your stroll upwards to Alfama. This area consists of charming streets, viewpoints, architectural gems and is the oldest part of Lisbon. Walk past the Sé Cathedral, take a quick peek inside and light a candle before continuing upwards to the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, the beautiful viewpoint from where you can see all the way to the river. From here, you can continue upwards to the castle of São Jorge, the biggest monument in Lisbon that gives an insight in Lisbon history, dating all the way back to the 11th century. Marquês de Pombal and Avenida da Liberdade Take the blue or yellow metro line to Marquês Pombal. This giant roundabout is considered the actual center of Lisbon and is named after Marquês Pombal who reconstructed a big part of the city. He is represented in the statue in the middle. From Marquês Pombal, continue down Avenida da Liberdade (Avenue of Liberty), the most famous street in Lisbon, equivalent to the Champs Elysées in Paris. Down the street, you will find all the top brands, hotels and cafés until […]

Discover the hidden magic of the AZORES (Portugal)

Last summer, I spent a week in the Azores. A few months before departing, I had never even heard of the islands of Portugal, and initially discovered them while searching for a place in Europe where I could swim with wild dolphins. A week later, my flight was booked. The Azores are a well-hidden haven from our modern world. A piece of ancient, natural history that has somehow survived mankind. If you’re in search of nature free from tourists and the buzz of humanity, this may be exactly what you’re looking for. I can’t count the number of times I simply gasped at the intense beauty of what I was seeing. And that’s not even taking into account the life-changing experience of swimming with wild dolphins. Ways to get around Sao Miguel Island There is much to explore on Sao Miguel Island. However, public transport is almost non-existent, so there are two options for exploring: Rent a car or a motorbike Pay for group tours and day trips We opted for option 1, renting a small motorbike to get us around. It was easy to find most places, but if I were to go again, I may opt for group tours on some of the days at least, as a lot of places are not easy to get to, and there are some steep climbs that felt a little scary on the bike (especially for two women!). The advantage of course was experiencing the breathtaking scenery with the fresh, crisp air blowing right over us. And stopping to gasp. We did a lot of that. Exploring Sao Miguel Island   Things to do in The Azores (Sao Miguel Island) Swimming with Dolphins We chose ‘Sao Miguel Island’, the largest out of the islands of the Azores, and booked our hotel as a package deal with a company that also provided three dolphin-swimming excursions. We were given a basic introduction, before being taken out by boat and literally thrown into an ocean of deep blue. Only two people were allowed in the water at a time, so everyone got a chance to have some ‘personal’ time with the dolphins. On the first day, we saw ‘regular’ dolphins. These were beautiful, but did not compare to the spotted dolphins we swam with on day 2. The spotted dolphins were truly incredible, highly spiritual creatures. Seeing and hearing them in the water around us is an experience I will never forget. Swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores. Encounter with spotted dolphins. On day 3, we saw some bottle-nosed dolphins and pilot whale dolphins. These were incredible, but again nothing can compare to the spotted dolphins. Swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores. Pilot whale dolphin with baby. There is also a whale-watching option if you are interested in seeing whales, but it is forbidden to swim with them, which is why we opted for the dolphins instead. Sete de Cidades This is a MUST see on this island. The best viewpoint is, […]
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