Lovely Lisbon- and Many More Cities in Amazing Portugal

Day 15 – Evora and Lisbon

We departed the Algarve Coast this morning and stopped in the town of Evora, about 2 hours outside Lisbon. The drive was beautiful through lush green countrysides.


City of Evora

Evora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to 57 BC when it was conquered by the Romans. What’s left of the Roman Temple of Evora dates back to the 1st Century. There is a Vasco de Gama Palace, Saint Francis Church and the Cathedral of Evora. We didn’t have much time, but saw as much as we could fit in.  We had lunch in the main square, which included fresh swordfish (again) and a carafe of Sangria (except for our driver!).

We arrived in Lisbon in the late afternoon and stayed at a beautiful 5 star hotel, Eurostar das Letras. The hotel was gorgeous, just off the main street in Lisbon in a park-like setting.

We realized that we left too little time for ourselves to see Lisbon and the surrounding area. The guy at the front desk of the hotel recommended that we hire a private driver/tour guide to take us all over Lisbon and the outskirts. This ended up being the best suggestion ever.

This evening we headed down Liberty Avenue (main street) to Russo Square for a great steak dinner.

Day 16 – Sintra, Cascais, Belem and Lisbon

Hiring the private driver/guide for the day was the BEST idea/recommendation yet!! We each paid about 90 US dollars (including tip) for our driver, Pedro, to pick us up at our Hotel at 9am and take us, literally, all over Lisbon and the surrounding area. We didn’t get back to our Hotel until around 8pm – a very good deal and day indeed.

Pedro spoke beautiful English, he picked us up in his Mercedes van and whisked us out of Lisbon, across the bridge and over to Sintra. WOW!!! Sintra is simply adorable and amazing. This town could not be cuter! Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s charm lies in the palaces surrounding the tiny town. These palaces were summer residences to the various Kings and Queens of Portugal’s past. All along the outskirts of Sintra are deep green forests covered with “cork” trees. Two peaks are situated within Sintra, one has a Moorish castle on it, the other has Pena Palace. We opted to go up to Pena Palace, with it’s Disneyland appearance.

Pena Palace Sintra Portugal
Pena Palace

We couldn’t get enough of Sintra as we wandered the town, in and out of shops and coffee houses. Alas, Pedro, our driver said we had to get moving on to the next place.

From Sintra, we drove out of the forests and back to the rocky coastline just outside of Cascais. We stopped for photos at Cape Rocca, watched the windsurfers as we had a lovely lunch (fresh seabass) at a beautiful restaurant along the coast. The town of Cascais is like a mini-French Riviera with beautiful homes, yachts and outdoor cafes dotting the curvy coastline. The town has a main square with pubs, shops and cafes. From here, Pedro drove further along the coast until we could see Lisbon just across the harbor to the town of Belem.

Belem is known for many things, but one thing is the famous Belem pastry shop. There is a long line to get a taste of their magnificent eclair-like pastries. The bakery sits adjacent to the Jeronimo Cathedral. From here we wandered over to Torre Belem and the Navigator’s Monument, both magnificent architectural designs. Torre Belem (or Belem Tower) was built in the 16th Century and sits right on or in the Tagus River across from Lisbon. Navigator’s Monument, just next to Torre Belem, is a celebration to all the Portuguese sailors who ventured out during the Age of Discoveries.

Belem Tower in Portugal
Torre Belem

We drove back over the bridge into Lisbon. Lisbon could be sister cities (in my opinion) with San Francisco – the bridge is designed like the Golden Gate, the green forests of Sintra on the outskirts could remind you of Muir woods and the city of Lisbon has little yellow cable cars to transport you around town. We stopped at the St Maria Cathedral before heading back to our hotel. I cannot say enough about how grateful we were to Pedro our driver for giving us the opportunity to pack in two days of sightseeing into one.

All I can say is I LOVE LISBON!!!


Day 17 – Obidos and Coimbra

This was going to be our longest driving day as we had to cover 250 miles to get from Lisbon to Salamanca, Spain. On our way we were stopping in two more towns in Portugal before we would finally head into Spain.


Obidos, Spain

We were up and out early and arrived in the picturesque town of Obidos before it even opened at 9am!! This place is like a mini-Sintra – just adorable. You could live here! Out in the countryside surrounded by vineyards, here is this little town that is walled in with a Roman Castle from about the 5th Century. The windy cobblestone streets lead you through a maze of whitewash houses and buildings that have colorful bougainvillea covering them.  We shopped, drank coffee, walked the Roman wall and bought a few more things before we headed off to our next stop.

Coimbra was our last stop in Portugal before heading into Spain. Coimbra boasts the largest University in Portugal. It’s a city that sits on a hill overlooking a river. The first thing we did was have lunch in the main square. We noticed a sign offering tours of Coimbra on a Tuk Tuk. We took off with Marcos on his tuk tuk to tour Coimbra for a couple hours.  A tuk tuk is a revamped motorcycle with several passenger seats and a top on it. This was another good move on our part, we would never have seen all the things that Marcos took us to including views of the city, the University, the old and new cathedrals and monastery.

As we left Coimbra and Portugal in the late afternoon, we reflected on all of the wonderful things we did and saw in our short time here. We were all extremely impressed with Portugal. The prices here were very reasonable, the people were warm and friendly and there were a lot less tourists and crowds here than what we saw in Spain.

I highly recommend Portugal to anyone traveling to or through Europe. You do need time to get there and then to see it, but it is well worth making that time and once you are here you will not be disappointed.

Here are our Portugal Travel Specialists that can help arrange your trip to Portugal.

My next blog will be my last one about this trip and our final stops in Spain.

You can see more photos I took of Portugal here on our Carefree Vacations facebook page.

You can also view my video on you tube

If you have questions about traveling to this area, drop me an email at

by Nancy Kivlen


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