Welcome to the 4th edition of Travel Chats!
Travel Chats is a monthly interview series where I invite fellow female travellers and bloggers to share their latest adventures.
The goal is to inspire you to discover new destinations and get to know our contributors through their stories. The best part? They share their practical tips & advice (the good stuff you won’t find in a guidebook) to help you plan your trip.
In this interview, Claire from travel blog Tales of a Backpacker shares how she chose to spend 4 weeks travelling solo in Portugal. With a good mix of must-see spots and off-the-beaten path attractions, her itinerary will definitely inspire you to buy a ticket to Portugal!
Travel Chats: Slow Travel in Portugal
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Claire from Tales of a Backpacker. I am a solo female traveller in my thirties, and I don’t think I could ever work in an office again! I started writing about my travels in 2015 when I quit my job in Barcelona to go travelling in South America. I fell in love with Latin America and spent 2 years exploring Mexico, Cuba, Central and South America – which still wasn’t enough. I’m back in Europe now though, for this year at least, then after that probably Asia, but who knows!
How would you describe your travel style?
It’s hard to narrow it down to one – I’m definitely a budget traveller but I love to travel slowly, I hate running around trying to cram everything in to one weekend! Food is my big love, so I usually try to eat lots of local food, and take a food tour or cooking class wherever I am. Food is also a huge part of culture too, so traditional dishes and street food are my favourites.
Tell us about your trip to Portugal and why you wanted to visit
Portugal had been on my list for a long time, I don’t know why it had taken me so long to go! I’d heard such good things about the country, food and the people so when I saw some cheap flights I knew it was time. I flew into Faro in the Algarve then went straight to Lagos to spend a few days there. I then took the train up to Lisbon to go to Sintra, then a few days in Evora and Lisbon, then up to Porto. As my flight home was from Faro I then went back to Lisbon for a few days before getting the train back to Faro. It was a great trip, I completely fell in love with Portugal!
What was the most memorable moment of your trip?
I was away for the best part of a month so there were lots of memorable moments – perhaps exploring the park and gardens around Pena Palace in Sintra was my favourite experience? But then spending some time in Evora which is a beautiful city was also really nice, and the food and drink in Porto was amazing as well as a wine tour to the Douro Valley and learning to make pastel de nata custard tarts in Lisbon was fabulous! It’s too hard to choose!
What resources proved most helpful when planning this trip?
I had a Lonely Planet guide for Portugal which I got for Christmas, although I’d already planned most of my trip by then that was useful for looking up museums and activities. I always read a lot of blogs before I go anywhere, looking for tips and suggestions for where to go, and check Hostelworld and Airbnb for good places to stay. I also like to choose destinations which are a little more off the beaten track, so when a place is usually visited just on a day trip and mentioned without too much detail – like Sintra or Evora – I deliberately spend more time there to really get to know it!
What advice would you give to someone thinking of visiting Portugal?
I travelled around Portugal by train, which was really easy and comfortable – and on time! I’d recommend that as a way to get around if you don’t want to hire a car. Travelling slowly was fabulous – but even then I feel like I only scratched the surface. I would say try not to do too much, instead choose a couple of places to visit and spend as much time as you can there. Don’t worry about where you choose, there are no bad choices in Portugal! I’d also highly recommend visiting in the off- or shoulder-season, avoid the summer holidays if you can, especially in the Algarve as it gets very busy during July and August and school holidays.
What’s your next adventure?
I’ll be going to Berlin for an exhibition in March, although that’s not really an adventure – the next trip I’m really excited about is a weekend away with my friends to Turin as that will be a real holiday!
Follow along on Claire’s adventures
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Special thanks to Claire for sharing her experience!
Check out past Travel Chats:
- Diving and Wildlife Adventure in Borneo
- Travelling to Colombia on a Student Budget
- Beautiful Places to Visit outside Taipei (Taiwan)
Travelling to Europe? Check out these travel guides to help you plan your trip!
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