Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Why Totally Spain likes to Visit Portugal

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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?

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Tiles, tiles and more tiles – we couldn’t get enough of them in Portugal

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Rather than Easter eggs, we saw lots of these ‘Folare de Pasco’ – traditional Easter sweet loaves decorated with hardboiled eggs

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

And of course these little Easter pastries plus the 100% obligatory ‘pasteis de nata’

Why Portugal?

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!

The Trip

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

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

What’s not to love about Lisbon? It really is one of Europe’s great capitals!

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Looking down from Miradouros to the river Tagus – part of the charm of Lisbon lies in its inclines

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

The Santa Justa elevator looking glamorous at night – when the city has a extra twinkle about it

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

One of the many wonderful fish dishes we sampled in Portugal – this was a tasty fish stew

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

After dinner drink called Ginja which is a cherry-like berry.

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

You don’t need to have a Portuguese surname to feel at home in Portugal

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Inside the newly reformed Ribeira Market run by Time Out – great for a break near Chiado or en route to Belem

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Everybody talks about the number 28 tram in Lisbon – it’s true you can’t visit the city without trying it. But we loved some of the quieter funicular lines too. This is the view from inside the Elevator da Bica taken from below

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

And here’s the view from the top of the Elevador da Bica which goes up to the great Bairro Alto neighbourhood

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Looking onto Lisbon’s Castelo de Sao Jorge from Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara viewing point

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Inside Lisbon’s Oceanarium, kids and adults alike were spellbound by the displays

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

If you like tiles, you’ll love Portugal. We like the walls here in the Casa do Alentejo

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

We enjoyed our chickpeas and bacalao (salted cod) salad and made sure to have some on our last night in Portugal

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

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Coimbra’s university started out in Lisbon in 1290 and relocated north in 1537. It’s Portugal’s oldest university and forms parts of UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Here is the University Palace which was the Royal Palace

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Coinciding with the school holidays, we came across lots of street theatre for kids e.g. at Portugal dos Pequenitos in Coimbra

Aveiro – Portugal’s Venice

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

The canals of Aveiro – the Venice of Portugal – are surprising and stunning beautiful

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

Instead of gondolas, the canals are filled with moliceiros – which are brilliantly colourful half-moon shaped boats

Luso – old world elegance

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

One of the many wonderful old villas in the town of Luso – we love the brickwork!

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

The elegant Luso was a luscious green spa town with a strong art-deco vibe

Evora – Romans & Royals

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

The wonderful Plaza de Giraldo at Evora – we sat for ages on the edge of the fountain looking at life go by…

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

The one-time residence of the Portuguese kings, Evora is best known for its Temple of Diana and its Temple of Bones

Totally Spain Portugal Portuguese Lisbon vacation trip holiday

And we couldn’t leave Evora and Portugal without trying its curd cheesecakes which reminded us a bit of the Cantabria quesada – absolutely delicious! Definitely one to try baking at home

Tempted to arrange an Insider tour of Portugal?

Get in touch with the Spain and Portugal experts! Contact us at Totally Spain by phoning Spain: +34-942-637358 USA: 1-888-717-4514 UK: 0871-6660214 or SEND US AN EMAIL or REQUEST A QUOTE.

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Posted in Alentejo Region of Portugal, Lisbon City Portugal, Portugal and tagged , , , , , , , .

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