Postcards From Portugal!

Rua Augusta Arch in Lisbon, Portugal
Rua Augusta Arch, Lisbon

We aren’t exactly starved for sun in India. But there is something about the light in Portugal, in Lisbon in particular, that I am missing deeply as I write this from our airport hotel in cold, gloomy Frankfurt.

I am in love with Portugal. It is beautiful in a melancholic sort of way. To me its allure lies in its imperfections. The tired ode to an extraordinary history that once stretched all the way to the small town I grew up in. Mangalore, tucked midway between Goa and Calicut: Vasco da Gama’s first port of call on the Malabar coast. Street names echo surnames of some of my oldest friends. Albuquerque, Lobo, Fernandes, Pinto. No one here is familiar with Mangalore however, although everyone knows Goa. Even Diu!

There is much to love in this tiny strip of a country even without the allure of the familiar. First off, its warm, friendly, unpretentious people. The artful floor mosaics on pedestrian streets. The profusion of blue and white Azulejo tiles borrowed from the moors. The trams!

The quaint old shopfronts and antique bookshops around every corner. Lavish Manueline architecture rubbing shoulders with street art. The breathtaking monasteries that are UNESCO certified for good reason. The mournful strains of Fado streaming into our Coimbra apartment in the shadow of a 12th century Moorish tower.

We barely scratched the surface of what Lonely Planet terms Portugal’s ‘cinematic scenery’ in our four days in the Azores and on a day trip to the Douro valley. Another day trip to Braga (from Porto) has me determined to return on a road trip to exclusively explore the enchanting smaller towns someday.

Then there is the freshest of fresh seafood. And great coffee. All cheaper than anywhere else in Europe. The pastel de natas and the port were both far too sweet for our tastes. As were most egg based pastries and desserts. But a concoction of port and tonic (termed Portonic by Lisbon restaurants) smothered with ice and topped with slices of lemon was a delightfully refreshing discovery.

Most of all, I fell in love with the views. Marvellous perspectives every which way we looked in every city we visited. I doubt there is another capital city – barring Rio – that boasts more stunning views than Lisbon.

My only regret? Not having been able to time our visit around (Restless) Jo’s. It was lovely however to be able to catch up with Malaysian travel blogger friend Kathleen, in Porto.

Stay tuned for more posts from Portugal (and Belgium!).

View from São Jorge Castle, Lisbon
Vista – São Jorge Castle, Lisbon

Lisbon Tram
Alfama street scene

Old Bookshop, Lisbon
Atmospheric bookshop full of fascinating etchings and lithographs in Chiado, Lisbon.

Lion fountains and Carmo Church in Porto
Fonte dos Leões and the Igreja do Carmo, Porto

Looking towards Porto from Vila Nova de Gaia
View from Vila Nova de Gaia (Porto)

Azulejo Tiles in Sao Bento Station
Azulejo tile work in the vestibule of the Sao Bento Station in Porto.

Seafood in Matasinhos, Porto
Amazing grilled seafood in Matasinhos, Porto

Douro Valley, Portugal
Pinhao, Douro Valley

University Of Coimbra, Portugal
Portugal’s oldest and most important university in Coimbra

Basilica of Bom Jesus in Braga
Baroque stairway to the Basílica do Bom Jesus, Braga

Cloisters, monastery of Batalha, Portugal
Unabashed Manueline (Portuguese Gothic) detailing in the magnificent Monastery of Batalha

Lagoa Verde, Sao Miguel, Azores.
Lagoa Verde, part of the Lagoa das Sete Cidades in Ponta Delgada, São Miguel


Looking for Portugal travel ideas? Check out this photo feature from the best places from our two week itinerary including Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Coimbra, Tomar, the Douro Valley and a few days in the Azores. 

#PortugalTravel #ThingsToSee #PortugalPhotography
Postcards from Portugal: Highlights from our two week itinerary which included Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Coimbra, Tomar, the Douro Valley and a few days in the Azores. 

#PortugalTravel #ThingsToSee #PortugalPhotography

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

82 thoughts on “Postcards From Portugal!

  1. Oh, you managed to give me a lovely feel for the place in this, Madhu! I have to move Portugal much higher on my own list now. Hee hee hee. 🙂

  2. Obrigado pela viagem. Thank you for the trip. Oddly enough, never been to Portugal. It was on our list of possiblities for this summer, but…
    (I had to lok up Magalore on the map. Not too far (In Indian terms) from Mysore or Bangalore…
    Are you still in Europe (cold is coming) or back home.
    Take care Madhu

    1. De nada Brian 🙂 We got back two days ago. Yes, Frankfurt was so cold and gloomy, we aborted our plans to walk around its old town during our long layover. Portugal was still pleasantly warm though.

      1. Welcome home. 🙂 Yeah, northern Europe is more difficult as the winter closes in. And it’s not so much the cold. One can dress up for that. It’s the drizzling rain. Makes it hard to walk around. 🙂

  3. I have been saying I must get to Portugal…you have certainly helped strengthen that view, Madhu!

  4. I can’t remember- was that your first visit, Madhu, or had you been to Lisbon before? I can feel the magic reaching out to me. Thank you so much for ‘missing’ me 🙂 🙂 I did my last English walk today and am ‘good to go’. You’ve made it seem even more desirable. So glad you had a good time. I envy you the Azores. That’s high on my list. And we haven’t made it to Coimbra yet- next year hopefully, when we might even be Portugal residents. 🙂

    1. Portuguese residents! That’s wonderful. So will you need to spend more time there?

      We had been before on a whirlwind escorted tour that whizzed past Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais and Fatima. This time was slower and more immersive. Missed you lots Jo. I actually planed to stay on if it had just been a matter of a day or two.

      The Azores was a last minute swap with the Douro valley. It rained through two of our four days there with fog cutting down visibility to zero. Make sure you check weather forecasts if you do decide to go.

      1. I lost my heart to the Azores, Madhu. I think Mick could have just left me on Sáo Jorge. The weather is just weather and creates wonderful atmospheric conditions but I wouldn’t want to live with it year round. Perhaps I’d better stay put in Tavira 🙂 🙂 Not too much choice at the moment! I would love to get up to Braga and parts north later this year. We more or less ticked Coimbra off our list. Our weather wasn’t the best and it certainly makes a difference! I loved Aveiro, though it wasn’t entirely as expected. But tthat’s one of the nice things about Portugal. On the mainland I think my favourite-most place ever is Marvao. Always nice to follow in your footsteps, hon. I’ll be back!

    1. That’s a lovely compliment, thank you very much Becky! Wish I’d had time to browse through your blog before I went.

  5. Obrigada pelas fantásticas fotografías!!

    I am mostly Portuguese descent, but no one in my family had traveled there. Your photos brought back memories of time there in 2011. Before the trip, I had tried to arrange a 3rd-year university exchange to Coimbra, but it was not possible as my university did not have an agreement with Coimbra. During the trip, I visited the university; while it was quiet–it was August–I was blown away by the campus and the surrounding area.
    I was so excited the first morning that I woke up in Coimbra (in an old ‘inn’ run by a sweet retired couple), that I called my parents from a pay phone; they thought something bad had happened and it was only then that I realized it was about 3am their time! I was thrilled to finally be in Coimbra that I didn’t even remember the time difference. I also heard lots of fado…
    Lisbon was the friendliest capital city I’ve ever been to…didn’t want to leave! And Porto…ohhh…too beautiful!

    Your photos reminded me that I have to return to Portugal–it is a fascinating little gem of a place!

    1. De nada Ciera! Glad you enjoyed my photos and that it stirred fond memories. I didn’t want to leave Portugal either. Hope you get to return soon and hope I do too 🙂

        1. Oops. I thought I’d posted this to the wrong place. Can you delete it? It was supposed to be a response to a comment on my couples post.

  6. I love these! A friend and I have just made plans to visit Portugal in 2018, and I am so excited. Thanks for sharing!

  7. What a beautiful country. I wish I’d been able to visit there during my travelling years but at least I’ve had the pleasure of visiting through your blog.

  8. Oh wow, love those photos! When I think of Portugal, I think of the beautiful architecture of the old buildings and I love seeing them in your photos here..:)

  9. Portugal has been in my bucket list for long and your blogpost gives me serious travel goals now. Wonderful and am happy that you are back at regular blogging.

    1. Trying hard to stay on track…thank you for your support Anindya. Portugal is lovely, start planning 🙂

  10. How wonderful it is to read an account freshly experienced by the writer sitting in an airport! It’s something else, really. The details bring alive the scenes and transport your reader to the place! Thanks for this beautiful tour Madhu! 🙂 the pictures are gorgeous! I fell in love with those tiles:)

    1. Thank you very much for your lovely comment Divyakshi. I am in love with the tile work as well. And the trams…they were harder to capture 🙂

  11. You’ve captured the feel of Portugal so beautifully Madhu, teasing all my senses awake. The little part I experienced had a very special calm to it, I’m sure I return.
    Thanks for a lovely morning read, I hope all’s well with you!

  12. I completely agree! Lisbon is one of my favourite cities – if only for that feeling you get as you look down on the rooftops and the shadows of the streets below 🙂

  13. You may have singlehandedly convinced me to return to Portugal with this post! I was there so long ago, during a period lived in Madrid, and at the time, I thought of Portugal as the poor cousin and did not appreciate or even take advantage of her many charms. I liked the connection between the country and your hometown (and the names!) – very interesting! And I learned a new word – Manueline – pretty word and pretty style!

    1. You must return Lex. We whizzed past Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais and Fatima on a whirlwind escorted tour over a decade ago and were surprised by how much we enjoyed the country this time round. Manueline was new to me as well, have some more stunning examples coming up 🙂

  14. Oh Madhu such beautiful photographs! And your writing shows your obvious love of Portugal. Don and I have longed to go there. It’s high on our list and this post just confirms again that it should be.

    1. Thank you very much Alison. Yes, Portugal is now on par with France and Spain, my two favourite European destinations. For such a small country it has an mazing variety of things to see and do. Have no doubt Ron and you would love it as well.

  15. Portugal is beguiling and its people, open, warm and genuinely pleased to meet visitors…lets hope tourism doesn’t swamp its peace and kindness…

    1. My thoughts exactly Tony. Fingers crossed that they find a balance. They certainly need the tourist dollars.

  16. These are simply awe-inspiring, Madu, and if I never have the chance to visit there, I will at least have traveled there through your narrative and photography. Thank you! Hugs, Lauren

  17. It’s very nice postcards!
    In Indonesia, Portugal is not a favourite destination for euro trip. But I guess it’s just because we don’t hear many story about it. Personally, this country become my top wishlist after southern Spain.

  18. Love this post, Madhu! It brings back great recent memories and perfectly sums up all there is to love about Portugal. Thanks for the inspiration to finish writing the Portugal posts I haven’t yet gotten to!

  19. I am anxious to hear more about your time in Portugal Madhu. It is very high on our travel list, along with Spain.

    1. Portugal might appear small, but it does merit a few weeks LuAnn. Shall get down to my travelogues in a few days.

      1. When we travel internationally, we try to stay as long as possible, to extend our travel budget, if you will. I look forward to learning more about Portugal.

  20. I’ve just returned from a week-long trip Down Under, but your photos and description of Portugal make me want to pack the bags and fly again! Despite the past, and often turbulent, connections between Indonesia and Portugal (as recent as the 1970s when Indonesia annexed the then Portuguese colony of East Timor), the European country is off the radar of most Indonesians I know. In my case, my curiosity toward Portugal started to grow after my trips to Macau and Timor-Leste. Visiting Goa and Malacca two years ago further emboldened my wish to explore the Iberian nation one day. Looking forward to more posts on Portugal (and Belgium), Madhu!

    1. Portugal isn’t all that popular here as well Bama. One reason might be fewer flight connections (which is undoubtedly related to lesser demand!), but there is a general perception of Portugal as ‘poor’! We laugh when we hear that from fellow Indians 🙂 I have a huge backlog of travelogues to finish. Trying to maintain a semblance of a schedule with quick photo posts. Should be able to get down to writing by next week. Thanks Bama.

  21. Hi Madhu, what a lovely introduction to Portugal 🙂 And thank you for mentioning me in your post! I have yet to start writing about my experiences in Portugal but am hoping not to delay too long especially with India trip coming up. Am looking forward to read your next Portugal post 🙂

    1. Thank you Kathleen. You have been travelling non stop since we last met! Looking forward to catching up with you again on my home turf 🙂

  22. I’ve heard about the magical lighting in Portugal, and to read it through your words and most impressively see it in your photos makes me wish I could be there today 🙂 I’ve yet to visit, but I think you map out the feeling and emotions of what I dream this country and Lisbon to be like. Wonderful 🙂

    1. Thank you Randall. We didn’t expect to love Portugal as much as we did. Hoping to return for a slower road trip someday. Great to hear from you, have a beautiful day 🙂

  23. The pictures featured in this post are absoluetly breathtaking. What camera did you use? I hope one day to visit many different countries and now after reading this post, I am adding Portugal to this list!

  24. Beautiful photos and narrative. So looking forward to visiting this beautiful country, with its gorgeous tiles and stunning rooftop views.

  25. A beautiful country – hope to visit one day. Oh dear – call from Brisbane – my daughter and grand daughters – got to go.

  26. Somehow I never managed to visit Portugal, though it is not too far from here…
    …your pictures really make me want to actually do it soon.

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