The second and third legs of our Portuguese adventure were spent in Porto at the mouth of the Douro River, and Lagos on The Algarve. Once again, we were spoiled with incredible food, and fascinating sights, but this part of the trip came with another bonus: the beach! Check out the details below.
Porto--second largest city in Portugal--was our next stop after Lisbon. After a brief Airbnb mishap, we ended up at Hotel 1829 in a small, but modern room not far from the Douro River.
Porto is a charming
old town city, with a lively riverfront connected by 6 bridges. We got into the tourist thing (at least briefly) and took a cable car to the top of Ponte D. Luís I Bridge for a better view of the city, and it was well worth the 6 euros.
Porto is packed with cozy wine bars, port lodges and restaurants, many of which are so popular that it’s hard to score a table without a reservation.
Our favorite food and drink spots were:
The Coffee Room : This hidden gem sits on the second floor of The Feeting Room, a shoe shop and clothing store, offering some of the most elegant local creations. The coffee is solid, particularly for a place where a good cappuccino is hard to come across.
Brick Clérigos : This was our first food stop in Porto, and one of my favorite lunches during our trip. After sharing a Mars Bar on the train to Porto I was hankering for a big helping of veggies and that’s exactly what I got at this rustic, farmhouse-inspired cafe. We ordered the vegetarian platter, chicken salad with quinoa, and a chicken and veggie toastie to remedy our hanger. All were excellent, and full of nutrition.
Zenith-Brunch and Cocktail Bar: We had an amazing breakfast here. I had sweet potato toast with avocado, mushrooms, and a poached egg, and Ethan had fried eggs with crispy Iberian ham. We also shared a cocoa smoothie bowl because we were both missing our daily smoothie ritual. The service was slow but the end result was well-worth the wait! Oh, how I love a good smoothie bowl!
Our third stop in Portugal was southern peninsula known as The Algarve. We stayed just outside Lagos at Belmar Resort and Spa overlooking Praia do Porto de Mós. Growing up in Sydney, my bar for coastal towns is high but Praia do Porto de Mós lived up to the hype.
We opted to go without a car which meant that we relied on our legs for transport, and explored the coastline on foot. Our mid-morning walk from Praia do Porto de Mós to neighboring beach town, Luz, was one of the best things we did all trip, and reminded my of the Bondi to Bronte walk in Sydney. Naturally, I took a million and one photos to save the moment. This place is even more beautiful in-person.
I expected to eat good seafood near the coast, but the creativity and sophistication of our some of our meals in Lagos was a pleasant surprise. Two particular restaurants stuck out. Again, the bills were shockingly affordable for the quality of the dishes.
Don Artistas: Don Artistas has all the bibs and bobs of fine dining without the pretension. The service was seamless, and the food was thoughtful and tasty. We shared fresh octopus with cucumber and quinoa, lobster bisque, red pepper soup, lamb tenderloin with beet chips, and sea bass with gremolata. We left feeling spoiled (and full)!
Restaurant No Patio: Our second dip into The Algarve food scene was at Restaurant No Patio (which does, in fact, have a patio). Restaurant No Patio is more casual than Don Artistas, but the food is sophisticated, and flavorful, and the staff are attentive. We started with sweet grilled prawns over greens and mango salsa, and both had fresh fish as mains. The fish was some of the freshest and tastiest I’ve eaten. New project: Learn how to cook fish like that at home.
Another pleasant surprise in Lagos was meeting-up with fellow dietitian and blogger, Alex Caspero, and her husband, Bryan. Alex runs a great site called Delicious Knowledge, and her and Bryan are equally excited about travel and food as us. We had a fun time sharing travel secrets, and foodie finds at a local bar called Bon Vivant.
Was 10 days in Portugal enough? No. We missed the castles of Sintra, the vineyards of the Douro Valley, The Azores, and other notables. But we’ve seen enough to be wooed by Portugal’s magic. Hopefully, we’ll be back for another glass of port and plate of grilled sardines someday.