Guimarães 2012 heart logo outside a souvenir shop

Wish List for Short Trips in Portugal, 2012

Whilst I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions I see no harm in making a travel wish list for the year ahead. For various reasons, I’m most likely to be exploring my adopted country of Portugal in short bursts through days trips, weekends away and short breaks.

Here’s what’s on my 2012 Portugal wish list so far:


If I can squeeze in a trip to Porto before January 29th, I’d like to see the Thomas Struth Photography exhibition at the Serralves Contemporary Art Museum in Porto. I also want to check out the craft fair at Hard Club and find yet another quirky hotel to stay in.

Ponte de Lima

Last Easter, a friend and I did a whistle-stop taster tour of northern Portugal and spent a couple of hours in this pretty medieval riverside town. It’s definitely a place I’d like to visit again, this time with my husband and possibly the dog as there are lots of good walks to do in the area. If we make it to Feiras Novas, the 3-day street party in September, though, I think we’ll leave the dog at home.


I visited Guimarães in 2010 and have been wanting to go back ever since. It’s the 2012 European Capital of Culture so I definitely want to spend at least one weekend there, checking out the art galleries and other cultural events, not to mention the vegetarian café opposite the castle, Cor de Tangerina. I have fond memories of the figs with cheese and honey from my last visit, yum!


I’ve been there before but my husband hasn’t. It’s a gorgeous area, especially in spring, with lots of walks through cork-oak forests and boulder-strewn fields to hilltop castles. I’ve seen a lovely looking hotel near Marvão that takes dogs and is reasonably priced so I’d really like to spend a couple of nights there before it gets too hot to go for walks.


Having thoroughly enjoyed the mushroom festival in Alcaide and been impressed by the surrounding countryside, I’m keen to see more of the Fundão region of Portugal. There’s a ‘cherry blossom’ route in the Serra da Gardunha that sounds interesting if we can get there in March. If not, I’d be happy to go to the mushroom festival again in November.

Castanheira da Pêra

Apart from the views, the reward for driving a very steep, wiggly road over the Lousã mountains will be the Praia das Rocas artificial beach. We meant to take the kids there last summer but couldn’t fit it in so we’ll definitely go this year. It would be worth renting a house or camping for a couple of nights to explore the other attractions and natural river beaches in the area.


Living in the middle of nowhere has its benefits but I need a dose of culture and nightlife from time to time and this is where Lisbon fits the bill. This year, I want to experience the St. António festivities in June which means a month of street parties and fun. We should be able to catch a weekend’s worth, at least.


Sintra is yet another place I want to revisit, this time with my husband and a better camera. I loved the mad birthday cake effect of the Pena Palace and the forest around it is full of surprises. The Chalet Condessa d’Edla within the palace park was reopened last year after renovations and looks interesting. I want to check out the nearby Palace of Monserrate too.


Last time we went to Serra do Caramulo, dark, brooding rain clouds hanging over the granite mountains put paid to any ideas of going for a walk. We had a look around the car museum instead, which was interesting even though neither of us are particularly into cars. Caramulo is doable as a day trip from where we live so if we can pick a sunny day, I want to try the 8km Rota dos Caleiros walk.

These are just a few places that immediately spring to mind for 2012. I’m sure other opportunities will present themselves and possibly override these plans. I’m already looking forward to some great mini-breaks this year and whatever else comes my way.

Have you got any suggestions for short trips in Portugal? Let me know in your comments.


Julie003(2) street6

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  1. Our only experience with Portugal is changing planes at the airport in Lisbon, obviously we need to stay a while.

    1. Author

      You do! I’ve been exploring for over 6 years and still feel like I’m only scratching the surface. This wish list is a mere fraction of my Portugal bucket list which never seems to get any shorter. Each time I cross something off, I find a replacement.

  2. I wrote down all your wish list places, Julie. I hope I can visit some of them this July. 🙂

    1. Author

      You’ll have a great time, Cat. How long are you going to soend in Portugal?

      1. I don’t know exactly but I hope to take a month altogether between Spain and Portugal. Maybe 2 1/2 weeks in Spain and 1 1/2 in Portugal. ?? 🙂 I really need to start plotting out my trip.

  3. Lovely photos – would love to visit all these places sometime! Good luck with your wish list.

    1. Thanks. Didn’t make it to Porto in time for the exhibition but will do at some point. Decided to go to Guimarães for the opening ceremony instead – well worth it!
      Hope you get to visit them too 🙂

  4. Such beautiful places and buildings, makes me want to get my easel out… I have never been abroad but this must be the next best thing.. Marie

  5. I visited Ponte da Lima in 2008 and thought it was wonderful – thanks for the memory nudge!

  6. Looks beautiful. I have never been in Portugal, but I would like to visit there – hopefully this year!

  7. They all sound good suggestions Julie. I haven’t got anything cut and dried for this year yet. Last year I was so focussed on Tomar and Obidos. Anyone who likes walking and is headed south might like the Via Algarviana. It’s a route from Alcoutim at the Spanish border, via Silves, right across to Sagres. You don’t have to do all of it. It’s divided up into sections with simple accomodation along the way. I can provide a website and details if anyone is interested

  8. Gostei muito de todas as tuas recomendações. Eu gostaria especialmente de ir às Festas de Ponte de Lima e às Festas de Santo António, em Lisboa. Na minha wishlist está também a Feira Medieval de Óbidos, o Castelo de Almourol e o Palácio Nacional de Mafra. Tenho vontade ainda de visitar Piódão, mas como não tenho carro, a viagem para lá fica mais difícil.

    1. Author

      Thanks, Guilherme, for the extra ideas. I went to the medieval fair in Óbidos last year and I really enjoyed it. I’ll definitely look into your other suggestions 🙂

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