DISPATCH FROM PORTUGAL
Hi, it's Ashley, freshly inspired and slightly jet-lagged from a trip to Portugal. You asked for details, so here they are! We loved the food, the vibe, and of course the water. This trip was more on the fly than usual (like the kind of trip where you make hotel reservations the night before you leave!). Scroll for a highly subjective, not totally researched, list of our very favorites.
I fell in LOVE with this city and we were lucky enough to bookend our trip with stays in different neighborhoods. I like to describe Lisbon as San Francisco meets Paris and has the coolest baby.
WHERE TO SLEEP: We were traveling with kids and the Lisboans was perfect for an apartment style layout (bedroom/livingroom/kitchenette). It's more hands-on than an Airbnb but offers less services than a hotel. We were greeted every morning with a surprise bag of the most delicious pastries and our fridge came fully stocked. We also stayed at The Independente Principe Real which has a much younger and more "lived in" vibe. It also offers hostel rooms, so you get the idea. The location was ideal (and what a lobby)!
WHAT TO EAT: We basically loved everything that we put in our mouths, but we had such a special dinner at Rosamar (thanks for the rec Allison), an incredible breakfast and people watching at Magnolia, tapas and natural wine at Prado and a quick stop at Pomme. This goes without saying, but get a Pastel de Nata anywhere you can. We were never disappointed. Also, we wanted to eat at Taberna da Rua des Flores but could never snag a table.
WHAT TO SEE: We weren't super heavy on the churches or museums, but we did manage to squeeze in a few. My favorite spots were the Botanical Gardens (conveniently next to EmbaiXada a fun shopping experience filled with local makers), The National Tile Museum, The Monastery of São Vicente de Flora (followed by a drink here and a walk through the Alfama). We also enjoyed a very touristy sunset here. And of course shopping - A Vida Portuguesa has several outposts throughout the city but I loved this space that was done in collaboration with Portugal Manual.
In true Cancer fashion, I dream about swimming in crystal waters. The beaches in The Algarve did not disappoint. Full disclosure: we did nothing except read books, swim in caves and lounge on beaches. I am sure there are lovely cultural places to explore, but that was for another trip!
WHERE TO SLEEP: Casa Mãe was like an oasis after a few brutal days in the heat of Lisbon. Located just inside the old city walls of Lagos, it's incredibly picturesque. We had a suite that worked well for a traveling family. Breakfast was included and was reliably delicious (and all from their farm!). The pool is what dreams are made of and the beaches are also walkable. A fabulous stay, but definitely a splurge.
WHERE TO SWIM: As I mentioned before, the only research I did revolved around where to swim. We did not explore the entire coast, but had amazing days spent swimming and exploring caves at these places. Praia da Marinha, Praia de Albandeira (you can hike between these beaches) and Praia Nova were my favorites.