Down the Coast of Portugal: Porto, Aveiro, Batalha, Obidos, Sintra, and Lisbon
In October I was fortunate enough to take a week long trip with my mom down the coast of Portugal, starting in Porto and ending in Lisbon. My mom and I are both incredibly organized people that love to plan things, so we got a lot done in the small amount of time we were there. Here, I will outline the activities we did and what we decided you must see in each city!
Porto has some of the most incredible churches I've ever seen, in part because of how they are decorated on the outside; Porto is known for their tiled houses, and their churches are no exception. My favorites in this city were Igreja do Carmo and Igreja de Santo Ildefonso, pictured below.
2. Ribeira Square and the surrounding area
This area made the trip for me. Not only is the square very cute, but it offers great views of the water and the town, is right next to the Ponte Luis I bridge and the Funicular, and you can get a cheap boat ride from here where they will tell you about all the bridges that you pass and the history of the buildings and neighborhoods along the water. When we came here we also started from Rua Santa Catarina, which is worth a mention, and it was wonderful walking down from the top of the bridge to the square. I would also recommend getting some roasted chestnuts while you're there!
3. To Eat!
My mom is vegan and I am gluten free, so sometimes we have some troubles finding places to eat but this city did not disappoint.
For breakfast or lunch I would suggest MANNA Porto. I got an amazing hazlenut chocolate pancake and my mom got a great looking savory crepe. This place is next to some seriously cute shops too, such as Mercado 48.
For dinner you MUST go to Remedio Santo. I think about this food all the time. It's all vegan but don't let that deter you; I got a traditional Portuguese dish called Bacalhau à Brás that tasted like seafood and was just incredible. The desserts were also to die for and the owner was so kind. I hope someday I can go back here.
1. Gondola Boat Ride
Here's another city where I would highly recommend taking an hour long boat tour. During the ride they will take you through the canals and tell you all about Aveiro's history of salt production and why all of their houses are tiled.
This city is easily walkable and I would suggest just exploring the little city without a destination in mind. Make sure to take photos of your favorite tile facades and the gondolas going by in the canals.
3. To Eat
You'd be surprised to know that this little town has a restaurant with a Michelin star; Salpoente. We didn't get to try it but only heard good things from the locals.
We did go to a restaurant called Musgo that was incredible and super accommodating. This is another local favorite.
And so is Cha & Bolachas. The owner of this cafe is so kind and had such great options for both lunch and dessert. The cakes and pies here were to die for and we had some of the most amazing oat milk cappuccinos here as well. I wish I could go back!
4. Just Outside of Aveiro
If you have a car here make sure you make your way to Coasta Nova for a bit. Here you will find the town's famous striped houses and a lovely beach walk.
We only went through Batalha briefly, but the Monastery makes this town an excellent place to stop.
This was another town we only passed through but it was so sweet and had some great places to eat and great people watching as well. Ferrel is a little surf town very close to Obidos and has a very youthful vibe. We particularly liked sitting upstairs at the Kirana Cafe.
We spent one night in this town and loved every second of it. Obidos is a traditional stone-walled city on a hill with sweet white buildings, decorated with bright details and flowers. There is also a pousada, or castle, at the top that you can stay in. This is one of those towns where you just have to walk around to get the full experience. And make sure to try some cherry liqueur in a chocolate cup!
We only spent a day in Sintra and wish we had spent several. All of the castles and the town's architecture was amazing and the nature was just as beautiful.
1. The Park and Palace of Monserrate
This was unfortunately the only palace we were able to make it to in our short time in the city but it was well worth it. The park surrounding the palace was gorgeous and the palace itself felt like it fell out of a fairytale with its pink coloring and elegant details.
If you can make it, also make sure you go to Quinta de Regaleira (look up photos, it looks incredible). We couldn't find parking in town so we skipped it, but I hope to go back and see it some day.
2. To Eat
My best recommendation for eating in Sintra is Flores do Cabo. Apart from the food being good the restaurant was also beautiful and doubles as an art gallery.
1. Portas Do Sol Terrace
This terrace had everything. You can get a drink or some small bites to eat, you can check out the antique stores, get great views of the city and the water, and watch trolly cars go by. Plus, the surrounding area is very cute and worth a stroll around the neighborhood.
2. Calcada de Sao Vicente
This is a stop in the Alfama neighborhood, famous for being the oldest part of Lisbon and for the trams going through the thin cobbled streets.
3. Praca Dom Pedro IV Square
This is the central square of Lisbon and it shows. With a large fountain in the center, tiled ground, and great views of the surrounding hills and houses, it's no wonder this is on everyone's must-see list for Lisbon.
4. To Eat
All the food we had in Lisbon was excellent but two places in particular stand out to me.
First is Ao26, a vegan restaurant in the Alfama neighborhood. While you eat your incredible vegan cheese platter or curry you can watch trams go past the windows and enjoy the art all over the walls.
The second is Horacio Trattoria, an Italian restaurant near the water with the kindest staff and nice outdoor seating.