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6 Things you must do when you visit Portugal

1. Visit Lisbon and Porto-These two coastal cities are the most populated for a reason. Lisbon is on the Southern coast and reminds me a lot of San Francisco. It is filled with bright, vibrant colors and preserved older buildings that make you seem like you are in another world. The city is very hilly so there are many spectacular views. Trolleys run throughout the city as well, making for easy transport to get around. Spectacular bridges that run over bays and lead to the ocean surround the city and add to its wonder. Porto is similar but is in the North and has more of the Berkeley vibe. Majestic trees and busy streets run through what feels like a college town. Huge bridges go over a wide set river that runs through the city. A lot of life happens near and around the river which provide for constant entertainment.

2. Try a Portuguese Buffet - All around Portugal they are crazy about their meats. If you ever have had a Brazilian Barbecue you know what I'm talking about. Their selection of cured and marinated meats allows for endless taste bud joy. Usually you are given your choice of side salads at these restaurants, and when you are ready, waiters bring skewers of up to about 15 meats for you to try. The trick is to try a small amount of each and do not fill up on the first couple because if you do make the mistake of eating too much of one meat, you will not be able to try them all, which would be a shame.

3. Visit a Portuguese Beach - The southern Portuguese coast is filled with pristine beaches that are calling your name. Many have been seen in movies, one of them being in a James Bond film with Halle Berry. These moderate temperature waters are fairly clear and can get pretty warm in summer for swimming enjoyment. A lot of these beaches are surrounded by old time fortresses and historical buildings that allow for some great photo ops on the coast.

4. Stay in a Portuguese Village - I know this might not sound like your typical vacation but is a great rewarding experience. We got the privilege of staying in the very small inland town of Oledo. The population was less than 500 people. But just to see the way these people lived and how they got along with each other was refreshing to see. Everybody knew everyone's name in the town and it seemed like one very big family. The small alley streets and tiny homes really made you feel separated from the outside world.

5. Go for a countryside drive - Some of the roads in the Portuguese countryside are breathtaking. The amount of untouched trees and sunlit mountains allows for some great views and photos. Passing small towns on the way make you feel like your not too far from civilization, but you still get the feeling that you are alone out there at times.

6. Wild Swimming- Some of the Lakes and Rivers are not only beautiful to look at, but refreshing to go for a dip as well. We went for a swim in Idanha-a-nova where there was a highly recommended lake for swimming. The water temp was great and it was clear enough where you could see what was under you. Fun fact, they actually hold a huge festival at this lake which is known as the Portuguese Coachella!


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