Portugal was another memorable trip from 2017. Every year I choose somewhere epic to spend my birthday, and this year I chose Portugal. I had never been there before, and I was in Spain most of the summer, so thought Portugal was the perfect choice, especially being so close it was easy to get there.
I LOVED Portugal. I would have to say it’s in my top three favorite countries in Europe along with Italy and Croatia. Portugal just has such an amazing energy, and I think it’s because of the people. As soon as I landed, I got good vibes. To me, that is what makes a place so special- the energy of the people, and all throughout the trip I came across the nicest and friendliest people. Only few places have that in my opinion. I also think TAP Portugal is a great airline to fly with really friendly staff and efficient service. I recommend flying them into Portugal.
First stop and last stop of the trip was Lisbon. It is such a colorful and vibrant city. I stayed at the Four Seasons Lisbon which was a little outside of the city center but still a super cheap Uber ride (like $5) away from everything. The hotel has an old and elegant charm. It has the most amazing hotel gym I’ve ever been to on the top floor with panoramic views of Lisbon and a breathtaking spa. The breakfast/brunch at the Four Seasons was to die for- Four Seasons has the best brunch buffets in the world. The hotel organized a day excursion on a vintage side car to tour around the city with my own personal guide. It was a unique and fun way to see and learn about Lisbon. Check out my picture captions below to see the spots I hit up in Lisbon! Also not pictured below, you must check out the Time Out Market in Lisbon. It’s an indoor market with so many food and drink options and great place to eat- so many options! You also must try Pastel De Nata- it is the famous Portuguese egg tart pastry you find everywhere in Portugal. Some places obviously make them better than others, and I had an amazing one at the Time Out Market in Lisbon, and also at Pasteis De Belem, the oldest and most traditional pastry shop in Lisbon making Pastel De Nata.
My next stop was an hour car ride north of Lisbon to where it seemed like the middle of nowhere, but it was in a little town near Santa Cruz, Portugal. We stayed at a very special place called Areias Do Seixo. This is one of my secret gems I discovered that I kind of don’t want anyone to know about, but it’s too amazing not to write about it. It was at this place where I felt completely relaxed for the first time in years. The aesthetic and design of this place was just incredible. I was obsessed with the vibe and decor of everything. I pretty much shut off and just enjoyed every moment there. It really was a magical place.
Next stop was Madeira where I spent my actual birthday. Madeira is an island off the coast of Portugal (and also the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo, the famous soccer player!). I stayed at the Belmond Reid’s Palace Hotel for a few nights which was a beautiful place to stay on the island. For my birthday, I went to a local street festival in the mountains of Sao Vicente. Everyone was dancing and partying on the streets, there were live concerts and bands playing, and the best street food! Also got a little drunk off the local drink of the island called PONCHA, which is made with Madeira Rum and fresh muddled fruit juice- so delicious!
We discovered a restaurant gem on the island with the best food! We went there two nights in a row it was that good. The name of the restaurant was called Restaurante Terrace D’ Ajuda, which was walking distance from the Belmond Reid’s Palace Hotel. The spicy shrimp scampi and garlic bread (the garlic bread is also what Madeira is known for), were both insanely good.
Highlights of Madeira: Visiting Porto Moniz (natural springs), Funchal, and Sao Vicente.Belmond Reid’s Palace Hotel: