It’s finally here, my (Alex) recap on my Europe travels this Summer! From Spain to Portugal to Italy, I’m listing what I learned, some helpful tips and my favorite spots. If you’re planning a multi stop trip quick and on a budget, this may be super helpful!
This past Summer was a crazy one, the company I worked for for 5 years shut down and I felt like my world was turned upside down. With that said, I saw this as an opportunity to take time to myself and take a worldly travel that was longer than the standard “paid vacation” time. I always regretted never studying abroad or taking time after graduation to see more of the world. So this trip was to take full advantage of my time off and go for a multi-stop trip. An added bonus was having some great company as well.
Picking the places that I would visit for 3 weeks was the main task which was easily decided within hours. I’ve been dying to go Portugal after seeing all the beautiful photos that kept coming out year after year and after hearing the passion my boyfriend has for his culture. It was a no brainer that would be the main destination to go see and explore. We also heard Majorca was suppose to be beautiful and romantic from a friend so we agreed to start there and see some of Spain before starting our two week travel within Portugal. Ending in Italy was a surprise and of course no one can ever get enough of that culture, so it was a nice ending spot.
Now tips in planning your trip to Portugal. Any trip can be stressful especially when you plan a month in advance. If you are someone that just found out you have all this time available suddenly and want to take a long trip here’s some wisdom I’d like to pass along – be ready to pay a little m0re. Don’t get discouraged by it though because you can’t put a price tag on experiences like these. Just actually take a full day to do your research and plan all the big ticket items, meaning flights, hotels and any transportation needs. Planning in advance you have more flexibility for obvious reason and will most likely get better deals but that doesn’t mean you can’t be smart and thrifty planning last minute either.
Some apps we used to help us plan this trip on a budget were: SkyScanner , Booking.com and Airbnb. There were a few more but those were the main ones. One budget hotel we stayed in that actually turned out to be amazing was Ibis Hotels. Our plans ended up changing so we needed something last minute and this chain popped up for 100 Euro a night with breakfast included. To our surprise, it was in a great location, the beds were comfortable, the assortment for breakfast was just enough and the staff was delightful. I would go stay at one again for sure! Another tip I’d like to pass along is – make sure to check the place’s Facebook. We learned when checking out of our little apartment suite we found on Airbnb in Lisbon, we could of got 10% off through their Facebook. You live and learn I guess haha.
Some other important tips I want to pass along is research the average price of meals for each region to better budget your stay. We were able to estimate how much money we would be spending on food from our research and we were able to make sure we always had enough euros on us for each meal. Another tip is TAKE THE TRAIN! It’s such an experience and inexpensive way to get to all the places you are interested in seeing. If you do decided to train it place to place we also recommend to buy the tickets online and in advance because it’s cheaper. We bought all our train tickets through CP and downloaded the app on our phone so it was supper easy and non stressful! The last two tips we want to pass along are find a Western Union in Portugal and convert larger amounts of cash rather than a little each day which is what I did. They will most likely give you a better rate and if you are planing to leave to another place out of Portugal like Italy, exchange all your dollars there because they DO NOT TAKE A COMMISSION FEE! Lastly, in Portugal tip is not required but they are very appreciative for the gesture.
Next and most importantly the food you must try in Portugal.
- Bacalhau (fish dish)
- Galinha Piri (roasted chicken dish)
- Caracois (small snails also awesome beach snack)
I strongly believe in trying the cultures main dishes and honestly their food is a top reason why I didn’t want to leave. I could of kept eating all day. It was so fresh and had so much flavor, my taste buds were going crazy. There are even days when I crave something I had over there and I wish I could just stop somewhere and get it, like the snails!
Now where we went in Portugal: Porto, Lisbon and Algarve. To pick which place I loved most is impossible too. What I can say is seeing each place is a must. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves here.
Go down to the main river and cross the bridge! Even go back at night and enjoy an espresso. It’s beautiful. We didn’t get to it but plan one of the porto wine tour trips. We only heard great things and wish we could of but it just didn’t work out. Instead we walked around exploring the beautiful city. Also make sure to ask the front desk at your hotel about the best spots to eat. Our hotel gave us amazing suggestions and we ate like kings everyday. Every person there is so nice and helpful. Never once did we feel helpless.
We only got to spend a day here which is not enough but if you too are limited take one of the cart tours, there’s so much to see. Have them bring you to the highest point of Lisbon to get some amazing scenic photos. Also end the day at eating at a fato restaurant. It’s a culture must while there.
When you go here you must rent a scooter. It was such an experience and I loved just exploring with my boyfriend. Also it’s cheaper than taking a taxi to all the beaches. Another tip is to look at the map and plan out which beaches you want to hit each day. I’d highly suggest seeing multiple rather than just one because they all are so beautiful and each one has something different to see and appreciate. OH and how can I forget, take a cave boat ride and see the coast line of all the beaches with all the unique caves! If you have a GoPro, BRING IT !! You won’t regret it. You will honestly fall in love here though, it was so relaxing and beautiful. I never saw anything like these beaches.
What to take away from the first part of my trip of Portugal. I fell in love with the culture and I think it’s easy to say anyone would. There’s still so much I didn’t get to see so I will be back. Now off to Italy, where I met my mom. Two years ago I went with Kelly and we explored Genoa, Florence and Pisa. This time around I did Veince and Florence and again we traveled place to place by train. I can’t stress enough how easy it is. I never went to Veince before and something I warn people that haven’t and are planning is to download a map in advance because you will get lost and have no service in sections. Also take the water bus to the other islands of Veince, there is so much to see off of the main island like Murano and Bruano and many more. Try going during sale months too, i know thats hard to plan but I got lucky! I got some amazing pieces for amazing prices so getting lost was worth it! Yeah we pretty much got lost everyday in Veince but within getting lost we stumbled upon some amazing spots, take a look here:
And my last destination was florence which I’ve been to before. Even though I’ve gone once it was different this time around because instead of worry so much to capture every photo I actually took time and enjoyed what I was looking at. So another tip I would give is don’t ever say you’ve been there before and won’t go back. Most likely you will look at it differently the second time around and enjoy it more. I even found some new spots that I didn’t see last time.
I hope this post was helpful and you got some key tips from my new favorite place to travel to as well as old places I love.