Alright, this one is a monster of a blog post! Our trip to Portugal last summer was absolutely incredible. I tried my best to cut down the number of images (believe it or not, this is just a fraction), but it is such a gorgeous country and these photos are priceless to me.
A little backstory on why we decided to go… after their college graduation, my sister Carla and her then-boyfriend Max went to Europe for a month. Of all the places they visited, Lisbon was their favorite city. They’d been talking about going back ever since and we had planned to all go in 2019, two years after their original trip. Carla and Max, Patrick and I, and our brother Jack were super excited. It was going to be our first big “kids only” trip as “adults.”
Tragically, Jack passed away two weeks after his 21st birthday in the fall of 2018 of an unforeseeable and undetectable heart issue. In the horrendous aftermath, Carla, Max, Pat, and I decided to still go on the trip. Having a trip to plan was a really nice distraction during the hardest period of our lives.
As we got closer to the trip, our parents decided to come, too, and it turned out to be exactly what we all needed. A new experience, a new place, meeting new people, making new memories, and …having something to celebrate! Carla and Max got engaged the first night of the trip and we spent every moment from then on celebrating.
Below is an outline of our itinerary and highlights of the trip. I think it would make a fantastic place to visit for all ages and group types. Please feel free to reach out if you are planning a trip to Portugal! We loved it and will definitely go back again one day.
Our 11 Day Portugal Itinerary:
Lisbon, Lagos, and the Douro Valley
LISBON: Day 1-2
Day 1- Saturday: Arrived in Lisbon, checked into our apartment, and went to Carcavelos Beach. Max proposed!
Day 2- Sunday: Spent the day in Sintra exploring the castles and surrounding gardens
Stay here- Lisbon Airbnb
Go here- Carcavelos Beach, Sintra’s Pena Palace
Eat here- Ramiro for seafood
LAGOS: Day 3-7
Day 3- Monday: Picked up rental car in Lisbon, drove three hours to Lagos, checked into apartment, relaxed and walked to dinner on the water
Day 4- Tuesday: Spent the day exploring beautiful Lagos and Ponta de Piedade cliffs, took a boat to see the famous caves, took sunset engagement photos of Carla and Max
Day 5- Wednesday: West Coast Lagos hike along the most western point of Europe! Absolute highlight of the trip. Do this if you do nothing else!
Day 6- Thursday: Relaxing on the beach, ate at Bahia Beach bar, more exploring the area (there are tons of places to stop off the road with gorgeous views), dinner at 11 pm at Casinha do Petisco
Day 7- Friday: Drive to Lisbon airport (2.5 hrs) to pick up Mom and Dad, exchange rental car for bigger van, drive to Douro Valley (3hrs) along tiny winding roads, check into Airbnb/hotel, dinner at waterfront hotel
Stay here- Unfortunately, the apartment we stayed in is no longer available on Airbnb, but this is where it was located. Highly recommend the location.
Do this- West Coast Lagos Hike, Ponta de Piedade cliffs, walk the streets downtown
Note- I expected Lagos to be a popular, crowded beach spot, but we arrived to an almost silent little town on the water. The flowers were overwhelming and I went on many walks just to photograph them. We really liked staying 10 minutes outside of the main town where we could easily walk to the cliff beaches and little restaurants, but also easily go downtown to meet our group for the hike and for dinners.
Porto & The Douro Valley: Day 8-11
Day 8- Saturday: Spent the day winding through the valley, tasting port and wine, and had dinner by the pool at our open-air Airbnb
Day 9- Sunday: Took the train to Porto for the day, did a port cave tour at Sandeman, returned to the valley and went to dinner at DOC for our final night
Day 10- Monday: Drove back to Lisbon, ate tons of seafood at Ramiro, stayed in the original Airbnb apartment (booked one in the same building for our parents) before our flight home the next day
Day 11- Tuesday: Packed up, went to breakfast, and rode scooters for fun until it was time to go to the airport 🙂
Eat here- DOC Restaurant in the valley