Portugal has been in the limelight for several years now, topping many lists for being a “must-see destination.” It’s true. There is so much to see, do, and experience.
I recently heard myself telling the mother of a dear friend who hadn’t been to Europe, “If you were only going to visit one country for an authentic European experience – Portugal should be the one.”
Why? Lisbon is the oldest city in Western Europe, founded by the Phoenicians as Allis Ubbo (Safe Harbor) over three thousand years ago (1200 BC). Yet, it has modernized in ways that retain the charm and magic of the centuries.
You can learn about the rich history of Portugal (09/18) in California in Europe. You may remember, that’s where Escape Artist and Wheeler Expeditions offer special customized trips designed with you in mind.
Or better yet, experience firsthand what is unique and distinctive about Portugal. You can join us for a week in early July and see Portugal for yourself. As Americans who have spent a great deal of time here over eight years, we’ll show you the best and most interesting aspects.
No big buses for us. We find it is most enjoyable as a relatively small group of a dozen or so travelers. We’ll share the experience of discovering this gorgeous, friendly, and authentic European country while getting to know each other. And the cuisine is a reason many return. The food and wine is hearty and delicious.
We begin with two days in Lisbon, the capital city.
Today, Lisbon is one of Europe’s most charming, timeless, and elegant cities. It is very clean and rated as the third-safest city in the world. The entire city is appealing and enjoyable. For this trip, we expect guests from various countries; however, coming from North America, you would arrive in Lisbon in the morning.
lunch and a glass of wine at an open-air café at the Rua da Prata…
…and while you are there, reflect on how archaeologists have excavated a 2,000-year-old Roman street directly underneath us, with shops and cafés just like what we’re enjoying right then. Lisbon is old – a thousand years old by the time of Rome.
Visit St. George’s Castle. The hill was used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and finally the Portuguese themselves. In Portuguese, it is called Castelo de São Jorge and overlooks the city.
visit the famous Se Cathedral …
ride the cable cars…
Spend your evening eating in a highly-rated restaurant which offers a wide variety of wonderful dishes. If you are a food and wine lover, Portugal is your place!
After dinner, there’s the option of relaxing or checking out the nightlife in Baixa – Chiado, which is extremely popular.
The Belem area of Lisbon is considered the “capital of the Portuguese Discoveries.”
The Torre or Tower of Belém is the landmark of Portugal, built in the early 1500s at the height of Portugal’s great Age of Exploration. We’ll enjoy breathtaking views along the Tagus River.
It’s across from the World Heritage Site of the Monastery of Jerónimos, one of the most magnificent buildings in Europe and housing the tomb of Portugal’s greatest explorer, Vasco da Gama. It is a solemn moment to be in the presence of such epic history.
While your in Belem, we’ll visit two extraordinary museums, the Museu dos Coches (Museum of the Coaches) from times when there were only horse-drawn carriages…
…and then there is the incredible Museu de Marinha, or “Navy Museum,” which houses original ships from Portugal’s Age of Exploration. These are not replicas, you will be seeing the real deal.
After stopping to sample the delicious pastries at the famous Pastéis de Belém, we will explore more of Lisbon.
This is the Praca do Comercio, or “Commercial Plaza,” near the water:
Dinner can be a delicious Portuguese cuisine nearby at a highly-rated restaurant. After dinner and a classic Portuguese musical fado show, those who are still energized can visit one of Lisbon’s most popular clubs.
It’s also a beautiful city at night…
Experience Historic Sintra
Now you’ll experience Sintra, the famous historical city on a hill where we’ll stay and tour the extraordinary World Heritage Site of Sintra.
stay at the classic hotel Tivoli with panoramic views in the center of historic Sintra. Located next to the National Palace and many restaurants and shops, we’ll have walking access to everything in the village.
The Palace of Monserrate has a history that goes back to 1540, and it was completely renovated several times over the centuries to its current pristine condition. In 1809, Lord Byron visited the place and described it as the “first and foremost beautiful place in the Kingdom.”
visit the magical fairy-tale Pena Palace, the summer residence of the Portuguese royalty during the 19th century:
visit the Castle of the Moors, first built in the 8th century and captured by Christian knights in 1147. After exploring its ramparts (notice Pena Palace in the background)…
…descend to the famous Lawrence’s Hotel for afternoon tea and pastries. This is where Lord Byron stayed in 1809 to write his poem, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, in which he praised Sintra as a “glorious Eden… palaces and gardens rising in the midst of rocks, cataracts and precipices; convents on stupendous heights.”
After a hearty Portuguese lunch, you can explore during the afternoon, visiting the Quinta da Regaleira with beautiful expansive gardens and their famous spiral Initiation Well.
have a fantastic dinner at a favorite restaurant in Sintra.
Experience the Portuguese Riviera (Estoril, Cascais, and Guincho Beach)
After a breakfast with a view at the Tivoli’s buffet, head for the coast – the Portuguese Riviera.
This aerial photo shows you why many say that Cascais is the jewel of the Portuguese Riviera.
Cascais is Portugal at its most captivating, with picture postcard scenes everywhere:
Cascais is teeming with cool and quaint little shops, cafes, and bars.
Then stroll along the boardwalk to see classic architecture and year-round beachgoers as we pass all the pocket beaches along the Cascais-Estoril Promenade.
Cascais is full of wonderful restaurants and shops.
overnight in Cascais.
The Silver Coast of Portugal
take a spectacular scenic drive up the coast where we’re likely to see surfers at Guincho Beach.
Then continue on to our first stop at Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of land in Europe.
It doesn’t get more beautiful than this!
Next, head up the coast for a visit to the walled medieval city of Obidos. All of Obidos has been declared a national monument. It is known as the “Wedding Present Town” because it was a gift King Dinis gave to Queen Isabel on their wedding day in 1282.
The Medieval Castle of Obidos encircles the town, often called one of Europe’s most romantic villages.
The Silver Coast is an area becoming increasingly popular with those who want a home near the ocean at a reasonable price.
There are many sections that are very popular with surfers, including Peniche and Nazare, which have world-record-breaking surfing.
At the end of the day, drive to your hotel, Arribas in Colares – right on the sea at Praia Grande. Every single room at the Arribas has a spectacular ocean view. Have dinner overlooking the ocean.
Up the coastline, is an oceanfront hotel.
You can watch the sunset from your balcony:
Relax and Enjoy the Beach at Praia Grande
Or, you can take a short hike to see real dinosaur footprints! After lunch by the ocean, return to Lisbon.
In Lisbon, enjoy a bit more of the city, before…
…your Farewell Dinner that night at a special restaurant near the Marques de Pombal.
I’ve been to every European capital city and I can assure you that however you rate a city, this one scores highly.
Whether you’re into natural scenic beauty, history, culture and arts, food and wine, or you enjoy people, Portugal will be a pleasure. It can also be a practical choice to live and work abroad or retire and live well.
Are you interested in making the move to Portugal? Please contact us HERE
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We hope you enjoyed our article on Experience Portugal. For more information on 2nd residency and passports, you can contact us HERE
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©2019 Jack Wheeler – republished with permission
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