We’ve just re-visited Portugal over the Easter holidays and thought we’d share some of our Portuguese trip with you. It’s the fourth family holiday there in less than two years. We love it as a location for our own downtime and we also arrange many client trips from Spain into Portugal so I suppose you can say we were mixing business with pleasure.
In the past we have both driven and flown from Northern Spain. Public transport in Portugal’s main cities is excellent so if you are sticking to Lisbon or a few of the main cities you’ll be fine on public transport. But for exploring the coastline and interior we recommend you drive or hire a car and/or a driver. This time we drove.
What did we see and do?
We are huge fans of both Spain and Portugal and have travelled both countries from east to west and top to bottom. We like Portugal for its Atlantean outlook and other worldly feel. And when planning trips for our clients, and indeed travelling with the girls ourselves, we find the earlier mealtimes are quite handy. The standard of English spoken is generally very high. And just as in Spain, Portugal offers excellent value for money.
Where in Portugal?
Lisbon is a wonderful European capital that is bursting with character and personality. We challenge anybody to have a bad time in Lisbon. And the regions are great too – the Alentejo, Central Region and of course the Algarve are all great places to explore. The cities are also very interesting. We love Oporto, Coimbra, Aveiro and Evora too. The food and wine are also wonderful. Did anybody say pastries and coffee? Heavenly. The bakeries are truly amazing up and down the entire country. And the tiled buildings. The seafood. The wines – as you can tell, we are big fans!
We crossed into Portugal on Easter Thursday and crossed back into Spain one week later. It’s always tricky shortlisting where we want to see and this time was no different. It was easier to rule out places – and so we decided to leave out Sintra and the Algarve because we’ve spent quite a bit of time there on our last trip. Ditto Oporto which was a tough decision as it’s buzzing and the wineries are great. Although we’ve been to Lisbon lots, we knew we wanted to see it in Spring so that was definitely on the list. So too was the university city of Coimbra, the canals of Aveiro and the Roman ruins at Evora. We decided to add in a few quiet days at the spa town of Luso which is like the Perrier or Evian of Portugal because everywhere you go you see the Luso water for sale.
Lisbon – the most charming of Europe’s capitals
Outside the Capital
There’s so much variety in Portugal and we decided to take in Coimbra, Aveiro and Luso in the Central Region and Evora in the Alentejo Region. We visited the first three before Lisbon and Evora after. You couldn’t find four places with less in common. Aveiro is a jewel of a town with wonderful cobbled streets and canals. Coimbra is a very hilly illustrious university city inland (comfortable walking shoes here!). Luso is a small spa town in a valley surrounded by forests and Evora is on an slight incline amongst the plains of the Alentejo region. Here’s a quick review of what each represents for us :-
Coimbra – the university city
Aveiro – Portugal’s Venice
Luso – old world elegance
Evora – Romans & Royals