Surprise! I’m in Portugal!

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If you subscribe to my newsletter, you already heard the news.  I’m in Portugal and Spain for five weeks!

I just got to Lisbon yesterday and I am already bowled over by this city.  It’s incredibly beautiful, remarkably intuitive, and surprisingly affordable.  I have no doubt that Lisbon will be one of my new favorite cities.

I was a bit worried about the weather, knowing that April and May would be optimal months for visiting Portugal and Spain, not February and March.  But so far, Lisbon is in the low sixties (about 17 C) and, honestly, it’s delightful after my long winter in Turkey, England, Massachusetts, Scotland, and Shetland.

I wouldn’t book a Mediterranean cruise vacation with Virgin during this time of year, nor would I camp out on the beach, but these springtime temperatures are perfect for walking around and exploring — WITHOUT a coat!

Here is where I will be visiting for the next five weeks:

In Portugal:

Lisbon.  Two days for now.  On Wednesday, I return for a full week in an apartment courtesy of Roomorama.  I’ll be day tripping to Sintra.

Porto.  Three days checking out Portugal’s northern town, and hopefully sampling lots of port.

Evora.  Mostly for the bone chapel, but I hear it’s a nice city.

Santa Clara a Velha.  I will be staying at the Quinta resort in rural southern Portugal for two days.  I met Frank, the owner, at WTM back in November.  He invited me to check out the resort, which looks very green and very relaxing.  I can’t wait to taste the local, organic meals!

After my Portugal sojourns, I move on to Spain:

Sevilla.  Flamenco and all that lovely stuff of Andalusia!

Granada.  I’m mostly excited for the free tapas.  FREE.

Madrid.  I was originally going to skip Madrid, but after you all protested vehemently (and my friend Erin offered me a place to stay!), I decided to add it after all!

Valencia.  This is very exciting — I am going to Las Fallas, the festival of fire in Valencia!  I will be part of Busabout‘s Las Fallas trip.  Busabout is underneath the same parent company as my beloved Haggis Adventures, so I’m really excited to experience my second fire festival of the year with them!

Barcelona.  I only get one full day here, but it seemed like a good idea to fly out of here rather than backtracking to Madrid!  (I’m flying with my British Airways miles, so I pay only $20 per flight anywhere in Europe.)

Have you been to anywhere on this list?  Do you have any suggestions?  I’d love to hear them!

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38 thoughts on “Surprise! I’m in Portugal!”

  1. Sounds like you have big plans! I’ve lived in Valencia and Madrid for some good time… so please don’t hesitate dropping a mail for any recommendation over there. Enjoy!!

  2. I spent my childhood in Portugal and returned from the US to be married there last year. It’s a beautiful country! If you are staying in Lisbon, make sure to visit st george’s castle at the top of the city! And Sintra is one of the most magical places on earth. — in addition to the moorish castle and other Sintra highlights, I absolutely recommend Regaileira — it’s an estate that recently reopened to the public. The grounds are beautiful — and have secret tunnels and hidden caves you can explore to your heart’s delight!

  3. It would be awesome if you took a ferry from southern Spain to Morocco! I’ve never been, but the pictures I’ve seen look amazing! Chefchaouen especially.

  4. There’s something magical about Lisbon. It’s such a nice place to get lost in, with it’s winding streets, and tiny alley ways. There’s always a surprise around every corner.

  5. Excited to read about the new trips, but mostly looking forward to your report from Las Fallas…you have a thing for festivals involving fire, don’t you?

  6. If you have time, I would highly recommend a meal in Estoril/Cascais and hike to the Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell). Estoril is about 20 minutes west of Lisbon by car, 40 minutes by train from Lisbon, and 20 minutes south of Sintra by car depending on where you are starting out from.

    I went during the fall, and the waves weren’t that impressive, but I’ve heard in the winter it is a sight to behold.

    Hope you enjoy your time in Portugal and Spain!!!

  7. Hello, welcome To Lisbon. I’m manager at Startup Lisboa, Lisbon City Incubator.
    Our office is In downtown, rua da prata 80.
    We would love To receive your visit and to help on your stay.
    You can contact for any question by This mail or 917033375.
    Best regards

  8. “I’m flying with my British Airways miles, so I pay only $20 per flight anywhere in Europe”

    How d’you get to pay only $20 per flight with BA miles please? Aren’t taxes of quite a bit more than that added to the free (with miles) base price, so you’d either describe the flights as free or a higher number than $20? Sorry to ask, but I have a big BA miles balance and I’d be grateful to hear how you get that price…

  9. Portugal is awesome, and really inexpensive too! Porto is one of my favorite cities; I imagine you already have a place to stay, but the Magnolia Hostel is awesome if you need any suggestions.

    Good decision to visit Madrid! There are a good amount of bars in Madrid that give free tapas as well, not just in Granada. But in Granada the tapas portions are enormous… Do what most Spaniards do and go to a bar, order a drink, eat your tapas, and then bar hop over to the next one. Make sure you try some jamón ibérico de bellota if you get the chance!

  10. “If you subscribe to my newsletter” – is that a hint, Kate? I had no idea you were in Portugal! Guess I better subscribe then! (no really, I’m not being a sarcastic Brit!)

    Lisbon looks beautiful, and your Spanish itinerary sounds AMAZING – you’re going exactly where I’d want to go if I was in Spain! Can’t wait to read your posts. I’m expecting pictures of attractive male flamenco dancers, please and thankyou! 😉

  11. I’ve been in Portugal (Lisbon, Sintra, Capo da Roca and Obidos). I didn’t saw Obidos on your list so i propose it if you still got some time around Lisbon. It’s really nice, a little medieval town! Most like a Portugal village, very autenthic

    In North Portugal (not far from Porto) I would say Aveiro, a nice city that I wish I will see it one day! it’s on my by bucket List!

    Alice from Romania

  12. Go to Coimbra. Academic festivities start next week, the Serenata on thursday night is really moving, and it’s a week full of emotions, partying… university city with medieval churches, roman remains, winding streets, great pastries, great nature… 😉

  13. Spent 3 nights at Camping Lisboa in my little motorhome enroute to Albufeira, unfortunately torrential rain put paid to any sight-seeing but I did see Big John Wayne mounted on his horse in the local shopping Mall. December 2010.

  14. Thank you very much for this enthusiastic article, Kate!
    My first visit to Portugal was 33 years ago – and I have come back to visit this very awsome country on the extreme west of Europe almost 100 times. I am pretty sure that you’ll love Portugal and the Portuguese. Enjoy!

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