Hello everyone and happy new year first of all!
I’ve been so inactive on the blog and instagram lately and I don’t really have any valid excuse for it but since I’m embarking on a new adventure which I’d like to share with you in a bit more than two months I figured it was time to get back in the game. One of the reasons I haven’t published a lot while traveling lately was my internal struggle between just wanting to enjoy the journey and be in the moment, and on the other hand wanting to document and remember it. At times I got quite tired of always taking out my camera or later editing and sharing those images and decided to just take it in for me. So that’s why I haven’t really put anything together in some time but regardless, I still enjoy sharing experiences and advice on trips I’ve taken because I myself always find it so helpful to read various personalized blog posts additional to guide books and such.
So in September I spent eight days in Portugal with my best friend and we tried Interrail for the first time. For those who have never heard of it, Interrail offers their so called train “passes” to European citizens which are usually cheaper than buying each train ticket by itself and are especially affordable for young people. You can either get their Global Pass which lets you travel through all European countries, or a One Country Pass that is valid in one country only. The One Country Passes vary in price given that the railway prices are different in each country. We decided on Portugal as neither of us had ever been and the pass is relatively cheap in comparison. Since you can’t get a One Country Pass for your own country we decided to fly from Munich to Lisbon and back since the multiple stop flights were way more expensive. We opted for a four day pass, which means that we were able to travel as much as we wanted on four days of our choice within a month. This is especially useful if you have a Global Pass and want to travel large distances.
Afterwards, we put together our itinerary so we could book accommodations and reserve trains. In some places it’s necessary to reserve seats on the train beforehand but for Portugal we were only able to look up the times on the Interrail website and put together our desired itinerary. We had to do our reservations right at the train station and did them all on the first day in Lisbon. For each reservation, we had to pay 5€ and in some cases we had to opt for a later or an earlier train but that didn’t really bother us.
We decided we wanted to see Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve and spend about three days in each place. Of course, plans don’t always work out so our actual itinerary differed a bit from what we had originally planned after arriving a day late due to a delayed flight and hence a missed connection. After staying the night in Barcelona finally leaving for Lisbon first thing in the morning, this is what our journey looked like:
Day 1: Lisbon
Sightseeing in Lisbon: Alfama, Praça do Comercio, Arco da Rua Augusta, Elevador de Santa Justa, Convento do Carmo, Miradouro de Santa Luzia.
Where we stayed: Mini Hostel Lisbon. Super sweet owner, amazing rooftop terrace!
Day 2: Train to Porto
Train in the morning. Walk along the Douro River in Vila Nova de Gaia. Crossing the river via Ponte Luís I to Porto. Praça Ribeira, Jardim do Infante Dom Henrique, Igreja Paroquial de São Nicolau, Igreja Monumento de São Francisco, Estação São Bento, Rua das Flores, Livraria Lello. Typical francesinhas for dinner.
Where we stayed: Casinha d’Ouro in Vila Nova de Gaia. Hard to find at first and about 15-20mins to get to Porto on foot. You have an own mini apartment all to yourself but as two girls we didn’t feel totally safe in the deserted neighborhood and didn’t feel comfortable to go back there at night so we never stayed out too late.
Day 3: Porto
Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, Jardim da Cordoaria universidad da Oporto, Sé do Porto. Café stops for pastéis de nata in Cafe Guerre and empanadas argentinas and vinho branco in El Argento (100% recommend!). Also, bars in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Day 4: Train to Lisbon
Train to Lisbon in the afternoon. Ponte 25 de Abril. Dinner.
Where we stayed: Vistas de Lisboa. Great location and vistas.
Day 5: Train to Faro
Early train. Picked up a rental car. Drove to Benagil Beach to swim into the famous Gruta de Benagil. The cave is truly stunning but so so full of people and boats. We also rented a SUP which was a really cool way of visiting the cave and definitely less dangerous than swimming.
Where we stayed: Daniel’s casita in São Brás de Alportel. Just wow. Daniel is the nicest host with his house being right next to the mini house you’ll be staying in. It’s beautifully furnished and you have access to his entire yard, seating area outside, terrace and natural swimming pool. I strongly recommend you staying there if you’re planning on exploring the area, we didn’t want to leave and totally want to go back there!
Day 6: Algarve Roadtrip
Drive to Lagos. Coastal walk around Ponta da Piedade with the most stunning views, totally recommend. Caught some sun(burn) at Praia do Camilo (gorgeous, but very overcrowded even on a week day). Praia de Dona Ana. Praia dos Três Irmãos.
Day 7: Train to Lisbon
Praia da Quinta do Lago. Returned the rental car. Train back to Lisbon. Night walk around Lisbon.
Day 8: Flight home
Até logo, Portugal!
I hope this was somewhat helpful to you if you’re planning an Interrail adventure of your own. Portugal is ideal for travel by train and quite affordable as well. My favorite was definitely the Algarve and I really want to go back there and spend more time just exploring beaches and enjoying the mindblowingly beautiful coast. If you have more specific questions about each city in particular, just leave a comment or contact me directly and I’m happy to help!
Side Note: My laptop broke a couple of weeks ago and I still don’t have it back so that’s all the pictures I have on my phone but I’ll add more once I get it back!
Diga sim a novas aventuras.