A day in Peniche, Portugal

During our stay on the Atlantic Coast of Portugal, just north of Lisbon, we decided to explore some of the villages in the region. So on a cloudy morning, we headed north of Vila Louro to Peniche, a town poking out of the coastline into the ocean.

We arrived mid-morning in what seemed to be a rather sleepy town, very little people were in the street and the shops weren’t open yet.

In the lookout for other human beings, we got guided by the sound of voices to Peniche indoor market.

Peniche Market

The place had a fantastic art-deco architecture with the painted tiles indicating the different stalls (fishmongers, fruits, etc.).

Peniche Market

This place was a vintage explosion of colours.

We headed deeper into town enjoying the tranquillity of the streets and the odd beauty of some decrepit buildings.

Peniche streetOld house in Peniche

Having the town to ourselves, it felt like life could be simpler and more tranquil in a place like this.

Peniche street

Peniche street
Shorts – Gap (similar), jumper – Uniqlo (similar), sunglasses – Missoni (similar) and bag – Missoni.

Church in Peniche

We felt happy and relaxed like if our brains were finally unwinding and that, for a split second, our biggest challenge in life was to find a decent terrace to sit at with a coffee.

We kept exploring the street before reaching the beautiful Fortaleza de Peniche.

Fortaleza de Peniche

Fortaleza de Peniche is a 16th-century fortress which was also used as one of dictator Salazar’s notorious jails for political prisoners. Hard to believe with such joyful colours and beautiful architecture!

Fortaleza de Peniche

The fort is mainly painted in yellow which creates the most beautiful contrast against the blue sky and indigo sea.

Fortaleza de PenicheFortaleza de PenicheFortaleza de Peniche

We took the time to explore the place and visit some of the darkest corners which thanks to the sun-like colour wouldn’t look grim or daunting even if they were trying.

Fortaleza de PenicheFortaleza de Peniche

We took a last moment to enjoy the view before heading down to the port.

Fortaleza de Peniche

In Peniche port, old sailing ships are neighbours to tiny fishing boats.

Peniche port

Even the lifeguard office is charming!

Peniche port

A few minutes north of Peniche is Baleal Beach which is very famous among surfers. Neither Andrew or I can surf but we thought we would go and see what more talented people can do with a board.

We were welcomed by the weirdest meteorological phenomenon, on the beach side it was bright and sunny, on the ocean side it was completely misty!

Baleal Beach

It was fascinating to witness for tourists like us! If you know Baleal Beach please make sure to comment below to explain what that phenomenon is, I would love to learn more about it!

Baleal Beach

We watched the surfers vanishing into the sea.

Surfers in Baleal BeachSurfers in Baleal Beach

As you can see, we weren’t the only ones impressed by the weather and the surfers’ skills!

Photographer on Baleal Beach

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Obidos, Portugal

Probably one of our favourite places to visit during our stay in Portugal, Obidos is a very picturesque fortified town. The quaint traditional houses, the narrow cobbled streets reminded me a lot of Paraty in Brazil.

Obidos Portugal

I just love the Portuguese architecture with the white houses and their colourful trims.

Obidos street

Obidos is only an hour away from Lisbon, so just like Sintra and Cascais, it is a great day trip option.

Obidos street

The town is a great example of traditional Portuguese city. Historically, the place was owned by the queen of Portugal and you can understand why! Every square inch of Obidos is perfectly taken cared of. The pride of the locals transpires throughout the town.

Plants in street of Obidos

The Obidos is encircled with fortified walls which you can climb and walk around. It isn’t for the faint-hearted though as there are no safety rails. It is fairly high so avoid it if you suffer from vertigo. We ran into a few people a little petrified and who just couldn’t take a step further because of the height.

Medieval wall in ObidosObidos Portugal

If you are not afraid of heights and have good footwear make sure to climb on the wall! From there the views over the terracotta tiled roofs are wonderful.

Medieval wall in ObidosObidos Portugal

After a thrilling climb, rest and explore the quiet cobbled back-streets, far away from the tourist crowds. Get a pastel de nata if you feel a bit dizzy from the wall walk.

Obidos CastlePasteis de Nata in Obidos

Grab a glass of Ginja de Obidos, a cherry liquor produced in the region. The drink is served in small chocolate cups which makes for a flavoursome treat after drinking the Ginja.

The main street Rua Direita is lined with a variety of shops and the perfect place to get some beautiful traditional Portuguese ceramics. My favourite were the ones with the sardines design.

Obidos PortugalObidos street

At the end of your visit head to the main car park where you will find Obidos impressive aqueduct.

Obidos Aqueduct

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4 days in Lisbon

Lisbon had been on my list for a long time and, to be perfectly honest, I am not sure what took me so long to visit! In the recent years, Lisbon has become a very trendy destination. The weather is good, prices are affordable, the food and bar scenes are excellent and there are some decent sights to visit between all the eating and drinking.

The city feels young, exciting and vibrant – like a coming of age destination. Now grab yourself a glass of Vinho Verde because this is a long one!

Day 1 – Arriving in Lisbon and Príncipe Real

We landed in Lisbon around lunch time and after getting the keys to our Airbnb, we headed straight out to do some groceries and explore Príncipe Real which was only 15 minutes from where we stayed.

Tiled house Príncipe Real Lisbon

Our Airbnb was on Avenue Almirante Reis which is perfect if you want to walk to most places during your stay. From there we headed toward Príncipe Real via Avenida da Liberdade.

Marquess Pombal Statue Lisbon

We spent the afternoon exploring the cobbled streets, admiring the tiled houses and grabbing a couple of drinks on the way.

Tiled house Príncipe Real Lisbon

We had a beer at Cerveteca Lisboa, a drink with a view at Lost In, followed with dinner at Bossa. All great places!

Cerveteca LisboaLost In LisbonBossa Lisbon

Day 2 – Alfama, Campo de Ourique, Jardim Estrela, Cais do Sodres and Ponto Final

We headed out early on our second day to explore the Alfama. The walk there was a workout in itself with all the hills and steps to climb.

Alfama stairs

After arriving at our first stop, the Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte, we rewarded ourselves with a Pastel de Nata and a coffee, a regular occurrence during our trip to Portugal.

Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte LisbonClaire Imaginarium Lisbon

We then zigzagged through the streets of the Alfama to our next stop the Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen. Again we enjoyed the view and the break from the steps.

Claire Imaginarium LisbonMiradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen

Heading back down toward the Tagus, we swung by Church of São Vicente of Fora and the Panteão Nacional.

Panteão Nacional LisbonAlfama Lisbon

We ran into several tramways and armies of tourists before reaching Miradouro de Santa Luzia.

Tramway in Alfama LisbonMiradouro de Santa Luzia

It is good to note that even if Lisbon is packed with tourists, there are so many little streets to get lost in that crowds do not take away the charm of the city.

Street art Alfama Lisbon

We still had a bit of time before lunch and peeked inside Lisbon Cathedral.

Lisbon Cathedral

I happen to have a cousin living in Lisbon, which meant that we had to head to the opposite side of the city for lunch (which I will come to in a minute). BUT, if you do not have any other commitments, I would recommend you stay in the Alfama on that day and head to Castelo de San Jorge, which I talk about on day 3!

Tramways Alfama Lisbon

My cousin offered to meet for lunch at Mercado de Campo de Ourique, and we were so happy he did as otherwise we would have never found this amazing food market!

Mercado de Campo de Ourique Lisbon

We then spent the rest of the afternoon chatting and strolling in the Jardim Estrela, before heading back to the city centre. We grabbed a drink and enjoyed the sunset at Cais do Sodres before heading to the other side of the Tagus for a dinner at Ponto Final.

Sunset in Cais do Sodres LisbonPonto Final Lisbon

Day 3 – Baixa and Castelo de San Jorge

We started our third day in Baixa, in the city centre of Lisbon.

Tiled house Lisbon

We walked from our Airbnb to Praça Rossio and Praça dos Restauradores. Both squares are very beautiful and the cobbled floors reminded me of Copacabana’s beachfront. Here I could really recognise the Portuguese influences you can find in Brazil.

Praça Rossio LisbonBaixa Lisbon

Our next stop was the Elevador de Santa Justa. The queue takes a little while but nothing unbearable and the views and the architecture of the tower really worth going at the top!

Elevador de Santa Justa LisbonElevador de Santa Justa Lisbon

Unfortunately for us it started raining as soon as we reached the top of the tower… Just our luck…

Elevador de Santa Justa view Lisbon

But we didn’t get discouraged and after taking a few nice yet grey pictures we sheltered in the shops of Baixa for a spot of retail therapy (someone forgot to pack his swimshorts…). And just like that, the rain was gone.

Praça Rossio Lisbon

We picked up our visit where we left it the day before when meeting with my cousin and strolled across Praça do Comércio before heading to our lunch destination Time Out Market.

Praça do Comércio LisbonTime Out Market Lisbon

After a lovely lunch and in need of a digestive walk, we headed back up into the hills of the Alfama to visit Castelo de San Jorge.

Alfama stairs Lisbon

The views from there were amazing it was really interesting to learn more about the life at the Moorish castle.

Castelo de San Jorge LisbonCastelo de San Jorge view Lisbon

Plus, you can actually order glasses of wine to sip on while visiting the castle’s grounds. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Castelo de San Jorge Lisbon

We ended our day back at our flat for a glass of rose before heading back out for the most delicious meal at Banca de Pau.

Banca de Pau Lisbon

Day 4 – Belem and Lx Factory

Our final day was spent west of Lisbon in Belem. I would recommend getting the train there as it is fairly far from the more central neighbourhoods.

Tower of Belem Lisbon

We started our walk at the Museu do Combatente.

Museu do Combatente Lisbon

We then headed to the Tower of Belem. We skipped the tour as the queue was extremely long and enjoyed the view from the outside.

Tower of Belem Lisbon

After a coffee break at one of the cafes along the bank, we kept walking toward the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. The stroll along the Tagus is very pleasant with fishermen busy fishing and children busy playing.

Tagus seagul Lisbon

Our next stop was the famous Jerónimos Monastery.

Jerónimos Monastery Lisbon

Again the queues were so long, and the weather so lovely, that we decided to skip the full tour and limit our visit to the cathedral.

Jerónimos Monastery cathedral Lisbon

Working up an appetite we grabbed a couple of Pasteis de Nata at the very famous Pasteis de Belém and enjoyed these on a bench in the sun.

Pasteis de Belém Lisbon

Our final destination was Lx Factory where we had lunch, enjoyed the views of the Ponte 25 de Abril and spent the afternoon admiring the street art of local artists.

Ponte 25 de Abril LisbonLisbon tramwaysLx Factory Lisbon

Lisbon stole our heart! It is one of those few cities we visited where we actually considered moving too, and thus only after 4 days!

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4 days in Lisbon itinerary

Restaurante Funky – Ericeira, Portugal

Neither Andrew or I are vegetarian, however, we do like to sometime skip meat or fish in favour of vegetables and fruits. Vegetarian food has evolved so much the past few years that, even for meat-appreciators like us, a plant-based dish can be very exciting. So when Andrew spotted Restaurante Funky, we knew we had to try it.

Restaurante Funky is hidden in a small street of Ericeira, a charming little fishing town on the west coast of Portugal. It does look a little … well funky, from the outside, and you will find some meat and fish on the menu but vegetarian dishes are the stars of the show here.

Restaurante Funky Ericeira

We booked a table and when arriving wondered why as it was fairly quiet, but it eventually got VERY busy so making a reservation actually was worth it. Another great tip if you travel to Portugal but don’t speak Portuguese: you can make almost all restaurants’ bookings through the fork!

To start I went for the tempura asparagus with anchovy sauce and red cabbage. It was flavoursome and the sauce original and tasty.

Tempura asparagus with anchovies sauce and red cabbage Restaurante Funky

Andrew had the fettuccine with salmon, cream sauce, lime and chives.

Fettuccine with salmon, cream sauce, lime and chives Restaurante Funky

For our mains, we couldn’t resist some fish. The seafood is excellent in Portugal and being in a fishermen’s town we just couldn’t say no to it.  I went for the roasted codfish with almond green crust, sweet potato and sautéed spinach. It was as delicious as it looked!

Roasted codfish with almond green crust, sweet potato and sautéed spinach Restaurante Funky

Andrew went for the curry with shrimps and jasmine rice which he gobbled in a couple of bites.

Curry with shrimps and jasmine rice Restaurante Funky

We both ended our meals with some dessert. I went for the chocolate mousse, simple and good. Andrew went for a praline and hazelnut cake which he loved.

Praline and almond cake Restaurante FunkyChocolate mousse Restaurante Funky

Restaurante Funky is a great option if you are vegetarian or fancy a little meat break!

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A day trip to Cascais and Sintra, Portugal

Following our 4 days in Lisbon, we thought a day trip to Cascais and Sintra would be a welcome break from the city. We rented a car and left Lisbon early in the morning for our first stop in Cascais. Note that you don’t need a car to get to Cascais or Sintra, both have frequent trains leaving from Lisbon. We opted for the car as we were heading to our next hotel in Torres Vedras but it also gave us the opportunity to drive on the coast which we very much enjoyed.

Cascais is west of Lisbon and only a 45 minutes drive from the city-centre. It is a famous commuters’ town as it offers the beach life within easy reach to Lisbon.

Cascais beach

Once in Cascais, we quickly realised that this was not just any coastal town, this was a very very nice one. Mansions with giant gates stretch along the coastline and the city-centre is a shopping heaven. I can imagine it to be a very pleasant place to live, however, as a tourist there isn’t that much to do so you will only need a few hours there to visit. Except if you are planning to make it a beach day! If you have very limited time in Portugal, I would head straight to Sintra further down below.

Cascais lighthouse

We found a parking spot very easily by Boca do Inferno a famous scenic cliffs spot with a natural archway and an open cave.

Boca do Inferno Portugal

After admiring the impressive views, we headed to the town centre.

Cascais has multiple beautiful buildings which really worth having a look at mostly if you love architecture. My favourites were the Condes de Castro Guimarães Palace and Palácio Seixas, both so grand that they almost feel out of place in this small town.

Condes de Castro Guimarães Palace CascaisPalácio Seixas Cascais

We explored the pretty historic centre on the lookout for a place to grab breakfast and did a spot of shopping before heading to our next destination Guincho beach!

Cascais city centre

Driving north along the coastline is a real pleasure, roll the windows down and enjoy the ocean air.

Unfortunately for us, it was extremely windy on the day we visited Cresmina beach and Guincho beach so we weren’t able to stay on the beach that long.

Cresmina beachGuincho beach

Both beaches are next to each other and still worthed swinging by as the views were fantastic!

Cresmina beach

After a hair blowing stroll, we started our journey into the land toward Sintra.

Without exaggeration, Sintra was our favourite little town to visit during our stay in Portugal. It is breathtakingly beautiful!

Sintra

We arrived mid-afternoon and struggled to find a parking place. Sintra is full-packed with tourists and the city gets really busy. We rushed to grab lunch at a little cafe before heading to the town centre to explore.

Sintra

Everywhere you look is beautiful in Sintra and the views of the valley below and the castles above are amazing.

SintraSintra

As we were a little short on time, we only strolled through the streets and skipped the museums. We wanted to have enough time to visit either Castelo dos Mouros or Pena Palace.

Pena Palace

The castles are fairly far from the town so you will need to take transport to head up there.

Castelo dos Mouros

We settled on Castelo dos Mouros because 1) it looks like it was out of Game of Thrones and 2) it offers great views of Pena Palace. We were not disappointed by our choice!

Castelo dos MourosPena Palace

From the car park, we hiked up to the castle and spent the last couple of hours to explore the castle. Again the views from there were just breathtaking.

Castelo dos Mouros

It was one packed day on the roads of Portugal, and even though we had to rush a bit toward the end we still had a great (although sweaty) time!

Claire Imaginarium

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Restaurante Noah – Santa Cruz, Portugal

On our first evening out of Lisbon, we headed north-west to the Atlantic coast and decided to spend a few days in the Torres Vedras region. The owner of Vila Louro recommended we grab dinner at Restaurante Noah in Santa Cruz which was only a 10-minutes drive from where we were staying.

Unfortunately, it was already dark when we arrived at Restaurante Noah. The restaurant is on the beach and I assume that the view during the day must be amazing.

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised by the very modern and nicely decorated venue. The place looks like if a beach-hut had a baby with a very sleek Scandinavian house. And you know me, I love good interior design!

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

After a long day on the road, we immediately ordered some bread while waiting for our drinks. It was good but a tasty mistake we would regret later. Don’t worry I will explain why.

Bread Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Our glasses of wine arrived, which made me very happy and we placed our order. After almost half a loaf of bread, we decided to share a starter and have a main each.

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

That is when we discovered that the first serving of bread had been a mistake… It was delicious BUT imagine our faces when we realised that the starter we had chosen, a local sausage, was served with another loaf of bread. We ended up full before our mains even arrived! So one tip for you: avoid the bread if you are planning to have a starter, a main and a dessert. The sausage was delicious though and we polished off the plate nicely.

Sausage Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Our mains arrived, squid ink linguine for Andrew and octopus for me (as usual). Both dishes were really good! The pastas had all the flavours of the sea (in a nice way). The octopus serving was very generous and had the right balance between the meatiness of the polpo and lightness of the vegetables and hazelnuts.

Squid ink linguine Restaurante Noah Santa CruzOctopus Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

Our only disappointment was to not have room for any dessert, both of us were completely stuff!

I also want to give one bonus point to Restaurante Noah for the bill. When it arrives in such a creative container you are almost happy to take your card out!

Restaurante Noah Santa Cruz

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Under Lisbon bridge

You don’t really realise how big the 25 de Abril bridge is until you are under it. I also love the colour coordination between the bridge and its surroundings.

Lisbon – 2017

Under 25 de Abril bridge in Lisbon

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Lx Factory – Lisbon, Portugal

Some places are so unique that it hard to describe them! This is the case for Lx Factory, in Lisbon. Lx Factory is not a restaurant, not a food market, not a bar, not a shop or an art gallery… Lx Factory is all of the above!

Lx Factory Lisbon

Nested under the 25 de Abril bridge, Lx Factory used to be an old manufacturing complex which has been transformed into a trendy art and food district. The 23.000 m2 industrial site is now home to some creative companies, restaurants, bars, shops and art galleries. From breakfast to the last drink of the day, Lx Factory will keep you entertained.

Lx Factory Lisbon

We arrived there around lunchtime, after exploring the neighbourhood of Belem in the morning. On the hunt for a light bite to eat, we settled on LXeeseCake which had the most appetising salads on the menu. There are plenty of food options and you will find something for everyone’s’ taste.

Lx Factory Lisbon

Andrew went for a chicken salad, I went for a cheese and berries one. Both delicious and very welcome after days of eating fish, beans, rice and Pasteis de Nata.

LXeeseCake salad LisbonLXeeseCake salad Lisbon

We ended our lunch with some delicious yet slightly less healthy deserts. It is all about balance, right? I am not a cheesecake fan (I know, I know, how is that even possible?) but even I enjoyed it!

LXeeseCake cheesecake Lisbon

We went for a digestive walk and explored all the small alleyways of LxFactory.

Lx Factory LisbonLx Factory Lisbon

The street art scene is amazing in Lisbon, the locals fully embrace it and LxFactory really reflect this!

Street art Lx Factory LisbonLx Factory Lisbon

We visited all the shops! Some very trendy some… A lot more quirky!

Vintage shop Lx Factory Lisbon

We ended our visit on the south side and hopped on a train from Alcantara-Mar station back to Lisbon city centre.

Street art Lx Factory Lisbon

Lx Factory is definitely one of the trendiest spots in Lisbon and could easily compete with the very hype Shoreditch or Brooklyn. So make sure to add it to your Lisbon itinerary!

Street art Lx Factory Lisbon

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Vila Louro – Torres Vedras, Portugal

When we plan our vacations, we like to find places to stay which are comfortable, with a boutique feel, and reasonably priced. With my obsession with interior design, I am also a sucker for nicely decorated spaces. This is why we decided to stay at Vila Louro, for a few days during our trip to Portugal. It is authentic, beautiful, gives easy access to the coast and is the perfect spot to relax in the sun.

Vila Louro

Originally a family home, brothers Filipe and Paulo Louro da Silva transformed the place into a tranquil and elegant oasis. We met Filipe who told us that rather than selling this family property, they decided to keep it an recreate the atmosphere and experiences of their childhood for others to enjoy. With only 9 rooms, all modernly decorated, Vila Louro has an authentic yet updated feel.

Vila Louro

We stayed in one of the Superior Double Rooms in the annexe facing the pool. The bedroom was very spacious and comfortable and the polished concrete floors and bathroom gave me major interior inspiration.

Vila Louro Superior Double RoomVila Louro Superior Double Room

We also had our own little terrace where we had lunches a couple of time (there are a few supermarkets close by).

Vila Louro terrace

Breakfast was included with our room and delicious! Filipe explained to us that they made sure to include in the buffet some traditional and family recipes.

The garden is beautiful and covered with orange and lemon trees. A green escape away from the drier fields around the village.

Vila Louro orange tree

The swimming pool area is inviting and most of the time quiet which makes it a great place to catch a bit of sun and finish a good book.

Bikes are available for the guests to cycle to the beach and around the village. It is good to note that you will still need a car to visit the towns and beaches a little further away.

Vila Louro garden

A great relaxing at Vila Louro stay where rural Portugal meets the Atlantic ocean!

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Lisbon by night

Sometimes there is nothing to say, just things to look at.

Lisbon – 2017

Lisbon by night

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