“To be great, be whole; Exclude nothing, exaggerate nothing that is not you.
Be whole in everything. Put all you are Into the smallest thing you do.
So, in each lake, the moon shines with splendor
Because it blooms up above.” -Fernando Pessoa
These lines by Lisbon’s darling poet Fernando Pessoa aptly describe Portugal- a country that has rebuilt and rediscovered itself ages after ages and offers an enticing mix of old and new, while preserving its rich culture. My trip to Portugal has remained one of my favorite vacations from 2016. We covered Lisbon and Lagos (Algarve) in a 6 day itinerary, with our time split equally between the two. While Lisbon is charming and eclectic, Lagos -the postcard pretty resort town of Portugal’s southernmost region Algarve- is stunning with it’s breathtaking cliffs and golden beaches. We traveled in late April which is shoulder season and were thrilled to have the beaches to ourselves. I am listing my favorites from the trip below.
Roaming around the medieval streets of Alfama and listening to Fado
We stayed in Alfama, which is the oldest neighborhood of Lisbon. This is the only surviving part of town from The great Lisbon earthquake in 1755 and as such manifests a charming labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, and restaurants with delicious Portuguese meals and live Fado music. Fado is a Portuguese folk music style, with melancholic undertones. In Alfama, you can enjoy a delicious Bacalhau (cod fish) with chilled wine and let yourself be taken into a world of love and sadness by the Fadistas.
Sailing along Tagus river and watching the sunset over Lisbon
Sailing is amongst my favorite things to do- watching the sunset over colorful city of Lisbon with a glass of Champagne and company of friends is a great way to end your day on a relaxing note, while enjoying the beautiful views of the city.
Treating ourselves to pastéis de nata (custard tart) at Belem
I have an undeniable sweet tooth and Portuguese definitely share my guilty pleasure when it comes to pastries. A trip to Belem district 5 Km west of Lisbon is a must for enjoying the famous Portuguese pastries at Pastéis de Belém (an old bakery famous for it’s ancient secret recipe) . Belem is also worth visiting for Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém -a monument to Portugal’s age of discovery and a great example of Portugal’s magnificent architecture!
Sun-bathing at Praia Dona Ana, Lagos
Lagos is a vibrant resort town with a pristine setting, beautiful craft stores, sea food restaurants and stunning beaches framed between dramatic cliffs. While we spent a lot of time walking around the town, best was time spent lazying around the dazzling dream like beaches. Praita Dona Ana and Praia de Batata were my favorites!
Kayaking through the grottoes and caves of Lagos to world’s end-Ponta da Piedade
The best way to admire grandeur of Algarve’s numerous cliff formations and soak in the beauty of it’s coastline is to paddle through the caves and rock formations in Lagos. We took a kayak tour with Kayak Adventure Lagos and loved the commentary by our guide all through, while enjoying the scenery around.
Great food, incredible coastline and warm people- I am sure that my fond memories of the time I had in Portugal will take me back there. Hope you do too think of Lisbon and Lagos for your next Euro adventure and come back to share your favorites!