Estoril – located 25 km / 15.5 miles from Lisbon and easy to reach by regional train – has been a very popular beach and retirement destination for many years. Today, the town is home to about 6,000 people, many of which are retired and wealthy expats e.g. from Germany.


Beach of Estoril and
(Photo: anonym, Praia do Tamariz – Estoril, cropped to 1102×735 vertical and horizontal, CC BY 2.0)

In the town center is arranged around a beautiful park, the Jardim do Estoril, but what attracts most of the rich crowds is the casino. This gamblers’ paradise makes Estoril one of the most expensive places to live not only in Portugal, but on the entire Iberian Peninsula.


Jardim do Estoril and the casino – proof that rich doesn’t necessarily mean pretty.
(Photo: kenward, Linha de Cascais DSC 0241 (17296423451), cropped to 1102×735, CC BY 2.0)

Another attraction is, of course, the beach which is not the greatest one I’ve ever set foot on, but if you just need a short break from Lisbon’s hustle and bustle, it’s totally fine. Actually, it’s nicer than the city beach of Cascais, so if you are not driving but come here by public transport, it’s much better to hit the beach in Estoril.


None of the city beaches are secluded dream destinations – but for a beach break from Lisbon’s hustle and bustle, they do.
(Photo: Dora Dragoni, Estoril, Praia da Poça – panoramio, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY 3.0)

However, if you have your own car and travel more independently, the beaches west of Cascais are more pristine.



Mainly the proximity to these gorgeous beaches makes Cascais one of the city with the highest quality of living in Portugal.


A pedestrian street in Cascais’ town center.

In fact, besides being a pleasant beach destination, Cascais offers a lot of cultures, mainly art displayed at several art galleries and museums. These are concentrated around the so-called Museum Quarter. Many of these venues are installed in mansions that used to be private residences. Today, many of them belong to the municipality. If you want to take a break from the lazy beach life, there are a number of galleries definitely worth a visit: There is the wonderful Casa Verdades de Faria, the museum of Portuguese music. It hosts an important collection of musical instruments, collected by Michel Giacometti.


Casa Verdades da Feria housing the Museum of Portuguese Music.
 (Photo: Roundtheworld, EstorilMusicMuseum2, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Interesting are also galleries such as the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, presenting – according to its name – paintings of Paula Rego and her husband Victor Willing. Or the Casa Duarte Pinto Coelho, a former guardhouse of the Condes de Castro Guimarães Palace, that houses – you probably guessed it – the art collection of designer Duarte Pinto Coelho.


Condes de Castro Guimarães Palace also houses a museum. On display are paintings, sculptures, furniture, and antique dishes.
(Photo: swissbert from Switzerland, 2016-10-21 Cascais 6190 (30870302001), cropped to 1102×735, CC0 1.0)

To learn about Cascais’ past and history, visit the Museu do Mar. Founded in 1992, it deals with the town’s past as a fishing village.  Another one is the Museu da Vila, the town museum, also providing a glance at the town.

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Guide to PORTO

Since Porto was the northernmost place to visit, I was even considering not to go since it seemed so far from Lisbon.


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Porto
His master’s example: The Ponte Dom Luis I was built by Théophile Seyrig, a scholar of Monsieur Gustave Eiffel.

Man, I’m so glad that I didn’t skip this jewel! It’s not only beautiful, but it also has a very pleasant atmosphere to it.


this way to read the whole story >>>

Guide to BELEM

Although Belém is technically a suburb to Lisbon, I decided to grant the grand place its own chapter.


From protection to icon: The Tower of Belém.

Belém – whose name is derived from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem – is packed with all these amazingly beautiful structures on an area as small as 4 square miles and definitely a must-see when visiting Lisbon.

If you aren’t driving, you’ll probably get here either by the regional train that connects Lisbon and Estoril, but there are also buses and a tram, so it’s really easy to travel the less than 10 km / 6 miles from Lisbon’s center.

Depending on from where you arrive at the Belém station, you might first want to go to the MAAT. The thing is that you cannot cross the freeway-ish road wherever you please. There are two bridges and a tunnel – other than that, you stay on that side of the road that you’re on. This freeway is so large, that it actually consists of two roads, the Avenida Brasília and the Avenida India. Arriving from Lisbon, you have to cross the road over the bridge to get to the MAAT, the Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia, i. e. Coming from Estoril, you’re already there.

Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology
Avenida Brasília
1300-598 Lisboa
Phone: + 351 – 210 – 028 130

Open Wednesday to Monday from 11 a. m. to 7 p. m.

Ok, after you’ve visited the MAAT, this side of the road has nothing much to offer so cross over the bridge and stroll towards the Jardim Alfonso de Albuquerque where Mr. de Albuquerque himself is welcoming you.


Jardim Alfonso de Albuquerque. The light pink building in the background is the Museu Presidencia da Republica, the

There are three interesting museums around this manicured garden: Museu Nacional dos Coches, the coach museum, the Salao Belas Artes, an art gallery showing contemporary art – probably the least known in all Belém, and Museu Presidencia da Republica.


A fascinating collection of coaches at the Museu Nacional dos Coches.
 (Photo: Geerd-Olaf Freyer from Aachen, Deutschland, Museu Nacional dos Coches (4904043960), cropped to 1102×735, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Museu Nacional dos Coches
Avenida da Índia 136
1300-300 Lisbon
Phone: + 351 – 210 – 732 319

Open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a. m. to 5.30 p. m.

Salao Belas Artes
Rua do Embaixador 126A
1300-598 Lisbon
Phone: + 351 – 926 – 253 297

Open daily except Wednesday and Sunday from 3 p. m. to 7 p. m.


The museum is dealing with Portugal’s historic and political development since it has become a Republic in 1910.
 (Photo: Therese C, Museu da Presidência da República (1) – Jul 2008, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY 2.0)

Museu Presidencia da Republica
Palácio de Belém
Praça Afonso de Albuquerque
1349-022 Lisbon
Phone: + 351 – 213 614 660

Open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

Walking from the Presidencia da Republica towards the most glorious of Belem’s sights Monasterio do Jeronimo, the Jeronimo Monastery, don’t miss the pastry shop Pastéis de Belém.


As we all know, food is an important part of a country’s culture. Natas should be on Portugal’s flag!
(Photo: Jpatokal, MargaretCafe PasteisDeNata, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Actually, usually, you cannot miss it since there is a very long queue of people waiting for their turn to sample the world famous – and heavenly delicious – natas, Portugal’s most iconic cup cakes.


Monasterio do Jeronimo.

After a majestic snack, an even more majestic building: Dominating/crowning the Praca do Imperio is this huge white lavishly decorated building, the Monasterio do Jeronimo. The church and the monastery were commissioned by Manuel I around 1459 on the site of the older church – which is very often the case in Portugal. They have an excellent exhibition on Portugal’s history in relation to these houses of worship.


The archway on the monastery’s upper floor.

The church’s ground floor can be visited for free – here is also Vasca da Gama’s tomb., To visit the upper part, you need a ticket since it’s only accessible through the monastery.


This is where Vasco da Gama was laid to rest.


The grand facade of the Santa Maria de Belém church,
part of the Jeronimo monastery complex

Visiting the monastery is worth every cent, and it’s worth the wait – yet you can cut the lines a bit by getting there either really early or rather late, at around 5 p. m. since that’s when the groups are gone.

Before you continue your walk through Belém, make sure to take a good look at the outer facade of the Santa Maria de Belém church designed by Boytac and located on the monastery’s east corner facing the river.

On the monastery’s west side, the Museu de Marinha, dealing with maritime matters, and the Planetario Calouste Goulbenkian can be visited. This planetarium was named after the great businessman and philanthropist who also founded the Calouste Goulbenkian Collection located in the neighborhood of the Praça da Espanha in Lisbon.


The Centro Cultural de Belém. I love how it’s built in such a modern, minimalist style but is perfectly adapted to the ancient buildings by being made from this light stones.

Another wealthy do-gooder was businessman and art collector José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo who donated his impressive collection of modern art to the Museu Coleção Berardo. Today, it can be visited – on Saturdays for free! – on the premises of the Centro Cultural de Belém, the Cultural Center, presenting also other arts such as concerts and spectacles.

Museu Coleção Berardo
Praça do Império
1449-003 Lisboa
Phone: + 351 – 213 612 878

Open daily from 10 a. m. to 7 p. m. – and entrance is free on Saturdays!


A warm welcome to the Berardo by Niki Saint-Phalle’s Les Beigneuses

After you’ve seen this venue, you think that’s it regarding art in Belém? Well, you stand so corrected!


Great architecture on the outside, great archeologic founds inside.

On the same side of the road is the Centro de Archeologia de Lisboa, Lisbon Archeology Center, and the Galeria Avenida da Índia, worth a visit if you are into the alternative art scene.

Centro de Archeologia de Lisboa
Avenida da Índia 166
Phone: + 351 – 218 172 180

To cross to the southern side of the Avenidas, you either have to walk back to the Jardim da Praca do Imperio, the one with the huge fountain.


The princess fountain – on its day off.

Or you keep on walking to the next bridge that crosses at the Jardim de Torre de Belém, the park adjacent to the famous Belém tower.

The tower was built on a basaltic outcropping of rocks in the Tagus river so till today you can WATEN through the mud and across the slippery stones halfway around – which is popular with young ‘influencers’.


Another good spot to have a great view.

The tower can be visited and climbed – and keep in mind that there is a combi-ticket that grants you access to the monastery, too.

Further west behind the Jardim is another museum, the Museu do Combatante, dealing with all the supposedly heroic actions of the Portuguese – a topic I’m not really fond of.


Definitely my cup of tea: The Museu do Combatante – honoring…and also glorifying…Portuguese warriors.
(Photo: xiquinhosilva from Cacau, Forte do Bom Sucesso 33125-Lisbon (36302532896), cropped to 1102×735, CC BY 2.0)

Tired now? If you keep on walking west for about 1,5 km / 1 mile, you’ll get to the Algés station where you can take the regional train back to Lisbon. Or you hit the Praia de Algés for a while, Algés’ small yet nice beach on the river Tagus.


On the shores of the river Tagus.

But don’t think you’ve seen it all – you are still missing one of the most popular sights in Belém, the Padrao dos Descobrimentos, a picture that shouldn’t be missing in any Portugal photo album. This sight, too, can be accessed.

I know you’re tired – and for a reason. The good news is: We’re done! But I’m sure that although you might be exhausted, you had a wonderful day – or two – here in marvelous Belém.


Saying bye to Belém and its heroes.
Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Portugal? 
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Guide to SINTRA

First, I have to warn you: Sintra is incredibly touristy. I assume the entire town is living off tourists, which is fine, but it’s an industry.


Already the views from the Palace make a visit worthwhile.


Maybe that’s the reason while everything feels a bit fake and Disney World-ish; although it’s not.

The small town of Sintra, home to less than 10,000 inhabitants, is a municipality about 25 km / 15.5 miles west of Lisbon and only 14 km / 9 miles north of Estoril, located on the shores of the Atlantic ocean.

You can get there within 45 minutes from Lisbon’s Rossio station – and if you have a Lisbon card, the trip is included. But only the trip from and to Lisbon, not the local buses in Sintra or the buses going to the coastal towns Estoril and Cascais.


Rossion, Lisbon’s most beautiful train station – and the most conveniently located one. I love the horseshoe-shaped entrance.


Palácio da Pena

It all began in 1840 as Dom Ferdinand II. – or rather his architect Portuguese architect Possidónio da Silva – turned a demolished monastery into a Palace, Palácio Nacional da Pena, by combining Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish, and Renaissance styles in an eclectic mix.


Maybe it actually was ‘designed’; or maybe everybody just brought whatever material he found at home, they slapped it together and called it ‘style’.

Some call the result romantic and it actually inspired Ludwig II. of Bavaria to build Neuschwanenstein – need I say more?!
I call it pretty quirky: The complex looks like some child with a wild imagination built it with Lego bricks in all his favorite colors.


Minimalism was not Fernando’s thing.

However, this opulent structure is worth a visit – if only to find out that it’s not your style.


The furnishing resembles many other Palaces.

Plus, Dom Ferdinand II also restored the forests of the Serra by planing thousands of trees.


Swan lake….


….and summiteers.

There are gardens, pavilions, grottos, lakes…and few people. It’s really nice to take a walk there – especially since many tourists limit their visit to the Palace.


Memorial to Dom Fernando II, the man with the unique sense of style.

The Historic Center

But let’s start at the beginning as you arrive by regional train from Lisbon. Already at the train station guides and tuk-tuk drivers are waiting and offering their services. I recommend walking to the historic center: You catch the first glimpses of the sumptuous landscape, the rolling hills, and the majestic mansions. Along the route, there are many sculptures in many different, quite modern styles.


Very cute sculpture – a couple kissing under an umbrella. Although it was raining in the morning, I didn’t have an umbrella; and nobody kissed me.
Moorish people inspired Sintra’s architecture. Today, Arabic people are cleaning streets there.

The main building to visit at the historic center is the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, already built in the 10th century as a Moorish Alcazar and used from the 14th to the 20th century as the Royal summer residence. It’s most prominent feature are two chimneys – making it look a bit like a nuclear power plant; you are right, I am not a great romantic. Anyway, the power plant – hey, there’s such a clever double meaning! – can be visited and it will impress you with some exquisite decorations.


Palácio Nacional de Sintra


Great views through narrow alleys.

The historic center consists of little alleys winding up and down between loads of souvenir shops and snack bars and cafés and it’s difficult to take a picture without ten tourists on it.

If you are able to ignore the masses of people, you will see that it’s really pretty.


Palácio Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira is a huge mansion in a vast garden, decorated with sculptures, grottos, a chapel, lakes, and bridges.


The Baron’s humble little house.

It was commissioned by Baron António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, a businessman and eccentric, and designed by the Italian architect Luigi Manini.


There are all sorts of decorations on the premises – like these classicistic statues.

Accomplished in 1910, it is today classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – one of several in Sintra.

The Baron’s private chapel.
While visiting, I heard this beautiful guitar music: There was a duo playing baroque classics – simply enchanting!

Palácio de Seteais

Behind the Quinta is another architectural jewel, the Palácio de Seteais.


A Royalty for a day: At the Palácio de Seteais they give you this chance of a lifetime.
(Photo: Gryffindor, Palácio de Seteais 2013 10, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY-SA 4.0)

You don’t even have to be a Royal to stay at this Neoclassical Palace; you just have to fork out around 300 €uros per night – since today it is a luxury hotel and restaurant. This, too, is listed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Palácio de Monserrate

Another 2 km / 1.5 miles further west is the least known Palace, the Palácio de Monserrate.


They sure had a thing for flashy and colorful.
(Photo: Cláudia Almeida, Long Shot of Palácio de Monserrate, Sintra, Portugal, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Over the ruins of two churches, the British merchant Gerard de Visme built a neo-Gothic mansion in 1789. A couple of years later, William Thomas Beckford leased the complex and designed there a landscaped garden. In 1809, Lord Byron visited the property and got inspired by its magnificent appearance: Byron praised the beauty of Monserrate in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.


Castelo dos Mouros

Yes, it obviously is possible to walk all the way from the historic center to the Palácio da Pena – I saw people doing it. I saw them from the bus I was comfortably sitting in. Seriously, the bus is less than 4 €uro one way, is leaving pretty frequently, and the hike along the country road is not pretty at all yet pretty busy.

Before the bus gets to the Palácio da Pena, it stops also at the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle), another important landmark.


Frankly, the Castle is mainly rocks – often even not on top of one another.
(Photo: anonym, Castelo dos Mouros – Sintra ( Portugal )2, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY 2.0)

Built during the 9th century by the Moors. The Moors were North African Berbers, Islamized by the Arabs which they supported in the conquest of the Iberic peninsula.

However, this fort was conquered in 1147 by King Alfonso I. A Christian chapel was built on the premises. Eventually, the Portuguese mostly neglected the site and the fort decayed.
Only as all this tacky Romanticism flooded this area, an extensive renovation of the remaining walls took place around 1860.

And today, you probably guessed so – it’s been a UNESCO world heritage site.


How to get there and around

Like I said, it’s really easy to get from the Rossio train station in Lisbon to Sintra. Depending on the time of the day, the train is going every 10 to 30 minutes starting at 6 a. m. till 1 a. m. One way is €uro 2,25, but if you have a Lisboa card or a viva viagem (travel) card, it’s included.

If you are coming from Estoril, there are different buses operated by Scotturb. For your convenience, their website is exclusively in Portuguese and you have to know the exact stop – it’s not possible to search for a connection just by city.

Although Portuguese people do not always do it with a big smile, they do help you and most officials speak pretty decent English so I suggest you just ask once you’re there.
The public transport system is very good, so don’t worry to get stuck, you won’t.

For any local transport, just ask at the train station. Frequently there is a bus going between the historic center and Castelo dos Mouros/Palácio da Pena.

Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Portugal? 
Then go to the main post and take your pick!

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* This is an affiliate link. If you book through this page, not only do you get the best deal, I also get a small commission that helps me run this blog. Thank you so much for supporting me! I was very lucky being supplied by a 72hrs-Lisbon-Card by Turismo de Lisboa and they also arranged entrance to the Palaces in Sintra for me. However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren’t by any means influenced by my cooperation partner.

Guide to LISBON

Guys, I’m sorry, I know I’m not original by guiding you through Lisbon along the iconic line of tram No 28, but this route is just too perfect.


bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Lisbon

It would be more original and unique to send you to Lisbon’s satellite town and impoverished outskirts or the business district around Parque das Nações which looks like any other business district around the globe – besides the really cool Oceanário, the aquarium.

Still, the nicest places and most interesting attractions are along the #28 and that’s how we travel; and I promise you some additional detours.

this way to read the whole story >>>

Guide to COIMBRA

Coimbra, located in the region Centro – halfway between Porto and Lisbon, is somewhat formidable, indeed. No wonder this majestic place even used to be Portugal’s capital from 1139 to 1256.

The Torre da Universidade, on of the most entertaining attractions on campus, next to the Vila Latina, the impressive main entrance to the university.

Today, it is home to about 143,000 inhabitants – including about 30,000 students. Where they study? At Coimbra’s most important and most visited attraction, the Universidade de Coimbra. The majestic  structure and special atmosphere put Hogwarts to shame.

Coimbra – I love the sound of the city’s name. It sounds so…Portuguese: Proud and unperturbable.
Coimbra. Every time I hear the name, I automatically hear heels clicking and I stand a bit more upright.

Dom João III – one of the founders – overlooking his empire of wisdom

Before I came to Coimbra, I read in a brochure about how underestimated the city is, how people come on a day trip and stay only for about two hours when there is so much to see. Well, there isn’t, take it from me. While two hours might be a bit brief, a day trip will do.
I’m talking about the city center. Exploring also the surroundings and visiting e. g. the beach region around Figueira da Foz is a whole different story and will take longer. But for the city center, one day is enough.

An interesting course of the street.

And since one day – and a night – was enough, I stayed at a pretty…humble accommodation right in front of the train station. Humble, but clean; and incredibly cheap.

This hotel does not offer breakfast, so you have the great chance to experience Portuguese delicacies and life at a snack bar just one block down. Your biggest problem will be to choose. I, of course, ordered far too much so the lovely lady had to make me a doggie bag which came handy on the train to Lisbon.

My eyes were far bigger than my belly as I ordered three hearty pastéis and a sweet on. I only ate two pieces on the spot, the rest became a lunch picnic.

Pastelaria Arco Iris
Avenida Fernão de Magalhães 22
3000-034 Coimbra
Phone: + 351 – 239 – 833 304

In Coimbra, as in other Portuguese cities, the railway station in the city center is a railhead where only trains with the final destination Coimbra go. All other trains stop at Coimbra-B from where you have to take another train or a bus to the city center. Going from Coimbra to e. g. Lisbon, you have to go first to Coimbra-B and change trains there.
That’s important to know so you don’t miss any trains or connections.

But now let me give you the tour of Coimbra – you will love it. The old city center is just gorgeous, but during the day packed with tourist groups.

Coming from the train station, take a short walk along the river Mondego to the Largo da Portagem. Not only is this square one of the most beautiful ones, you also find the tourist information here.

The elegant Largo da Portagem with Mr. Joaquim António de Aguiar in the middle.

From the Largo da Portagem, just stroll along the elegant Rua Ferreira to the Rua da Almedina, leading to the Torre da Almedina, the Almedina tower. If you are interested in learning more about the city’s history, you might wanna drop in – short before you get to the arch – at the Museu da Cidade da Coimbra, the city museum.

From the arch, you wind your way up on stairs and cobblestones – shoes, ladies! – to the Sé Velha, Coimbra’s old cathedral.

This is not an exception – many alleys are like this: steep cobblestone.

Along the way, you’ll see many little souvenir shops and cafés and snack bars and on the Rua Quebra Costas a couple of Fado bars. Many of the concerts start already at 6 p. m. Since these aim more for the day tourists, I would prefer a later session.

Ariel view of the Sé Velha basilica and the adjacent monastry.

After visiting the Sé Velha, a Romanesque Roman church opened in 1146, keep on climbing and you’ll finally get to the major attraction, the university.

White buildings around a white sandy soil – almost blinding.

While the Paço das Escolas, the impressive main square, some galleries, and of course all the streets between the outer university buildings can be visited for free, you only need a ticket if you want to see the famous Biblioteca Joanina, the university’s old library, completed in 1728. The baroque building houses about 200,000 books – and we are not talking Penguin here. The first books are dating from 1750. It’s really beautiful and very impressive.

Bibliotheka Joanina – for many tourists the main reason for coming to Coimbra.
(Photo: Trishhhh, Biblioteca Joanina, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY 2.0)

If you want to visit the library, the first thing you should do as you arrive on campus is to buy your ticket: There are only 60 people at a time allowed to enter. Since you’re allowed to stay just ten minutes, normally you don’t have to wait too long, however, you cannot expect to be let in right after buying your ticket, your time slot might be a bit later.

Going from the ticket counter back to the main square, take a good look at the Porta Férrea, the iron gate.

Besides the library, the indisputable highlight, there are more interesting things included in your ticket such as the adjacent Capela de São Miguel, St. Michael’s chapel.

St. Michael’s chapel with the famous organ.

Next to the chapel is the entrance to the Torre da Universidade. Before you climb up, a student has to anounce you upstairs since the staircase is so narrow that only one person at a time can go up or down. On top of the tower, you have grand views over Coimbra and the river Mondego.

View of the river Mondego….
….and of the city.

Once you’re ready to go down again, another student has to call downstairs to check if the stairs are clear.

Entering the building through the Via Latina, the main entrance, you can visit some of the majestic halls such as the Sala Amarela, the yellow hall, the Sala dos Archeiros, the armory. Following a long hallway, you get to the great hall of acts, the Sala dos Capelos.

Peeping through the curtain at the Sala dos Capelos, the hall of acts.

At the end of the tour is the Sala del Examen Privado, the private examination hall, which used to be part of the Royal Palace and the King’s private chamber. In this room, the first reunion between rector D. Garcia de Almeida and the professors of the university took place on October 13, 1537, date of the final installment of this fine institution at Coimbra.

Connected to the university, there are some scientific museums to be visited such as the Museu Botânico, the natural history museum, and the Museu da Ciência da Universidade de Coimbra, the museum of science which is included in your ticket.

If you feel like taking a walk without constantly awing at ancient buildings, walk in the southeastern direction from the university and visit the Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra, the botanic garden that’s part of the university.

Igreja de São João de Almedina on the left, the Sé Nova de Coimbra, the New Cathedral of Coimbra, to the right. There sure isn’t a shortage of houses of worship in Portugal….

Just around the corner from the museum of science is the Sé Nova, the new cathedral of Coimbra, and next to it you can visit the Museu Nacional Machado De Castro, the National Museum Machado de Castro where you can admire Gothic sculptures and religious art.

The Museu Nacional Machado De Castro’s impressive patio opens to the city and grants a great view.

Even if you don’t visit the museum, check out the courtyard since the whole complex is architectonically very interesting.

Museu Nacional Machado De Castro
Largo Dr. José Rodrigues
3000-236 Coimbra
Phone: +351 239 853 070

Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

From here, make your way down back to the Rua Ferreira Borges and continue walking north. In the early evening when the tour groups are gone, the Portuguese life conquers the city and you can sit in one of the cafés watching people doing their shopping and running their errands.

Igreja de Santa Cruz.

As the Rua Ferreira Borges continues into Rua Visconde da Luz, at the end you’ll reach the Praça 8 de Maio where the Igreja de Santa Cruz is located. While this house of worship, built in founded in 1131, is not necessarily the most beautiful church around, it is a National Monument due to the fact that two Portuguese Kings are buried here.

At the town hall, which is the building next to the church, turn right into Rua Olímpio Nicolau Rui Fernandes. At the next block on the right, you’ll spot an interesting building, the Claustro da Manga, one of Portugal’s first Renaissance structures.

Claustro da Manga.

Across the street, it’s complemented by the Fonte Nova, the new fountain, also known as the Fonte dos Judeus, the Jewish fountain. It dates back to 1137, but was remodeled in a baroque fashion in 1725.

And this, meus amigos, was Coimbra. In one day.

Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Portugal? 
Then go to the main post and take your pick!

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Guide to FIGUEIRA da FOZ

Figueira da Foz is looking back at a long history of being the wealthy Portuguese’s and Spaniards’ prime summer retreat.


Let your hair down and kick off your shoes – you’re in Figueira da Foz!

Strolling through the cute alleys, looking at the playful architecture of the beautiful villas, you practically hear the seagulls squawking and the crinolines scrooping.

this way to read the whole story >>>

Rail Trip Portugal – 6th Whistle Stop: CASCAIS – ESTORIL – BELEM

It was my last day in Portugal. Others would have taken it easy, maybe do some final souvenir shopping, have a last croqueta de bacalao and a glass of vinho verde or port in Lisbon.

One of Belém’s most iconic monuments is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the Monument of the Discoveries on the bank of the Tagus river. 

Not me.
I was travelling with hand luggage – an according post shall follow soon – so shopping was basically off the table. I had far too much vinho verde and port over the past week, anyways, and I had to get up at 4.30 in the morning, so I did not want to jeopardize my cheap ticket for a private fare-well-party.

View from the Bairro Alto neighborhood on beautiful Lisbon.

And although I by far hadn’t seen everything I wanted to see in Lisbon – and by very far not everything there is to be seen – I decided to treat myself to a final beach day. Fortunately, Cascais and Estoril are only a short 40 minutes from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré station – and the historic paradise Belém is on the way.

Travelling teaches you a lot of things. The lesson I repeated on this trip is:

Racing makes days longer.

Do you know this phenomenon how time seems to pass much slower when you permanently change your spot or at least do something different every day?

We used to make fun of Japanese tourist groups visiting nine European countries in seven days.
Of course, this is not a way to really get to know a country or even get a feel for its culture and atmosphere – especially when travelling in a group where you, in addition, have to interact with your co-travellers.

But there is something to it: Every day feels like an individual, complete little vacation in itself.
It stretches days to weeks and weeks to months. Not on the calendar, but in your system.

Therefore, I couldn’t believe that I’ve been to Portugal only one week by then – it felt like a month….or some undefined amount of time.

On the beach at Figueira da Foz only a couple of days ago….feels like ages!

This was not a great cognition, this is a well-known effect. As soon as you get used to a place and get into a certain routine, time seems to pass faster; which is good when it comes to my everyday routine: time practically flies.

A week working to me is over in a blink of an eye.
A week on the road seems like forever.

But you have to keep on moving. Staying, for instance, two weeks in one place, the first week will seem much longer than the second one – which becomes a routine, however pleasant it may be.

You cannot outsmart time, but you can outwit cognition: No ‘let’s rent a cabana for two weeks’, nope: becoming a nomad does the trick!

Therefore: A new destination every day – and on the last day, there were even three!


Cascais is the final stop on the regional train coming from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré station. At a price of 2,25 €uro, you have 365 trains per day. From there, you can continue to farther beaches – or, once you’re done swimming and sun-bathing, by bus to Sintra.

Note: If you get a Lisbon card, regional connections on urban trains to places like Cascais, Estoril, Sintra and many more are included!

Beach at Cascais – not a dream beach from a catalog, but a nice option for a quick dip.
(Photo: Husond, Cascais beach 02, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Pedaço de Glamour above the Praia da Conceição – eye-turner and fancy restaurant.


Estoril is the stop before Cascais. So it’s very convenient for visiting both destinations on one day – if you don’t like it….the next train goes about 20 minutes later.

Beach at Estoril – a bit more mundane than Cascais – with the Forte da Cruz-restaurant in the backdrop.
(Photo: anonym, Praia do Tamariz – Estoril, cropped to 1102×735, CC BY 2.0)


Belém, in the western outskirts of Lisbon, used to even have its own parish till 2012. Although the Belém area is only a bit over 10 square kilometers in size, there are some of the most impressive attractions here to be found – i. a. the famous – and delicious – Natas de Belém.

The Museum of Presidência da República seen behind the Jardim Afonso de Albuquerque with the great man’s statue.

Definitely the most impressive complex at Belém: The Jerónimos Monastery.

Mesmerizing shadow show on the cathedral’s gallery.

Vasco de Gama’s tomb.

Another impressive, yet very modern structure in Belém is the Centro Cultural, housing i. a. the Museu Coleção Berardo, the Berardo Collection Museum  

Les Baigneuses by Niki de Saint-Phalle is greeting the visitors at the Berardo’s entrance.

The world famous Belém tower protected Portugal against its enemies.

Did you miss this train? Here you can read what happened at all the other whistle stops:

2nd Whistle Stop: FIGUEIRA da FOZ

3rd Whistle Stop: COIMBRA

4th Whistle Stop: LISBON

5th Whistle Stop: SINTRA

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during my former trips like e. g. Brazil, while travelling, I’ll be posting little stories and reflections on my stay. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy some special moments with me.

If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:

Rail Trip Portugal – 5th Whistle Stop: SINTRA

Although I had just arrived in Portugal’s capital, I decided to go on a day trip to Sintra right away: It’s one of the most popular tours from Lisbon, it’s extremely touristy, and I was afraid that on the weekend, it would be even more packed since all the Portuguese daytrippers will join the foreign tourists.

They sure were not shy about painting the Palácio Nacional da Pena – built in the 19th century for King Fernando II.

Off to Sintra

It was raining. A lot. The internet said the rain would stop at about 9 in the morning. Too bad the weather gods of Sintra didn’t listen to the forecast but made their own rules; and their rule was that I got soaked.

It’s crazy what an impact the weather has on how you perceive a city. I’m afraid there are about a dozen places in this world that I disliked – only because I had to visit them in the rain and all I remember are deep grey skies and cold rain running down my spine.

How convenient: Built in Moorish style in the past – and in the present, it’s an Arabic immigrant cleaning it.

Sintra had it difficult. Not only because of the bad weather. Also because at least its historic center is indeed very, very touristy. I assume that every person residing in Sintra makes a living catering to tourism. I’m not very fond of places like that – like Trinidad in Cuba, like Sirinçi in Turkey, like Guatapé in Colombia. I enjoy at least a little ‘real life’.

Despite the rain: Cinderella would be so jealous…!

Hence, I was in quite a bad mood and my lovely grouchy self, walking through the rain under the deep grey sky, feeling the cold rain running down my spine.

After a minor fight with the security guard at the entrance gate, he probably also hates standing in the rain, checking people’s tickets, cold rain running down his spine, I visited the Quinta da Regaleira in the rain – and yes, architectonically it is very nice.

It’s not only the palace – there are the gardens with gazebos and fountains….

 ….and statues….

I like that many of the structures are a bit maze-ish: They have different entrances and exits and you can either enter them by stairs or through some narrow tunnels – it’s great fun. Millionaire António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, who commissioned this estate, seemed to like things quite playfully.

….as well as a small private chapel….

….that you can admire from above while you ask yourself where the lovely classical guitar music comes from –

– until you realize it’s coming from the lower floor that you can enter over stairs or through a tunnel leading to the garden. You constantly think, oh, this is where these stairs, this hallway, this door is leading to….!

By the time I was done with the visit, according to the internet forecast, the sunshine was hours overdue. The weather gods of Sintra rescheduled a bit and the blanket of clouds vanished and some blue skies decorate at least the afternoon-pictures that I had the great pleasure to take at the Palácio da Pena, located a bit outside the town on a hill – like everything nice in Portugal.

It’s good that a shuttle takes you to this main gate – since that’s only the first stop on your long wandering.

But if you happen not to be a true born billy goat, there are buses at a really fair price taking you to the remote palaces Pena and de los Mouros. And even on the premises, you can take a shuttle to the main palace for 3 €uro round trip. However, at the end of the day, I was exhausted, even though I took every availably shuttle – it was a long, interesting, and very tiring day.

Well, you have to work a bit to get these views.

These woods that surround the Portuguese castles are huge! Compared to these estates, the German royal parks and gardens are shabby allotments. And of course, you are walking these woods up and down, what else, this is Portugal after all. I think I’ve never been to such a hilly place before. I have the feeling there is not one straight road in this country.

And I even made it up another hill to the cross!

However, the visit was totally worth it – the castle and the other structures scattered around the woods are quirky and fun and very different from any other castle I’ve ever seen. Almost a bit artificial – like a toy castle built from really colorful Lego-bricks.

It is an eclectic mix of styles – the bold red and yellow in combination with Arabic arabesques and Portuguese tyles.

At the end of the day, I don’t really get why Sintra is ‘only’ a day-trip destination because it’s simply impossible to see everything there is to see. If you’de like to visit all the palaces and mansions and take your sweet time, you’d need at least two if not three days.

And I recommend this visit although Sintra – and its stupid weather gods – tested me a lot today.

About Blogging

On the occasion and also nature of this very touristy visit to Sintra, I pondered a bit about being a travel blogger. Hen or egg? When it comes to blogging, I guess the answer is the same for everyone: The activity or the field of interest you are passionate about is there first, and eventually you decide – for what reason ever – to share your thoughts and information with the world.

In my case, it was only after I got asked again and again how it is to travel solo, especially as a female….in addition as an elderly female. How I’m planning and organizing my trips and how I solve issues and which accommodations I pick and thousands of other questions more.

Hence, instead of answering these questions individually, I decided to write everything down in a blog so that everybody who needs certain info will find it in one spot.
Easy peasy, right?

Well, not really. Like probably every other blogger, I totally underestimated the work you have to put in each and every single post if you are ambitious to grant proper info, entertaining stories, and illustrate everything with appealing pictures.

But it’s not only that. I assumed I would keep on travelling like I did before and just write everything down. But it’s not like that. Funny enough, my way of travelling changed a bit – I did not only adapt my blog to travelling, I’ve also adapted my travels to blogging.

Of course, I choose destinations I’m interested in and do want to visit. But I always have my readers – you! – in mind. Technically, I’m not a solo traveller anymore – I’m travelling in an enormous group; trying to cater to different interests. There are places and things I normally wouldn’t photograph….as a traveller that is. As a blogger, I feel the obligation to cover far more fields give you a more complete impression of things.

But it works both ways: By forcing myself to visit certain places ‘for you’, at the end of the day I do enjoy them, too, and I’m very happy that my obligation as an author took me there.

As a matter of fact, everybody wins – the hen and the egg.

Did you miss this train? Here you can read what happened at the former whistle stops:

2nd Whistle Stop: FIGUEIRA da FOZ

3rd Whistle Stop: COIMBRA

4th Whistle Stop: LISBON

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during my former trips like e. g. Brazil, while travelling, I’ll be posting little stories and reflections on my stay. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy some special moments with me.

If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:

Rail Trip Portugal – 4th Whistle Stop: LISBON

So I got back to Lisbon – meanwhile, I’m an expert on trains and train stations in Portugal, I definitely know the drill.

Iconic view of river Tejo.

Arrival in Lisbon

What I still didn’t really get – being such a flatlander – is that Portuguese cities are very hilly. That makes them beautiful and grants their visitors with stunning views, but for the arriving passenger, it’s quite a challenge.

Arriving at  Santa Apolónia station, I checked google maps for the way to my accommodation and got the information it was a bit over a kilometer, even not a mile. What the app withheld was that it was a bit over a kilometer uphill – partly on steep cobblestone alleys, partly on stairs; even not a mile uphill on alleys and stairs becomes pretty far, especially if you are dragging a suitcase on far too small wheels behind.

If you want to drop in – it’s the first door on the left…number 11.

So I was a heavily sweating mess as I arrived at the apartment and knocked at the neighbor’s door for the key.

Yes, correct, I stay at an apartment. Nope, not the Airbnb-kind. It’s a small room on cobblestone alley level – I technically live on the street – equipped with most things a visitor might need: A bed – IKEA, foldable, a table and three chairs – not IKEA, but foldable. A kitchenette, consisting of two hot plates, a microwave, a sink and all the necessary accessories. There is even a washing machine, which is irritating since there is no closet. I wonder why they rather put a washing machine in such a small room than a closet, especially since there is hardly space to hang your freshly washed laundry; maybe washing machines were on sale.

There is no TV. I don’t need a TV, but since there is no internet access, either, people without a good old-fashioned book might get pretty bored. Or they’ll entertain each other fighting. If I was here with another person, we would probably fight – it’s a small room with not much to do, after all.

What’s incredible is the apartment’s location: In a small alley within the castle wall!

Leaving my hood through the great wall.

Tourists are passing right in front of my cobblestone alley level door – and since I leave the door window open for fresh air – there is neither an aircon nor a fan – they peep in my room – I don’t blame them, that’s something you do automatically – and probably think I’m a Portuguese bohemian. I bet some of them will be pretty jealous because of my million dollar location – guys, I’m staying right next to the castle! Within the castle walls! Do I feel like a queen? Nope, not on twenty square meters (equals 65 square feet). Rather like the queen’s washing woman living close by to be available at any time; I have a washing machine, after all.

Did I like staying at the posh, comfortable places in Porto and Figueira da Foz? Yes. Do I like staying at a rather run-down one-room apartment at the Castelo, doing my own grocery shopping feeling like a true born Portuguese? YES!

Showing you around in Lisbon

It’s like they say: Home is where the heart is. And I know that Lisbon occupies a big piece of my heart now. Actually, it’s definitely my second favorite city in Europe (the all-time favorite is Venice, and I’m not so fond of cities outside of Europe, I must say).

Since according to this charming saying this is sort of my home now, let me show you around a bit so that you’ll understand why it took Lisbon less than 24 hours to make it to my all-time favorite list of cities.

We’ll start right at my doorstep – I cannot stretch this point enough: within the castle walls!

Do you blame me for instantly falling in love with this place?!

As we turn left, we get to the Largo do São Vicente from where we have the first grand view of river Tejo.

As we turn left, the tram turns right – right in front of São Vicente.

The contra-selfie culture: Asian tourist painting Lisbon’s skyline.

We continue along the tram rails of legendary #28 and take another peek from the Miradouro Santa Lucia.

Santa Lucia: Pretty no matter where you look.

As we are passing, the tram is passing, too.

Passing the Sé de Lisboa, Lisbon’s cathedral, we get to the Arco Monumental.

Make an investment of 2,50 €uro and you won’t regret it – I find the monument’s terrace grants Lisbon’s best views.

The arch is beautiful from underneath…..

….as well as from the top.

I have guests from out of town – may we look over your shoulder at the Praça do Comércio?!

Hey, they want to see the river Tejo – you might take your big white foot out off the picture!?

Wanna get away from the big tourist crowds for a moment? Take the Metro, Lisbon’s subway, at Baixo-Chiado and go up to Praça Marques de Pombal from where it is a ten minutes walk to one of Lisbon’s beautiful curiosities, the Jardim das Amoreiras, a fine park where Mulberry trees for the local silk production where planted.

Calm like an outdoor library: Reading the newspaper at the Jardim das Amoreiras.

Let’s have lunch at a really original, bohemian place, the Padaria do Povo.

Home of Lisbon’s alternative bohemian scene: The Padaria do Povo

The Jardim da Estrela – my favorite park in Lisbon – is just a five minutes walk away and as you cross the Praca da Estrela, you can visit another venerable place of worship, the Basilica da Estrela.

I love these little stands at the parks where people enjoy their lunch break – like here at Jardim da Estrela.

I don’t mind when beautiful trees obstruct my view of the basilica.

Enough walking, here we finally hop on the legendary tram #28; so legendary that locals hardly ever use it since it’s always packed with tourists – and the highest number of pickpockets.

Number 28 – always packed. They have exactly 20 seats – the rest depends on the passangers’ size.

Anyway, it’s cute and fun and not exclusively touristy – and since at the last stop, everybody has to get off – to possibly get on again about five steps further and five minutes later, they mix things up a little and everybody has a new chance getting a good seat.

For some people, Prazeres is the last stop, indeed. You just have to get off here….only to get back on a couple of minutes later.

But let’s take the opportunity for a quick stroll through the Cemitério dos Prazeres – the cemetery of pleasures; please don’t ask me who came up with this name and why.

I leave you here – not forever, of course. But when you’re done taking pictures of the artistic graves, you’ll find your way back downtown.

It get’s really tight – make sure to keep your head and hands inside the cart.

Just hop on the #28 where you had to get off and it will take you all the way back – along most of the standard attractions Lisbon has to offer.

One of the places you can get off on your way back from Prazeres.

Did you miss this train? Here you can read what happened at the former whistle stops:

2nd Whistle Stop: FIGUEIRA da FOZ

3rd Whistle Stop: COIMBRA

Note to the curious reader: Like I did during my former trips like e. g. Brazil, while travelling, I’ll be posting little stories and reflections on my stay. At the end of the entire tour, there will be an extended travel guide with all the relevant information including addresses, links etc. 
Until then, just enjoy some special moments with me.

If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture: