My Top 5 Favourite Stops During my Trip to Portugal
Get ready for lots of pictures!
It has been just over a week since I returned from my 10-day trip to Portugal. It was my first time in the beautiful country and man, were we busy. We spent nearly every day in the car going somewhere new, even for P and his family who go each year.
And while there was a lot that I saw and enjoyed, there were a few things that really stood out to me. These were places I had seen pictures of and really wanted to see up close for myself.
Águeda - the city of coloured umbrellas
The AgitÁgueda is an art festival which runs in the city of Águeda during the month of July. However, throughout the entire summer, the city skies are filled with colourful umbrellas of different patterns and colours. This was a great day trip for us as it wasn't far away from P's house in Portugal. Águeda is near a nice river which made it a beautiful setting to walk around. The umbrella's hanging above the main shopping area was magical to see and explore.
There is so much to see in Lisbon. I spent the better part of an entire day in the city, and I barely scratched the surface of what is to be seen there. Talking about it with P after, we decided that if we do come back to Lisbon, we would spend about 4 days there. That way, we could see each section of the city properly.
We went on a Hippotrip tour which meant getting on an amphibious bus. After about 40 minutes driving throughout the city and getting a brief and interesting history of the city, we ventured into the water to get another view of the famous water landmarks in Lisbon. To me, the most incredible to see at any distance was the monument dedicated to Portugal's navigations throughout the world in the 16th and 17th centuries. The detail was incredible and it had a fairly spectacular view of Lisbon when you got to the top.
This trip to Lisbon was just along the water and we walked at least 10kms during our day. It really emphasized the point of needing comfortable shoes to walk around. Although, we did see many people renting bicycles, motorized scooters, and other smaller vehicles to get around faster.
This was something that I was looking forward to visiting. I truly didn't understand the magnitude of the size of this place. It also was something of importance to my family. My great-grandmother who passed in 2011 often visited Fatima with her friends throughout her life. She even had a vile of holy water from Fatima in her apartment when she passed away.
What was really interesting was that a piece of the Berlin Wall was on display behind glass. It was a pretty remarkable thing to see in person.
It was a pretty spiritual and grand place to walk around. From the original church to the new addition, there was much to see. I went on a day that wasn't extremely busy, those are typically the 13th of each month, especially in May and August. I think even if you aren't catholic, or even particularly religious, Fátima is still something to behold.
From Coimbra University to the Coimbra Forum and the Portugal Dos Pequenitos, the city of Coimbra has a lot to offer. Since it wasn't that far away from where we were staying, we found ourselves there a few times over our stay. Coimbra University is the oldest university in Europe! It was first mentioned in books in the 1500s and is really quite a site. The library (which I was sadly not allowed to take photos of) was stunning. If you can imagine the library from Beauty and the Beast. Ya, that's it.
Coimbra Forum, which was a massive mall in the city, was great to explore. It reminded me a lot of The Eaton Centre here in Toronto, except The Eaton Centre definitely does not have the stunning view that the Coimbra Forum does from its food court. It made eating Burger King for dinner all that more romantic.
Finally, the Portugal Dos Pequenitos is a fun adventure, especially if you have kids. The buildings are all miniatures, though large enough for adults to get into. It features designs of various buildings throughout Portugal mostly, but does also feature buildings from around the world. It was a fun thing to climb, but I definitely can see how much better it is as a child where you can easily move around in the buildings.
The Livraria Lello in Porto
Known as "The World's Most Beautiful Bookshop," this was a magical spot to visit. And I mean magical. While JK Rowling was in the midst of writing Harry Potter, she often visited the shop while she was working in Porto as a teacher.
It is said that much of the Livraria Lello can be found between the lines and in the descriptions of the Harry Potter books. Particularly Flourish and Blotts, the bookstore Hogwarts students venture to when they need to purchase their books for the school year. The bookstore even had a section in the back strictly filled with Harry Potter in a variety of languages. It was incredible busy, and you had to wait in line to buy a ticket then wait in line to get in, so perhaps a better time to go is in April-June, when it may not be as busy and you can move around a bit more easily.
I still enjoyed it and loved looking around to see the beautiful details.
If you're thinking of a trip to Portugal, make sure you plan out your time! I was there for 10 days and I barely scratched the surface of what Portugal has to offer. Making a plan will maximize your visit.
Although I'm not sure when I'll be back to Portugal, I already know that I will be spending a lot of my visit in the Algarve region. Filled with stunning beaches and landscapes, it will be one I'm sure I'll enjoy relaxing in and exploring.