After reading blogs on this website about how to plan trips for Norway (northern Europe), Paris and Amsterdam (central Europe), Hungary-Slovakia-Austria- Croatia (mid eastern Europe) here comes a blog about Portugal (south-western Europe).
Back in 2017, we visited Portugal and Spain. I would like to cover trip details of Portugal first in this blog. Why Portugal? Firstly, back in 2009, I had Portuguese colleagues who had talked about Portugal and unexplored beauties of the place. Even though I didn’t remember the details while planning the trip, the country never left my mind. It was on my list since then. I remember staring at beautiful pictures taken by my friend Susana and wondered how little people talk about the place. In addition, one of the first people to visit India for trade were Portuguese and the curiosity about them always stayed in my mind. It was like let me visit the place from where Vasco da Gama had arrived. During my ‘research’ 🙂 about planning the Portugal trip, I quickly determined that I would like to visit south Algarve region of Portugal, no matter what!
Let’s start with planning the Portugal trip
Things to consider for our trip
- Plan a trip for a couple
- Visit at least three places in Portugal – Lisbon, Lagos and Faro
- Book accommodation suitable for these three places
- Total trip days: 7 nights 8 days
- Should cover capital city and beaches of South Portugal Algarve region.
Travel Route and means of transport
- Stockholm – Lisbon by flight
- Lisbon to Lagos by train
- Lagos to Faro by car
- Faro to Lisbon by flight
Book an air travel ticket
Similar to many other trips I have taken, I ended up booking a Norwegian airlines ticket from Stockholm to Lisbon. Flight is as long was 3 hours 15 minutes.
When I started looking for tickets from Faro to Lisbon, I quickly realized ‘TAP Portugal’ airline name appeared as top option. Well, if you are like me, who hadn’t heard of the company name before, you will be a little skeptical of booking the airline. I was and hence to confirm, I asked a Portuguese friend of mine, if she recommended it. She assured me that she flew with them most often and would be good option to use to travel within Portugal. So as it turns out, TAP (Transportes Aéreos Portugueses) Air Portugal is Portuguese airline and member of Star Alliance since 2005.
For travelling from Lisbon Airport to city, a lot of options are available as seen here. We chose to reach city using the metro line as we had manageable luggage with us. We needed to reach Marques de Pombal metro station. I suggest using this metro map to decide your journey.
Determine the route of travel / Itinerary of the trip
Reach Lisbon by afternoon of first day
Day 1 (half day), Day 2 and Day 3: Explore Lisbon and Sintra
Day 4: Travel to Lagos by train. Reach by afternoon, explore half of the day
Day 5: Explore Lagos beaches, Sagres and Cabo de Sao Vicente
Day 6: Explore Lagos beaches by boat early morning, drive down to Faro while stopping at relevant places in between. Check in Faro hostel and explore Faro in evening
Day 7: Explore Faro
Day 8: Afternoon Flight from Faro Airport back to Lisbon
Book comfortable accommodation
Hostels! Have you ever explored this option as a couple? We absolutely love it while exploring time demanding new cities and towns. People have misconceptions that hostels are meant for young people (under 20s or in early 20s). ‘Age’ shouldn’t matter while exploring hostels. We have seen many older inmates. Hostels are perfect options sometimes even better than hotels.
Point is to find the right hostel. I strongly rely on hostelworld.com for all my hostel bookings. I have found some absolutely beautiful hostels in absolutely convenient locations in reasonable prices.
Three hostels of Portugal which we chose are as follows
- Lisboa Central Hostel
- Old Town Lagos Hostel
- Casa da Madalena Backpackers
All the three accommodations were perfect and served our purpose of having a meaningful experience. Each hostel had it’s own vibe. Actually since Lisbon is capital city and the hostel was located near the center, it was comparatively larger in size with huge rooms. In contrast, Lagos had a very strong ‘beach life’ feeling with beds meant only for nights (no one enters the hostel before night) and Faro was the most laid back hostel. It was a house run by 4 adults with huge rooms used as mixed dorms, really felt the backpacker vibe. Yet these rooms were perfect to relax, unwind and hide from the sun. Also nice place to meet new people from different countries.
Book the connecting modes of transport
Lisbon to Lagos:
This journey was not booked in advance. We booked train tickets after reaching Lisbon. We visited the train station and booked tickets with the ticket office. Direct train to Lagos is not available. Train needs to be changed at Tunes station. Our first train was 15 minutes late and there wasn’t enough time to change trains at Tunes station, we were really stressed, but the railway officials communicated among themselves and the next train was delayed for us. At Tunes station we realized we were not the only ones who were in same predicament, literally half of the passengers were in similar situation. The moment we reached the station, next train was waiting on the same platform on opposite side. Phew! It takes around 4 and half hours by train to reach Lagos.
Lagos to Faro:
Unlike Lisbon, Lagos and Faro are typical south Portugal beach towns with limited public means of transport if one wants to travel and explore remote locations and beaches along the Algarve coast of Portugal.
Before leaving Stockholm, we had contacted www.luzcar.com. We booked a rental car for 5 days and used it during our stay in Lagos and Faro. So, the deal was that we pickup the car from their office in Lagos after showing appropriate documents and leave the car at Faro airport. They have office at the Faro airport as well, so we informed them after parking the car at Airport parking lot. Also, worth knowing is that my husband could drive the car using Indian driving licence. All we had to find was parking space for all nights be it in Lagos or Faro. Luckily there was a huge overnight parking lot near our hostel in Lagos and paid parking on roads in Faro which helped us.
Though it was straightforward to plan this trip, our experiences were even more fruitful than I imagined. If you are a beach person then Portugal is a country you must visit. So excited to show you the locations we loved to visit in Lisbon, Lagos and Faro in my upcoming blogs. Don’t forget to let me know some other cities and towns that you have visited in Portugal.