Today we travel to Pareng Ferdinand Magellan's home, PORTUGAL. I visited Portugal about 5 years ago with my family. We spent a few days in Lisbon then enjoyed the rest of our stay in the sleepy fishing town of Peniche which is slowly becoming a surf spot. This trip was a super blessing, we got our airfares for free (it pays to be patient with your miles!) and we got free accommodations as well! We were fortunate enough to crash at my tita's summer house in Peniche which was beautifully set just by the sea. :) So for this post, I'm sorry if I can't give you tips on budget because we practically had no big budget..we survived on home cooked meals and we rented a small car and managed discovering Portugal on our own.
OVERVIEW FROM THE LONELY PLANET:
While it's true that Portugal is no longer the Iberian Peninsula's best-kept secret, it's fairly easy to escape the crowds. Even at the busiest resorts in the Algarve, it only takes a short bus ride or a walk across countryside to reveal rarely visited places that still offer the feeling of discovery - a sentiment close to the Portuguese soul. Portugal has an old-fashioned charm, with medieval castles and picture-perfect villages scattered over meandering coastlines and flower-covered hillsides. From the ancient university town of Coimbra to Lord Byron's favourite Portuguese haunt, Sintra, the country's proud history can be felt everywhere.
Trip duration: If you plan on visiting Lisbon alone, a 4 day trip will do. However, if you wish to explore the outskirts, you can allot about a week or two to really soak in the Portugese culture. Renting a car is very simple and with all the cars equipped with GPS, it's fairly easy to navigate through the highways and go on a road trip!
When to go: Just like the rest of Europe, Portugal enjoys 4 seasons. Ideally, it's best to visit during the summer if you'd like to hit the beaches and bathe in the glorious Portugese sun. But this is also the time when the hoards of British senior citizens come in as Portugal is their favorite vacation spot. We were there in November, it was very cool and calm with very few tourists..also a nice time to visit!
How to get there: There are many commercial flights to Lisbon. You can always opt to fly to Amsterdam first via KLM or take a Middle Eastern carrier and connect to Lisbon from Abu Dhabi or Dubai. There are many budget flights from neighboring cities like Paris, Madrid, and Milan that fly into Lisbon for less than 30 euros!
Visa required: YES. You will need to apply for a Schengen visa from the Embassy. As long as you get the proper documents in place, you should be able to get your tourist visa in 3 weeks.
|Ed Alcock for The New York Times|
|Images from J Crew|