Three hours, 30 euros and a direct train ride from Lisbon to Porto makes me a happy traveler. Sipping Port wine along the Rio Duoro as I watch the sunset over the Atlantic and the lights of this tiered city come up means I will be going to Porto again (and again.)
Do you like Harry Potter and Jesus? If so, put Coimbra on your travel itinerary.
Very much a college town, the city has the University of Coimbra (with early ties to the Jesuits.) Founded in 1290, it’s a UNESCO world heritage site and has the Joanina Library with a collection of books dating back to the 1500s.
When you visit the campus, you’ll notice many of the students wearing their uniforms; including capes. It really does feel like you’re in a Harry Potter movie.
Lisbon is made up of distinct neighborhoods. I stayed in Alfama which is the oldest and located by a number of historic places such as the Sao Jorge Castle. The area is hilly and requires a special mention.
Imagine a place where you walk up a hill to get to your destination. You would think the reverse direction on the way back down would be easy, right? Wrong. Lisbon is seemingly uphill both ways. Not sure how this is possible but get ready for some strong calf muscles when you leave.
I tend to be a semi planner. I thought Lisbon in the south, Coimbra in the middle of the country and Porto in the north would provide a nice cross section of the country. There are also multiple trains running each day between all these cities so I wouldn’t have to worry about when to leave or travel wait times.