Today I’m continuing my recap of our adventures in Portugal with the second half of our trip spent in Óbidos, Coimbra, the Douro River Valley, Amarante, and Porto…
In case you missed it, check out Part 1 here.
STOP 5: ÓBIDOS
Time Spent: 1.5 Days, 2 Nights
Hotel: Pousada Castelo de Óbidos
Favorite Places to Eat: Pousada Castelo de Óbidos Restaurant, Tasca Torta
Óbidos was one of our very favorite cities of the trip, although we laughed about saying that upon arrival at each new destination—ok this is my favorite! No, now THIS is my favorite! One of the best parts about Portugal is that the country is so small and easily navigable, you can cover a ton of territory and have a wide breadth of experiences in a short span of time. As illustrated in yesterday’s Part 1 of our trip to Portugal, in the span of one week, we went from a bustling urban center in cosmopolitan Lisbon, to sunny beaches and cliffsides in the Algarve, to Roman ruins and rich history in small-town Évora. Having such widely varying experiences from city to city made for an exciting trip, as every stop throughout the country presented completely different things to do, see (and eat!).
The old town of Óbidos sits atop a hill encircled by the fortified walls of its 12th century medieval castle. The medieval castle itself has been converted into one of the Portuguese Pousadas, which are historic hotels throughout Portugal that I mentioned in yesterday’s post. Some pousadas are converted convents (like the one we stayed in in Évora), monasteries, old aristocratic estates, or in this case, medieval castles! We got to stay in the far tower of the medieval castle which overlooked the entire town of Óbidos and it was basically like real life Game of Thrones… with wifi, running water, and fewer gruesome deaths. It was an absolutely unforgettable experience.
SHORTS (similar HERE, HERE and HERE) | TOP (similar HERE, HERE and HERE) | BAG (on sale HERE) | SANDALS (old, similar HERE, HERE and HERE) | HAT (similar HERE and HERE) | SUNGLASSES | BANGLE | NECKLACE
We spent much of our time wandering the medieval streets of Óbidos with the most charming whitewashed homes and shops accented in blue or yellow trim to match the city’s coat of arms. As indicated by the photos, bougainvillea in bright pinks, reds, and purples seemed to overflow from every corner.
SKIRT (similar HERE and HERE) | CROP TOP (similar HERE, HERE and HERE) | BELT (similar HERE) | JEAN JACKET | SANDALS (old, similar HERE, HERE and HERE) | BAG | SUNGLASSES | NECKLACE | EARRINGS | LIPS (HERE and HERE)
Before dinner on our last night, we walked the perimeter of the city via the medieval wall that encircles the city. It was so much fun, but a bit of a harrowing experience as they don’t have the typical railings and safety precautions you might see in America. If you’re afraid of heights or have children in tow, I’d highly recommend you just admire the wall from below. However, if you do make it up to do the wall walk, you’ll find some of the most breathtaking views of the city, the castle, and the surrounding area.
STOP 6: COIMBRA
Time Spent: 1 Day, 1 Night
Hotel: Hotel Astoria
Favorite Place to Eat: Fangas Mercearia Bar
Our time in Coimbra was short, but wonderful. We spent the day walking around the city touring Coimbra’s Old University (Velha Universidade), wandering the winding streets filled with fado music, eating pastries and drinking coffee in the picturesque town square, and making our way over the Santa Clara Bridge to take in a gorgeous view of the city from across the water.
While our time in Coimbra was short, we had one of the best, most memorable dinners at Fangas Mercearia Bar. It’s Portuguese tapas-style with super friendly staff, a very authentic-feeling environment, and absolutely top notch food. I still dream about the mackerel salad and cod with hummus that we had there accompanied by the most delicious sangria.
STOP 7: DOURO RIVER VALLEY
Time Spent: Daytrip!
From Coimbra, we drove up to the Douro River Valley, the birthplace of port wine, and spent hours just driving around with lots of pit stops to get out and take in the absolutely unreal scenery. We had made plans to stop for wine tasting at Quinta da Pacheca near Peso da Régua in the afternoon, but when we showed up, they happened to be closed for a private event (#buzzkill). By this time it was nearing the late afternoon when most quintas closed, so we grabbed provisions at a grocery, and hopped back in the car to drive around and enjoy more of the absolutely insane views before driving up to Amarante.
There’s a reason that highway N-222 along the Douro River has been named the world’s most beautiful drive, as it cuts through the heart of the port wine country, offering breathtaking views of the vineyards’ terraced hillsides. My photos really don’t do it justice!
STOP 8: AMARANTE
Time Spent: 2 Days, 2 Nights
Hotel: Casa da Calçada
Favorite Place to Eat: Largo do Paço in the Casa da Calçada
If you ever make the trip from the Douro Valley region to Amarante, you MUST drive the route up A24 to Vila Real then A4 west to Amarante. It’s the most insanely picturesque drive. When leaving the Douro Valley, I had my laptop out ready to get some work done on the 45 minute drive to Amarante. Needless to say, the laptop got quickly tossed in the back seat as we passed through the Serra do Marãos offering breathtaking vistas at every turn.
Amarante, like many little towns dotting Portugal, is the most picturesque, quaint little town. It’s quite small, with not a ton of touristy things to do or see, but we absolutely fell in love with its charm and our hotel, Casa da Calçada—so much so that we actually asked to stay an extra night! The rooms, the service, the FOOD, the rooftop pool/garden area that overlooks the river and the whole town… it made for two days and nights of sheer bliss.
The hotel is located right in the center of Amarante, and its beautiful terrace overlooks both the river, the historic bridge and the town’s main square. Incidentally, the Euro Final between Portugal and France was played on our second night in Amarante, and in the main square of the town, a huge screen was erected and everyone, young and old, gathered there to watch together. The hotel staff set up a table for us to have dinner on the terrace, overlooking this square where we were able to watch all of the drama unfold—from the raucous lamentations when Cristiano Ronaldo was stretchered off the field, to the eruption of cheers and celebrations when Portugal won. By the end of the game, we of course had to run over and join in the excitement.
STOP 9: PORTO
Time Spent: 2 Days, 1 Night
Hotel: Guest House Douro
Favorite Place to Eat: Terreiro
I wish we could have spent more time in Porto, because it’s a magical city. We stayed at the Guest House Douro, which I honestly can’t recommend highly enough. In terms of location, the hotel can’t be beat, as it’s situated right on the river in the center of the Ribeira. The rooms were beautiful and immaculately clean, and we were lucky enough to snag a room with a balcony overlooking the water. After walking around the city all day it was tons of fun to hang out on our balcony with a glass of wine watching the people pass by. The husband and wife owners, Carmen and João, are the sweetest most welcoming people, and made us feel completely at home from the second we walked in the door. João is also the house chef, preparing us the most incredible breakfast in the morning. If you’re hoping to stay at Guest House Douro, be sure to book far in advance as the hotel is small and very popular (now we know why!).
We spent our time in Porto walking all over the city, in and out of beautiful churches, the Palácio da Bolsa, the Bolhão market, and tons more. We then made our way over to Graham’s Port Lodge for a tour of their cellars and port wine tasting. It was a wonderful tour, offering a great overview of port wine history along with a walk through their cellars with seemingly-endless rows of port wines aging in vats, casks, barrels and bottles.
After drinking copious amounts of port wine, we walked from Graham’s and made our way over the beautiful Ponte Luís I bridge, enjoying the view of the city from over the water.
At Carmen’s suggestion, we enjoyed our last meal in Portugal at Terreiro, just steps outside of our room at the Guest House Douro and ate the most mind-blowingly delicious octopus we’ve ever had (and we’ve had a lot!). Seated outside with a bottle of vinho verde, a view of the river and street musicians playing in the background, it made for the perfect ending to our unforgettable trip.
For those of you planning a trip to Portugal, I hope you found these recaps helpful! If I missed anything or you have any questions about what to see, where to go or what to eat, let me know in the comments below!
Happy Wednesday! xx