Spending one week in Portugal for our first anniversary still feels like a dream! It always feels that way when we get to travel somewhere together that we’ve both never visited before. I came across Portugal while researching budget anniversary destinations and it just kept coming up, so I decided to look at airfare just for fun and a HOT DEAL on Royal Air Maroc came up for $400 each roundtrip to Lisbon. Ahh!! We couldn’t say no once we saw that! Every blog post I was reading made Portugal sound so beautiful and like such a fun place to explore, so it all kinda just became official all in one night! Neither of us knew much about Portugal at all, so I ordered a travel guide, bookmarked a few pages online and started learning Portuguese. We were so excited to explore this country for a whole week!
I debated splitting the trip between two locations in the north and south of the country, but after all of my research I got a little overwhelmed and decided it might be best to just settle down in Lisbon for the week and decide where we wanted to go every day. We rented a car through Europcar and that was a pretty budget-friendly experience, save for the $200 upgrade to the automatic BMW (almost everything is manual in Portugal, and driving the windy, hilly streets of Lisbon in a manual didn’t sound like the best idea) and the toll fees we incurred traveling throughout the week. We almost spent more on transportation within the country than we did getting to the country! The Airbnb we booked was in the Alfama district, which was a lovely and quaint area that still boasts the street layout from medieval times. It was so romantic and charming. We would highly recommend it for couples staying in Lisbon, just be prepared for your apartment to be quite cozy! It was about a 20 minute walk to the city center, but everything we needed was in Alfama 5 minutes from our doorstep, including plenty of fado bars and yummy restaurants and coffee shops. I miss it so much!
One Week In Portugal: 7 Day Itinerary
- Day 1: Lisbon (Alfama, Castelo de Sao Jorge, Rua Augusta, Rossio Square)
- Day 2: Beach day in Cascais, Praia do Guincho, and sunset at Cabo da Roca
- Day 3: National Palace of Queluz, Sintra, and sunset at Azenhas do Mar
- Day 4: The Algarve (Praia Dona Ana, No Solo Agua Beach Club)
- Day 5: Lisbon, Winery in Alentejo (Jose Maria da Fonseca), sunset in Sesimbra
- Day 6: Obidos and Nazare
- Day 7: Lisbon
If you ever find yourself in Portugal, here are a few things you just have to experience! Pastais de nata are a famous custard pastry cup that is so delicious! The port wine (dessert wine) is incredible as is ALL the wine, especially the tinto! Bread, cheese, and olives to start a meal are a necessity and no morning is complete without a cappuccino. You have to try a seafood dish, especially cod, at some point because it’s so fresh! Keep your eyes open for the traditional azulejo tiles that Portugal is known for. They’re beautiful!
Without further adieu, here are the MANY photos we took on our trip… complete with commentary! Be sure to check out our highlight video, too!
A little azulejo tile shop! So amazing!
We walked to Castelo de Sao Jorge and took in the view! There was WINE!!
I loved seeing these purple trees all over Lisbon!
More tiles! Just a little collage sampling several of the hundreds of designs we saw…
Then we explored the city center! The Chiado district is lovely for shopping!
Enjoying another potato and cheese… thing… :)
Walking towards Rua Augusta Arch, where sailors and merchants used to enter the city from the water!
Day 2… off to Cascais! It was about an hour drive and it was just beautiful! I loved the resort feel of the town.
We heard about Praia do Guincho and knew we had to check it out! It was truly stunning! Photos can’t capture how MASSIVE this beach was… it was quite the walk out to those rocks halfway down the shore!
We drove to Cabo da Roca to watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean, and it was so beautiful. Seriously once in a lifetime experience.
Then we were hungry for dinner so we grabbed some sushi! SO GOOD!!
Another morning, another cuppa coffee… ;)
Queluz was STUNNING!! I felt like I was at a mini Versailles… which makes sense, because that’s what this royal residence was modeled after! It was supposed to be “like a birthday cake.”
We grabbed some lunch in Old Town Sintra (so quaint and charming!) before heading up to the castle!
Quinta da Regaleira is full of occult references, including the initiatic well that was made to represent the seven levels of hell… it was fun (albeit a little creepy) to explore!
Here we have National Palace of Pena, which reminded me of something I would see in a lego store. It was so bright and colorful and unique!
The Moorish castle! There is so much to explore in Sintra… we could have easily spent two days here!
We ended our Sintra day at Azenhas do Mar, which was also absolutely breathtaking. We walked down and had dinner in the cove and it was unreal. Lobster and white wine… yes please!
Another beautiful sunset… loving life!
The next day we explored the Algarve, which was, once again, breathtaking! This entire country is full of so much color and character. The southern coast is the most beachy/resort-like and you could see why this area is a popular destination for Europeans on holiday!
Praia Dona Ana!! Just stunning! I feel like I’ve seen this on a computer background before! Haha
We went to a beachfront bar called No Solo Agua that had some AMAZING drinks. They played such fun music too! I can imagine it is quite the popular place on the weekends!!
Then the next day, we explored a little more of Lisboa! More tiles!
Then the sun came out and we headed to the Alentejo region to visit a WINERY! It was called Jose Maria da Fonseca. It has been around for over one hundred years! They have wines preserved in oak casks from the first year it was open. The only year they didn’t produce a wine was during World War II! So crazy to think about!
Our favorite wine, the Moscatel!
Then we headed to Sesimbra for dinner! A cute little seaside town.
Above is coffee as dessert at dinner… and below is coffee at breakfast at our Campo de Santa Clara spot that we loved at the top of the hill by our apartment! I had so many croissants with nutella!!
We headed to Obidos on our last full day in Portugal. It was INCREDIBLE. It is a walled-in city that has houses and buildings painted all different colors with chalk. We figured out it was chalk when some rubbed off on my shoulder! Lol
Obidos is known for its cherry liqueur served in little chocolate cups. That’s the Ginja Chocolate sign you see!
We thought it was a wedding… it was just people waiting to get into church service!
Meanwhile we grabbed another glass of wine!! I miss it!
We climbed up the old castle/fortress in Obidos and I felt like I was stepping back in time!
SO MANY FLOWERS! May is the perfect time to go to Portugal.
One. Last. Breakfast in Santa Clara!
And one last picture with our beloved BMW! Justin loved driving this all around the country and we’re so glad we got it!
One Week In Portugal: A Few More Tips
- Make sure you go before summer holiday season begins! We went in late May!
- We booked an Airbnb that was only $40 a night (which was AMAZING!!) but it was definitely the authentic Portuguese experience! It was TINY! In hindsight, we would spend a little more to get something slightly larger!
- Be prepared to spend quite a bit of money on food. It’s just SO good, you won’t want to eat in. We would spend about $15 each per meal… not including coffee/wine/beer (which is all very cheap)!
- If you have a gluten allergy like me, you might find the bread to be just fine in Europe… it didn’t bother me at all! I ate ALLL the bread and pasta and it was amazing. They process the wheat differently!
- Buy a guide book! We used an Eye Witness travel one, both for Lisbon and for Portugal all together. There are a lot of little nuances about the country that you might not know otherwise, like how olives and cheese and meats and bread brought at the beginning of a meal will cost you money (they aren’t complimentary, and it adds up)! :)
- When flying abroad, make sure to double check if you have an electronics ban for the countries you are traveling through or to. Because we traveled through Casablanca, we had VERY strict measures on what we could carry on the plane… hence why I didn’t bring my professional camera! Justin couldn’t even take his GO PRO in his backpack. He had to check it!
- Overall, Portugal is a budget-friendly destination because airfare and accommodations are affordable as are the excursions and general price of food and drink once you get there. However, if you’re anything like us, you’ll get there and splurge on a bottle of fancy wine at dinner or the BMW car upgrade because you got such a steal getting to and staying in Portugal. It’s the best of both worlds!