I had multiple international trips scheduled in 2021, and I also wanted to travel with my family as well, particularly with my father and younger brothers. Our last trip together was to Japan, almost three years ago. At first, I was thinking about Iceland, but for purely selfish reasons, I have already been there over 5 times, and it’s not a budget-friendly destination, so I opted for Portugal instead. I’ve been to Lisbon once in 2008, and I enjoyed it very much (I don’t recall any scenery except the port and eating at a beautiful outdoor restaurant). And due to its recent popularity, I was curious about the country that seemed underrated for many.
Here is the itinerary, which includes Lisbon, Sintra, Coimbra, Porto, Braga, Guimarae, and Douro Valley:
Take taxi or Uber from airport (around 25-30 euros to go to apartment)
Express train from Porto to Coimbra. Intercidades (IC) and the Alfa Pendular (AP). Buy tickets here. The Alfa Pendular are the more modern trains, with a higher level of comfort and fewer stops, but are slightly more expensive.
Do note that Lisbon is very hilly, and it was not the best idea for my 75-year-old father. I hired a tuk tuk driver for half the day ($50 USD an hour), and it worked out fine. Food-wise, I thought Portuguese cuisine is generally salty. I did not like their steaks, nor am I a seafood fan except crustaceans, so it wasn’t for me. I did like several of their pastries, like their egg custards, but did not care for others.
We enjoyed the trip very much and highly recommend Portugal to first-timers to Europe. It’s a wonderful introduction to Old Europe with the intact architecture and buildings (not destroyed by earthquakes), museums, and California-esque landscapes.