Portugal is definitely one of the finest destinations to travel in Europe. It has the best to offer for a holiday: gorgeous beaches, lovely countryside, beautiful architecture and good nightlife. I recently had a vacation there and loved it all the way through.
Lisbon – My dream city
Lisbon is incredible. It is so exciting that I could really imagine living there. I had a great time going shopping in Chiado, an area that is well known for fashion, architectural buildings and food. It seems to be busy 24/7, which gave me a feeling that this city never sleeps and you will never run out of things to do. Indeed, there are a variety of options for restaurants and bars; many pretty churches, museums and galleries to visit and tons of stores to get clothes. It would be perfect to have a nice walk around then stop at a cozy café, grab some local drink and simply watch people.
If you like venturing off the beaten path like me, check out Miradouro da Senhora do Monte for the best view of Lisbon. It can be easy reached from the city center. There are steps to go up but it gets a little steep and narrow on the top so might not be a good idea if you have disabilities. Benches are available so you can comfortably sit down in the shade and enjoy the stunning view.
St. George’s Castle is another place offering good views. The building itself is not that special but the views are excellent. I was there at sunset and they got even better. I would say just give it a miss if you don’t stay in town more than a week; otherwise, it is a good way to spend a nice evening or afternoon.
Alfama district is worth a visit. It got all the charm of a cultural Lisbon. I loved getting lost in those small pretty alleys and just simply watching. Houses are old and nicely designed with interesting architecture; people hang their clothes on the balconies, chill out in some local cafés; Fado music everywhere when the night falls… just basic stuff but it was like taking a step back to Lisbon in the old days. There are also a lot of palaces, churches, fountains to have a look at and plenty of opportunities for food and drinks. Alfama is a real gem of Lisbon and definitely deserves checking out.
The beaches in Lisbon are not to be missed. The town lies close to plenty of nice and sandy beaches. My favorite one is Carcavelos where I enjoyed playing football with some strangers (who later on became good friends of mine) and surfing. This beach is really cool – I met a lot young people at my age and they taught me how to surf. It is always hard for beginners but I had a lot of great fun. We spent nearly all day surfing and at the end of the day we headed for bars to go wildly party. Carcavelos is certainly heaven for young travelers and surfers.
Madeira – Lost in paradise
I made my way up to Madeira and was very fond of this island. I did a lot of fun things and would strongly recommend those to anyone who loves outdoor activities.
I had a great day out with Quinta do Riacho. We (me and my new travel partner Ethan whom I just met at the hostel) went horse riding to the kind guidance of Paulo. We got picked up and driven to the mountain where the stables locates. The horses were chosen to our experience and we were allowed to go for a short trial ride around to make sure that we felt perfectly comfortable on them before setting off. The path we trekked along was impressively beautiful. We had amazing views of the island and saw many parts of it that otherwise we wouldn’t have seen. The horses are very well-behaved and obedient. They seem to get used to different people with different personalities. Paulo with his wide knowledge and excellent English gave us several interesting information both about the horses and the island. What a memorable experience!
Ethan and I soon found out that we are both adventurous and got along very well since. Together we went on another tour for canyons with Madeira Adventure Kingdom. There were 6 people in our group (including us) and two instructors. Though the levels of our capabilities were different, we all found it easy to make it as the pace was very flexible and the tour was absolutely well organized. The instructors couldn’t have been more accommodating. They are knowledgeable, friendly and very professional. They know exactly what to do at every single stage and took really good care of us. About the landscape? Needless to say, simply breathtaking! Highly recommended!
We climbed up Sao Lourenco which is the very eastern point of Madeira. That was just what we wanted to see: the ocean, rough coastline, colorful cliffs – wonderful nature. The track is fairly difficult but all you need is a pair of good hiking shoes. The views on the top are absolutely astonishing; you can virtually see the whole island both to the northern and southern sides.
We went off the beaten track to explore the countryside. The sights are totally brilliant and unique. We hired two quad bikes for the two of us with Squad Ventura and seriously it couldn’t have been more fun. The bike looks difficult to ride in fact they are absolutely easy to handle once you get used to it. The roads are a little bit challenging but safe! We stopped at several points to take pictures and listen to the explanations. Rory, our guide, was very informative and helpful. What a shame that we couldn’t book the 4 hour ride instead of the 2 hour one! We would’ve definitely gone back for another ride if we had had more time in town.
Falesia beach is excellent. We swam for hours and walked along the shore for miles and miles. The red cliffs are amazing. We went up to the top and had such stunning views. There is a pretty little café on the top where we sat out in the sun and enjoyed ice cream.
The Old Town, which is not far away from Falesia beach, is worth a visit as well. It is a typical nice square with lots to offer: bars, restaurants, cafés and shops for all budgets. The atmosphere is quite good and the locals are friendly. We had Portuguese cuisines for reasonable price at a local food shop called O Zuca then went for drinks at some beach bars. The view is wonderful and it wasn’t so crowded there, simply perfect for a nice evening.
The trip to Portugal was like a reward for me after a whole year working hard. I have always been a big fan of Europe and I was right to think that Portugal wouldn’t let me down. I met a lot of lovely people, made a few friends, got to see some Mother Nature’s masterpieces and had many many adventures. I love Portugal and would say for travelers around on this continent, if you are looking for a destination that has wonderful landscape, stunning beaches and tons of activities to do, Portugal with all its treat is definitely a place to be.