Lisbon Portugal isn’t really on anybody’s “must visit” list that we know of, but it should be. Recently we had a few extra vacation days and a few airline miles that were burning a hole in our pocket. We did our usual, scan of the Delta Airlines website to see what the deals were. Up popped a great deal to Lisbon, Portugal. I turned to my wife and asked “What the hell is there to do in Lisbon?” After a few searches, we found beaches, wineries and a bunch more stuff close by. The city looked cool enough and they had a Marriott, for which we had extra hotel points. So why not Lisbon? Boom, we booked the trip.
After a little more searching we found the Praia D’El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort not too far to the north of Lisbon that was on a beach. They had a big special for the same week in August that we were going to be there, so now the worst thing that could happen was this would end up a beach vacation.
We got in to Lisbon early afternoon, rented a car and were off to our hotel.
We arrived at the hotel and by the time we got all settled, it was late afternoon and with just a few hours of sun left we headed down to the beach checked it out then passed out on a towel. When we woke up an hour later it was cold, especially for August. We learned quickly that along the beach in Portugal the temperatures change real fast. That night we were greeted with an incredible sunset.
Sitting at the hotel bar that night we asked what the best things to see in the area were. The consensus between the bartenders and our new-found Portuguese friends was Peniche Beach and the historic town of Obidos.
So day two we thought we were traveling to what everyone called Peniche beach, it was more of a fishing village. We spent 8 hours there but not much time at the beach. Peniche is a peninsula with a scenic road that you can drive all the way around along the cliffs. You can stop almost anywhere along the road, get out and hike the sea cliffs, the views are amazing. Hundreds of fisherman are all over, most likely in their favorite fishing spots, casting off the cliff walls into the crystal clear water and hauling fish up 100 feet.
When your done with hiking or just need a break, the town in the center of the peninsula has all kinds of restaurants serving up fresh seafood and more. There is also the Praça–forte de Peniche historic fort to walk around, several small churches and of course at the peninsula isthmus is the colorful and crowded Peniche Beach which itself has a small boardwalk full of restaurants and bars overlooking the beach.
On day three we headed to downtown Lisbon
Around 11am we drove straight into Lisbon and started at the Place of Commerce “Praça do Comércio” which was a large square overlooking the Tagus River. The square is outlined by museums, restaurants, the welcome center, and a viewing platform from which in the distance you can see Portugal’s version of Rio’s “Christ the Redeemer”. Moving up through the Archway da Rua Augusta we traversed Augusta Street which was lined with artists, performing artists, outdoor cafe’s, fountains, statues, incredible architecture & lot’s of cool shops. There was one that was selling bottles of hundreds of year old port.
The day was pretty much spent walking town square to town square, window shopping, watching the performing artists, admiring the architecture, checking out the gardens, and drinking sangria at the outdoor cafés while people watching.
On day four it was off to Obidos.
This day we started off slow. After a morning swim and some lunch we decided to head on recommendation to the medieval town of Obidos around two in the afternoon. We hadn’t looked into what the town was all about and to be honest it didn’t sound all that exciting. We figured we would spend an hour or two there. We were wrong, as we are 9 out of ten times. We ended up climbing castle walls and walking the length of the town on them, wandering around all of the medieval shops, checking out all of the people who came dressed in medieval costumes, drinking in the pubs and then to top it off watched a medieval hair band. They were actually pretty good. Time flew, we spent four hours there.
And finally, day five was spent in Sintra.
While we were in Obidos on day four, we got a text from Tricia here at Passport Tourist. She saw that we were around Lisbon and said we had to check out Sintra Portugal. Once again, we had never heard of it, but we were going anyway. She assured us it was worth it. As it turns out, it was on of our favorite places we have ever visited. As usual, we did it all wrong and yet it turned out amazing.
At our hotel, we checked out a couple of pictures of Sintra and decided what we were going to do there. Our main objectives was the Castle of the Moors and Palace of Pena both of which were high atop Sintra. As we arrived in the small town, we somehow got a prime parking spot and things were going great. For a few minutes at least. Then we got to the bus station that had the rides up to the Castle of the Moors and the line for the bus wrapped around the corner & down the block.
Then luck struck again, a few feet from the bus station we saw a sign that had a hiker and an arrow on it and said Castle of the Moors. We were quite fresh from a few days of relaxation, so we thought, why not. It ended up quite a hike, it seemed like a thousand or two steps, but very scenic. At the top we didn’t feel that bad and knew it was all down hill from there.
The Castle of the Moors was incredible, the view was amazing, walking around on a medieval castle wall was a lot of fun. After about an hour, we could see the Palace of Pena on a hill-top across the way and started to head over. There was a very well-marked path and about 25 minutes later we were walking though Pena. For about ten minutes, it was an extremely colorful really cool place. Then disaster struck.
We could see it coming from not too far away, it had just erased the Castle of the Moors in the distance . A big low-lying white cloud had completely encompassed us along with Pena Palace. We couldn’t see five feet in front of us. After about half an hour we abandoned hope of seeing anything else and started back down the mountain.
About ten minutes into the walk, we couldn’t get a signal on our phones and it had started raining. The roads were wet, cars were sliding and we found safe harbor on the side roads because we were afraid a car would slide into us on the main road. We got lost for about an hour, but kept going down so we were pretty sure we were going the right way. Then we found steps that looked like the ones we had taken up to The Castle of the Moors. We were drenched as we walked for about 20 minutes down the steps to where they ended and we seemed to be in a giant botanical garden.
We walked around, there were statues, ponds, well taken care of plants and buildings. It was beautiful and the detailed artisan work was astounding. After about 30 minutes of walking around we found out a big problem.
We were walking around inside a place called Quinta da Regaleira and it was closed for the evening. To make things even better, the place was like a giant maze. We had no idea how we entered the place and the only way out was climbing a 7 foot fence that had spikes on the top. This was pretty much the cherry on top of the crazy ice cream cone day we’ll never forget.
We had no agenda or idea what to expect when we went to Lisbon, but it ended up one of our favorite, most scenic, adventurous, and relaxing trips we’ve been on.
This is how WE did it:
- With Airline miles we flew into Lisbon Portugal and rented a car
- With Marriott Points we had booked a room at the Praia D’El Rey Marriott Golf & Beach Resort for five nights
- Drove from Lisbon Airport to the Marriott, a very easy drive with well-marked highways.
- Drove around to all of the places above.
- Drove back to the Lisbon Airport and flew back to the states.