Portugal is always a good idea: Lisbon & Sintra.
"I could live here!" How often have you said that? I have said it a couple of times during my travels but i only meant it when i met Portugal. After spending 9 days in this amazing country, i fell deeply in love with its vibrant capital, Lisbon and got swept off my feet by Sintra's enchanting castles and stunning palaces!
And just when i thought i had seen the best of Portugal, i met charming Porto, located North of Lisbon. Porto gave me the most divine food & wine experience and an unforgettable taste of its endearing beauty. My last stop was Lagos, located South of Lisbon. I knew this place was going to be a sun drenched beach haven but i honestly didn't expect to see so many insanely beautiful beaches all in one place! The sheer size and panoramic views of the wild beaches with its spectacular rock formations were just epic!
Portugal, you are such a generous beauty.
Here are some of my favourite snapshots from my solo summer trip to Portugal:
1. LISBON / LISBOA
The Airbnb i stayed at in Lisbon has gorgeous views of the city from its little terrace. It's located on the 4th floor but the views you get will make you forget the walk up completely! My stay here also came with a delicious complimentary breakfast buffet. But the best thing about this Airbnb is its super central location! It's very well connected to all the main sights, bars and restaurants plus the metro/bus/tram services are just minutes away!
Price: SGD 55 per night. Check out this Airbnb here.
Lisbon is a hilly city with quaint alleyways at every turn. Just about everywhere you go, the footpaths will be cobbled with the same white stones. Every now and then, the clattering trams will make an appearance next to you. If you decide not to take the trams or metro and walk more (like i did), you will get Wonder Woman's thighs in just 2 days.
Ideally, it would be great to have 1 week to fully experience the museums and monuments in Lisbon. Since i only had 3 days here, i had to ration my time well at the sights i visited. During summer, be prepared for the extra long queues at popular sights. I skipped the queue for the Jeronimos Monastery (above) and sat at a bench located right in front of it to soak it all in with an apple.
Lisbon has a very good metro network that connects well with the bus & tram stations and it's very easy to navigate around here. If you get lost, just ask a local. The Portuguese are incredibly friendly and most of them can speak English! Do remember to say "thank you" in Portuguese - A man should say "Obrigado!" and a woman should say "Obrigada!"
I was super lucky to have bumped into this food truck on the way to Belem! (This is what you get when you explore the city on foot!) The food truck is called Sabores Sobre and they serve mouthwatering hamburgers made with super fresh quality Ingredients served with craft beer brewed in Lisbon. You can tell that the Sabores Sobre crew is truly passionate about what they do!
You have to explore the Baixa District (Nearest metro: Rossio station), located at the centre of Lisbon. This was where i spent most of my time people watching after downing shots of the cherry liquor called Ginja from the Ginjinha bar!
Hello from Cabo da Roca (the westernmost point on the European mainland) ! I signed up with WE HATE TOURISM TOURS (love the name!) for a perfect day trip to Sintra & Cascais. The best part of my trip was meeting these two amazing girls who are solo travelers themselves & exchanging our travel stories! Thanks to them, i discovered Mercado da Ribeira which i will talk about below.
For dinner, you MUST head to Mercado da Ribeira. You will be spoiled by the incredible number of options for great food & wine in this food court surrounded by stalls run by top chefs! From seafood to steaks, sushi, desserts and out-of-this-world figs, the food here is DIVINE and reasonably priced. As a solo traveler, i felt super lucky to come here twice with great company and sample more Portuguese food!!
Monserrate Palace - This was the 1st palace i visited in Sintra during my day trip out of Lisbon with WE HATE TOURISM TOURS. According to them, this is the least touristy & one of the most beautiful palaces in Sintra. It is the smallest of Sintra's 3 palaces and is considered to be a unique example of the eclectic spirit of the 19th century. Look at its gorgeous facade!
Blown away by the extravagantly decorated interiors influenced by Portuguese, Indian and Arabian architectural styles. I would have loved to spend at least half a day at the Monserrate Palace grounds.
Since the day trip from Lisbon only enabled me to cover Sintra briefly, i decided to spend 2 nights here. I was on a mission to fully explore the castles and palaces here! Getting here from Lisbon is super easy & inexpensive - Sintra is less than an hour train ride away from Lisbon. For details on my Airbnb accommodation in Sintra, click here.
My 1 Euro worth of fuel for my palace and castle hopping to come.
On the grounds of the great Palacio Da Pena! (45 min walk from my Airbnb) Don't you think this palace looks like it was straight out of a fairytale? The eclectic architecture is truly a wonder to behold! I was walking around the palace grounds imagining i was royalty.
The Palacio Da Pena is considered to be the greatest example of 19th-century romanticism in the world! Look at the choice of colours on its walls! Flamboyant indeed.
I promise this is the last picture of the Pena Palace and me. Moving on to the next castle...
One of my favourite castles in Sintra - The Castle of the Moors. This moorish castle is built on a hill with beautiful panoramic views of Sintra and Lisbon. I decided to walk here from my airbnb and what a 2 hour long workout it was! (Heads-up: It's a lovely uphill walk all the way as you can tell from the pic!) There was a french tourist walking downhill and as we crossed paths, he said "Bon Courage!" encouragingly with 2 thumbs up!
This Moorish castle was built around the 10th century by the muslim populations that occupied the Iberian peninsula. They definitely built one helluva military fort!
All smiles! After the 2 hour trek up, the walk down was such a treat!!
My last stop - Palacio De Seteais. The palace grounds was super quiet here and it was lovely to chill in its quiet surroundings and rest my feet. Just 1 tourist spotted. (That's him). I only realised after that this palace has been used as a luxury hotel since 1954. Lucky guests!
After a full day of palace & castle hopping, i treated myself to an early dinner! Pork with freshly fried potato cubes and clams in a pork broth recipe that originated from the North of Portugal + my newfound love (olives!).