with Elyse’s cousin, Laurén, and we all had Portugal on our list of places we wanted to go. Iceland involved a lot of hiking and outdoor activities, so we were glad we ended our trip with some time at the beach! Check out our Portugal travel guide below!
How we traveled there
It wasn’t super convenient to get to Portugal from Iceland but it was cool to experience two completely different places in one trip. We flew on Easy Jet from Reykjavik to London (Luton Airport) to Lisbon, which took most of the day.
Flying home, we flew out of Lisbon. I flew on Delta to New York and stayed there a few days while Elyse and Laurén flew United and connected in Newark on their way back to Denver.
Where we stayed
We stayed at an Airbnb in Lisbon. It had 3 bedrooms (2 double beds and one single bed) and was within walking distance of restaurants and bars. Once we arrived, we had to meet someone at the apartment to check in and had to provide our passport information, which is common in Lisbon. There is no elevator so prepare yourself to lug your suitcase up the stairs.
We rented a car through Enterprise and picked it up from the airport to drive down to the Algarve. We were glad we didn’t rent a car for the Lisbon portion of our trip as there was no need and parking is tough. There will be tolls on the drive to and from the Algarve but you can get a transponder in the car from your rental company so you don’t have to stop. The tolls only accept cash (euros).
We stayed at the Cascade Resort in the city of Lagos which is part of the Algarve. We had beaches and one restaurant within walking distance and a nice path to walk above the cliffs overlooking the water. This place had two rooms; one king bed and two twin beds. We were able to push the twin beds apart to give each other space. The property had two pools (one was a sand pool) and a nice restaurant with fresh seafood options. We were also able to use their gym facility.
For our last night we stayed at the Melia Lisboa Aeropuerto, which is right next to the airport as we had an early flight out. We were able to walk from the hotel to the airport within 5-10 minutes.
What activities we experienced
- Jerónimos Monastery – former monastery, really beautiful and pretty to walk around. This is in the Belem neighborhood and was 10 euros to enter. Book ahead so you don’t have to wait in line to purchase. You can spend <1 hour here and see everything
- LX Factory – a cute area with various stores and restaurants. Make sure to check out Bergue Jewelry for beautiful custom pieces. Elyse wears the earrings she purchased from here often.
- TukTuk through Lisbon – $25/pp and it was a great way to see a lot of the city since it is so hilly. If you book a private TukTuk, they can customize the ride around what you are wanting to see. We used @ituk_a_tour on Instagram.
- Guns N’ Roses, Slash, Gary Clark Jr. in Lisbon at Passeio Marítimo de Algés – we went to see this show outside of the city. I think we were the only tourists there! It was cool to see a concert in another country, however, if you go, know you will be standing on pavement the entire time so wear comfortable shoes. It took about 30 mins in an Uber to get there from our Airbnb.
- Rua Nova do Carvalho (Pink Street) – we walked through this street just for a few minutes. It’s cute for pictures.
- Catamaran – we used Discovery Tours and loved this part of the trip. We cruised around for a few hours and got to go swimming and paddle boarding. You cruise past a lot of beautiful cliffs which they explain the history of. We paid $55/pp which included lunch but drinks were extra. We did the mid-day time and noticed the early morning boat was full of kids. Since we were looking to relax, we were glad we choose the mid-day boat time.
- Kayak Tour Benagil Caves We used Get Your Guide to find our tour, which was $37/pp. They had 2-person kayaks guiding us around the cliffs and providing the history. At the end, you park your kayak in the Benagil cave to take a walk around and take pictures. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen (or wear a rash guard) and bring a waterproof phone case. People on boats weren’t allowed to get out since it’s such a small cave, which is why we were glad we did the kayak tour instead.
- Praia Da Marinha – we stopped at this beach after the Benagil caves, which was 10 mins away. There are a lot of stairs down but it is worth the trek. They also had a small stand where you could purchase drinks and snacks. It is known to have the best snorkeling offshore.
- Ponta da Piedade – From our hotel, we could walk to this overlook for the sunset views
- Porto Mós Beach – Nice beach with a restaurant within walking distance from our hotel
- Praia do Camilo – Nice beach within walking distance from our hotel
- Praia da Boneca – you can swim here from Praia do Camilo. We were the only ones on the beach.
- Park & Palace of Monserrate – beautiful old palace to walk around both inside the palace and through their gardens. Tickets were around $8/pp.
Where we ate
- Seagull Cafe – we had a great breakfast here – it was walking distance from our Airbnb
- Jncquoi – we really enjoyed our meal here. The decor is really cool and the Portuguese/Asian fusion food was tasty.
- Pastéis de Belém – Go here and get a famous pastéis de nata. It will likely be crowded as they sell over 20,000 pastries daily. It is across the street from Jerónimos Monastery. We recommend just grabbing a to-go order since the line moves fast, instead of having a sit-down meal.
- Rebel Asian (take out) – really good Pad Thai
Aljezur (passed through on our drive down to Lagos)
- Varzea – we ate outside for lunch and had an amazing meal
- We bought groceries from Intermarché in Lagos. It had everything we needed to make a few meals in our condo including produce, meat and seafood, eggs, gluten-free options, and snacks.
- Mar – We had a nice dinner at a restaurant called Mar close to downtown Lagos. A friend that Elyse and I lived with in college was living in the Algarve, so she and her mom came to meet us here for dinner. We had a great time in this cozy restaurant overlooking the ocean.
- O Pescador Benagil – we walked here after our kayak tour (just up the hill). We sat outside and had a great lunch of poke bowls and sangria! Although the front patio was beautiful, if you make a reservation, you can sit inside experiencing the ocean view.
- Raíz Sintra – mostly outside restaurant with a great vibe. They had a lot of vegetarian options and yummy drinks.
Where we drank
The Barrio Alto area is where the nightlife is. We walked around the area and popped in and out of bars.
What we recommend knowing/preparing
- Portuguese is the language used
- Many people speak English and it’s easy to communicate and get around
- We were able to use Uber/Lyft in Lisbon and we even ordered food on Uber Eats one night
- Lisbon is small and walkable but has steep hills
- Their currency is the euro
- Many shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but very few accept American Express, so make sure to have another type of card with you
- If you are coming from the US, you will need an adapter and a converter to use hair tools
- Since we were driving from the Algarve, we only had a few hours in Sintra. We wish we had an entire day to explore more of this beautiful city.
- Some beaches in the Algarve are surrounded by cliffs and you have to climb down to get to the beach. Do your research to make sure the beach has an accessible entrance.
- Check out our travel tips page for general recommendations
What we didn’t do but looked into
- Porto/Douro Valley
- Nazare beach trip
- Time out Lisbon – we walked in here but it was so busy that we walked right out
- Casa Mae – cute hotel and restaurant (get a reservation if you want to eat here)
- Fado show in Lisbon
- Sunset tour in Sagres
- Algarve horse riding beach tour
- Atalho Steakhouse
- Fauna & Flora Santos – cafe
- Cinco Lounge – cocktail bar
- Check out this post for bar options in the Bairro Alto/Principle Real area
What we packed
We wore a lot of layers – it was warm during the day and cooler at night. The streets are cobblestone so wear flat shoes only!
Check out our recommendations for travel clothing and essentials.
We hope you enjoyed our Portugal travel guide. Leave a comment below or contact us for any questions. If you want to explore another country close to Europe, then you should also check out our post on Iceland.