Go now! The secret is out, but it’s still a steal by European standards and there are so many amazing spots to explore.
- More about your oliver guide: Sarah Hart
- Trip type: Family
- Ideal length of trip: About two weeks
to & from
Lufthansa from SFO/Frankfurt/Porto and back home from Lisbon/Frankfurt/SFO. We wanted to explore as much of the country as we could in 12 days, so rented a car for freedom and flexibility. We ditched our car while in Lisbon, then rented another for the drive south to The Algarve.
Opo Bolhão Apartments: Clean, spacious, air-conditioned, apartments right across the street from Bolhao Market. Walking distance to everything.
eat and drink
- Porto locals will almost certainly recommend you try a Francesinha during your stay. This regional specialty is a sandwich of sausage, wet-cured ham, steak, egg and cheese, smothered with a tomato and beer sauce and served with fries. It's A LOT.
- Café Christina for a morning espresso and fuel before heading to the Bolhão Market.
- Café Majestic also great and loved the people watching.
- Á Bolina is great for traditional tapas.
- Cantinho de Avillez for a modern twist on Portuguese cuisine.
- Porto and the Douro River Valley are both favorites for food lovers. As we were with our kids and there for only 36 hours, we didn’t have the chance to do either. Next time!
- As the story goes, JK Rowling lived in Porto for a short while, and it was there that she was inspired to write Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The beautiful Porto bookstore, Livraria Lello, is said to be the inspiration for Flourish and Botts (of Diagon Alley fame.) Livraria Lello visits require a ticket and a wait in a short line, but a must for any Harry Potter fan.
- En route to Lisbon, we spent an afternoon in the fishing village/beach town of Nazaré Check out the traditional petticoats and caps worn by many elderly women at the market and famous waves of Praia do Norte. The biggest wave ever surfed was recorded here in 2011. Come between November and February to see the largest waves and don’t miss the lighthouse and quirky surf museum.
- Go now! The secret is out, but it’s still a steal by European standards and there are so many amazing spots to explore. Summer in the Algarve sounds amazing for a beach vacation, but we traveled in April and found crowds to be super manageable, and the weather great for exploring.
- Would love to have visited chic Comporta, but didn’t have time and summer probably a better time.
- Unless you have a die-hard Harry Potter Fan, Porto and the Douro River Valley might be a trip better suited for adults.