Exclusive travel tips on where to go in Portugal by our travel blogger Monelle Chiti
Monelle Chiti is a popular Travel and Lifestyle blogger and influencer from Italy and she wrote for us an exclusive travel diary dedicated to one of the hottest summer destinations of the moment, Portugal! Enjoy it!
My trip to Portugal, Travel Diary by Monelle Chiti
Portugal. Here I am to tell you all about my travel experience in this wonderful country and to share with you my whole journey through mine and Marco's pictures, as well as some precious advices on the best places to visit in Portugal.
We spent ten days among incredible beaches, cities, a crazy ocean and many other beautiful experiences, as well as having eaten the best fresh fish in the world. Here is the story of my trip to Portugal!
Among the many available accommodations we have chosen a hostel in the center of Lisbon very convenient to be able to explore the whole city, the Hub Lisbon Patio Hostel. The breakfast area, the entrance and the relax room on the first floor were so nice, colorful and welcoming, with lots of poufs and sofas where to talk or have a coffee and a real Portuguese style decor that made us feel completely at home. Our room instead was simple, but well furnished with a balcony in pure modern style that overlooked the inner patio of the hostel.
You should know that not all hostels have rooms shared with unknown people; it is also possible to book private rooms for two (with two single beds or one double bed) in complete privacy and comfort and with a private bathroom included. Marco and I in fact opted for this solution, but still making friends with many guys at breakfast time, which is also the good part of staying in a hostel, but still enjoying the privacy of having a room for us and not spending crazy sums like being in a hotel.
--> Read also: 5 reasons for couples to choose a hostel
Travel to Portugal: all the most beautiful places to see
Now it's time to start the story of our ten days around Portugal.
Once again we relied on RyanAir, since there's a direct flight from Orio al Serio airport - close to Bergamo. After about three hours of flight we arrived in Lisbon where we found a summer climate (34 degrees) to welcome us...not bad considering we left Italy with a rainy weather and 10 degrees! We spent the first 4 days discovering the Portuguese capital, Lisbon.
Lisbon is the westernmost European capital (islands excluded) and the only capital to overlook on the Atlantic Ocean. The city is located in the western part of the Iberian Peninsula and is crossed by the Tagus River. It's also considered a global city for its importance in art, commerce, publishing and tourism. Exploring the city far and wide has been really amazing and among the many attractions we have visited here you have the four that I liked most:
1. LX Factory
Former industrial site from the late 1800s, it is located in the Alcântara district and is the most interesting cultural center of the city. Creative forge and meeting place among the most appreciated by the Lisboeta people, it's a huge multipurpose space with artisan shops, workshops, restaurants and bars. We also explored it inside where I suggest you take a ride during the weekend when the offices will be closed so that you can appreciate the enormous spaces and the mood of a former Berlin-style factory.
2. St. Jorge Castle
Thanks to the Tourist Board of Portugal I had a press pass to visit this wonderful castle that stands on the site of the acropolis. The ancient city that dominates the Alfama, the most inhabited quarter of the city, is the only one of the old city that survived the earthquake. This fortress, one of the main historical and tourist sites of the city, is located on the highest hill in the historic center. The human occupation of the castle hill dates back to at least the 8th century BC, while the first fortifications built date back to the 1st century BC. The place is really very beautiful and in the main garden there are many peacocks that run quietly between people. Imagine what a great time for someone like me who loves animals.
3. Belém Tower
Here is the place where Vasco de Gama left to conquer the empire; this fortified tower is located in a beautiful neighborhood of the city and is a UNESCO World Heritage site that played a key role in the era of Europe's discoveries as it served both as a fortress and as a port from where Portuguese explorers left for to establish what would have been the first European trade in history with China and India. The places that surround it are really dreamlike, like a giant park in front of the tower (where you can relax and read a book) and a port area where we stopped to see fishermen
4. Cristo Rei + Ponte 25 de Abril
One of the most incredible places that I enjoyed most in Lisbon, more precisely in Almada, since it's located on the left bank of the Tagus river, just in front of the city of Lisbon: a place where on one side it seemed to be in Brazil, on the other in Puglia (with olive trees everywhere) and on the other in San Francisco. The Cristo Rei is in fact the minor reproduction of Christ the Redeemer located in Rio de Janeiro, erected as a thank you for Portugal's lack of involvement in World War II; certainly the tallest monument I've ever seen (103 meters high).
In front of the monument you can see in the distance the "Ponte 25 de Abril", a suspension bridge over the Tagus river estuary that connects the capital to the city of Almada. Of imposing appearance, the steel construction extends for almost 2 kms and has a 3-lane highway in the upper part and a railway line in the lower one. The bridge was built by the American Bridge Company, the same company that took care of the construction of the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, to which, precisely, it is inspired.
Among the squares to be seen instead I suggest Placa do Rossio and Placa do Comercio, as Pink Street, a super-colored street like the pink pavement in the city center and Barrio Alto and Alfama as neighborhoods (which you can go along on Tram 28).
Another day we decided to explore the Pena Palace (or Palacio da Pena), a palace/castle located in the hills of the Portuguese city of Sintra. The building is under the protection of Unesco from which it was included in the World Heritage Site (like all the historic center of Sintra) in 1995 and on 7 July 2007 it was elected one of the 7 wonders of Portugal. Ferdinand II of Portugal ordered the construction of the palace in 1836; the building ended in 1885 (year of the king's death) and the palace was opened to the public after the proclamation of the Republic in 1910, that is to say once it became the property of the state. Inside it is a real show with gigantic hall and furnishings in pure nineteenth-century style. I was enchanted by it!
One of the best moments of our trip, however, was in Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Europe, a marvelous cliff overlooking the ocean that the poet Luis Vaz de Camoes defined like this: "Here where the land ends and the sea begins". We stopped to watch an incredible sunset and a beautiful lighthouse dating back to the eighteenth century. If you go to Portugal you can't miss this place.
The remaining days we've been around Nazarè, in the incredible and deserted Praia do Norte (where there are the highest waves in Europe), Peniche, a marvelous kilometer and kilometer long beach and Senhora da Hora (north of island). In all these beaches there was only me and Marco considering that we were in the center of Portugal (usually all tourists go to the beaches near the cities), it was not high season yet and we went during the week. We appreciate the wild and deserted beaches, but if instead you are looking for things that are easier to reach and more touristy, we have also been to Costa de Caparica, Boca do Inferno (another crazy cliff overlooking the sea) and Cascais (where we ate in a great restaurant - Caffè Italia).
Last but not least and for sure worthy of mention, we have been in Porto, where we spent the last days of our vacation (and then departed by plane to Bergamo). Porto is a colorful, open city, with friendly people and beautifully painted walls (don't miss Half Habbit, a council made of murals made with rubbish) and palaces characterized by celestial ceramics. The city can be visited quietly on foot and I advise you to do so to fully enjoy the essence of the city made of murals, colorful buildings and a very beautiful harbor area.
I hope you have found this my travel diary useful and that you can be inspired if you plan to organize a trip to Portugal!
If our Monelle Chiti's travelogue in Portugal has turned on your wanderlust, why not start by discovering our top 8 must-see cities in Portugal? From Coimbra, city of students, to Peniche with its famous shore, there is only the embarrassment of the choice! If you already have clear ideas and you just have to decide where to sleep in Portugal, here we show you why staying in a hostel in Lisbon is not only the cheapest choice ... but also the coolest one!
* Thanks to Monelle Chiti for these amazing photos of her journey
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