It’s been a tough few years for travel. Having said that, I have managed to squeeze in some pretty incredible trips using Barcelona as my launching point. While I have found a will and a way to travel, I have been less enthused to write about it. My latest trip home to Massachusetts has given me the spark I needed to share my summer jaunts with you all.
First let’s talk Portugal.
Portugal has been on my list of places to see for quite some time. At one point last summer I almost got there when I took a trip to the western part of Spain, but still never managed to cross the boarder. This summer I finally made the trip a reality, thanks in part to friends who invited me along for the ride (literally as we drove all along the southern coast)!
Armed with zero Portuguese, a carry on suitcase that included a bathing suit, towel and a four euro straw visor, I was ready to hit the beaches of this rocky and wonderful coastal country.
So as not to forget a single AirBnb, restaurant, beach or vantage point, I dropped pins along our way on Google Maps. This has been the smartest thing I have done in all my years of traveling. I can now actually give concrete suggestions to friends of places to go and places to stay by looking back at my map, rather than grasping at vague memories or saying things like “you should go to this beach I went to, it was so cute! I think it was in a small town on a road near a mountain” (could I get anymore vague)??
What I loved most about my one week meander up the Portuguese coast were the breathtaking views. Each day was filled with drives to two to three beaches.
Towel laid out.
Sunscreen slathered on.
There was nothing more to do besides relax on the sandy beaches between dips into the chilly Atlantic Ocean, which for this New England girl felt like bath water. The jagged coastline stretched as far as the eye could see. At some stops we would descend rickety stairs, kick off our sandals and shuffle our way to a clearing on a big beach. Other times we would settle ourselves into a petit cove, making it feel like our own hidden paradise.
Thanks to COVID it didn’t matter where we went, the beaches were not as packed as they usually are. Here is a list of some of my favorites from our trip.
1. The Benagil Caves- packed with people paddle boarding, kayaking, and boating to the famous caves, it’s not the most relaxing spot. It was however an amazing sight to see and shouldn’t be missed!
2. Albufeira- this little cove was one of my favorites because of its amazing cut out rock formations and cozy feel.
3. Portimão- we took a boat ride out of this port and then enjoyed the day lounging on the surrounding beaches. It had local charm and plenty of sand space to share.
4. Praia de Baía do Porto Covo – this picturesque cove was tucked in at the coast of an adorable little town.
5. Ponta da Piedade- turquoise clear water awaited us in this hidden cove. We spent some time in one part before relocating to another section connected by a tunnel dug out in the rocks.
Then there was the food. Oh boy, did Portugal not disappoint. There were a few must try items on my list such as freshly caught sardines and creamy, sweet pasteis de nata, which I had a few times. Then there was pretty much everything else I ate while I was there. Every meal was mouthwateringly delicious, except for maybe the plate of snails. I’m glad I tried them but I don’t think I’ll be ordering them again. And of course there were all the bottles of wine to pair with each delicacy.
I couldn’t have asked for a better week in Portugal. It was easy to fall in love with the surroundings and friendly people we met. Now I’m just wondering when I can go back?!