Portugal has never been on my top list of places to visit. Have I been missing out! The most beautiful coastlines and beaches I’ve ever seen are nestled quietly along the Algarve coast of southern Portugal. Better than the Caribbean, Thailand, Hawaii…I can’t think of more emerald, green waters, majestic cliffs and my added bonus – not seeing other American tourists! Algarve reminds me of Tulum before influencers exposed its charm. ***Influencers, in case you come across this, don’t ruin this gem either. Let’s keep this treasure on the down low, please?***
The first tip I’d like to share. DO NOT BOOK with TAP Airlines: Portugal’s main airline. All 3 of my internal flights with TAP on this trip were canceled both months in advance to right before boarding. Pay more for a larger airline for ease of mind.
I booked a wonderful night in a hotel right on the beach in Albufeira, Portugal, since I lost the first night at my original hotel further down the Algarve Coast due to my canceled flight to Faro.
My new route from Madrid to Lisbon to Faro added a 6-hour layover in Lisbon, which means, I was able to tour this city’s rich history and culture I originally would’ve missed out on.
While my flight was canceled, and I was luckily rebooked on another flight 2 hours later, I furiously researched what activities I could do in Lisbon during a long layover. During my short flight to Lisbon, I had the good fortune of sitting next to the sweetest and most generous Portuguese flight attendant named Sandra. Sandra even insisted I contact her if I needed anything. Sandra gave me insightful tips on what I need to see in Portugal. Here is her list below.
· Lisboa (Lisbon)
· Praia de Melides
· Praia de Alberto Nova
· Sunsets in Sagres
· Ponta da Piedade
After almost 24 hours of travel and layovers, I was too exhausted to navigate a tour of Lisbon myself. I found the perfect excursion: a private Vespa tour! Under 2 hours’ notice, Marco picked me up and dropped me off at the airport with an in-depth tour of Lisbon. Withlocals is my new favorite travel tour/excursion site for Europe. He whisked me through every neighborhood of Lisbon explaining the history of the city, and how the magic of Lisbon comes together. It was so freeing to be out of an airport and feel the air. Zipping around a Vespa was the perfect way to get a taste of Lisbon in 3 hours. I look forward to returning one day to really see this enigmatic city that was once part of the Roman Empire, Germanic Empire, and Moorish rule. (Scenic Vespa Journey Around Lisbon! - Withlocals)
I arrived in Faro very late on my first night on the Algarve Coast. I grabbed my rental car at Sixt (never heard of them before, but their service was better than any American car rental experience). I rented the cheapest level, a Fiat. They gave me a complimentary upgrade without even mentioning it. Driving in a foreign country added to the adventure. I can’t wait to do it again.