I started my 3-week Euro-tour in Portugal with my family. I had never been before but had only heard amazing things about the Algarve Coast, Lisbon, and Porto (which I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to experience this time, but more reason to go back right?!). The trip started in Albufeira which is part of the Algarve coast, nestled between larger more heavily tourist-filled Faro and Lagos. We stayed at Pine Cliffs, which was absolutely stunning. It’s located on a sprawling property overlooking the sea, and as the name implies, is on a cliff with many pine trees LOL. There was little reason to leave the resort as they had plenty of pools, walking paths, and a steep wooden staircase leading to the most heavenly beach I’ve been to in ages… crumbling cliffs that turned into a huge stretch of golden sandy beach. They also have an UNREAL clifftop bar that is perfect for watching the sunset. See below for some other tips on the area!:
-Restaurant Sao Gabriel - about a 30 minute drive from Pine Cliffs, this Michelin starred restaurant had amazing and innovative dishes with gorgeous plating - some traditional Portuguese, some more modern.
-Tatsumi Japanese - Portugal of course has extremely fresh fish, so naturally their sushi WOULD be good, but who knew that I would have some of the best sushi of my life here?! This little hole-in-the-wall sushi spot was unbelievable (even though we had to walk for 30 mins on a dirt road to get to it)
-I wish we would have taken a car to do a trip to Lagos… the beaches there look so stunning.
-PROTECT YOUR SKIN. On the first day there, I forgot how much stronger the sun is in Europe than it is at home in Toronto. I laid on the beach for a few hours and it was nice and breezy - totally tricking me into thinking that I wouldn’t burn. Well, of course I did, and it was BAD. I had red hot lobster skin for a few days, and was peeling throughout the entire rest of my trip. NOT THE CHIC EFFORTLESS EURO LOOK I WAS GOING FOR! Learn from me and don’t let this happen to you.
Lisbon was next, and it far exceeded my expectations. It was such a cool, vibrant city with so much to offer. History, charm, style, culture, amazing food, and great weather. What more could you ask for? We stayed at an Airbnb that was no doubt A NIGHTMARE to get to since we had a rental car. It was located beside Castelo de Sao Jorge, which is a historic walled-in part of the city high up on a hill where no cars are allowed. This meant we had to park at the base and wheel our luggage up narrow cobblestone streets in the middle of the afternoon. HORRIBLE. When we finally arrived, it made the trek more than worth it though. Photos cannot do this place justice! See HERE. The views were incredible, the apartment was traditional but with tons of modern touches, and the location ended up being great once we got our luggage up there. Here are some things we did that I highly recommend!:
-Castelo de Sao Jorge - a historic stone walled Moorish castle dating back to 48BC. Arrive early to avoid massive line-ups! Luckily this was easy for us since we were staying so close.
-Sintra/Pena Palace - an actual MAGICAL palace up on a hill, about an hour or so drive from Lisbon. The grounds are stunning and make you feel like you’re in an enchanted forest/fairytale, while the palace itself is ornate and beautiful, done in brilliant bright colours. In Sintra, there is also a lot to see, and the lookout point Azenhas do Mar awards you with a beautiful view.
-Espumantaria Do Petisco - Modern little spot with an amazing view, great cocktails, and covered in marble. Also, food was out of this world good. We had garlic shrimp, octopus, goat cheese toasts with cherries and raisins, among other amazing dishes.
-Alma - another Michelin starred restaurant that had incredible food and wine. Also, I think part of their hiring criteria is that you need to be ridiculously attractive, so there’s that. Super innovative flavours, we got the smaller tasting menu and almost every single course (of like, 12) was fantastic.
-Make sure you have gelato, vino verde, custard tarts, and lots of seafood!
As we were only there for a few days, we unfortunately didn’t have time to get to every single restaurant I had researched. So I can’t personally confirm or deny whether these are good spots, but my research shows that they’re worth checking out!
-Grapes & Bites (tapas)
-A Cevicheria (ceviche)
-The Mill (brunch/lunch)
-Tascardoso (small local spot)
-Pasteis de Belem (for best Portuguese tarts, expect huge lines)
-Tasca da Esquina (tapas)
-Gelateria Nannarella (gelato)
-Gin Lovers Principe Real (gin bar)
-Restaurante Pap'Açorda (dinner spot)
-Bairro do Avillez (dinner spot)
OBRIGADA PORTUGAL! I will definitely be back!