Europe has been my first travel love. Growing up in Italy, I always cherished the ability to hop on a car, a train or a boat and cross into other countries at my heart desire and over the course of the years I had my fair share of beautiful trips.
Despite this ease of movement there is, nonetheless, one country in Europe that I haven’t properly visited and that I would love to explore: Portugal.
I went to Portugal for the first time many years ago and had what I can call a taste of it. I briefly saw Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, but this fleeting visit did very little to satisfy my curiosity about this country and, if anything, it actually made me want to see more! These are my
Top 5 destinations in Portugal I’d love to visit
My list has to start in Lisbon, the charming capital of Portugal and the home of the fado. Its yellow trams, its Alfama quarter climbing up with whitewashed splendour up to the castle on top, its Atlantic light: everything about it appeals to me and I’d love to be able to sit in front of Belem Tower savouring pasteis de nata once again, this time with the kids!
Update 2018: since writing this post, I fulfilled my travel plan and got the kids to Lisbon last spring! If you want to read about our trip, we have a Lisbon weekend itinerary, a list of top things to do in Lisbon with kids and a review of our favourite family friendly hotel in Lisbon
I have only seen Porto for 2 hours but the city left the strongest impression on me. Have you ever been to a place that made you feel like you belonged there? That was Porto for me. I can’t say what it was: maybe its beautiful bridges, or its luscious vineyards, maybe its old charming buildings? 15 years after my first visit, I haven’t figured it out yet so you see, a new trip is a must!
Evora is a historical town with vestiges dating back to Roman times: it is famous for a temple now declared UNESCO world heritage site and it also has an impressive Gothic cathedral built in the XIII century that is said to be the place where the flags of Vasco de Gama’s first expeditions were blessed. If history wasn’t enough to make me want to go, I have also only recently discovered that Alentejo, Evora’s region, is considered Portugal’s gastronomic soul: considering how delicious Portuguese food is in general, I believe Evora might become one of the highlights of this dream trip.
One of the best-known towns in the whole of Portugal, Sintra is said to have an incredible castle perched on top of a verdant hill populated by exotic plant species. Sintra was the summer retreat of the Portuguese royal family and still now retains proof of this regal past with beautiful palaces and villas: the one I would most dearly like to see is called the ‘Palace of Pena’ that stands out from the surrounding landscape thanks to its vibrant and unexpected yellow walls.
The Azores only recently entered my list of must-see places but are perched right at the top: the pictures I have seen of them show a volcanic land with incredible rock formations, blue waters, and wild nature and apparently they are a fantastic place to go whale watching. I know the kids would love to be able to see these gentle giants and the fact that the Azores also have the tallest mountain in Portugal would also be a hit: kids love record-breaking places!
So, this is my dream European vacation: how about yours?