Discover what’s hot and what’s not on my new Escape to Portugal page

Discover what’s hot and what’s not on my new Escape to Portugal page

Follow us on Instagram (3)

Fresh and brand new content every day on the new Escape to Portugal page. Follow me here.

Advertisements

16 Items You Should Pack For Your Trip To Portugal

16 Items You Should Pack For Your Trip To Portugal

Planning to visit Portugal in the summer? These are the essential items you should consider packing.

  1. Have your own personal guide with Lonely Planet Travel to Portugal

As fun as it can be to just go with the flow with no real plans on what to do or see, most of the times it’s helpful to have a guide who’s in the know. And Lonely Planet Travel to Portugal does that and more. Not only does it offer a comprehensive guide of Portugal’s top spots, it also gives you tips about what to visit in each area, insider tips on where to eat or sleep and itineraries and maps so you can tailor your trip to your liking. Costs $17.01 and you can buy it here.

2. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Lisbon is filled with top suggestions on how to make your trip unforgettable.

 

If you’re just visiting the capital, this is my favourite. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Lisbon, is light, pocket-sized and packed with the best suggestions. It costs only $9.80 on Amazon.

3. Portable Wi-Fi for smartphones, tablets and laptops from Tep Wireless

wireless tep

In Portugal, free Wi-fi connections are usually available in most hotels and even some bars and restaurants in the most popular touristic areas. But, if you can’t live without an internet connection on your phone Tep’s wireless dongle is your best travel companion. All you have to do is rent the device and enjoy the super fast internet on your phone. The battery lasts for 8 hours, it’s light so you can carry it in your bag and you can connect up to 5 devices to Tep. The best part of it all? There are no data limits so you can surf away without worrying about getting an astronomical bill at the end of your trip. Rent it for 10 days and pay only $99.50.

4. A hanging toiletry bag from Mr. Pro

Portugal in the summer means lots of sunscreens, after sun lotions and even mosquito repellent, depending on where you go.  This super organiser is perfect for keeping all your toiletries together and has multiple pockets so things are easy to find, it’s also water resistant and odor-free so no need to watch out for that mouldy smell. The hook is strong so you can fit in the toilet with no worries. Buy it for $12.95 here.

5. No pain in your shoulders with the Ultra lightweight backpack

In Portugal, you will do a lot of walking and this versatile ultralight backpack is just what you need. You can take it to the beach, it’s water resistant, you can take it when hiking or even when you’re just shopping. At the airport, you can fold it and put it back inside your luggage and voilá, no surcharges. It’s priced at $15.99 on Amazon.

6. Liquid containers leak proof and portable

 

When I travel far and for more than 1 week I like to buy shampoo and conditioner in the country I’m visiting but there are some things that I end up inevitably having to take like hair mask or contact lenses liquid. This little bottle container bag costs only $6.99.

7. Eye modelled sleep mask with stars 

Houses and hotels in Portugal usually have blinds, so most of the time you will be able to keep your room dark if you want. But packing this mask might prove useful in the plane or when taking an afternoon nap by the swimming pool. The best thing about this mask is that it doesn’t touch your eyes and it fits around your nose. Buy it here for $9.99.

8. 4 in 1 USA to European Plug Adapter

plug

This is a safe bet if you’re travelling with lots of electronic devices. This adapter has two USB connections so you can charge your smartphone or tablet and a normal plug adapter. Just remember, this is not a voltage converter so your devices need to be compatible with the 250v capacity. The price tag is $8.99 and you can buy it here.

9. Happy feet with compressed socks for the long haul flights

These socks are incredible for when you just know you’re going to be stuck on a plane for more than 5 hours. They promote the circulation, minimise swelling while reducing fatigue. Perfect for long bouts of sitting and walking, which you will do a lot of in Portugal. They’re selling for $14.60 on Amazon.

10. A soft travel pillow that supports your neck

No more neck pain with this pillow. I don’t know about you but the number of times I just end up throwing the plane pillow to the side and give up on having any neck support is ridiculous, so I was amazed when I found this alternative. It soft and it holds your neck in an ergonomic position. It’s also small and light compared to other travel pillows. You can buy it for $29.99 on Amazon.

11. Puncture and water resistant beach and picnic blanket

How cute is this? You can carry a large blanket in your pocket without even noticing it. There are three different sizes available and it even has small weights in the corners for those windy days. It goes for $11.99 for the small size and $19.99 for the larger version. Buy it here.

12. A mini usb humidifier for those hot Portuguese summer nights

Apparently, Mariah Carrey can’t live without humidifiers nor should you, especially not during the Portuguese summer. You can attach almost any water bottle or even Pepsi and Coke bottle. It’s small, it has a timer and it works with batteries if you don’t want it connected to your computer. It’s on sale at the moment which means you can buy it for $23.99.

13. Tide Travel Sink Packets

The laundry service in hotels is usually expensive and it’s still very uncommon to find self-service laundries in Portugal. But don’t worry, with this packets you won’t have to worry about dirtying your favourite items of clothing when you’re travelling. Just wash them in the sink and problem solved. It costs $3.95 on Amazon. 

14. A small travel charger for your smartphone and tablet

travel charger

Nothing’s more annoying than running out of battery midway through a day exploring. That last sunset picture, that wrong turn that left you not knowing which way you needed to go. A mobile phone is an essential travel companion and this small travel charger will give you the breather you need before you get to the hotel. It’s on sale now and going for $17.99.

 

15. Lightweight, slip-on, memory foam sneakers from Skechers

Skechers-Performance-Mensskechers

They’re slip-on, they’re grippy and flexible, perfect for someone planning to do a lot of walking, which as I mentioned extensively will happen a lot when you visit Portugal. Size 7 on the women shoes is $37.67 at the moment. And the men’s version is at $40 for size 10.

15. Pack of portable reusable bottle protector sleeves

wine protector

If there’s one thing you won’t want to leave Portugal without is wine. You might want to take it for yourself or to offer friends, regardless, after you try the Portuguese wine you will for sure crave for more. And this is the perfect way to carry it back home without risking any breakage. You can buy it on Amazon for $15.97.

And that is the end of the list, do you have any other suggestions of what you might want ot pack in your bag when travelling to Portugal?

4 Best Summer Music Festivals In Portugal 2017

4 Best Summer Music Festivals In Portugal 2017
  1. NOS ALIVE 7, 8, 9 July 2017

Location: Algés, Lisbon

This is one of the most famous festivals in Portugal. It’s cheap, the three-day pass costs €129, easily accessible, close to Lisbon and the train will leave you right at the door, and the lineup is usually one of the best. It offers an eclectic mix of pop, rock and indie music. You can stay in Lisbon and travel daily, stay by the beach in one of the beaches of the Cascais area, or even camp in Algés. Now for the bad news, the normal 3-day pass is sold out, but you can still buy the 3-day pass that includes camping for around €20 euros more, €146 or a daily ticket for €59. Find all the info at the festival’s website here. And if by the time you check, they’re sold out, you can always try and find second-hand tickets on Facebook. Troca e Venda de Bilhetes and Bilhetes.

LINEUP (so far)

6th July 7th July 8th July
Heineken Stage
Ryan Adams  Warpaint Cage The Elephant
 Blossoms Wild Beasts
Spoon
Rhye Parov Stelar Peaches 
Glass Animals Savages Fleet Foxes 
Royal Blood Local Natives  Floating Points (solo live)
Bonobo (live) Benjamin Booker 
The Avalanches
NOS Stage
Alt-J Foo Fighters Depeche Mode
The xx The Cult Imagine Dragons
The Weeknd The Kills Kodaline
Phoenix Courteeners
Tiago Bettencourt

2. Super Bock, Super Rock 13th to 15th July 2017

Location: Lisbon

It’s a rock festival, born in the nineties. It’s the only one on the list that doesn’t include camping since it’s right inside the city of Lisbon. The three-day pass €109 or the daily pass for €55. If you’re into something fancy you can always buy the three-day VIP pass for €250. Check the festival’s website for more info. Tickets can be purchased here.

LINEUP (so far)

13 Julho 14 Julho 15 Julho
Palco Carlsberg
Tuxedo
Palco Super Bock
 Red Hot Chili Peppers London Grammar Deftones
 Capitão Fausto Foster The People 
Palco EDP
Boogarins  Tyler, The Creator James Vincent McMorrow
Kevin Morby Slow J Bruno Pernadas
 The Orwells Seu Jorge
TaxiWars 

 

3. Festival Sudoeste 1st to 5th August 2017

Location: Zambujeira Do Mar, Alentejo

The Sudoeste Festival is a 5 day event that takes place in Alentejo, more precisely Zambujeira do Mar. There will be three stages with different artists playing simultaneously. Ticket prices start at €48 for one day. And €105 for 5 days. You can camp on location or rent a house around the area. You can buy the tickets here.

1 Ago 2 Ago 3 Ago 4 Ago 5 Ago
Palco MEO
The Chainsmokers  DJ Snake   Crystal Fighters
Jamiroquai
 Richie Campbell
 Two Door Cinema Club Lil Wayne  
Mac Miller Mishlawi Martin Garrix  
Marshmello Dua Lupa

 

4. Vodafone Paredes de Coura – 16th, 17th, 18th 19th August 2017

Location: Paredes de Coura, North of Portugal

This is one of the oldest festivals in Portugal, it started more than 20 years ago, and it’s still one of music lovers favourite because it tends to mix big famous bands with relatively new bands who sooner or later are going to become big. It takes place in the North, in Paredes de Coura, on the grounds of the fluvial beach of Taboão. As for the price, you can buy the full festival ticket for €90. Find out more on the Festival’s website. Buy the tickets here or here.

LINEUP (so far)

 16 a 19 Agosto
Future Islands
At the Drive In
Beach House
!!!
BadBadNotGood
Foals 
 Benjamin Clementine
 Car Seat Headrest
 TY Segall
Nick Murphy
BEAK>
HO99O9
Sunflower Bean
Manel Cruz
Moon Duo
Foxygen
Young Fathers 
Andy Shauf 
YCWCB 
Mão Morta
King Krule

 

Top 5 Best Hotels in Lisbon 2017

Top 5 Best Hotels in Lisbon 2017

In 2015 Portugal won 14 Awards at the World Travel Awards, in 2016 Portugal won an amazing 24 Awards. No wonder the capital of this small country in Southwest Europe has been so much in the spotlight in the last few years. Even more surprising is how unspoilt it is still and that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 best hotels in Lisbon for your 2017 holidays. This selection includes mostly cosy boutique hotels so you can feel at home when visiting Portugal.

  1. Hotel Avenida Palace

This boutique style hotel is in the perfect location if you’re planning to explore the old town by foot since it’s located right in the heart of the city.

Being in a 19th-century building meant the hotel kept much of the romantic classicism in its style. If you’re renting a car, there’s free valet parking at the hotel. There’s also a gym on the 5th floor and even a library with books in many languages. The staff is known to be beyond attentive to your every need and the breakfast is fantastic.

Tip: Try the afternoon tea served on Tuesdays and Thursdays afternoons.

Location: Restauradores

Room rates start at: $176 | £141

Find more here.

2. Martinhal Lisbon Chiado Family Suites

Travelling with children isn’t always easy but it could be if you book one of the 37  five-star apartments at Martinhal Lisbon Chiado Family Suites.

Why? Not only do they have a free Kids Club, open from 9.30am to 11.30pm, running activities every day of the week but they also have babysitting services if you prefer your children to be looked after in your apartment. And, if this isn’t enough, there’s even a pyjama club so parents can enjoy a date night in Lisbon. As for the five-star apartments, they were made to accommodate families so there are high chairs, bunker beds and even well-stocked kitchens for those who want to cook.

Tips:

  • Kids Club is free of charge in the low season from 1st of November to 30th of April. From the 1st of May, small fees are applied.
  • The kids club covers babies as young as 6 months and goes up to early teens.
  • The hotel is next to the Time Out Market, the hub of new and renowned chefs stalls and a dream for foodies.

Location: Alfama

Room rates start at: $200 |£160

Find out more here.

3. Bairro Alto Hotel

If you want to stay in the heart of Lisbon, next to the enchanting nights of bohemian Bairro Alto and trendy Chiado, also close to all the fashionable restaurants, this is your hotel. The rooms are classical, the staff works hard to make you feel at home and the hotel restaurant is just amazing.

Bairro Alto Hotel also has an awarded terrace on the top floor, voted 4th best hotel terrace view in the world, from where you can have some light bites while enjoying the view.

Location: Bairro Alto

Room rates start at: $234 | £188

Find out more here.

5. Santiago de Alfama

Of all the hotel selections we’ve introduced this is the newest of them all. Open only two years ago, the Santiago de Alfama is the king of attention to detail.

The service, the rooms, the breakfast and the staff, all work together to make your stay incredible. The area where the hotel is located also helps on making your stay special. Alfama, the oldest and the most picturesque district in Lisbon, home of narrow streets and history filled cobblestones. A maze of squares, courtyards and streets filled with history, with small cafes and typical restaurants where you can relax and have some pestiscos and vinho tinto.

Location: Alfama

Price:$174 | £140 

Find out more here. 

5. MYRIAD by SANA Hotels

Imagine walking up with nothing but the peaceful flowing waters of the Tagus river in front of you? And what if waiting for you there’s a lovely breakfast with fresh fruits, bread and cakes just out of the oven? And a Spa with a list of massages and treatments to enjoy between all the walks in the city.

Unlike the other hotels, we suggested this is the only one that is not in the historic part of Lisbon and the only one that is not a boutique hotel. But fear not since this is also a very sought after place for those who like the most modern, futuristic side of cities, the hotel has an innovative design with two lateral sail-shaped bodies and it’s really close to Lisbon’s Oceanarium, Europe’s largest indoor acquarium.

Location: Parque das Nações

Price starts at: $206 |  £165

Find out more here.

How Can American Tourists Be Safe Abroad?

How Can American Tourists Be Safe Abroad?

Have you heard of the Smart Enrollment Program? It’s a free service provided by the American bureau of consular affairs which allows U.S. citizens who are planning to travel abroad to enrol their trip with the nearest U.S Embassies and the consulate.

The Benefits of Enrolling in STEP:

You can enrol here.

The U.S. Department of State also has a very complete page, with all the info you might need when travelling abroad. All you have to do is write the name of your destination. There’s also a page with constant updates, alerts and warnings about short and long term events.  Follow the alerts here.

You can also follow the Travel – State Department on Twitter for live alerts here.

Finally, for those planning to visit Portugal, here are the details of the American Embassy & Consulate in Portugal.

U.S. EMBASSY    

Avenida das Forças Armadas

1600-081 Lisboa

Phone: 351-21-727-3300

Fax: 351-21-726-9109

U.S CONSULATE PONTA DELGADA – AZORES

U.S. Consulate Ponta Delgada

Avenida Príncipe do Mónaco, 6-2 F

9500-237 Ponta Delgada

Phone.: 351 296 308 330

Fax: 351 296 287 216

 

 

One Day In Guimarães

One Day In Guimarães

Following my stay in Guimarães, I had a few days to discover the city and see why it’s so special. Here are my suggestions of places to visit, eat and hang out.

One Day In Guimarães

The historic centre

In The Morning – Start your day with a visit to the historical center, classified by UNESCO as Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Lose yourself in the narrow cobbled streets and you’ll feel like you’re back in medieval times. While walking around the center I ended up at a leather tannery from the XIX century. There were no tourists and no English explanation of what it was but it was great to make guesses of what it could be while walking around and taking pictures of the area.

Rua dos Couros

In the meantime, I made a little research and it was interesting to find out that all the tanks belonged to a factory called Mirandas, Ferreira & Carvalho, Lda that stopped working in the XX century. It started with a small conglomerate of small industries which got together and formed the company. They would also rent the space to individuals who wanted to treat their own animal skins and produce leather. If you want to know more about the process used to transform animal skin into leather you can go here but let’s just say it involved having the animals’ skin dipped in urine and then soaking it in animal feces, in particular dog and pigeon feces, also called dung.

In the afternoon – Right, after this lovely description and if you are still up for lunch head up to O Histórico, it’s one of the most known restaurants in the city. Here you’ll be able to sample some of the flavors of Minho.

Tradicional cuisine

After a big meal which I am sure they will serve you, it’s time for a sesta, portuguese for nap, at least that’s what I would do. But if you still have some strength to keep going, I would suggest you head to the palace of the Dukes of Bragança. At the front desk, you will be able to buy a ticket for the three of the attractions in the area. For 8 euros you will get an entry to this palace, the Castle and the Alberto Sampaio Museum (they offer discounts for children). Starting at the Palace of the Dukes de Bragança, here you will see Decorative Arts from the 17th and 18th centuries, armors and weapons, tapestry and porcelain from the Portuguese East India Company. What struck me about this palace was the fact that it was built around 1420. The palace was also used as a military building during Napoleon Invasions and it was the official residence of the Portuguese dictator Salazar. And this is just a brief glimpse of what you can discover inside.

After the palace, head up to the Guimarães Castle. Built in the 10th century, it was intended to protect a monastery from the Moors and Norsemen (scandinavian vikings) and eventually was the birthplace of Portugal’s first king Afonso I.

Very close by, is the Alberto Sampaio Museum. This museum features classical religious art and inside you can find a beautiful garden.

If you’re anything like me, at this time you will be tired of so much history. If you want to take a break, and experience history in a different way, visit the Pastelaria Clarinha. Nothing beats the quintessential Portuguese experience of stopping at a bakery and enjoying an expresso or a meia de leite (half a cup of coffee and milk) with a delicious cake. You can stop by at any bakery, most of the ones I tried were great, but this one was highly recommended by everyone.

Nighttime – I know I’ve just mentioned stopping to get some food but here we go again. I would start the night with dinner at the Real Plazza, which is a no-frills restaurant with endless choices of francesinhas.

Northern cuisine at it’s best

The francesinha, which in English means “the frenchie”, is a sandwich made with bread, cured ham, chorizo, roast meat, fresh sausage, melted cheese and covered in hot tomato and beer sauce, which is usually a secret, served with french fries. It’s a dish originally from Porto but if you try it here you won’t be disappointed.

Guimaraes by night

End the night at the Largo do Toural, trying some drinks in some of the bars in this area. I did kind of a pub crawl around here and I had a lot of fun.


What to Put on your phone GPS

The Tanneries

Rua de Couros or Largo da Cidade for the Leather Tannery (Zona dos Couros in Portuguese)

For Lunch

Restaurant O Histórico

R. de Valdonas 4, Guimarães

Palace of the Dukes of Braganza – R. Conde Dom Henrique, 4810-245 Guimarães

Alberto Sampaio Museum – Rua de Alfredo Guimarães, 4800-407 Guimarães

For a snack

Pastelaria Clarinha (The Bakery) – Largo do Toural 86-88, Guimarães 4810-427, Portugal

For Dinner

Real Plazza  Rua Fernando Pessoa 101, Guimaraes 4800-176

Night out 

Tour the several bars in the square – Largo do Toural

 

 

The Best Hotels In Guimarães

The Best Hotels In Guimarães

I needed some rest, so nothing like a few days in Minho, the most northern region of Portugal, the land of green wine and of great people to relax and de-stress. When looking in the map, Guimarães seemed to be the best spot where to stay since it has a lot of history and places to visit and it’s quite close to all the other cities I wanted to visit. So, here I am and since I have some free time, here’s a list of my carefully selected hotels in Guimarães. Enjoy!

  1. Santa Luzia ArtHotel 
Swimming Pool
Santa Luzia ArtHotel Swimming Pool

I’m writing this as I’m sitting down at the nice hotel living room, with a warming fireplace in front of me. I am going to be biased on this one since this is the hotel where I’m staying on this trip. The Santa Luzia ArtHotel is a 4-star hotel with a 5-star treatment. I got an upgrade, luckely enough, which meant a bigger room in the first floor, with a robe and slippers waiting for me, a big bathroom and a large bed. If you like spending some time with a book by the swimming pool like me then you can’t fail with this hotel. The swimming pool is an amazing alternative for those days when you just want to take a break. There’s also a Turkish bath, a sauna and a steam room to release all those toxins of city life.

Explore it here.

Average Price: £69 | $113

Address: Rua Francisco Agra, 100, 4500-157 Guimarães

 

2. Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães

This is the only 5-star hotel in Guimarães and even if you don’t stay here this is a place that it’s really worth a visit. The Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães is part of a group of historic landmarks around the country that were transformed into hotels. This hotel, in particular, is located inside a 12th-century convent and the rooms are set in what used to be the cloisters where the monks used to stay. The Pousada Mosteiro de Guimarães is not right in the center of the historic old town but at the top of a mountain overlooking the city. If you want peace and quiet while staying in a luxurious setting this is the place to be.

Average Price: $100 | £81

Address: Largo Domingos Leite de Castro, 4810-011 Guimarães

Explore it here.

3. Hotel da Oliveira

Hotel Oliveira
Located in the old town

This hotel is located in the historic center of Guimarães, a city considered UNESCO World Heritage. From the Hotel da Oliveira, you can visit all the hot spots in this city by foot or even with a bicycle which you can rent at the hotels’ front desk. For those lazy rainy days, when you just want to sit with a good book, this hotel has a library, so you can just pick a book and sit by the bar with the latest novel.

Average Price: $78 | £51

Address: Rua de Santa Maria, Largo da Oliveira4800-300 Guimarães

Explore it here.

4. Hotel Toural

Toural Hotel

Again, another little gem in the heart of Guimarães. Located in a square where the cattle fair used to take place in the 17th century, hotel Toural is surrounded by history. This hotel is a walk away from all the touristic spots in Guimarães and only 150 meters from the famous medieval castle built in the 10th century. As for the hotel, the rooms here are big but cozy and the breakfast absolutely delicious.

Average Price: $60 | £49

Address: Largo A L Carvalho, 4800-153 Guimarães

Explore it here.

5. Open Village Sports Hotel & Spa Club

Open Village Sports Hotel & Spa Club
Open Village Sports Hotel & Spa Club

Two swimming pools, a luxurious spa and tennis courts, make up for the fact that this hotel is a bit further away from the city center. The Open Village Sports Hotel & Spa Hotel Club, has free parking as well, and at the restaurant, you can try the best of what Portuguese cuisine has to offer.

Average Price: $57 | £44

Address: Travessa da Ribeira 629, Mesão Frio, 4810-235 Guimarães, Portugal

Explore it here.