Portugal 2019: Introduction

by | Apr 16, 2019 | International Travel, Travel

We’ve wanted to visit Portugal for a while, so when we saw a good airfare that coincided with our availability in March, we booked flights in and out of Lisbon. Portugal has lots of options – coastline, mountains, vineyards – so in the end we decided to keep our first trip simple and stick to the two main cities, Lisbon and Porto.

Our first two nights were spent in Lisbon, then Porto for three nights, then back to Lisbon for our last two nights. The train from Lisbon to Porto was quite late, so the expected 3 hour train ride took closer to 4.5 hours! Thankfully it was fine on the way back.

on the train to Porto (which took over four hours)!  arriving at the train station (over an hour late)

Sights were a secondary concern, as food was the major highlight of this trip – we tried quite a few local cheeses, numerous wines, delicious dinners, and of course, Pasteis de Nata and other wonderful pastries.

Where We Stayed

Solar dos Poetas, Lisbon (formerly Chalet do Bairro Guesthouse)

Solar dos Poetas has several ensuite bedrooms on the third floor of a building along the centrally-located Praça Luís de Camões. Check-in is located a 3-minute walk away across the square in the hotel Palácio das Especiarias.

Once we figured out check-in we were assigned our room facing the square. The room was a little oddly laid out – two steps went down into the room from the door, and then one back up to the bathroom. Overall the room was rather small, but enough space for us, and had a rather firm bed.

There was construction going on the entire time we were there (mid-week) so while the exterior windows blocked out street noise, we could hear drilling and sanding starting promptly at 8am each morning. Even when the construction noise stopped the interior noise of the building was loud, especially with banging doors from the other rooms.

It also took a bit of experience to figure out breakfast. The tables were spread out over several rooms and lacked a check-in person, so there were a lot of people wandering about looking for spaces to sit. Almost all the tables sat four, but most parties were only two people so there was a lot of wasted seating. Fruit, cakes and beverages (except coffee) were the same in both large rooms but we didn’t see any hot items. I finally tracked down a server to ask and she just said “in the kitchen” with an eye roll and pointed me down an unmarked hallway. Of course.

our room @  our floor was under construction
our small bedroom; construction equipment right outside the door to our apartment block

the view of Praça Luís de Camões from our room
the view of Praça Luís de Camões from our room

Pros:

  • Good location in the center, near metro
  • Noise blocking exterior windows
  • Good number of outlets for charging devices

Cons:

  • Very noisy interior – doors slamming by 8am, construction work too.
  • Check-in and breakfast located a 3-minute walk away (across the square)
  • Keys were very hard to use (even our check-in lady had trouble!)
  • Shutters didn’t get the room fully dark
  • Never got the air conditioning unit to work – this place would be sweltering in the summer!

LovelyStay-Modern Loft City Center, Porto

We loved this apartment! Our train was over an hour late but thanks to great communication with our check-in lady, Chloe, we had no problems and she was waiting for us when we arrived. Located on the 4th floor, the apartment has a lofted bedroom, 2 bathrooms, fully fitted kitchen, washing machine and a local management office down the street. (We were able to store our luggage there for a few hours between check-out and our train back to Lisbon.) Highly recommended.

our Modern Loft Apartment by Lovely Stay

our Modern Loft Apartment by Lovely Stay

our Modern Loft Apartment by Lovely Stay

Pros:

  • Good location 10 minutes from the train station, near a grocery store
  • Noise blocking exterior windows
  • Lots of space
  • Responsive management company
  • Washing machine in the apartment

Cons:

  • Stairs were a bit slippery

Chiado Dream Apartments, Lisbon

On our return to Lisbon we stayed at a different place, but still centrally located near the Chiado-Baixa subway stop. Communication through text was good and we were pleasantly surprised to see on-site staff from 9am to 7pm. The code for our bedroom didn’t work right away but once the system was ‘reset’ we didn’t have any issues. Waiting for us was a complimentary bottle of wine and a coffee-stocked galley kitchen.

Pros:

  • good location in the center, near metro
  • fairly quiet
  • good number of plugs
  • good communication

Cons:

  • no view, just scaffolding

cozy room @ Dream Chiado Apartments

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Valencia, Spain (Mar)
Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)</br />Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)