Coffee and Castles: Why Your Next Trip Should Be To Portugal

Six months ago my wife and I hopped on a plane and journeyed to Lisbon, Portugal to kick off our honeymoon. It was the best travel decision we’ve ever made, and the most visually stunning, culturally textured, historically rich place I’ve ever seen. Granted, I haven’t ventured too far out of my comfort zone in the 30 years I’ve been alive, but that’s neither here nor there ;). My point is, there are an infinite number of reasons why your next trip should be to Portugal.

Trip to Portugal

The culture in Portugal was really something to behold, and the aesthetic of everything we visited just felt so wise, worldly, and, well, old. Visiting landmarks in Portugal that were from the 13th century reminded me just how old America really is. We’re babies over here in the USA.

Now, so many of you have asked for a detailed rundown of our honeymoon, and I figured this would be the best time to showcase some of the best things about this place. Before we dive in, here are some quick tips, should you decide to make this journey (please do, as it’s insanely affordable and worth it).

  1. Book a direct flight.It’s just under eight hours to fly from Pittsburgh to Lisbon, and it’s well worth the few extra dollars to not have to deal with a layover.
  2. Do not leave your house without planning your trip using the Lonely Planet Travel Guide. (I linked the book! just click on the name!)
  3. Give yourself a day on both ends of the trip to adjust to the time change.

Now, let’s get down to the good stuff, shall we? (This post is three pages long, so be sure to click  the page numbers at the bottom to see all of it!)

Eating and Drinking

100 Maneiras

This is a photo of the first course we received at the best restaurant I’ve ever eaten at, 100 Maneiras. Make reservations, and get treated to a life-changing ten course meal for less than 100 euros per person. The sauces in the dish for this course were chosen to represent the colors of the Portugese flag, and the dried fish skins are hung from clothes pins to represent the way the people of Portugal hang their clothes out to try.

Each course was divine and came with a wine pairing.

When you eat out in Portugal, the employees of the restaurant make it clear that you can spend as much as time you want with your meal. It’s expected for you to have a table to yourself for three to four hours in an evening. The waiters get paid well, so they don’t rely on your tips to make a decent wage. In fact, all of the wait staff share the tables, so instead of being attached to one party, they stand around the perimeter of the restaurant, looking out for a sign that you need something.

We learned about this restaurant in the Lonely Planet book, so here I am plugging it again.

Portugal has officially ruined me for coffee forever. It’s no wonder when you order watered down coffee you ask for an Americano. When you stroll into a cafe in any given day in Portugal, you rarely see a patron sitting around sipping on a huge, steaming mug of coffee. Instead, you see customers approach the counter, take a quick shot of espresso, grab a pastry, and head back out. I still insisted on my leisurely breakfast, but I did adapt to the caffeine levels without looking back.

Just a brief story for you. One morning we went to a cafe for breakfast and had run out of euros, so we handed the cashier a card, which usually works in most places. It wasn’t compatible with her machine, so we told her if she didn’t mind leaving our food and drink behind the counter, we would run and get cash. Instead, she told us to sit down outside and enjoy our meal first, pay later. How many times do you see business owners who are that trustworthy to strangers? Foreigners, no less?

The espresso is absolutely out of this world, and it’s everywhere. You know all of those stopping points you come across at tourist attractions that have vending machines stocked with water? In Portugal, you’ll find one that serves of espresso made to order.

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  • Reply
    Jen McDonough
    November 18, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Can we go back yet?? Xo

  • Reply
    November 20, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Wow I have wanted to go to Portugal for ages, and this has inspired me to look into going even more :). Although… could I risk ruining coffee for myself?! Lovely guide, love this blog post!

    • Reply
      November 21, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      Totally worth it! And you’ll still LOVE coffee, you just might become a bit of a snob about it once you get back 🙂

  • Reply
    November 20, 2017 at 10:29 am

    One of my best holidays was Lisbon a few years back, pre-kids. Such a fun city!

  • Reply
    November 20, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I’ve already got Portugal on my list for the beaches, architecture, culture and wine…now you’ve really got me at coffee and castles! Clever!

  • Reply
    Hannah Lukaszewicz
    November 20, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    What a great place for a honeymoon! We love castles, we just finished up a one week road trip in Germany where we visited some of the most amazing castles.

    • Reply
      November 21, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Hannah – I’m so glad to hear from someone who did a castle exploration trip in Germany. That’s next on my radar! XO

  • Reply
    November 21, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Portugal is inching its way to the top of my travel list. I keep hearing more and more great stuff about it!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2017 at 9:22 am

    I’ve never had Portugal on my list until now, but it looks like you both had a fabulous time.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    I love Portugal, and I agree the coffee there was fantastic. We loved this placed called Fabrica Coffee Roasters in Lisbon. Make sure you go there on your next trip to Lisbon!

    Nicole |

  • Reply
    Julie I Aloha Lovely
    November 21, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    Portugal is definitely on my list. I explore places with my appetite as well, lol.

  • Reply
    November 21, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Serious case of the travel bug now!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    Serious case of the travel bug now! Great post!

  • Reply
    Victoria B.
    November 21, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    I’m wondering what that dish was made out of!

  • Reply
    November 21, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    I love this post. I have yet to go to Portugal, but it seems you loved it. I didn’t know they were into espressos like they seem in your post! Interested in learning more!

  • Reply
    Angelica Sereda (@NWMCblog)
    November 21, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Yes, the coffee!

  • Reply
    Nicole Ellis
    November 22, 2017 at 12:43 am

    OMG!! I love your blog on Portugal!! This destination is definitely on my list and I will keep in mind this castle for sure. Thanks for writing this piece! 🙂

    • Reply
      November 23, 2017 at 8:57 pm

      Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Amass. Cook.
    November 22, 2017 at 7:28 am

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip to Lisbon. I also usually find Lonely Planet Guides to be quite good at recommendations, although I’ve never tried them in my own country (Portugal). If you ever return to Portugal be sure to visit Porto, you won’t regret it – and we’re writing a food guide for the city, so tip us off if you come here 🙂

    • Reply
      November 23, 2017 at 8:56 pm

      We’re hoping to make it back for some anniversary trips. I will make sure to visit Porto and would love to connect! 🙂

  • Reply
    Julia Elizabeth
    November 22, 2017 at 10:06 am

    I visited Portugal a couple years ago and had a wonderful time! I loved exploring Lisbon but the day we spent in Sintra was by far my favorite ❤️

    • Reply
      November 23, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      I would love to hear what your favorite spots were in Portugal! Our trip was too short, that’s my only complaint 🙂

  • Reply
    Ana Cristina
    November 30, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Hi! I’m absolutely happy that you loved Lisbon.
    I’m from Portugal, living near Porto’s city.
    I can promise you that it has so much more great things for you to see and explore. In the north, you have wine and vineyards and castles, in the south you have hundreds of beaches with warm waters, in Albufeira, Lagos, Faro…
    In my travel blog I show several places that you can visit while visiting our country. Come again soon*

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