THREE DAYS IN PORTUGAL
...HELLO- OLA...GOODBYE- TCHAU...PLEASE- POR FAVOR...THANK YOU- OBRIGADO(A)...
When you are short on travel time and want to pack a lot in sometimes it is helpful to make a loose guide of the area(s) you are trying to visit and get as much done on your agenda as you have energy for. I knew 3 days in Porto and Lisbon would not be enough but it definitely whet our appetites and made us want to return for more. As an extreme list maker and planner, I had quite a bit on our "to-do" list and while most of it was great, there were a few things that could've been skipped. Here are my recommendations for conquering Portugal in 3 days.
Check in to the amazing (and I mean AMAZING) Malmerendas Hotel. This beautifully designed and furnished 5-room boutique hotel is owned by a local couple who live in the house next door. Their good friend Hugo operates the hotel and is a wonderful host with great suggestions on what to do in the city. Each room has a lovely, tiled balcony looking out on the garden or street below. You will be shocked by how affordable this stay is too, it is hands down the nicest place I've stayed in Europe.
Eat at Cantina 32 for lunch or dinner or most likely you will want to do both. This modern Portuguese restaurant is on the great shopping street Rua das Flores. Dishes not to miss are the squid stew and the grilled black pudding with apples. Another great spot to hit is Mercearia das Flores on the same street. They have a great selection of local wines and tinned seafood as well as cheese and meats. You can pack a picnic or take things off the shelf to dine-in. They also have a small menu to order from that is yummy.
Shop on Rua das Flores, there are so many great local boutiques with hand made and hand sourced goods. Also check out A Vida Portuguesa for all things Portugal. You could spend hours in there shopping for local perfume, soaps, blankets, olive oils, jewelry, tinned foods, basically anything you heart desires. And if you haven't had enough of local meats, cheeses and wines, check out Casa Lourenço.
And obviously because you are in Porto you should do some Port tasting. But don't go to the tasting rooms on the river, they are overpriced tourist traps. Instead look for a great local wine shop to taste at. We went to Vino Fino on Rua das Flores but there are plenty to choose from all over town with knowledgeable, friendly staff.
Check in to an airbnb. There are some incredible apartments that are super affordable. We were traveling with another couple so staying in the same place was essential for us. We got a great place in Bairro Alto near lots of bars and restaurants. It was a steal at $120 per night for a 2 bd/2 bath, two story apartment with a view of the river.
Eat at the TimeOut Market, yes the name is silly but the food stalls are incredible. With a selection of over 40 shops and restaurants you can get a wide variety of what Lisbon has to offer all under one roof. One of my favorites there is SeaMe Peixaria. Another great stop is Enoteca de Belem in the parish of Belem, just southwest of the city center. After visiting the Tower of Belem and Jeronimo's Monastery stop in for a leisurely, late lunch paired with excellent Portuguese wines.
Shop at Dandi for beautiful handmade women's clothing. They have a workshop upstairs from the boutique so don't fret if they are out of your size, they can customize you a new piece. For all things bacalhau go to none other than Rei do Bacalhau (literally translates to king of cod) where you can get canned cod, dried cod, dried octopus, olive oil, honey, and local wine. And worry not, if you missed A Vida Portuguesa in Porto, there is a second location in Lisbon.
In between Porto and Lisbon make sure to check out the beautiful beaches on the Atlantic. The sand is golden and powdery and the water is crystal clear. We chose to stop in Peniche, about 90 minutes from Lisbon and it was surfer's paradise. We also took a 30-minute train ride from Lisbon to the beach town of Cascais. Both times we packed hearty picnics of wine, bread, cheese and seafood and spent the afternoon sunbathing and swimming.