In total we spent five whole weeks in Portugal. We loved it. And if you haven’t been before then go! We can’t recommend it enough.
Here is our list of Must See Places To Visit In Portugal.
Porto was first on our list of must see places to visit in Portugal, and it didn’t disappoint. There was a fab free parking spot, right on the water and we camped there for two nights while we visited the city.
The roads are narrow here and usually always no footpath, but a gorgeous boardwalk has been built which lets you walk along the river edge all the way along from where we were parked right up to the marina. It’s beautiful, but also a little nerve-wracking if you have an Archie. FML.
On the opposite end of the river from where we were parked was the amazing iconic painted houses, all built higgilty piggilty and literally crammed into any and every available space. We spent a whole day walking through the tiny little twisty streets where there are a mix of homes, little pop up cafes, shops and art and jewellery studios, all packed into these narrow little converted houses. Washing all hung out of windows, as did little bird cages, which I think is very European.
Like everywhere in Portugal (or so it seems to my jelly legs) it’s all uphill. And steep as hell. So be prepared to walk, hike and climb plenty of stairs. It is worth it though.
One of the highlights was our visit to the gardens on the grounds of the Museu Romantico and Palacio de Cristal. We spent hours walking around the Roman ruins and gardens taking in the water features, turrets and towers – these have some truly breathtaking view points. Peacocks and chickens roamed the gardens and the views were amazing, definitely worth a visit and the steep walk to get there.
We finished our visit in Porto with a walk along the marina, a ride on the cable cars to take in the amazing view of the city and ate freshly roasted chestnuts from a street vendor.
Take a look at our photo album from Porto here.
Aveiro was stunning. And actually almost completey flat.
Again we stayed in a free parking area (were getting really good at that now), right at the far end of the town, but perfectly positioned within walking distance.
Aveiro is like a mini Venice. I’ve never actually been to Venice (YET!) but it’s what I imagine Venice to be like, but obviously on a much larger scale.
The many canals cut through the city and are now host to a whole load of colourful gondoliers, which traditionally used to harvest seaweed. Of course, we couldn’t resist (plus the weans had all harped on and on and on……) so we took the gondolier tour. The tour guide was fab. He could speak 4 different languages (that we heard that day) so we got the tour in English and learned a lot.
Multilingual he may be, but a singer he is not. He gave it a good bash though and it was entertaining. Check out his karaoke piece here.
Again, the houses here were bright, colourful and every available space, no matter how slim, is used. My favourite houses are the traditional tiled houses, just stunning.
There was a large indoor fresh fish market here too, fresh as in fish were still moving and having their heads cut off as we walked by. We went in and had a look although didn’t buy anything. At the far end of the market was individual stall holders all with unique handmade items – I almost came away with bows for the girls’ hair with flowers made out of wood shavings. Almost. Then I remembered the 24 unused JoJo bows crammed into the shelf in the Motorhome and came to my senses.
Check out our pictures from our day in Aveiro here.
Coimbra was on our list of must see places to see in Portugal purely for the historic university of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in Europe.
Again, we parked in a free car parking spot, just on the river which had a handy walk bridge straight across to the city.
Back to the norm, it was steep as hell. I actually have no idea how people live in these wee steep streets. I literally get dizzy af walking up them (as well as extremely out of breath and jelly legged. I need to get fitter). To make the walk even more of a challenge, the paths all the way up are cobbled.
*note to self, we must invest in walking/hiking boots. Flip flops are not appropriate footwear for trekking 90 degree angled cobbled streets.
There’s about 1.3 million stairs to scale aswell.
Half way up we came across a huge cathedral, and although not religious in the slightest we decided to go in. Somewhat only for the level floors and a sit down.
Anyway, the cathedral was the Se Velha de Coimbra and has a pretty amazing history, having been around since the 12th century. If you’re up that way anyway, then it’s worth a visit.
On the way up to the University we were passed by three of its students. All decked out in a 3 piece suit with matching capes. I kid you not. It was like something from Hogwarts. Super magical looking and super upper class. I puffed past them, as dignified as possible, in my flip flops.
The university itself was gorgeous. You could pay for tours, which takes you inside the famous library and the classrooms and other areas. Had we not had the kids with us, we probably would have taken a tour. That day, we decided to give it a miss and view the university from the outside.
The views from the top were amazing, you could see over the whole city and the walk back down was thankfully much easier than the trek up.
Have a look at our pictures from Coimbra here.
Obidos is a small medieval walled village close to the west coast of Portugal. Our favourite motorhoming couple, Trevor and Lil told us to visit here and we are so glad we went.
There is a free Motorhome parking spot right across the road from the entrance to the village, right under the viaduct.
This place was gorgeous. The entire village is surrounded by a wall, which remains largely intact and in good condition. So much so, you can actually walk along it, all the way around the perimeter of the village. I wasn’t brave enough to do this, but Jason did and loved it. See his video here.
We spent a couple of hours walking through the streets, reading up on the history and taking in the sights. If you visit here, you must try the Ginja – a traditional cherry liqueur served in an edible chocolate cup. Delish! So good that we went all touristy and bought some cups, cherries and the liqueur to take back to the Motorhome with us.
The only downside to Obidos, I’m my opinion, is that it’s extremely touristy. It’s such a small little village but the streets were literally crammed with tourists and tour guides. There were so many tourist shops selling trinkets and the like which kind of detracted from the beauty of the village for me but still beautiful none the less and definitely worth a visit.
Check out our pictures from Obidos here.
Évora was on our list of must see places to visit in Portugal because of the famous Chapel of Bones (Capela dos Ossos).
We parked in a free spot, a large car park directly under a huge viaduct and stayed here for one night. It was pretty quiet and I’m sure you could have stayed longer if you wanted.
We hadn’t anticipated how nice the town would be, with its narrow cobbled streets, it felt old but wealthy with its numerous designer shops and small boutiques lining the streets. There were also plenty cute little cafes down side streets and in the large main square before getting to the Chapel, with its large fountain right in the centre of the road.
The Chapel itself is indoors. We spent a good ten minutes walking round in circles looking for the entrance, so that’s my tip to you. It’s inside another building, to the side of a much more modern building, the Church of St Francis. You’re welcome.
Anyway, once inside there is a small museum full of religious artefacts, art and general interest. It’s super modern although parts of the original building have been maintained in areas and can still be seen.
The Chapel of Bones was amazing. Super eery but really beautiful. Which seems weird to say as it’s completely decorated with human bones, thousands of them. The bodies which once hung from the walls, that of an adult and a child, are now encased in glass ‘coffins’ and can be viewed inside the Chapel. Like I said, super eery, but it really is stunning. And worth the effort to visit.
Here’s our pictures from our visit there.
No visit to Portugal would be complete without a visit to the capital. And Lisbon was amazing!
We stayed at another free parking spot, a large car park right on the water front. I could have stayed here for days just watching the people going by, as well as those who were also parked up in Motorhomes and campers. A weird mix of people, all travelling, from different countries, speaking different languages, just parked up, having a beer and dancing to the most chilled music ever. I sat like a creeper watching them for an hour from behind my sunglasses. Cause that’s totally normal.
The vibe here was totally different from anywhere else we had been in Portugal. So chilled and relaxed. I don’t know if that’s because we were in a capital city and there was so much diverse culture or because we were right by the water, or what it was, but we loved it.
We stayed here two nights but honestly that wasn’t long enough. And if we were to do it all again, we could easily have stayed for a week.
There is so much to see and do in Lisbon and honestly we didn’t even scratch the surface. But we done as much as we could do in the full day that we spent there.
If you are going with kids, then a must see place to visit is the Oceanarium. We spent hours in here and we had as much fun as the kids did. It is a little pricey, especially if you are travelling on a budget, but it’s super educational and informative so we justified it as part of our world-schooling for the day.
There is no performing dolphins or seals, crammed into small tanks, something which we are against. Their message is clear throughout the whole tour, and that’s about preserving and cleaning up the ocean. As well as the large tanks there is tonnes of educational exhibits, games and interactive learning for everyone to enjoy. A really great day out.
After there we went to the Old Town part of Lisbon and in typical Portuguese fashion it was extremely hilly and extremely narrow. You can get Tram 28, which will take you on a cheap tour all around the small narrow streets and up the hills, but every one we seen was extremely full and extremely crammed. Because we have the three kids, we gave this a miss and instead walked. And walked and walked and walked…….
We made our way to St Jorge’s Castle which is (of course) right up the top. But in our opinion you can’t visit Lisbon without visiting here. The views from the top were amazing, and them alone are worth the trek up.
Theres beautiful medieval stoned walled gardens to walk around and sit at the fountains. You can cross over the small moat bridge into the castle where you can walk about and even walk around the top of the castle walls taking in the amazing views of the city below.
And I actually did it! Despite my fear that –
a) my children were all going to somehow fall to their death
b) that I would be so overcome with dizziness that I would just jump, falling to my death
c) that the sheer weight of me on these medieval walls would cause them to crumble, and so obviously, we would all fall to our death.
But I did it. And we all survived.
There’s also a little museum to meander round and loads of amazing vantage points to admire.
To finish off our day we walked back down through the streets to the stunning main square, the Praça do Comércio, where we had a bite to eat and soaked in the Lisbon atmosphere.
Take a look at our pictures here.
So that’s us, Portugal done. We’ve had the best time here and will miss it so much! But we are looking forward to the countries ahead and to explore what they have to offer.
Week 10 and I still can’t believe we are doing this!