If you follow me on social media (mostly Instagram), you might already know that life has been pretty crazy the past eight months or so. We moved for the second year in a row from Cleveland to Fenton, Michigan, after our previous move from Charlotte to Cleveland. Adjusting to full-time post-grad life has been a little rough and the blog has been on the back burner, but with longer days of sunshine and having had time to adjust I’m excited to (hopefully) get back to sharing content and recapping some of the great travel I’ve done in the past year, as well as sharing about trips planned for later in 2019.

For at least two years before I finished grad school I knew I wanted to take a bigger trip to celebrate so ┬ámany years of hard work. People often ask how we decided on Portugal for our celebratory trip, and to be honest, I can’t remember. I guess that’s what happens when you dream and talk about travel so often! I do recall a few factors that played into our trip, 1. I had been to South America and Asian the two previous years (read more about my trips to Chile and Thailand), and 2. Joe had never been to Europe. After some searching we somehow landed on Portugal, and lucky for us, Portugal is somewhat “undiscovered” relative to other western European countries, as well as a little more affordable than neighboring countries.

Before I get into all the details about our trip, I thought it would be helpful to share our 12 day itinerary. We spent 2 full days traveling, which left us with 10 full days to spend in Lisbon, Porto, and the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. Joe really wanted to stop in the Azores, so we opted for that over spending those extra couple of days in the south of Portugal, in the Algarve region. Our trip took place in mid-August, which wouldn’t have been my first choice time to go as it’s really warm and high season for European tourists, but it was really special to be with such an international crowd them hitting the tourist spots. Keep that in mind, as our itinerary includes some warm-weather activities given the season.

Portugal & The Azores: 12 Day Itinerary

Day 1: Flight from Detroit to Lisbon with a layover in Atlanta.

Day 2: Early morning arrival in Lisbon, Portugal. This day included a free walking tour, coffee, wandering the streets, pottery shopping, and an amazing dinner at Taberna da Rua das Flores.

Day 3: Organized day trip to Pena Palace in Sintra, Cacais, Cabo do Roca, a small seaside fishing village, a walk through the Alfama neighborhood, and dinner in Barrio Alto.

Day 4: Belem, including the tower de Belem, monastery, Pasteis de Belem, and Monument to the Discoveries. From there we had lunch at the trendy LX factory, and an evening catamaran cruise on the river. We ended a very busy day at the Sporting Lisbon futbol season opener.

Day 5: After over sleeping we headed to the beach by train and spent the early afternoon sunning in beach chairs and swimming in the ocean. Before heading back we visited Casino Estorial, then made our way back to Lisbon for snacks at the Time Out Market and dinner at Taverna Vela Branca.

Day 6: Our last morning in Lisbon was spent buying a large bag of pottery, wandering into all the churches we could find, and eating lunch at Casa do Alantejo. That afternoon we caught a train to Porto where we spent the evening wandering the streets and eating the traditional Francishina sandwich.

Day 7: After breakfast of Portuguese croissants, we joined a free walking tour that took us until lunch time. After lunch we took the historic trolley out to the ocean to see the Lady of Light lighthouse and drink wine on the beach. Dinner that night was at Cantina 32 and one of our favorites!

Day 8: Our second organized day tour took us to the Douro River Valley for wine and port tastings, beautiful views, and a river cruise from Pinhao on a traditional wooden boat.

Day 9: Our final full day in Lisbon was spent hitting all of the major tourist sites. We visited Liveria Lello as soon as it opened, went on the six bridges river board cruise/tour for about an hour, then visited Croft, a historic port house. On our way back we walked across the top of the Dom Luis I bridge where the views are spectacular before dinner at Adega Sao Nicalaou.

Day 10: Breakfast at Confetiera do Mouro for famous pastries before a visit to the Torre de Clerigos, a church, tower, and museum. We headed to the airport in early morning and had a (thankfully!) smooth and easy trip to the Azores. We landed in Ponta Delgada around 2:30 in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day on the east side of the Island in Furnas where we hiked around the lake where the volcanoes release steam, visited a local natural hot spring, and had dinner at the famous Tony’s Restaurant where the food is steam-cooked in large pots under the earth.

Day 11: Our only full day on Sao Miguel we tried to make the most of it. Our first stop was the Vista do Rei view point of the blue and green lakes in Sete Cidades followed by a hike on the crest of the mountains overlooking the lakes. After a stop in the town of Sete Cidades we headed to the ocean-side town of Monsteiros to swim in the ocean, eat a seafood lunch, and walk the black sand beach. We made our way along the coast taking in as many view points as we could before watching the futbol game and eating dinner in Ponta Delgada.

Day 12: Our trip was coming to an end and we headed to the (crazy busy) airport really early. We flew from Ponta Delgada to JFK, where we grabbed Shake Shack for lunch (why not?), and made it home to Michigan that afternoon ready to get to our new house and start unpacking.

I’ll be sharing more details of each leg of our trip in several blog posts. Have you been to Portugal or the Azores? Are they on your list yet?!