It’s been just over 6 months since by first ever trip to Portugal and I have no idea why it has taken me this long to write about it. My week long Portuguese adventure introduced me to so many of Portugal’s best sites, as well as a nightly party for my taste buds. Peri Peri chicken I’m looking at YOU!
Having lived in Ireland most of my life, Portugal was never really on my radar. For family holidays we would always choose France or Spain, along with the rest of the population of Ireland! in fact the only reason I went to Portugal in the first place was that I received a kind invite my The Surf Office, a cool co-working space in Lisbon perfect for digital nomads like myself. Unlike most co-working spaces, The surf Office offers co-living too so I actually shared a beautiful city centre apartment with a few other nomads for 3 days.
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“Work is better when you surf.” Wise words from @surfoffice in Lisbon where I have been staying for the past 4 nights. It’s a super cool co-living and co-working space where #digitalnomads can come and stay for a few days combining work with a bit of surf! Sad to be leaving Lisbon today…it has been such fun week and I am excited to check out Faro.
From the narrow, cobblestone streets that wind their way up insanely steep hills, to the trams that loop their way around the city and the beautiful old Funicular that will take you to the top of Lisbon’s steepest hill – it’s a bit like exploring a real-life fairytale. For more fun things to do in Lisbon, check out these unique experiences.
Rode this ancient tram (operating since 1885!) on the steepest hill in Lisbon today. I was the only tourist on it…and the only person under 70!! I’m actually unsure if this is a tram or a funicular …but either way it’s beautiful! Was a fun experience and snapped some great pics from the top. Looking forward to taking the famous Tram 28 tomorrow which goes all the way around the old town. A photo posted by Janet Newenham (@janetnewenham) on
There are so many cute cafes and restaurants, with the bars on the aptly named Pink Street some of my favourites. I loved how you could walk for hours and never get bored, stumbling upon secret Asian restaurants operated out of people’s houses (the intense smells would entice you in!) or hole-in-the-wall bakeries selling traditional custard tarts (pasteis de nata in Portuguese).
I’m not normally a fan of uploading indoor photos on my Instagram (read as: this is something I have NEVER done) but I am SO impressed by this personalized and delicious welcome treat I found on my bed at the @surfoffice in Lisbon that I simply had to share. Apparently these custard tarts are a local delicacy and it’s not hard to see why. They are melt in your mouth delicious. A photo posted by Janet Newenham (@janetnewenham) on
My favourite place to eat my a long shot was the sprawling Time Out Market,where you could turn up every night for a month and eat a different cuisine! Despite being in Portugal, I was a little obsessed with the Japanese Gyozas they cooked there – I met have ate some every day.
We all know the world is TINY, so it was no surprise that I bumped into not one but two people I know while in Lisbon. One was a Dutch friend who I knew from my days studying in Groningen, and one was a friend from Dublin who was in Lisbon helping his company get set up for a large tech conference happening in the city in November. It was amazing to have friendly faces to show me around and introduce me to some of the most unique bars I’ve ever had the pleasure of stepping inside. I’m the worst blogger in the world though as I can’t remember the names of them – I just remember one was above another bar on the infamous Pink Street while the others were all in the main bar district, an area where you can’t go wrong finding a good party!
Lisbon, where even the colour of the streets bring a smile to your face. This is the cutest little bar on Pink Street (which has to be the best street name ever!) which is full to the brim with cans of tuna. I literally have no idea why but apparently the Portuguese have a strange fascination with cans of tuna. They are everywhere!! A photo posted by Janet Newenham (@janetnewenham) on
My second stop on my mini tour of Portugal was the southern city of Faro. While a lot quieter than Lisbon (in Winter at least, I hear the Algarve really comes alive during the summer as it’s a popular destination for package tourists from Ireland. In January, however, I had the entire city to myself. The plus side of this was that there were no queues for tourist sites, no groups standing in the way of my photos and the price of accommodation was much lower than in high season. However, many of the bars and restaurants were closed by 10pm so it was a bit lonely roaming the streets alone with not much to do.
I loved exploring the old castle, where the streets are lined with orange trees and there are cute cafes and restaurants to be discovered around every corner. I was offered to take a boat trip but wasn’t feeling it, something I would later regret for sure! Faro is a pretty small city, you probably don’t need more than a day to see everything if i’m honest.
Old town, Faro. A photo posted by Janet Newenham (@janetnewenham) on
On my second day in Faro I was up out of bed super early and headed to one of the Algarve’s beautiful beaches, right next to the Ria Formosa National Park, famous for its’ Flamingo population! The beach was totally empty bar a few brave surfers attempting to ride some seriously big waves. Luckily the sun was still warm, with January temperatures averaging a very pleasant 18 degrees, so I just spent a few hours walking along the beach and stopping off for a nice glass of wine. A habit I’ve got into in almost every country I go to!
Love Portugal. ❤ A photo posted by Janet Newenham (@janetnewenham) on
My biggest regret on this trip was that I didn’t get to visit my friend Susana, a travel blogger who lives in Porto (her site is all about travel in Portugal – a great resource if you’re heading that way! Porto is the one city I didn’t get to visit, but I guess that’s a great excuse to return again some time!
Further reading: 5 things NOT to do in Portugal