Without a doubt, the best way to spend four nights in the Sintra/Praia das Macas area of Spain is on Apple Beach.
If you center yourself on Apple Beach, you are just a quick bus ride, or even better, a beautiful trolley ride away from the fast paced town of Sintra, where you can spend the day sightseeing and exploring before returning home to the laid back, peaceful vibe of Apples Beach.
Apples BBC, a new hostel with a selection of shared or private rooms, is about as close to sleeping on the beach as you can get.
If you are looking to meet travelers from around the world, opt for one of their shared rooms where you can get to know your roommates and make new friends.
But if you would like some privacy, their private rooms will allow you the peace and comfort you are looking for.
With exceptionally friendly owners and staff, a kitchen to prepare your own food, and a downstairs cafe and restaurant, Apples BBC will allow you to call the ocean your backyard for the duration of your stay.
If you are staying at the wonderful Apples BBC, you will begin your mornings by making your own breakfast, which you can purchase ingredients for directly across the street at the local supermarket.
Some toast, jam, and fresh fruit will only set you back about 4 euro for the entire four days. Include a delicious cappuccino at any of the neighboring cafes for about a euro, and you have breakfast complete for about 2 euro / day.
If you would like to "splurge" for lunch on your low budget days in the area, you have a few options. If you are staying in the Apples Beach area for the day, their ocean front cafe can not be beat in terms of scenery and price point.
A chicken sandwich and chips, and water set me back only about 5 euro.
If you are in the Sintra area for lunch time, there are many smaller bars and restaurants that you can get a hot dog or carne asada sandwich with fries and a drink for around 5 euro.
Finally, for dinner on a low budget, you may want to spend three nights cooking your own dinner at Apples BBC. Not only is it cost efficient, but you will also connect and bond with your roommates that are also very likely preparing their own dinners. Local sausages, pasta, vegetables, and sauces for three nights will not cost more than about 5 euros night.
Spend your final night on the beach enjoying a well deserved dinner at one of the neighboring restaurants such as Oceano Restaurant and Bar. Offering the freshest fish and seafood in the country, it is a great way to reward yourself for following such a rigid food and drink budget during your stay in Sintra and Praia das Macas.
TIP: While in Sintra look for the little shops that offer 1 euro samples of Ginja served in a delicious chocolate edible cup. Well worth the missing euro from your budget.
When traveling on a low budget in the Sintra/Praia das Macas area of Portugal, it is not very difficult to stick to your budget as far as entertainment and activities are concerned.
Assuming you spend four days, the best thing you can do is spend two of those days in Praia das Macas enjoying the beautiful beaches, natural pools, and hiking trails. It is entirely possible to be fully entertained for two days and spend no money at all. Apples BBC is directly across from the beach and hiking trails, and about a 15 minute walk to the natural pools.
In Sintra, there are three main attractions that you need to visit, all of which you must pay an entry fee.
First head to Pena Palace. There are two options for admission fees (to visit the palace and the park you will pay 14 euro, to visit just the park you will pay 7.5 euro.) I HIGHLY recommend just purchasing the ticket for the park. You can still get right up close to the palace and get those selfie-worthy pictures that all your friends on Instagram and Facebook will admire. The palace portion of the day is boring and very slow paced.
After Pena Palace take a very quick (3 minute) walk to Moors Castle. It was by far my favorite part of Sintra, and very reminiscent to a mini (but still very large and impressive) Great Wall of China. Expect to pay about 7 euro for a pass to get in, but it is very much worth it. WARNING: Make sure you spend a little extra time on the stair-climber at the gym if you plan on getting to the top and getting the very best views of Sintra.
The final must-visit attraction in Sintra is the Iniciatic Well at Quinta da Regaleira. Of course thre is much more to do there than stare down the bottom of a well for a few minutes, such as walk through the gardens and visit the palace, but to be honest, the well is so impressive that it alone is well worth the 6 euro admission fee to take some pictures from both the top and bottom. As long as nobody drops their cell phone on your head while you are looking up from the bottom, you should thoroughly enjoy your visit.
Where to stay on a low budget in Sintra / Praia das Macas
About $20 / Bed or About $24 / for a shared room
Prices may vary depending on the season.
How much should you spend on a low budget on food and drinks?
About $10 USD for the full four days
Toast / Jam / Fruit / Cappucino at cafe
About $20 for full four days
Sandwich, side, and drink.
About $40 USD for full four days
Three nights cooking dinner yourself at your accommodation, and one night having a dinner out.
How much should you expect to spend on entertainment and activities?
Two days in Praia das Macas
About $22 USD
Two days in Sintra
Not including transportation
About $180 USD ($45 USD / Day)
Perhaps best known for its outstanding port, Porto is a wine lovers paradise. There is no better way of completely immersing yourself in the culture than to stay at the wine themed hotel, Lounge Inn.
Located within walking distance of the lively center of the city, but at a far enough distance so that you can get some peaceful rest and relaxation, Lounge Inn, is a perfect place to call home while exploring the spectacular city of Porto.
With various room choices to suit any traveler's needs, Lounge Inn offers comfort, convenience, and quality at a price that can't be beat.
The staff is incredibly helpful, friendly, and welcoming, and will go out of their way to ensure you have a memorable stay, including leaving a delicious bottle of port in your room upon your arrival.
Lounge Inn also has a patio on which you can enjoy your beverage of choice (wine) while mingling with other like-minded travelers.
When it comes to dining in Porto, there are a few food and beverage items that you can not leave without trying.
The first being a freshly baked pastel de nata. Found at just about every cafe and bakery in the city, the pastel de nata is a Portuguese staple that is the standard to which all pasteries should live up to. Whether you enjoy one for breakfast with a cup of cappuccino, or have one for a dessert after your meal, do not think about leaving Porto without indulging. The only thing that can beat the view is the food, and it is a perfect place to enjoy the second "must have" food choice in Porto; codfish. Opt for the appetizer of codfish bites that comes with your choice of side dish. The perfect mid day meal to keep you exploring.
For lunch one day, head to the beach and make a stop at Praia da Luz beach bar.
Food, like just about everything else in Portugal is cheap, so on a moderate budget, make sure you splurge a day or two for lunch, you will not be disappointed.
Finally, do not even think of leaving Porto without trying as much of the port wine as you can handle. It is cheap, delicious, and world renowned.
First things first, when in Porto, you must visit at least one port wine cellar, and Graham's should be at the top of your list. Take the tour which takes about an hour and is jam packed with information and interesting facts about the port making process. When the tour is complete, you can choose your level of tasting, and I also highly suggest going for the premium tasting, which will afford you the opportunity to taste some very impressive port, including the 20 Year Tawny Port.
Besides the port cellars, a trip to Porto should include a stop at Clerigos Church, which opened in 1750 and is home to an impressive bell tower that will give you the best absolute view of the city.
You should also make a stop at Livraria Lello, the bookstore that inspired J.K. Rowling to write the best selling Harry Potter series.
And at the Museum of Contemporary Art you can spend an afternoon exploring some of the most unique and quite frankly, bizzare art in Europe.
and days can be spent in Porto just walking around the port and taking pictures of the beautiful architecture and scenery that Porto is bursting with.
What you should expect to spend on accommodations in Porto on a moderate budget.
About $40 USD / Night
Prices vary depending on the time of year and type of accommodation you choose.
What to expect to spend on food and drink while in Porto on a moderate budget.
About $2.50 USD / Day
Coffee and fresh pasteries
About $20 / Day
Lunch consisting of a sandwich, side and drink. Dinner consisting of a main dish, appetizer, and drinks.
What to expect to spend on Entertainment and Activities for four days in Porto.
About $20 USD
Prices vary depending on the level of tasting you choose from.
About $73 USD
About $292 USD
Lisbon has no shortage of accommodation options to choose from, ranging from low budget hostels, to luxury resorts.
One hotel in particular, was a shining highlight of our time in Lisbon, and one of the main reasons why I can't wait to go back.
The Inspira Santa Marta Hotel is a four star boutique hotel right in the heart of Lisbon.
The service was impeccable with each and every employee going above and beyond to make sure every detail of our stay was perfect.
The staff were eager to answer questions, and excited to help you plan an itinerary for your time in Lisbon.
From the complimentary wine and pastries awaiting you in your room, to your personalized welcome message on your television, every part of the experience at Inspira Santa Marta Hotel is memorable.
The rooms were so comfortable, modern and welcoming that it made it difficult to want to leave and explore the city.
On top of that, when you do leave your room, there is so much that the hotel has to offer that you could spend an entire day just enjoying its amenities.
You could spend hours in the hotel's relaxing jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Or opt for some time at The ReTreat, the hotel's spa. Here you will get professional treatment followed by a visit to the relaxation room for some tea and even more relaxation.
And there is no need to leave the hotel to venture out for dinner or drinks, because the hotel has an Open Brasserie Mediterranean Restaurant that is a gluten free certified restaurant, as well as the Urban Bar, which is a relaxing and intimiate bar at the center of the hotel. Perfect for meeting up with old friends, or making new ones.
All this while living up to the hotels Green Energy policy and its sustainability practices that are second to none.
A stay at Inspira Santa Marta Hotel will be one of your favorite parts of the beautiful and unforgettable city of Lisbon.
With prices being so cheap in Portugal, it is easy to have high quality food and drinks without worrying about the price tag.
Most hotels will offer a free breakfast with your stay. But if you are staying at Inspira Santa Marta, you will have a full buffet, which will be as good as any breakfast buffet you will find in Lisbon.
Even when on a luxury budget, a free breakfast buffet is more satisfying than paying top dollar for breakfast at a cafe.
No matter where you are sightseeing in Lisbon, you will find a top of the line restaurant for lunch or dinner. Lisbon is jam packed with a variety of dining options.
Perhaps the best place to sample some of the amazing food that Lisbon has to offer, is to make a stop at Time Out Market, where you will be able to select from over 40 upscale spots filled with nothing but four or five star food options, all chosen by an independent panel of leading experts.
You have never seen a "food court" like this before, and you will leave one very satisfied foodie.
For a fancier dinner in a more sophisticated atmosphere, check out the 100 Maneiras, which is a small restaurant that offers a tasting menu and wine pairing each night. The menu is available online, but be sure to make reservations ahead of time, because they have very limited seating and typically fill up.
Portugal is known for having some of the best seafood in the world, so make sure you do not leave without experiencing something from the ocean that you have never tried before. You may very well find your new favorite dish in Lisbon.
Upon arriving in Lisbon, the first activity you should partake in is a food and wine tour of the city. The worst thing you could do in Lisbon is discover your new favorite drink or meal the day you leave and forever regret not exploring the offerings of the city sooner.
Inside Lisbon Tours offers a small group Portuguese gourmet food and wine tour that will leave your mouth watering.
You will try samples of port, brandy and liquer and have small bites of some of the most authentic food and local cusine that Lisbon has to offer.
The next day, in order to work off some of those calories, take a tour of the city. If the huge hills of Lisbon do not intimidate you, then do it on foot. If however, you don't feel like trekking up hills all day long, take a tour of the city with an electric bike with Inside Lisbon Tours.
Follow a guide through the hills of Lisbon on the easy to use bike and see the beautiful, and historical sites of Lisbon without having to break a sweat.
Before you leave the city, treat yourself to a Sunset Sailing Cruise from Taguscruises and experience the magical sunset from the best spot in Lisbon, on the river.
And no trip to Lisbon is complete without visiting the magical district of Belem. There you will find, among other sites, the gorgeous Belem Tower, the iconic Padrao dos Descobrimentos, or their most visited attraction, the Mosteiro dos Jedronimos.