If you’re planning your trip to the Algarve, the South of Portugal, holidays in Vilamoura can be a good choice. In our point of view, Vilamoura is one of the Algarve’s finest resort towns. If you go for holidays in Vilamoura, you’ll get so much more than just amazing beaches and a pleasant climate.
In the 80’s, Vilamoura was envisaged as an exclusive beach resort and elite golfing center. Today you can still feel this “exclusivity” as the town has matured into a modern and stylish holiday destination known for glorious golf courses, a trendy marina and outstanding tourist facilities.
Where to stay during your holidays in Vilamoura
We recommend you to stay within the modern marina development. In the Marina of Vilamoura you’ll be surrounded by charming restaurants, fancy cocktail bars and a chic nightlife.
In the Marina you’ll find some of the best things to do during your holidays in Vilamoura: boat tours and watersports. And from the Marina, it is only a short walk to the white sanded beaches.
Also, it’s only a short drive to the championship grade golf courses around Vilamoura. Vilamoura, and specially the Marina, has world class hotels and fine apartments.
The best thing to do in Vilamoura
Unforgettable boat tours and watersports
Most likely, your holidays in Vilamoura will mostly be spent around the Marina. Boasting a 1,000-berth marina, Vilamoura has a lot to offer in terms of boat tours and watersports!
For the ones who prefer a serene day out in the Atlantic, there are dolphin watching tours or coastal tours of a half or full day. There are super speedy jet boats and jet skis for the ones who are looking for an adrenaline boost. Sailing is also an option. Fishing tours in Vilamoura are also very popular, from shark fishing to family fishing tours.
In terms of watersports, how about enjoying a unique view over the Algarve while parasailing or you can go for the Action Pack and do several watersports with your friends for three hours.
Only a few minutes drive from the Marina of Vilamoura, you’ll find the five 18-hole golf courses that make Vilamoura one of the best locations for a golfing holiday in Portugal. Are you new to playing golf? This ultimate step-by-step guide for beginners may help you out 😉
In the Marina you’ll find agencies that rent quality clubs and provide transport to all of the major courses throughout the Algarve. There are five golf courses in Vilamoura:
Victoria (18holes – used for the Portugal Masters)
Pinhal (18holes Par 72)
The Old Course (18holes Par 73)
Millennium (18 holes Par 72)
Laguna (18holes Par 72).
All five golf courses are operated by the Oceanico Golf company. They have a worldwide reputation for the highest standards and excellent facilities.
Enjoy the beach
The beaches of Vilamoura are stunning. You’ll find soft white sands and crystal clear sea waters that are safe for families. You can enjoy and relax on the sun loungers while the water sports in Vilamoura (jet skis, banana boats and parasailing) will entertain “kids” of all ages.
There are two main beaches in Vilamoura:
Vilamoura Beach (or “Praia da Marina”) to the east of the Marina
Praia da Rocha Baixinha to the west of the Marina
Both of these beaches in Vilamoura have sun loungers to relax comfortably and lots of fun water sports to entertain the most active ones.
There are plenty of beach bars for delicious fresh meals and refreshments. There’s a third beach if you decide to spend your holidays in Vilamoura at the Tivoli Marina Vilamoura hotel. The Tivoli Vilamoura has a private Purobeach!
Have fun in waterparks
For the days that the ocean is too rough to enjoy a boat tour or do some watersports in Vilamoura, there are many alternatives. The Algarve is great for kids and teenagers, who will love Zoomarine (a marine park in Guia) or the waterparks of Aquashow and Slide and Splash (in Quarteira and Lagoa).
Taste local culture
Holidays in Vilamoura are also interesting for those wishing a more cultural holiday. Within a few minutes drive you could visit the historic city of Faro, the capital city of the Algarve. The market town of Loulé is also a nice day tour.
Who goes on holidays in Vilamoura?
Vilamoura is great for holidays with your family. There are many excellent family hotels and in the town children will be welcomed in all restaurants, cafes and shops. Large groups who are on stag/hen do’s or simply looking for a cheap drink holiday don’t usually pick Vilamoura. For this sort of holiday Albufeira is more adequate.
Given its modernity and exclusivity, some visitors may find Vilamoura devoid of Portuguese charm and character. This is compensated by its outstanding tourist facilities and services.
If you’re looking for a more traditional Portuguese holiday destination, we recommend the historic city of Lagos or the charming town of Tavira for example.
Are holidays in Vilamoura expensive?
Holidays in Vilamoura are not the cheapest destination in Portugal. Vilamoura is known for exclusivity, so is marginally more expensive than the other popular resort towns of the Algarve.
In fact, Vilamoura is popular among travelers who are looking for a refined and luxurious holiday destination, with a preference to quality over cost.
In Europe, Portugal is a comparatively inexpensive country. In general, food, accommodation and transport are much cheaper than many other established holiday destinations like the Balearic Islands or Greece.
For the season of 2017 Vilamoura is expecting a sell-out summer, following the success of 2016. So, to secure the best prices, we suggest to book accommodation, flights and other things to do far in advance.
Vilamoura has long warm summers. Spring and Autumn are pleasant and winters are mild but unpredictable. During the winter Vilamoura has an equal number of bright days as wet days.
The high season is from July through to August. During these months the beaches are packed and most hotels are sold out.
June and September tend to be popular months with couples. These months before and after the high season are outside the school holidays and you’ll find a Vilamoura without the hordes of children. Weather is usually still fantastic during these months.
To enjoy the beach during your holidays in Vilamoura, we recommend traveling from mid-May until mid-October. The two ends of the season provide great value with last minute accommodation deals and cheaper flights.
During the winter season, tourist facilities in Vilamoura close down to fully reopen for Easter.
Most restaurants and cafes in the marina complex stay open year round. However during the winter the region will feel very quiet excepting Christmas and New Year, when there is a lively atmosphere.
How to get to Vilamoura?
The closest airport to Vilamoura is the main airport of southern Portugal: Faro airport. Faro airport is located 25km to the west of Vilamoura.
Faro is a major airport with flights covering the whole of Europe. As the Algarve is a popular holiday destination during the summer time, there is frequently a shortage of seats/flights in the summer. So, we advice to always book well in advance to secure the best prices.
Unfortunately, there is very limited public transport from the airport to Vilamoura. The route requires two bus journeys and takes between 1.5-2hours depending on connections. That’s why most visitors pre-book a transfer.
Transfersfrom and to the airport can be a private transfer or shared (mini bus or coach), prices per person range from €50 for private to €25 for shared. Another option is of course to rent a car.
Holidays in Vilamoura are great if you’re looking for a real taste of Algarve luxury. Vilamoura is one of the biggest private tourism resorts in Europe and is know to be one of the most prestigious in Portugal. Even if you are not staying in Vilamoura during your holidays in the Algarve, it really is well worth a visit, just to see how much the Algarve has to offer.
Valentine’s Day is coming closer! Do you already have the perfect day planned for you and your beloved one? If not and you’re planning to be in Portugal, maybe we can help you plan the perfect romantic experience for Valentine’s Day in Portugal!
Around Portugal, from Noth to South, we’ve got lots of super romantic experiences in various destinations to choose from! We think that being out on the sea is always a special experience. On our most romantic experiences for Valentine’s Day in Portugal that extra portion of love is guaranteed!
Here are our most romantic experiences for Valentine’s Day in Portugal, so that you can just pick and choose whichever is closest to you!
No surprise that one of the most romantic experiences in the Algarve is a sunset tour! We think this private sunset boat tour in Portimão is simply perfect to enjoy together with your loved one. On board, the motorboat is only your private skipper, who will take you to the most impressive and beautiful places along the coast!
The famous rock formations of Benagil look the most beautiful during the most magical hour of the day. This private sunset boat tour in Portimão is simply one of the most romantic experiences in the Algarve! And by the way, many people already made a proposal during this tour!
A visit to the cave of Benagil is always a good idea!
For more active lovers, this beautiful SUP Tour in Benagil is the best one of the most romantic experiences in the Algarve! The famous grotto of Benagil is famous worldwide, and being able to see this natural artwork in real life is always a great experience.
You can also book this SUP Tour in Benagilprivately, to make it even more romantic! Your guide will make sure you have a great time while paddling through the amazing grottos of the Algarve. During this SUP Tour in Benagil, you and your special person will be amazed by the beauty of the coastline!
Cruising along the Tagus River during sunset, admiring the impressive skyline of Lisbon on board of a sailing boat – seriously, can you imagine anything more romantic than this?? This private sunset tour in Lisbon is by far one of the most romantic experiences in Lisbon!
On board of a sailing boat, you will be able to admire the most important tourist attractions of Lisbon, like 25th of April Bridge, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos and the majestic Jerónimos Monastery. These sights look even more beautiful in the enchanting colors during sunset! You and your loved one can relax on the deck, enjoy the view and have great quality time together!
Another one of our most romantic experiences in Lisbon is a great option if your beloved one likes dolphins. This dolphin watching in Setúbal is only a 40min drive from the Portuguese capital city. Seeing these magical animals in their natural habitat is such a unique feeling, and sharing this moment with your favourite person will connect you even more!
Imagine yourself sitting with your girlfriend or boyfriend on board of a beautiful catamaran, sailing along the amazing coastline of Setúbal. In the distance, you see the first splashes, and as you get closer you see a whole pack of happy and free dolphins! This experience is simply beautiful and thus one of the most romantic experiences in Lisbon! And we have another smaller catamaran available for a private dolphin tour if you prefer that!
Wherever you and your partner spend Valentine’s Day in Portugal together, we hope we could give you some inspiration with our most romantic experienced for this special day!
Madeira is a perfect holiday destination the whole year round. We’ll share the some tips to take the most out of your holidays on the island and enjoy the best things to do on Madeira.
Madeira is one of the archipelagos of Portugal. The archipelago is composed by two inhabited islands, Madeira and Porto Santo, and a few islands where no people live on. The capital of this autonomous region is Funchal.
The islands of Madeira and Porto Santo are characterized by a warm subtropical climate all year round. Madeira is very popular for active travellers who like outdoor experiences like hiking or running in the mountains, playing golf or water activities like surf, SUP, kayak and boat tours.
We went to visit the Portuguese island to check out the best things to do on Madeira and share them with you.
Reaching Madeira is very easy and affordable. The airport has only one terminal and you can easily find your way to the public transport or rent-a-cars.
Flights are very affordable. From Portugal, TAP has been doing some great discounts. Flights by TAP from Lisbon or Porto to Funchal start at €47. If you’re flying from the UK, for example, there are several airlines that operate to Madeira: easyJet, British Airways, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways. Return flights from the UK from December to March will only cost you 65£ to 74£, while from June to September these fares can double.
At your arrival you can either chose to use public transport or rent a car. We decided to rent a car. We believe this is in fact the best way to explore the island. It allows you to be more flexible and to enjoy the best things to do on Madeira.
There are several rent-a-cars and prices start at about €15 per day. We used rentalcars.com and paid €76 for five days. It’s definitely worth it to hire a car.
We do recommend you to hire a car with some power. Madeira is very hilly and the least powerful cars may not be able to climb up the highest peak of the island when they are full. Be careful when signing the rental contract and make sure you’ve got the right insurance for your needs. Our contract was to give in the car with an empty deposit. During the five days, where we used the car a lot, we used a full deposit.
Using the bike to get around the island is not recommendable as there are no paths for bikes and Madeira is super hilly. Biking is one of the best things to do on Madeira if you like sports, so you can go on a biking tour if you wish. But as means of transportation, we truly recommend the car.
The best things to do on Madeira are a bit all over the island. Staying in the capital, Funchal, is nice if you wish to enjoy some more culture or nightlife. If you’re fonder of nature and want to avoid the most touristic places you can also stay at other towns. In the end, everything is nearby by car.
Prices per night at local “hospedarias” in Funchal start at €20 for a twin room. For the luxury lovers, you can stay at a “Quinta” of more than €150 per night. There are places to stay for all budgets.
We stayed at an apartment via AirBnB. It was located at Ribeira Brava. Ribeira Brava is a small coastal town about 20km west from Funchal. From the airport, Ribeira Brava is about 36km. It’s a nice place to stay. Ribeira Brava has got some good restaurants, a beach and supermarket.
Given the size of the island, the best thing to choose the location of your stay is by taking into consideration the things you want to do on Madeira. Another factor is your budget. In fact, you can stay anywhere as the island is not that big and if you’ve got a car you can go from one side of the island to the other within one hour.
Things to do in Madeira
There are many things to do on Madeira Island. There are activities for all tastes and ages. Of course, we are more into water activities like dolphin and whale watching on Madeira. Other people may be more into playing gold or tasting the local culture and wild nature.
For the ocean-lovers, Madeira is a true paradise in terms of activities. Our four favorite things to do on Madeira Island are:
Madeira is home to many species of cetacean (dolphins and whale species) and there are several boat tours to observe them. This is one of the most popular things to do on Madeira as it’s suitable for all ages and can be done all year round.
These trips may take between two and three hours. There are different options regarding the vessel. You can go for a big stable catamaran, a typical Portuguese sailing ship or a fast rigid inflatable boat.
The whale and dolphin watching trips on Madeira are more than just watching. With marina biologists and local skippers on board, you’ll get to know a lot about the wild life and about the Island itself.
Join a small group of watersport lovers or bring your friends and family and learn how to Stand-up Paddle on Madeira! SUP is the new worldwide booming sport. This experience will give you and your friends or family a different perspective of the Madeira Island.
SUP allows you to access the local nature and lush landscape where other vessel types cannot reach. You can enjoy marine reserves where abundant marine life can be appreciated to the fullest. SUP is very dependent on weather conditions. As on the Island of Madeira the weather and ocean conditions vary a lot, there is almost always a good spot to SUP.
Surfing is a very popular activity on Madeira. The lessons are given on the beaches of volcanic sand, usually in the north-eastern part of Madeira. Surf classes are suitable for all levels of experience. Just like SUP, surfing is rather dependent on weather and ocean conditions. The instructor will always search for the best alternative to guarantee the complete enjoyment of the surf activity. On Madeira, the villages of Paul do Mar, Jardim do Mar and Ponta Pequena are the most popular surf spots. Lugar de Baixo and São Vicente are also becoming popular surf spots.
Also for scuba divers Madeira is a paradise. The all year round mild climate and water temperatures of 18 to 23°C make Madeira one of the warmest scuba diving spots of Europe. Scuba divers chose Madeira as a holiday destination because of the crystal clear waters and the chance of encountering species like barracudas, monkfish, dolphins, rays and even mantras. Madeira hosts several diving schools, mainly in Funchal and Caniço de Baixo. Diving on Madeira is suitable for all levels of experience.
In addition to these water-related activities on Madeira, the island is also very popular for walking, hiking and trail running. Madeira is very rich in walking routes. The routes are all very well signaled by the local government. The routes vary from 2 to 12km and the levels of difficulty also very a lot. All the information is explained on the Visit Madeira website.
We highly recommend you to bring good walking or running shoes and to bring some water and food supplies along your walking adventure. We also suggest you to check out the weather forecast to not be surprised by the variable island climate and avoid dangerous situations. If you prefer, you can also join a walking tour.
Things to eat in Madeira
For the food-lovers, there are several things you must do while on Madeira Island. Madeira, as well as the Azores, is very well known for its meat.
We recommend you to enjoy a delicious “Prego em bola do caco”. Prego is veil meat and it’s served on a typical local type of bread. The bread is kind of sweetish and very soft. It makes a delicious combination with the meat. Also, having this “bola do caco” bread as a starter with garlic butter is too delicious to be true.
Another must-eat on Madeira is the “espetada”, a meat skewered. Typically this skewered is served on the stick of bay. The meat is extremely juicy and served with fried corn cubes and salad. We recommend you to ask how big the portions are because sometimes they’re big enough to serve too.
These dishes may very well be accompanied with a local Madeira wine. Be aware that Madeira wine is very different to normal wine. As a desert, order a passion fruit mousse or any local fruit like the bananas and other tropical fruit.
We’re Madeira fans and would be happy to help you to plan your holidays on this beautiful island. Feel free to contact us for other tips, questions or request booking information.
5 reasons why you should join a Portugal Sailing Week this summer of 2019
2019 has already begun and it’s time to start thinking about where you want to spend your summer vacation this year. Obviously, Portugal should always be high on your priority list – beautiful sandy beaches, nice weather, friendly people and wild night, simply the perfect summer destination! Now, let us introduce you to the Portugal Sailing Week!
The Algarve is especially blessed with breathtakingly beautiful places. That’s also why The Ocean Week 2019 will take place down here in the South of Portugal. And if you can, you should definitely join the Portugal Sailing Week this summer. Why? Let us show you why!
Enjoy our stunning yachts
1. Explore some of the most beautiful places in Europe
The Algarve is simply unique! With its rocky coastline and the many hidden caves, it has become more and more popular in the past decades. The long beaches with white sand are clean and perfect to simply spend hours and hours tanning in the sun. The water of the Atlantic Ocean along the Algarve is calm and warm during summer time, inviting you for a refreshing swim.
But probably the most famous thing of the Algarve is the Benagil cave. Surely if you have friends who already have been to the Algarve, you already have seen some photos of this impressive cave. During the Portugal Sailing Week 2019, you get to visit Benagil as well as all the other amazing places around the Algarve! Definitely a good reason to join Portugal Sailing Week 2019! The Portugal Sailing Week 2019 takes you to the best coastal towns in the Algarve – Lagos, Albufeira, Faro, Culatra, Vilamoura and Ferragudo!
The beaches in the Algarve are unique
2. Make a lot of new friends!
The great thing about Portugal Sailing Week 2019 is that you will get to meet so many like-minded people from all over the world and spend the most epic week of your life with them! You can book an entire yacht (up to 6 or 12 people) for your whole crew or simply book a bed for yourself or a cabin for you and your best friend.
During the day there are daytime activities you can join and at night there will be family dinners, beach parties and of course exclusive parties in the best nightclubs of the Algarve. And since you will be always together with the rest of the sailors, the party will always be there where you guys go! Making a whole bunch of new friends and spending 7 epic days with them is one important reason why you should join Portugal Sailing Week 2019!
You’ll get to know many cool people
3. You don’t have to worry about anything!
The whole route, as well as activities and everything else, is all prepared by the crew so that you can simply arrive and relax! If you want to be even more relaxed, you can even book you private hostess for the yacht as well as your chef. That way even all your meals are covered!
During the day, there are some daytime activities planned and you can also book extra ones if you wish. In the different towns, there are parties organised at night at some of the most exclusive nightclubs of the Algarve, like the NoSolo Agua in Portimão! So Portugal Sailing Week 2019 is really the perfect opportunity for you to kick back and relax!
Enjoy the best sunset parties
4. Spend a whole week at sea!
If you have never been sailing before you should definitely try. It’s a unique feeling and we can’t take responsibility if you fall deeply in love with life on deck and never want to do anything else! We certainly would understand it!
Living on the deck of a yacht is a whole different way of travelling. Once you step foot on your yacht, your whole perspective changes. Life gets a lot simpler, and you will pay attention to the weather as well as the forces of nature a lot more! Sailing just takes away so much tension of your stressful lives on land and makes you appreciate the simple things again. And not to forget, you won’t see any sunrises and sunsets as beautiful anywhere else!
Being able to get a glimpse of life at sea is one of the best reasons why you should join Portugal Sailing Week 2019. And just as a side-note – being on a boat all day long and out on the sea also means that you will probably get the tan of your life, and who doesn’t love to go back home with that serious beachy look?
The climate in the Algarve is amazing
5. It’s a whole new and unique experience!
If all of this wasn’t enough to convince you yet why you should join Portugal Sailing Week 2019, maybe the fact that it is a completely unique and different way to spend your holidays will! Instead of booking a room somewhere in a hotel and having to thinking about what you’re going to do and where you’re going to go every morning, at Portugal Sailing Week 2019 you will wake up at sea, go for a dip in the ocean and then simply follow the flow with the rest of your crew!
One thing is for sure, you will make memories that will last forever as well as new friends from all over the world that you can plan your next adventures with! Spending 7 nights on a yacht at sea, exploring the most amazing beaches, visiting the most exclusive nightclubs and meeting like-minded people – there’s nothing else like Portugal Sailing Week 2019 and that’s the main reason why you should join Portugal Sailing Week 2019!
If you want to know more or book your spots for the best week of your life, have a look here or send us an e-mail to [email protected] with your booking request!
We went to visit Madeira in low season and had a great time. That’s why we’d like to share this 9 reasons to visit Madeira during the Fall/Winter.
Madeira, along with the Azores, are truly unknown natural gems of Europe. Madeira during the Fall / Winter is the perfect holiday destination.
The Portuguese islands of the Madeira archipelago, an autonomous region of Portugal, comprise 2 habited islands off the northwest coast of Africa that were settled in the 1400s.
Madeira and Porto Santo are known for a warm, subtropical climate. The islands are mostly visited by active travelers who seek for outdoor adventures like hiking along old “levadas” (aqueducts) in the mountains or even trail running, playing golf.
It’s also very popular for other ocean activities like sailing, dolphin watching, surfing some waves and even SUP at the Garajau Marine Nature Reserve for example.
Now that we’re enjoying a lovely autumn season, you’ve most likely already enjoyed holidays this year, but why not go again?
The Fall and Winter are great seasons to go on holidays to Madeira, even if it is only for a few days. In this post, we will tell you why we think Madeira is a great holiday destination during this time of the year, based on our own experience.
There are several advantages to travelling to Madeira Fall/Winter:
Less crowd to touristic attractions
During the Fall/Winter there are not many tourists anymore, which is great for travelers who do not like to be among hundreds or thousands of tourists and spend a lot of time in queues for main attractions. If you travel to Madeira during this time of the year, you can expect no queues for touristic attractions and no overbooked tours.
Please bear in mind that regarding tours and activities, we recommend you to book in advance. Booking in advance is important to make sure the tour or activity you selected will actually take place as some tours may be less frequent or even closed.
Landing on Madeira Airport (FNC) is an adventure itself, as the short runway has mountains on one side and ocean on the other. The airport has just one terminal, making it very easy to find your next mean of transportation.
From Portugal, flights are a little more expensive in December due to the holidays (about 130€ for a return flight) butdrop to less than 50€ from January to March.
Madeira is a very popular destination for New Year’s Eve. The award-winning fireworks of Funchal are worldwide known and became a Guinness World Record in 2007.
Less crowded beaches
For nature lovers, this time of the year is the best. The beaches of Madeira and Porto Santo will become even more breathtaking when they’re not full of tourists.
For the ones who like trekking, hiking or trail running, the fall is great as the trails and sights are more beautiful thanks to the rain which makes nature even greener.
Madeira is known as the island of flowers, so also during Spring it’s highly recommendable to visit the island as most plants will then flower.
Except for those looking for a beach holiday, autumn and winter in Madeira give the right temperature to wander around Funchal or to discover new places.
Summer can be quite hot, sometimes too hot for certain activities. The only risk is the rain. Especially in January, it can become very rainy.
For surfers, this is the best time to enjoy Portuguese waves. Waves usually are better during this time of the year, all around the island. Another reason why surfing in Madeira is better during these seasons is the crowd.
In summer, in Madeira, you may encounter many tourists who try surfing for the first time and the waves of Madeira will become rather crowded. So, during the fall and winter, enjoy Madeira’s surf with better waves and less crowd!
Most of the activities that people seek for at Madeira, like the previously mentioned trekking or surfing, are done outside and these seasons are ideal to practice them. Other popular things to do on Madeira include whale and dolphin watching.
In Madeira, we observe whales and dolphins all year around. May to October is the best season for the observation of these animals, the winter can be more special. In fact, between November and February, the number of cetacean species around the Madeira Archipelago is smaller, but we can find some very special species.
Coasteering is also very popular in Madeira and can be done all year round. Coasteering in Madeira is a unique way to explore the coastline, by hiking, jumping, climbing and swimming.
The water temperature is very pleasant all year round, ranging between 19°C/66°F during the winter and reaching 24°C/75°F in summer.
Local people tend to be nicer
We noticed this quite clearly. For local people, like waiters, taxi drivers or tour guides low season is less stressful and so they have more time to dedicate to tourist, being friendlier during low season.
There are many more reasons to visit Madeira. We’re sure you won’t regret it!
In fact, we’re not the only ones who love Madeira. The archipelago has Madeira has won the ‘Europe’s Leading Island Destination 2019‘ at the 25th World Travel Awards. Madeira has won the award for four consecutive years – 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 . And the isle also beat its contemporaries in 2013 and 2014.
We are Madeira fans and have visited the islands a few times now. And will come back!
We’d be happy to help you plan your holidays, so let us now if we can somehow support you in your holiday planning to Madeira or Portugal in general. Enjoy Madeira during the Fall/Winter!
Lisbon is probably one of the most booming cities in the south of Europe. No wonder – with the colorful mix of culture, cuisine, sea and sun it’s the perfect destination for a city trip. The fact that you can get cheap flights from pretty much every other European country facilitates it even more! And there’s more! Wanna know what? Here are our top 3 reasons for a short trip to Lisbon in winter!
Lisbon’s colors by night
There are fewer crowds at the tourist attractions in Lisbon in Winter
The first and probably most obvious one of the top 3 reasons for a short trip to Lisbon in winter is the fact, that there are a lot fewer tourists in the city! This way, you can visit all the main tourist attractions without having to wait for too long in the queues and take pictures of the monuments without many people around!
The tower of Belém, Jeronimos monastery, São Jorge castle and the famous Cristo Rei are just some of the main attractions in Lisbon you can enjoy and admire during your short trip to Lisbon in Winter without them being overcrowded! If you want, you can also join one of our sightseeing boat tours in Lisbon. In our opinion, it’s the best way to explore the main attractions from the River Tagus!
Get aboard of “Évora” for a sightseeing cruise
Sitting on the deck of a comfortable boat in the sun, sipping on a coffee and at the same time admiring all the historic attractions of Lisbon while cruising past them – there’s no better way to relax! Who said boat tours are only fun in summer? In winter you get to enjoy them just as much, we promise!
The mild weather
Did you also know, that Lisbon has 3x more hours of sunshine during the winter months than the average of northern Europe? And that in the coldest month, which is January, the average temperature is between 11°C and 19°C. Doesn’t sound too bad for winter, hey? Surely if you come from Nothern Europe, these mild temperatures will be a total plus for you and one of the top 3 reasons for a short trip to Lisbon in winter!
On some days, you can even enjoy a coffee in the sun wearing only a t-shirt!
Walking around the cute little streets of Lisbon without a big coat and a lot of layers to keep you warm sounds pretty inviting, don’t you think!? If you visit Lisbon in winter, you can enjoy your “bica”, a small coffee, and the delicious pastry Pastel de Nata sitting on the terrace of a cute café in the sunshine. If you sit there long enough, you’ll even be able to get a little tan in the sweet sun of Lisbon! Surely this is a great alternative to those dark and cold winter days!
Stall along Lisbon’s narrow streets or catch the tram
Another reason for the mild weather being one of the top 3 reasons for a short trip to Lisbon in winter is that you can actually walk around the city without getting too hot! The temperatures in summer can get pretty high in Lisbon! All those hilly streets don’t look too inviting if you’re pouring down sweat! In winter you can explore the city walking, and don’t start sweating like a pig!
More affordable accommodation and meals
Obviously, most of the prices for hotels, etc. are lower during the off-season than they are in high season! So if you look around, you might find some pretty amazing deals for your short break in Lisbon in winter! From flights, hotel, to boat tours and any other kind of activity, like dolphin watching for example – mostly you will find cheaper prices and pretty good deals during the winter months!
Enjoy a walk along the monuments in Belém without too many tourists
In fact, January is actually the time of the year where you can get the cheapest hotel rooms! Flights are generally the cheapest in November, but really they are still super cheap in January! If you’re lucky, you can, for example, fly from Germany to Lisbon and back for only 20€! That’s definitely a reason for a short trip to Lisbon, right!? As we saw, you can actually enjoy the city better than during summer and spend a lot less money!
Even some restaurants and cafés have the low season and high season prices. And compared to northern european countries, the cost of eating out in Lisbon and Portugal in general is a lot cheaper! So if you visit Lisbon in winter and save money for hotel and flights, you actually can spend more money on yummy food and other fun stuff! Why not try surfing in Lisbon with the extra money?
Surfing in Lisbon is done all year round
As you can see, Lisbon is a perfect destination for a little winter getaway! These were our top 3 reasons for a short trip to Lisbon in winter, but we can assure you that there are maaaaany more!
What do you think when you hear “Algarve”? Probably sun, summer, sea and lots of fun in the warm weather right? But did you know that there are also some very good reasons to visit the Algarve during winter? In this post, we’ll show you the best things to do in the Algarve in the winter!
The Algarve is a quite decent destination for everybody who wishes to escape the cold and wet winters in Northern Europe and enjoy some sunshine and rather mild temperatures! The average days with rainfall from December to March are around 10-15 per month, which isn’t so bad right? The average temperature in these months is around 15-20°C, which is great if you come from a country where it’s snowing and always around 0°C!
The Algarve during winter is great for nature lovers
In general, I personally love the Algarve during winter. And if you do any of the following things to do in the Algarve in the winter you will surely enjoy your holidays in the winter in the Algarve as well!
Here are our top five things to do in the Algarve in the Winter
OK, you might not be able to walk around in the cave in your bikini, but you can still enjoy it from the boat
Yes, this one was to be expected, given that the Benagil cave is our all-time favourite activity! Luckily, there are quite some tours still running through winter, like the tour from Lagos, Carvoeiro or Portimão! And the best thing is, that you will have the cave that is usually swamped with people a lot more to yourselves!
So visiting the Benagil cave is definitely one of the top things to do in the Algarve in the winter, as this is when you actually get to enjoy it the most! Without the masses of tourists, you will be able to take even more impressive photos! And it’s somewhat romantic, isn’t it? Spending a cosy winter day on board of a boat visiting a rather empty cave! We love it, and that’s why it’s one of the things to do in the Algarve in the winter!
Doing the Costa Vicentina is a must for hike lovers
Hike the Rota Vicentina or Via Algarviana
If you come to the Algarve in the winter, you can actually do some hiking and explore the nature of the Algarve. Something, that isn’t really a great thing to do during summer, as it’s simply too hot. Also in the winter, everything is back to green and alive after the dry summer heat! The perfect time to go hiking in the Algarve!
Hiking the Roca Vicentina or Via Algarviana is, therefore, one of our top things to do in the Algarve in the winter. The Rota Vicentina is along the beautiful and wild Costa Vicentina. You can start from the Western point of the Algarve, at Cabo de St. Vicente. From here the Rota Vicentina goes up along the coast, that actually is already part of Alentejo, the next region after the Algarve. It passes the famous beaches of Carrapateira, Arrifana, Odeceixe, and go all the way up to Porto Covo. Here you can see the whole map.
The Via Algarviana actually crosses almost the whole inland of the Algarve, so that’s definitely also a beautiful thing to do in the Algarve in the winter. Here you can see the entire route. You can also start this from Cabo de St. Vicente and go East! The Via Algarviana takes you through the magic mountains of Monchique, across Silves, past Alte, Barranco do Velho and all the way to Alcoutim. On this route, you get to see very different landscapes from your typical Algarve brochure. That’s why it’s one of the best things to do in the Algarve in the winter, as you get to discover a whole new side of the Algarve!
Even though most people visit the Algarve during summer to go surfing, the surf is actually much better in the winter! There’s less wind and you get more south-swells, which means there are waves all along the south coast of the Algarve and much closer to your favourite coastal towns!
Of course, it’s not as warm as during summer. But the water temperature is actually not so cold, that you can’t handle it! If you have a good wetsuit, you should be fine! Since most of the surf schools are closed during winter, you already have a lot less crowd! So bring your surfboard, or buy a cheap one and go surfing in the Algarve in the winter. Enjoy clean waves with only a handful of people around you! Definitely one of our favourite things to do in the Algarve in the winter!
The Ria Formosa is an amazing surrounding for boat tours
The Ria Formosa is a beautiful place to visit all year around. This natural reserve is blessed with unique flora! And during winter, you also have the advantage to be able to admire this little paradise without a lot of people around you! That way it will look it even more idyllic, for sure! Our boat tours depart from Fuseta and Olhão during the winter to take you to the stunning Ria Formosa Natural Reserve!
Join us on one of our tours to Ria Formosa to explore the beautiful deserted islands of the reserve, like Ilha Deserta, Ilha do Farol, Ilha da Culatra and Ilha da Armona. If you enjoy nature you will love Ria Formosa. There are even some bird species that can only be found in Ria Formosa. If you’re lucky, you will even be able to see some flamingos! So visiting Ria Formosa is definitely a great thing to do in the Algarve in the winter!
Empty beaches are ideal for beach walks
Enjoy long walks on empty beaches
The beaches in the Algarve are beautiful all year round, no matter the season. So you can imagine that during winter, the beaches that are usually so packed with people that you can barely find a spot for your towel, are completely empty during the winter months! But not any less amazing! So that’s why going for walks on empty beautiful beaches in the Algarve is truly one of the awesome things to do in the Algarve in the winter!
Praia da Marinha, Praia da Rocha in Portimão, Meia Praia in Lagos – just some of the amazingly beautiful beaches in the Algarve. And during winter you have them practically to yourself. Taking long beach walks clears the mind and will make you feel so good! You wouldn’t even recognise the beaches if you came back in Summer, and you’ll be so grateful to have had the opportunity to enjoy these beaches by yourself in the winter! So grab your coat, go for a walk and enjoy!
After breathing some fresh winter air on the beach, why not enjoy a meal at a cosy restaurant?
We hope we could convince you that there are lots of fun things to do in the Algarve in the winter! Even though it’s not as warm as during summer, you have the advantage of not having masses of tourists everywhere. So if you like travelling in more peace and quiet, the Algarve is the perfect winter destination for you!
If you’ve heard about Lagos, Portugal, before, you’ve probably also heard about Ponta da Piedade and it’s famous golden coastline.
When visiting Lagos, you should go to Ponta da Piedade. Ponta de Piedade is not actually a beach in the sense that there’s no sand to lay on. It’s a place where the high cliffs tops– 20m – almost touch the blue, blue sky, while reaching out the blue, blue ocean.
Ponta de Piedade is an idyllic setting of brown shaded rock formations that meet the greenish blue waters of the Atlantic below, being one of the main attractions of Lagos.
Here there are lots of caves, grottoes and arches to go into, as you enjoy a one of the boat trips, row in your kayak or paddle on your stand up paddle surfboard over the crystal-clear water.
he combination of the light brown mysterious cliffs and several shades of green and blue from the ocean and the sky truly enchant the eyes.
Located 2km from the city center of Lagos, Ponta de Piedade provides a magnificent view of the Atlantic and the shapes of cliffs carved by the ocean and wind.
There are several ways to explore this mecca of grottos, unknown bays and quiet beaches. You can reach the spot by car, foot or by sea – by boat, kayak or SUP. In our opinion, Ponta de Piedade is particularly captivating when viewed from the sea.
boat trips can be done all year round
Near the car park on the cliff tops, you will find long, narrow stairs leading you down to a small cove where you will see cute small fisher boats.
Along time, local fishermen have named some of these misshapen rocks. The most popular ones are the General De Gaulle, Chaminé (chimney), Catedral (cathedral), Belas-Artes (fine arts), Museu (museum), Submarino (submarine), Camelo (camel), Cozinha (kitchen) and Gruta do Amor (grotto of love). For the nature lovers, this natural paradise is also interesting due to the many bird species that make it their habitat.
A few meters away from the coastline, there are several rock formatios on which it is common to see nests of migrating falcons, jackdaws, alpine swifts, pallid swifts and ravens, as well as groups of egrets and cattle egrets.
Ponta de Piedade is a must place to go for nature lovers and also photographers since the beautiful colours of the setting make a perfect postcard portrait.
For the most sporty ones and if you dare climbing up 182 steps to the top of the lighthouse, you’ll will have a view over the amazing city and coastline, which marks the limit between land and sea. This lighthouse can also be reached by car or foot.
Discover by car
Ponta de Piedade is located out of the city center. If, for some reason, you prefer not to walk 20minutes and if you have a car, the best way is to park your car near the lighthouse. Parking here is for free.
From the parking lot, you can appreciate the views over the Atlantic or if you prefer and dare, you can go down the stairs (bear in mind it are over 180 steps) closer to the Ocean.
In our opinion, to go by car to Ponta da Piedade should be your last choice since there are more creative ways that allow a deeper enjoyment of this amazing creation of Nature.
Ponta da Piedade, Lagos
Discover Ponta da Piedade by foot
From the city center of Lagos to the lighthouse (farol) of Ponta da Piedade it’s a 2km walk, but a beautiful one. You’ll pass along the coastline of Lagos and come along some very nice beaches.
First you’ll pass by Praia da Batata – Lagos’ city beach, very popular under the youth. After Praia da Batata, you’ll pass by some very pretty beached hidden in between the amazing rock formations: Praia dos Estudantes, Praia do Pinhão, Praia D. Ana and Praia do Camilo. At Praia do Camilo, the nearest to Ponta de Piedade, you can have great meals of freshly caught fish, grilled at the moment and a special selection of Portuguese wines.
We love this region of the Algarve
Amazing views over the colorful cliffs of Ponta da Piedade are guaranteed, but be aware that, especially after raining the cliffs might be instable, so respect the signs and do not approach the end of the cliffs too much. Another thing to bear in mind is that this 2km walk is quite hard, because it has got some hill and can become hot, so bring some water, sunscreen and a hat.
Once you arrived at the lighthouse of Ponta da Piedade, and if you’ve still got some energy left, you can go down the stairs (bear in mind it are over 180 steps) closer to the Ocean.
The boat trips are probably the most popular way to visit Ponta de Piedade in Lagos. The cave tours are the most popular tours in Lagos and depart from several places, from some beaches and the Marina of Lagos.
The boat trips are an inexpensive and nice way to enjoy the amazing caves and coastline of Lagos with your family and friends. Prices per person start at only 20€.
Ponta de Piedade boat trips
On these cave boat trips, experienced fishermen wind their way through the colossal rock sculptures whilst telling their names and secrets.
Along time, local fishermen have named some of these rock formations. The most popular ones are Chaminé (chimney), Catedral (cathedral), and Gruta dos Amores (grotto of love). The fishermen on your boat, will be happy to tell you all of them.
On SeaBookings.com, you can find the best online prices and several options:
One hour tour – with departure from the Marina of Lagos, this tour is best if you’re travelling on a tight budget or time frame. There is no need to change boat, you’ll stay on the same boat from the beginning until the end of the tour. This tour is perfect for any age.
Two hour tour – this tour is a more complete experience. It also starts from the Marina in Lagos and involves two boats. Firstly, you will sail along the coastline on a very pretty typical sailboat and will then anchor and step over to a smaller boat to enter the caves. It’s up to you which Ponta de Piedade boat trips you prefer.
From Lagos, there are many diferente boat tours, including dolphin watching, BBQ cruises, Private charters and more.
For the most sporty couples or families, kayaking is the ideal way to explore the magical setting of Ponta da Piedade. The Lagos kayak tours to Ponta da Piedade depart from Praia da Batata, the “urban” beach of Lagos, only a five minutes walk from the city center.
Kayaking to Ponta da Piedade has several advantages when compared to the traditional boats:
You’ll be working out while enjoying the beautiful coastline of Ponta da Piedade in Lagos;
You’ll not be polluting using an engine;
You’ll not be disturbed by the noisy engine of a boat;
You’ll be more flexible and agile to be able to enter the smallest caves of Ponta da Piedade and access the most inaccessible beaches.
Snorkel equipment will also be provided on the kayak tours, so if you’re up to explore the underwater world of Ponta da Piedade too, you’re welcome to do so.
You won’t regret it as Ponta da Piedade is one of the best places in the Algarve to go snorkeling.
SUP tours to the caves
SUP in Lagos
An alternative for the sportiest travelers is Stand Up Paddle (SUP). This is the ideal way to discover the famous grottoes for board lovers. SUP consists of standing on a large surfboard and moving forward using a specially designed paddle. This sport is easy to learn.
We’re sure this is the most amazing and fun activity to do while exploring the caves. In fact, SUP has the same advantages as kayaking, mentioned before.
Learn the ancient Polynesian art of Paddle boarding. SUP is the world’s fastest growing sport that anyone can partake in. In fact, SUP is suitable for all ages and levels of experience.
SUP in Lagos, Portugal
If you’ve got other ideas or suggestions to explore Ponta da Piedade, feel free to contact us. In case of any doubts or if you’d like to book any of the ocean activities mentioned, we’re happy to assist you. Enjoy Ponta da Piedade in Lagos in your way!
We invited our friend, Flávia Mota from the blog “Almost Locals”, to experience our sunset sailing trip in Lisbon. Flávia, from Brazil, shares her experience about the Sunset sailing trip in Lisbon in this article. It’s a great way to get to know the city and enjoy the Tagus River by sunset:
The sight over the North Bank of the River
There is something magical about sunsets in Lisbon. The (usually amazing) sky gets even prettier in dawn time, changing from blue into shades of orange, pink and purple, before the night arrives. But watching the sun go down in the Portuguese capital is even more special when you do it by the river, on a sunset sailing trip in Lisbon.
The sunset sailing trip in Lisbon departs from Docas de Bom Sucesso, a small harbor nearby the famous Belém Tower. This amazing monument is the first one you can see once the sail begins and you will get a very privileged sight of it from the water of the Tagus.
The famous 25th of April Bridge
For the first hour of the sunset sailing trip in Lisbon, the boat goes up river, as close as possible to the North bank of the Tagus. From the boat, you’ll get a glimpse of the Cais do Sodré area, Ribeira das Naus, the very beautiful yellow buildings surrounding Praça do Comércio, and the uphill white maze that is Alfama.
If you are not familiar with Lisbon sights, don’t worry. During the sunset sailing trip in Lisbon the skipper will keep you informed about what you see and share some interesting facts about the city and about the sailing experience itself.
Cristo Rei on the South Bank
Once the boat turns back, the second part of this sunset sailing trip in Lisbon starts: closer to the South Bank of the Tagus you will see the statue of Cristo Rei and the remainings of the fishing industry that once was set in Almada.
As the boat goes down the Tagus, you pass by cargo ships, ferries and other kinds of boats coming and going, passing by. But the most amazing sight is, of course, the sun going down. The beauty of the colors when the end of the day comes is the cherry top of this sunset sailing trip in Lisbon.
Tips for your sunset sailing trip in Lisbon:
Sailing through the Tagus is great even if you are travelling alone, but if you are in a group, arrangements can be made so that you can have it all for you and your family / friends;
Wear comfortable shoes, so you can move easily inside the boat;
Always bring a coat, because it might get too windy even during summer;
Make sure you have enough battery and memory space on your camera / phone. You will take amazing pictures during this sunset sailing;
If you want to eat something before the sunset sailing, choose something light;
You’ll get complimentary beverages and drinks on the boat;
Arrive on time on the departure point;
There are sunset sailings all year long, no matter when you are coming, jump aboard. But book on time, so you can make sure your spot is secured!
Flávia enjoying her time while sailing in Lisbon
Many thanks to Flávia for translating this unforgettable experience of the sunset sailing tour in Lisbon into words. Now, grab a group of friends, set a date and enjoy Lisbon from a different perspective with a stunning sunset! Happy sailing!
Summer has come to an end. You’ve probably already been on holidays this year, but why not go again?
In between summer and Christmas, is a great time to go on holidays, even if it is only for a few days. In this article we will share why we think Portugal is a great holiday destination during autumn.
High season in Portugal is, with no doubt during the summer months of June, July and August. September can be quite busy still to. When October arrives, the flow of tourists decreases a lot. In the Algarve, during the months of October and November it is usually very quiet and then in December, some people come over to enjoy a warm Christmas and New Year. In Lisbon and other regions of the country, which are less depended on coastal tourism, you’ll continue to see some city-break travelers around.
There are several advantages about travelling to Portugal during the fall:
• First of all, money. Everything is cheaper. Let’s start with the flights, low cost airlines like Ryanair,EasyJet and Transavia fly from most European airports to Lisbon, Porto and Faro. As soon as high season finishes, so after September, rates drop drastically before rising again during the Christmas holidays. You can already book a return flight from major European airports to Portugal from 100€ and sometimes even less! Things to do in Lisbon.
• Also accommodation and car rentals are much cheaper during low season. In some cases, prices can even fall to half. In the most touristic regions, like in the Algarve for example, even restaurants may become cheaper during the low season.
• Local people tend to be friendlier. It’s a fact, we notice this quite clearly. For local people, like people from the restaurants, taxi drivers or touristic guides tend to be nicer and friendlier during low season. The reason why is quite simple. There’s less stress and less hectic situations (in restaurants, traffic or tourist attractions) and as such people have more time to dedicate to you.
• No queues. As mentioned before, during fall there are not many tourists anymore, which is great for travelers who do not like massive tourism and hectic situations. If you travel to Portugal during fall, you can expect no queues for touristic attractions and no overbooked tours. Regarding tours and activities, we still recommend you to book in advance, not to avoid overbookings, but to make sure the tour or activity wanted will actually take place.
• Empty beaches. For nature lovers, this time of the year is great. The stunning beaches of the Portuguese West coast become even more stunning when they’re not packed with people.
• For the ones who like trekking, hiking or trail running, fall is great because the trails and sights are more beautiful and the weather is more pleasant for exercising.
• The weather. Ok, if you’re looking for a beach holiday, autumn in Portugal might not be the ideal plan, but to wander around a city or to discover new places it is. Summer in Portugal can be very hot, sometimes too hot for certain activities.
During fall, weather is milder and can be ideal for outdoor activities as long as is does not rain. The autumn climate in Portugal really depends on the region. The Algarve is usually milder than Coimbra, for example and the North can be chilly and wet.
• For surfers, fall and winter is the best time to enjoy Portuguese waves. In fact, for surfing, waves usually are better during this time of the year, both on the South coast of the Algarve and the whole West coast.
Even on the islands of Azores and Madeira, waves are better during the fall/winter season. Another reason why surfing in Portugal is better this time of the year is the crowd. In summer, many tourists try surfing for the first time and the waves of Portugal become rather crowded.
During the fall, we recommend you to go to Lisbon and from there you can also explore Sintra, Cascais and Setúbal. These three cities are very close to each other, only 45 minutes by train or car.
Things to do in Lisbon Portugal
Lisbon is the ideal destination for a city break during the fall. There are many things to do in Lisbon, even when it is rainy. In our opinion, if you’ve only got a few days to spend in Lisbon, don’t spend your time in Museums, except if you’re into to some particular topic, but spend your time on the streets. Lisbon’s street are a museum itself.
Lisbon has got a strong history. By the fifteenth century, Lisbon was the capital of the Portuguese expansion. This era is also known by the Discoveries. The Portuguese had exceptional navigational expertise at the time and had set up trading routes round half the world.
In 1498, the Portuguese Vasco da Gama sailed from Belém, Lisbon, to discover the sea route to India. Sixty years later, Lisbon controlled ports from Brazil to Macau, becoming one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. With such an abundance of richness, Lisbon was able to fund extravagant buildings such as the Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém. Also the emblematic palace at Terreiro do Paço dates back from then, even though, reconstructed after the Great Earthquake of 1755.
Wealth seemed endless in Lisbon with newly discovered gold in Brazil, yet this second “golden age” ended abruptly with the Great Earthquake of 1755. Marquês de Pombal rapidly rebuilt the city. Since then, the “Baixa” (downtown), is grid-patterned.
After the Earthquake, Lisbon never recovered its economic clout. Nowadays Lisbon flourishes as a great holiday destination and also among European exchange students (Erasmus), Lisbon is very popular thanks to it low costs of living, great climate, awesome parties, location near to the beach and worldwide recognized universities.
Alfama is one of the most original and authentic “Bairros” (neighbourhoods) of Lisbon, being its oldest. It lays the slope between the São Jorge Castle and the Tagus River. If you like walking, we recommend you to put on your walking shoes and get lost in the narrow streets of the idyllic part of the city.
By foot is surely the best way to explore Alfama, but be prepared for many hills and stairs. It might be a tiring walk, but it’s surely worth it, as you’ll find many hidden squares and breath-taking viewpoints.
Eat a local pastry and a “bica” (expresso) in one of the local cafes to recover and stay until later and have dinner in one of the many Fado Restaurants. Fado is the local music, rather melancholic, and Alfama is the place to listen to it in Lisbon while enjoying a typical Portuguese meal and wine. We recommend “Mesa de Frades” and “Bela Vinhos e Petiscos”.
Fado restaurants are usually a little bit more expensive than normal ones but so worth it. In most of the cases Fado singers start singing late, at about 21h30 or 22h, so don’t be too early in the restaurant and book a table to assure your seat.
The São Jorge Castle is located on top of one of Lisbon’s Seven Hills. It is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop with a beautiful view over the historic centre of the city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The Castle is characterized by its fortified citadel and dates from medieval period of Portuguese history. The Castle is surely one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.
If the Castle could speak, it would have a lot to tell – it was home to the Visigoths in the 5th century, in the 9th century it passed to the Moors, to the Christians in the 12th century and royals from the 14th to 16th centuries.
The Ulysses Tower is one of the main attractions of the Castle. Its “camera obscura” offers a unique 360-degree angle on Lisbon. Beyond the views, there are also a few galleries displaying relics from past centuries.
To go up to the castle and to explore the Alfama neighborhood, we suggest you to take the tram 28. Even if you don’t actually know where to go or what to do and are tired of walking, hop into this tram and let it take you around Lisbon. Its route is circular, so at some point, you’ll get back to where you started. It’s real fun (if the tram is not too full). Be careful with pickpockets.
Bairro Alto is one of the hippest districts of Lisbon, it lies on the opposite hill of the one of the Castle, being separated by Rossio square. In Bairro alto, during the day, you’ll find many small boutiques that sell unique pieces of super trendy clothes, second hand vintage shops or tattoo shops.
You can also find cosy coffee shops for the rainy days. By night, Bairro alto is popular to go out for dinner, grab a nice pizza or spend the night in a Fado restaurant, everything is possible here. Almost every day of the week, after 23h00, Bairro Alto starts to become a busy place for drinks.
Many small bars open their doors and people tend to grab a Caipirinha or a beer and drink on the streets. Bairro Alto is friendly to all kind of tastes, there is an “Erasmus Corner”, a “Gay Street”, karaoke bars or Latin bars. Here you can eat some tapas and taste the best cocktails in town while enjoying live music in a very cosy environment.
Rossio is the main square of the Portuguese capital. It’s surrounded by Portuguese restaurants and by one of the main theatres of Lisbon, Dona Maria II. The beautifully paved square, with typical Portuguese “calçada” had two beautiful fountains. Rossio is the location of one of our favorite “tascas” (small local restaurants), “A Tendinha”. Here, you can quickly grab a delicious soup for lunch with some nice pastries and a glass of red wine. Things to do in Lisbon.
Chiado is one of the poshest neighbourhoods of the city. In between Rossio and Bairro Alto, Rua Garret is very popular for shopping. Here you’ll find international fashion stores like H&M and Zara but also local boutiques that occupy the stunning buildings.
To rest between all the shopping, you must have a coffee at “A Brasileira”, where Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet used to get inspires.
If feel like something sweet, grab one of the best croissants at “Benard” or an ice-cream at “Santini”. Chiado is nice to take a walk after dinner and enjoy the animation by some street artists.
Praça do Comércio
The Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square in English) is located in between the city center, Rua Augusta and the Tagus River. The square is still commonly known as Terreiro do Paço because, until it was destroyed by the great 1755 earthquake, it was the location of the Paços da Ribeira (Royal Palace). After the earthquake, the square was completely remodelled as part of the rebuilding of the Pombaline Downtown by Marquês de Pombal, the Minister of the Kingdom of Portugal from 1750 to 1777.
Several restaurants are nowadays located around the square. We recommend to grab a beer and a “Picapau” (small pieces of meat) with bread at the Beer Museum. Also, enjoy the view by the river where you can usually find some street artists playing music.
Avenida da Liberdade
Avenida da Liberdade (Avenue of Freedom) is the beautiful avenue that connects Restauradores (next to Rossio square) to the Marquês de Pombal roundabout.
This avenue is where all the fashion design shops are located. You can find Gucci, Dolce and Gabanna and some Portuguese designers. It’s worth it to walk up on one side and down on the other for some window shopping.
On your way you can grab a drink on one of the many kiosks or at the São Jorge Cinema, one of our favourite spots for coffee after dinner.
The project for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Museum was launched in 1969. The foundation of the museum was founded according to Calouste Gulbenkian’s last will, to accommodate and display Gulbenkian’s art collection belonging nowadays to the Foundation of Calouste Gulbenkian. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum is a museum in Lisbon that contains a beautiful collection of, mostly ancient bus also some modern, art.
The museum itself is worth a visit but also the gardens around it are spectacular and a popular place for Portuguese families to go for a walk and feed the ducks.
Belém is a neighborhood in Lisbon’s West. It’s a very popular place for tourists two visit, many due to four main attractions that it hosts, in between beautiful gardens and typical buildings:
– Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
The Jerónimos Monastery is a monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome. It is one of the most noticeable examples of the Portuguese Gothic Manueline architectural trends in Lisbon. In 1983, the Monastery was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém.
– Belém Tower
The Belém Tower is a fortified tower which is a UNESCO World Heritage because of its important role in the Portuguese Discoveries. The tower was commissioned by King João II to be part of a defense system and a ceremonial entrance to Lisbon at the mouth of the Tagus River. As such, the tower was built in the early 16th century and is another prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style along with other architectural styles.
– Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Also known as the Monument to the Discoveries, this monument celebrates the Portuguese Discoveries (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries. Along with the main statue of Henry the Navigator, on both sides of the ramps of the monument are a total of 33 figures from the history of the Discoveries, like Vasco da Gama (discoverer of the sea route to India and Pedro Álvares Cabral (discoverer of Brazil).
No words can describe how delicious these typical pastries are. Please just go to Belém an try them.
Parque das Nações
The modern Lisbon parish of Parque das Nações was established in 2012. It’s a leisure, commercial, and residential area since the 1998 World Exposition (EXPO ’98).
Parque das Nações is located in north-eastern Lisbon next to the Tagus estuary, one of the biggest and diverse estuaries of the European Continent and formerly used for mainly industrial purposes. Nowadays, Parque das Nações hosts one of Portugal’s most modern Marinas.
There are several things to do in Parque das Nações, you can go for a walk or a run along the stunning promenade to enjoy the views over the Vasco da Gama Bridge, Vasco da Gama Tower, the São Gabriel and São Rafael twin towers and the Marina. You can enjoy a concert in the huge Atlantic Pavilion concert hall or go to an event of congress in FIL.
If you appreciate nature and the ocean but the weather does not allow for a boat ride or other ocean-related activity, the Oceanarium is the place to go. The Lisbon Oceanarium is a large-scale aquarium presenting an ocean habitat with marine animals, especially large ocean dwellers such as sharks.
Parque das Nações is home to Lisbon’s Casino – “Casino Lisboa”. The Casino is a very modern building with an Arena Lounge and three Gambling Bars. Even if you don’t like gambling the “Cascino Lisboa” is definitely worth a visit to have dinner or to enjoy a show or concert. “Casino Lisboa” is open every day from 15h to 03h. On Fridays, Saturdays and holiday eves, the casino is open from 16h to 04h, so you can enjoy until a little later.
For the shopping fanatics, Parque das Nações hosts one of the major shopping malls of Lisbon, Vasco da Gama Shopping Mall. The modern building has got an enormous supermarket, many international brands and smaller boutiques and a food court.
Things to do in Sintra
Sintra is a magical village located about half an hour drive from Lisbon (there’s also a train that departs from Rossio Train Station).
Sintra is known for its uncountable 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, like palaces and stunning villas. In fact, Sintra is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although Sintra’s heritage in architecture and nature is the most evident face of the historic individuality of Sintra, a whole literary heritage has made the region a mythical reference in Portuguese culture. It has become a major tourist attraction, visited by many day-trippers who travel from Lisbon.
In addition to the Sintra Mountains and Sintra-Cascais Nature Park, the parishes of the town of Sintra are rich in royal retreats, estates, castles and other buildings, including the mediaeval Castle of the Moors (“Castelo dos Mouros”), the Pena National Palace and the Sintra National Palace.
For the ones who like hiking, we recommend the Sintra Mountains with a broad variety in flora thanks to the local micro climate. The mountains are a granite massif of ten kilometres long – considered the Monte da Lua (Mountain of the Moon), due to the strong local tradition of astral cults.
The mountains have got several walking routes or you can go for a run with a local guide to discover the hidden trails.
For us, the essence of Sintra can best be felt in Quinta da Regaleira. Quinta da Regaliera is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the “Cultural Landscape of Sintra”. Along with the other palaces in the area, this is one of the principal tourist attractions of Sintra.
The property consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious gardens that feature lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. Feel the mystery of Sintra!
After exploring Sintra, don’t forget to eat a local pastry, a “Travesseiro” before you head back to Lisbon!
Things to do in Cascais
Cascais is a coastal town just 30km west of Lisbon. You can drive there by car, with very nice route along the Tagus River and several beaches, or you can go by train, which takes the same route (about 45 min form Cais do Sodré, Lisbon). Cascais, is a former fishing village with an idyllic scenery and is now a much-loved summer destinations for Lisboetas (people from Lisbon) and also tourists.
Today, Cascais’ residents are mainly high society, yet all society comes here enjoy the stunning beaches for sailing, surfing and scuba diving.
If you’re staying in Lisbon and looking for the ultimate sporty day out, there are several surf tour available. We recommend the surfer guys from Lisbon Surf Connection who can pick you up at your accommodation to take you to the best surf spot.
The instructors know the surrounding beaches of Lisbon like no other, especially the ones around Cascais. According to the weather and ocean conditions, you will be taken to the best beach: Costa da Caparica, Carcavelos, Linha do Estoril , Guincho, Praia Pequena , Praia Grande , Praia das Maçãs or one of the many other beaches surrounding Lisbon and Cascais.
So, we recommend Cascais for surf enthusiasts but also to wander around the narrow streets of the old part of the town, grab a fresh grilled fish for lunch.
Walking around Cascais is very nice as there are many things to see. The train stops near the historical town centre and from here you can walk towards the fancy Marina of Cascais. You can also go jogging along the stunning promenades along the beaches in direction of the Santa Marta Lighthouse, Fortaleza de Nossa Senhora da Luz.
If you want to run or bike a bit more, you can head up to Praia do Guincho, 9km northwest of Cascais, along the shoreline path. This beach is known for surfing and kite surfin, definitely worth the 9km ride or run.
If you go to Cascais, don’t leave before enjoying one of the best icecreams of Portugal: Santini’s.
Another nice thing to do on a rainy day during your stay in Lisbon is to cross the Tagus River and explore Setúbal. Setúbal is only a 45 minute drive south of Lisbon (you can also reach it by train). Things to do in Lisbon.
Setúbal is one of the biggest cities in Portugal and is a rising tourism destination, mainly because of the large scope of things to do in the Setúbal Peninsula. Things to do in Lisbon.
Setúbal has several churches, fortresses and monasteries that are worth a visit. Our favorite is the “Santa Maria” Fort, located in the idyllic Portinho Arrábida, overlooking the Atlantic. This Fort was built in 1670, by order of King Pedro II, to protect the coastal zone, is surely worth a visit. This Fort has recently been turned into the local Oceanographic Museum and a center for marine biology, part of the Arrábida Natural Park. Things to do in Lisbon.
If the weather is actually OK, there are several things to de in Setúbal departing from the harbour of Setúbal. In fact, there are many boat tours from Setúbal. Most of the boat trips are related to dolphin observation since there is a pod of friendly bottlenose dolphins that are resident in the Sado River (Natural Park).
Setúbal is a great eating destination! The Setúbal Peninsula is a true sanctuary of flavours, where the local gastronomic secrets are shared on every street corner in authentic local restaurants where the sea is present everywhere.
In Setúbal, we tasted the best fish dishes and shellfish from Portugal. Some typical local dishes include “Choco frito à Setubalense” (Fried cuttlefish) and romantic Natural Oysters. If you’re not fond of fish and wine, you won’t be disappointed by the meat meals and local beers. To find out more about Setúbal, please check a more detailed article about things to do in Setúbal here.
So, if you were still doubting about whether you should or not go for a holiday break during this fall, we hope we convinced you.
Book your flight and stay in Lisbon now and if you’re looking for a kind of activity that is not listed here or need some further tips, please feel free to give us a call and we’ll do everything to help you! Things to do in Lisbon.