post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-5679,single-format-standard,stockholm-core-1.2.1,select-theme-ver-9.6,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,menu-animation-underline,,qode_menu_,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-7.0,vc_responsive

Portugal Trip

When did we go….

  • Aug 23 – Sep 8, 2023



Why did we go…

  • we take our daughters for a trip for their 30th birthday, so this was Leah’s turn
  • in addition, Leah and Brennan started the journey by going to Ireland and Amsterdam for their belated honeymoon before joining us in Portugal



How did we get there…

  • 4-hour flight to Montreal and then a 7-hour flight to Lisbon
  • 30-minute Uber to our hotel
  • 3-hour train ride from Lisbon to Porto and the same on the way back
  • 4-hour private driver from Lisbon to Lagos (took an hour to get out of Lisbon across the bridge) and 3 hours on the way back (driver Sergio from Good Feelings Transfers)
  • 8.5-hour flight return flight from Lisbon to Toronto and then a 4-hour flight to Calgary (this was the scheduled route, but we were delayed 3 hours out of Lisbon, had to connect through Winnipeg and overnight it, before returning to Calgary the following day, which resulted in a 27-hour door to door journey)



Where did we stay…

Lisbon (Aug 24-26)

  • Lx Boutique Hotel
  • nice location by the water on the edge of Old Town
  • nice sized room and an ocean view
  • bit noisy at night with party goers from Pink Street

Porto (Aug 26-31)

  • Infante Sagres Luxury Historic Hotel
  • very fancy and historically ornate
  • nicely located on the upper edge of Old Town
  • nice sundeck and plunge pool
  • very helpful concierge named Miguel

Lisbon (Aug 31 – Sep 2)

  • Lx Boutique Hotel
  • repeat from our earlier visit to Lisbon

Lagos (Sep 2-6)

  • Belmar Spa & Beach Resort
  • 5-minute drive on the outskirts of Lagos
  • two bedroom with a large rooftop balcony
  • lots of weird layout issues (like a maze to find the pools, a weird room numbering system, random washroom locations)
  • nice adult pool area
  • beautiful view of the ocean overlooking Praia de Porto de Mos
  • not very appealing restaurant or lounge areas

Lisbon (Sep 6-8)

  • AlmaLusa Baixa & Chiado
  • central location for getting around
  • very nicely appointed hotel and room, although we had challenges with the room key
  • the hotel restaurant was very nice
  • welcome and departure notes and gifts was very special



Where did we eat…


  • Florella (lunch, Italian food, average food and service, nice location on the main promenade)
  • La Paparrucha (dinner, good food and service, outdoor terrace with amazing views of the Old Town inner city)
  • Agora (lunch, nice café near our hotel with healthy food, excellent service)
  • JNcQUOI Asia (dinner, very unique venue and chow, most incredible washrooms – black toilet paper!!!, oh and the name – je ne sais quoi – I don’t know what)
  • Time Out Market (lunch, upscale food court, good food, very busy mid-afternoon, near our hotel, ate there three times)
  • Delfino’s (dinner, excellent food, good service)
  • COMOBA (breakfast three times, cool vibe with great service and very healthy food and drinks)
  • Dama’s (dinner, harrowing Uber ride, slow service to start, best food of the trip)
  • Palma Cantina (lunch, quaint spot in Graca district, excellent food)
  • Yakuza by Olivier (dinner, cool Asian vibe, great food, fun speakeasy type entrance, hangout for celebrities)


  • Popina (lunch, quaint place with a nice ambiance, very good tapas style food)
  • DOP (dinner, fancy joint, great food, chatted with a nice couple from Boston)
  • Especialidade Da Casa Bifana (breakfast, nice setting in a square with good people watching)
  • Ribiero (lunch, nice patio, excellent ‘tropical’ salad)
  • Praia Da Luz (dinner, beach setting with great views out into the Atlantic)
  • Culto ao Bacalthau (dinner, excellent food and service, Icelandic cod theme)
  • Chez Lapin (lunch, on the river promenade, decent food, great people watching)
  • Marisqueira Antiga (dinner, upscale seafood restaurant, weird vibe, average food, interesting experience)
  • Apadoa (lunch, mistakenly went here instead of Epoca Porto but it was excellent, vegetarian)
  • W. & J. Graham & Companhia (dinner, Graham Port facility, beautiful views of Gaia and Porto, excellent seafood, three free drinks for our anniversary which was very thoughtful)


  • Cantinho Algarvito (dinner, quaint tight alley setting, fun UK couple beside us, excellent food and fun servers)
  • 2 Armaos (dinner, nice setting on the marine channel, excellent food, good service)
  • Beach Flavors (breakfast, Salemo, beachfront setting, healthy food)
  • A Concha (lunch, Praia du Luz, nice beachfront setting, enjoyed some Aperol Spritz)
  • The Studio (breakfast, healthy food in the center of town)
  • O Charco (dinner, good Italian chow and service)



What did we do…


  • walked around the Bairro Alto and Baixa-Chiado areas in Old Town checking out the atelier (boutique) shops and cafes (very hilly)
  • toured the LX Factory area (the historical industrial complex houses an array of arty retailers & unique restaurants)
  • viewed the city from various lookouts, where people enjoy coffee and live entertainment
  • rode the historic Elevador da Bica funicular
  • listened to great live music and street dancers at A Brasileira do Chiada café
  • checked out Belem Tower and some of the upscale Belem neighborhood
  • checked out Eduardo Park and walked the main promenade where a lot of the high-end shops were
  • took a 4-hour Tuk Tuk tour (with Sardinha do Bairro) around the city with our fun and informative guide Pedro (great informative outing)
  • did a second Tuk Tuk tour with Pedro, Leah, and Brennan for two hours (such a fun guide)
  • visited the Castel de S. Jorge (the first fortification was built in 48 BC, a beautiful structure atop a hill in Old Lisbon)
  • took a private tour to Sintra (guide ?, stopped at the National Palace of Queluz which is where the royal family lived, Pena Palace atop a hill was a magnificent structure, very beautiful historic city)
  • visited Cascais (half an hour west of Lisbon, an Atlantic Ocean port city, lots of history and a cool art district)




  • walked around the old town checking out the shops, cafes, and people watching
  • went on a Rabero boat ride with Thomas Do Duoro Tours along the Duoro River seeing the six bridges in Porto
  • watched a unique form of dancing/martial arts from the Associacio Santista Arte De Gingar So Capoeira group
  • Off the Beaten Track tour with Joao aka Johnny (2.5 hours, very unique tour of artsy and historic areas of the Old City)
  • driving tour of the Douro Valley (guide David was great, beautiful vistas of steep valleys of ‘mechanical’ and ‘manual’ vineyards, lovely boat ride from Pinhao on the Douro River, super fun host at a wine tasting at Seara d’Ordens winery, lunch at the tour companies beautiful Fraga do Doruo house, joined by two ladies from Iowa and two from Bermuda)
  • checked out Vila Nova da Gaia (a town across the Douro River from Porto and known as the home of port wine)
  • climbed up 240 stairs to the top of Clerigos Tower (very crowded but spectacular 360-degree views)
  • took a ride on an old tram (routes 1 and 18) along the Douro River and then back up to Clerigos Tower
  • visited the famous and spectacular LIvraria Lello bookstore (very ornate and historic and where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for Harry Potter Hogwarts scenery when she lived in Porto as an English teacher)
  • had afternoon and evening anniversary beverages at Aduela (fun pub near our hotel where the locals hang out)
  • hung out at the plunge pool at our hotel




  • walked the promenade along the coastline cliffs with Leah and walked down to Praia do Boneca which connected through a tunnel to Praia  do Camila (214 steps), and Praia de Dona Ana (102 steps)
  • boat cruise along the majestic coastline of Lagos, viewing the honey-colored sandstone cliffs, natural sea arches, and caves
  • checked out the towns of Salemo, Burgao, and Praia da Luz
  • food tour with Joio (super fun guy, four restaurants,  ten courses, ten people, lots of unique food, and deadly moonshine shot)
  • listened to music at the Tivoli Hotel with our Uber driver Louis (from the UK) band
  • walked the promenade along the Lagos shoreline with Leah and Mare, viewing the fantastic cliffs and landscape from above, as well as walking down to Ponte de Piedade beach 212 steps below the lighthouse
  • walked to Praia do Canavial (a beautiful beach with a tricky descent via a stone footpath, clothing optional beach)





  • capital city
  • population of 3M
  • known for its unique historical center, stunning architecture, colorful azulejos (ceramic tiles), and fantastic food
  • has a fascinating history, filled with rulers, invasions, destructions, and reconstructions
  • one of the oldest cities in the world and the second oldest European capital city after Athens




  • known for its stately bridges and port wine production
  • population of 230,000
  • second largest city in Portugal
  • one of the oldest European centers
  • port wine, one of Portugal’s most famous exports, is named after Porto since the metropolitan area, and in particular the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia, were responsible for the packaging, transport, and export of fortified wines




  • Portugal’s southernmost region
  • population of 500,000
  • Lagos population of 27,000
  • known for its Atlantic beaches and golf resorts
  • whitewashed fishing villages on low cliffs overlook sandy coves with striking rock formations
  • the area is becoming increasingly sought after, mostly by central and northern Europeans, as a permanent place to settle



What did we not do that is on the agenda for next time:

  • explore smaller towns in the Algarve and other parts of the country like Braga, Aveiro, Cascais, Coimbra, and many others
  • hike the Seven Hanging Valleys trail and visit the Bengali Cave in the Algarve



Final thoughts:

  • the weather was between 15 to 30 degrees C, which was very pleasant, and we only occasionally needed a sweater
  • things are relatively cheap, which was nice not to break the piggy bank
  • the food was decent, but the veggies were sub-standard
  • the fish often had bones in it, which made it a bit unpleasant to have to perform surgery before eating it
  • the restaurant service was a real mixed bag from outstanding to borderline rude
  • you can catch a train from downtown Lisbon that goes all the way to Vietnam