I’ve had Portugal on my mind for about three years now and so when we decided to cancel a trip to Thailand and Cambodia…which we had already planned out, booked flights for, and put deposits on accommodation for…I knew right away where I wanted to go instead. With only a couple of weeks to plan the trip it came down to how much could we pack into our two week visit. Travelling with my daughter-in-law, who had been before, certainly helped! The trick was to balance what I wanted to see with also making sure got to experience some new things. I think it worked out well for both of us.
Coming from Canada we flew in and out of Lisbon, however starting and ending in two different cities, if that’s possible, would save some land travel. We wanted to begin in Porto, so after taking the metro from the airport to Oriente Station, we caught a train to Porto.
Porto is dreamy! I absolutely fell in love with this city. It is small enough to walk everywhere easily and there is so much to see. We only spent 4 nights here, and used every bit of that time to explore the city and the area around it.
We walked across the bridge one evening to Vila Nova de Gaia, took a tram one morning to the seaside town of Foz, and did a day tour of the Douro Valley…a highlight! I would say 4 nights is a minimum amount of time here…if you have the time then stay longer and enjoy meandering around this city. Our next stop was down south in the Algarve so we traveled by train, leaving from Sao Bento station and transferring at Campanha Station in Porto, and then at Oriente in Lisbon.
Arriving in Albufeira we made our way to our hotel for the next 3 nights. We chose Albufeira because of the ease of transportation, both trains and buses, that go in and out of that city. If you rent a car then you will have a lot of options of where to stay in the Algarve. Lagos is highly recommended as well as places to the west of that town. The Algarve is a beautiful spot and a good place to unwind for a few days.
After our time in the Algarve we took a bus to the town of Evora for 1 night. There was a morning bus from Albufeira that allowed us to get to Evora in the early afternoon. We weren’t planning on leaving until the next afternoon so we took advantage of all the time we had here by seeing the sights within the city. Evora can also be done as a day tour from Lisbon, but I’m glad we stayed the night here to enjoy the city in the evening, and the next morning without the crowds.
The next afternoon we walked to the bus station, which is less than a kilometer from the city. Buses run every hour from here to Lisbon so no need to worry about rushing your time here.
We got the bus from Evora to Sete Rios Station and then hopped on the metro to get to Santa Apolonia Station, which was close to where we would be staying. We had booked 5 nights in Lisbon, which is plenty of time, as we even did two full-day tours during that time. My suggestion here would be to do one less day in Lisbon and add it to Porto or another smaller town somewhere.
Transportation in Portugal is fantastic! With only two weeks, and using public trains and buses, you can certainly see a lot of this gorgeous country! Unfortunately as I’m getting ready to post this we are dealing with a world-wide Covid-19 virus which has caused many people to cancel holiday plans and/or isolate themselves for fear of spreading the disease. I really do feel we were lucky to return home when we did, and am so thankful we were able to travel without restrictions. Hopefully in the near future we will all be able to enjoy discovering new places again.