When visiting Portugal with my husband and toddler son, I knew I wanted to approach the trip with my future clients in mind! After all, Olegana Travel Boutique is my second baby and it offers custom trip planning based on my first-hand experiences. I wanted to share our family travel adventure with all of you so that you can walk away with all the tips and tricks to make a vacation to Portugal the experience of a lifetime! So, I gathered hotel and restaurant suggestions and a list of day trip ideas, and I’m ready to spill the tea!
Let’s start in Lisbon.
One great tip to know if you’re traveling with kids is that at the Lisbon airport, you can go through the VIP express lane! Seriously, don’t forget this…otherwise it will be a very long wait in line and not the best way to start your trip. It’s nice for a change to have something that makes traveling with kids easier than traveling without them!
Once you arrive, throw on those comfortable shoes and enjoy walking the hilly, uneven, cobblestone streets that spread throughout Lisbon. As far as accommodation recommendations, you would need to decide first if you want to be in the “new” modern part of the city, in the downtown part of Lisbon located in the upper part of the city, or in the “old” part of the city, in the historic part closer to the water and next to all the tourist attractions.
One attraction you won’t want to miss in Lisbon is the Avenida da Liberdade. Take a walk down it’s very large and broad avenue and visit five popular kiosks — each one dedicated to a different theme such as chocolate, pizza, and hot dogs! You’ll find great snacks and drinks along this avenue. This avenue connects the “new” and the “old” parts of the city!
For the best restaurants, check out The Time Out Market — 24 restaurants, 8 bars, a dozen shops, and a high-end music venue, all with the very best in Lisbon. If you’re looking for a sit-down, romantic experience on a rooftop sipping mojitos, check out Restaurante Sacramento. Both are very kid friendly!
Once you’ve seen what you want to see in Lisbon, here is a list of the best options for other places to visit in Portugal:
Day Trip To Sintra
On your way to Sintra from Lisbon, I highly recommend stopping at the Palace of Queluz to view its French-inspired architecture. You’ll love exploring the rich history found in its many rooms!
When you get into Sintra, you won’t want to miss visiting Pena Palace in Sintra — one of the finest tourist attractions in Portugal. You will view stunning 19th-century architecture and a beautiful outdoor space surrounding the palace. The number one tip I have at this place is to order tickets online and arrive around 9 a.m. so you can avoid the wait time.
On your way back from Sintra, be sure to check out Cabo da Roca — Continental Europe’s most Western point. It’s a quick stop with spectacular cliff views you won’t want to miss!
Now, just as I want to give you tips for must-see sights, I also want to save you the trouble exploring places that I found to be a let-down. In Sintra, you will see a castle on the very top of the hill. It will look like something you want to explore, but take it from someone who visited — it’s just castle ruins and not worth visiting. Stick to the recommendations above to make the most out of your time in Sintra.
Day Trip To Evora
Evora has great prices on souvenirs and really fun cork products. I got a pair of cork slippers that I love! One important tip when you visit Evora is to park outside the town walls and walk! The streets are very narrow, and at one point, the local roads will take you to an unpaved road that scratched our rental car (thank goodness for insurance, but what a not-so-fun lesson to learn!)
Day Trip to Obidos
Obidos is a beautiful village that reminded me of the Greek Islands. It’s one of the most touristy places in Portugal, so the souvenirs are expensive. Note that Obidos is for pedestrians only, so be sure to park outside the village gates.
Don’t leave there without trying the local “Ginja.” It’s a Morello cherry liqueur that you can order “com elas” (with the marinated cherries) or “sem elas” (without the cherries). Ginja can also be served in a chocolate cup that you can eat after drinking. It is absolutely delicious!
Nazare is a lovely fishing village off the beaten path. It was an unexpected find for us and had the best prices we found on souvenirs. During the offseason, the rates are really inexpensive and can keep you away from the crowds if you don’t want to stay in a touristy area!
If you’re a surfer, this will be your paradise! Watch this video to see why!
Visit Douro Valley
In Douro Valley, picture magical landscapes and breathtaking scenery with a wine glass in hand. There are many ways to explore this wine valley. If you aren’t able to do a week-long river cruise there, be sure to at least take a short 1-2 hour cruise sailing the Douro River. If you visit in the fall, take a ride through Porto to Douro Valley on the presidential train open to the public until 2020. There is a Michelin chef restaurant onboard you must try! I know however you plan to explore here, you will fall in love with this enchanted valley.
The Intercontinental hotel in Porto has one of the most amazing locations in Portugal and is worth the splurge! You’ll quickly see why it’s rated five stars! While in Porto, pick up an amazing smelling Castelbel soap (or two or three) for souvenirs!
If you have kids and you’re visiting Coimbra, you have to check out Portugal Dos Pequenitos. It’s a small theme park that is a miniature Portugal. This place is dedicated to giving kids the experience of what it’s like to be Portuguese. Expect a great learning experience paired with lots of fun for the whole family!
Aveiro is like a Portuguese Venice. It’s a modern city with many clothing stores and the best shoe shopping. If you’re looking to spend a shopping day somewhere, Aveiro is the place!
Now that you have a rundown of the best places to visit in Portugal, let us help you start planning your trip!