I come from Portugal, and I get asked a lot what to do and see in a short visit. Here is my standard, outdated spiel. If you have more time and want to see the real stuff, ask my dad.
My map of cool places in Lisbon: http://goo.gl/maps/MMsb8
– train: www.cp.pt
– bus: www.rede-expressos.pt (national, faster, wifi)
– in Lisbon and Porto there’s good metro.
– there are also local bus networks in some regions (eg Alentejo)
1) Near Lisbon
*city* (see map)
– Alfama (old city, there are some nice Fado places)
– Parque das Nações, including Oceanário
– Belém (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, CCB)
– Bairro alto (to go out)
– Rossio / Chiado / baixa (our Bahnhofstrasse)
– Castelo de São Jorge
– Martin Moniz (multicultural area, my favourite; great restaurants like the Mozambican Cantinho do Aziz and the vegan Food Temple)
– Sintra: the place is just magical, with hills with gardens, castles and palaces. The beaches are also very nice. If you could only visit one place in Portugal, it should be Sintra.
– Tróia: my dad told me once that they have amazing ‘secret’ beaches there/
– Centro Cultural de Belém (CCB), em Belém (most exhibitions are for free, also has concerts, theatre, etc.)
– Gulbenkian (in the centre of Lisbon, has a museum and very nice gardens, sometimes concerts and other cultural events)
2) Near Porto
– Palácio de Cristal
– Torre dos Clérigos (climb up)
– Caves de vinho do Porto (em Gaia)
– Rua de Santa Catarina (Bahnhofstrasse)
– If you walk around on the narrow streets near Cedofeita you’ll see
loads of street art.
– There is the café Galerias de Paris, which has the best breakfast
for 1.5€. At night it becomes a nice bar.
– shop A Vida Portuguesa.
– Port wine cellars in Gaia, by the river (Ribeira de Gaia). Just
cross the bridge over Douro.
– Vegetarian restaurant Nakite
– Foz, Castelo do Queijo (seaside)
– Palácio de Cristal (gardens, great view over Douro)
– Serralves (museum + gardens)
– the little Douro train
– Serra do Gerês
– Parque Biológico de Gaia
– there are boats that go up the Douro
– Piolho (pub where all students congregate, near Torre dos Clérigos)
and then there are lots of bars, pubs and clubs nearby, just follow the crowd.
I also like Maus Hábitos. But I haven’t been cool in years.
In case of danger, just say ‘O Porto é uma nação!’
(with the northern accent it should sound something like ‘Oo Puooerto é
– Tavira is very nice
– Avoid Monte Gordo, Albufeira and ‘big’ places in general (sorry, I don’t know much of Algarve!)
– Parque Natural da Ria Formosa
– Tróia is, technically, in Alentejo
– Porto Covo
– Zambujeira do Mar (music festival there in summer)
if you have a car and happen to go near Beja, Évora or Portalegre,
there are very nice castles (Marvão, for instance) and Roman ruins.
5) Other cities
Coimbra is very old and very nice. It has the oldest university of the country (500 years), and a great academic tradition. Don’t miss the Tunas (students singing).
Aveiro, where I studied, is a nice little town. Cross the bridge to the windy beaches and the tall lighthouse, and from there take the ferry to Parque Natural das Dunas de São Jacinto.
Further north, Braga and Guimarães are also nice, though I don’t know them well. The nature there is much greener than near Lisbon, Alentejo and Algarve. Ponte de Lima is adorable, and has great hiking trails, with lakes, rivers, forest and natural pools.
Not very far from Coimbra you find Serra do Luso, which is lovely.
There are some hidden waterfalls where one can bathe. Good luck.
In the regions of Trás-os-Montes and Beira Interior there are sweet stone villages, like Monsanto, and rocky hills.
… The food is universally good. You’ll be fine. You’ll return home crying for more Portuguese food and asking me for recipes. I will tell you I don’t know any and you will be forced to return.
Even if the restaurant doesn’t offer vegan options, you can always negotiate something with the staff. In many small traditional restaurants they won’t believe that vegetables can make a meal, so out of concern they’ll bring you lots of food and charge you very little. Beware of soups, as they normally have some meat.
– try the bread of Alentejo. They usually call it just ‘pão de quilo’
– the traditional bread up north is very different but also nice. It’s called ‘broa’
– in Alentejo, there is ‘migas’ and ‘açorda’
– there is very good wine in Alentejo, Porto and Douro.
Near Lisbon: Carcavelos and Caparica
Nice beach: Ericeira
Crazy waves: Nazaré
There’s more to the south (Alentejo), but I don’t know it so well.
For stuff that’s happening (concerts, theatre, festivals, etc) there is this website: http://lazer.publico.pt/