Itinerary: Faro, Algarve, Portugal (2 days)

Itinerary: Faro, Algarve, Portugal (2 days)

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Faro, Algarve, Portugal.

If I had to describe Faro in one sentence, it would be “a historic city with access to golden beaches and an incredible culinary scene”. Faro has managed to keep the balance of an authentic old-town while providing a variety of modern bars, cafes, restaurants, and attractions to keep you entertained for days.

Faro hosts the major airport in the south of Portugal and is the gateway to the Algarve. Bring your swimmers and a hungry tummy. You are in for a treat because Faro is full of surprises.

Here are my recommendations for a 2 day itinerary in Faro, Portugal.

Planning a trip to Portugal? Check out my 2 day itinerary for Lisbon and 5 reasons to visit Porto.

Day 1

Breakfast at Porta Doze Guesthouse

Your culinary journey in Faro starts at Porta Doze Guesthouse. My friend, Tamara, and I stayed here for three nights during our trip in Portugal. Porta Doze is a cozy bed-and-breakfast located in the center of town and just a block away from the bus terminal.

Each morning the lovely Vânia would prepare a delicious breakfast from local ingredients. What made this even more special was how personalized she made the experience. After asking about about our preferences, Vânia customized the meals to suit our tastes. For Tamara it would be a plate of fresh fruits, yogurt, and granola served out on the terrace in the sun. For me, it was bread with cheese and jam sat down next to my laptop in the dining room. (I promise that I did sit out on the terrace at least once!).

And if that wasn’t sweet enough, there would always be a pastry like the “Pastel de nata” (a Portuguese egg tart) with coffee or tea.

Breakfast-at-Porta-Doze-Guesthouse-Faro-Portugal

Exploring the city center

After your glorious start to the day, step out and go exploring! Faro has shaded shopping streets, a cute marina, and a number of museums. You don’t have to wander far to find the perfect cafe or maybe even an ice cream.

Another site worth visiting is the Faro cathedral. Located within stone walls, it has a courtyard filled with orange trees (very reminiscent of Valencia, Spain) and restaurants. For a small fee, visitors can enter the church and climb to the top for views out to the sea.

Faro-Harbour-Faro-Portugal

Ilha Deserta

Have you ever wanted to visit a desert island? Well, here is your chance! Ilha Deserta is an uninhabited island with nothing but a restaurant and a few beach huts. The entire island can easily be walked around in less than an hour. It is also home to the most southern point of Portugal!

The beach on the south-side is the perfect place to relax in peace. I recommend bringing a towel, sunscreen, bottle of water, and a good book. After you’ve finished enjoying the sun, stop in at the restaurant for a cold beer while waiting for your boat ride back to the mainland.

Ilha-Deserta-Faro-Portugal

Dinner at A Venda

A Venda was recommended by Rui, one of the owners of Porta Doze Guesthouse, as a good-value, local restaurant. The interior has a retro-design with crocheted place-mats and mismatched furniture. There is a relaxed vibe and friendly staff who are happy to help with suggestions.

Tamara and I shared five small plates of food (pratinhos), a bottle of wine and a dessert. The price was really reasonable for the amount of food that we had. In fact, I wished I had of ordered more!

Dinner-at-A-Venda-Faro-Portugal

Day 2

Praia Faro

Get your beach towel out again, because it is time to hit Faro Beach. From Porta Doze Guesthouse,  it’s just one block to the bus terminal and then a short bus ride to the beach. In fact, it’s the same bus that takes you to Faro airport. So simple!

If you love the beach as much as I do, you will want to spend hours here just listening to the waves with your eyes closed, taking photos, or sleeping in the sun.

Faro-Beach-Portugal

Drinks at Hotel Faro

Another local recommendation from Rui was to see the sunset from the Hotel Faro rooftop bar. We came up here one evening and ordered cocktails while watching the sun go down. Even after dark, the view is magnificent with all the harbor lights. The cocktails aren’t too overpriced however weren’t very strong, so you might be better off ordering a glass of wine or beer. Either way, it’s a great way to start your evening in Faro.

Marina-and-Faro-Hotel-Faro-Portugal

Dinner at Portas de São Pedro

I am still raving about the food that I ate at Portas de Sao Pedro. This was one of those magical experiences where you stumble across a restaurant that looks good and it turns out to be amazing. We shared a bottle of wine, four dishes, and a dessert. I even accidentally ate octopus (I am not a fan of seafood) without realizing it, and loved it!

Our waiter was so much fun, chatting about life as a local in Faro and bringing different types of liqueurs to try for free. There was a lot of laughter and jokes shared, then at the end of the night they took our photo for the restaurant. When you visit, let me know if we made the wall!


Porta Doze Guesthouse

Porta Doze Guesthouse is your home away from home in Faro. A four-bedroom family hotel with two shared bathrooms, a terrace, dinning and lounge room. You will find yourself looking forward to your time here, as much as exploring outside.

Whether it’s curling up on the sofa with a magazine, sitting out on the terrace with a coffee, chatting in the kitchen with a glass of wine, singing along to one of the records, or taking a luxurious hot shower –  Porta Doze Guesthouse is to be savored.

Porta-Doze-Guesthouse-Dining-and-lounge-room

My friend and I stayed in the Citrus Room with twin beds, a wardrobe, table and chairs, as well as its own private terrace with street view. The rooms are big with plenty of space to spread out.

I also loved all the windows which can either be opened up to let the light stream in, or closed at night for a peaceful rest. Extra blankets and a heater are available for the cooler months. As well as a fan for summer.

Porta-Doze-Guesthouse-Twin-room-with-shared-bathroom

The decor is minimalist and modern, with personal touches everywhere you look. Even those who don’t usually appreciate interior design will be impressed. The owners, Rui and Joana have a knack for design. Check out the Porta Doze Guesthouse Instagram and see for yourself.

Location: Rua Miguel Bombarda 12, 8000 394 Faro – Algarve

Website: https://www.portadozeguesthouse.com/

Porta-Doze-Guesthouse-Back-terrace

My friend and I were complimentary guests of Porta Doze Guesthouse, however my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.


Budget breakdown: Faro

All costs are quoted for one person and in the local currency (EUR). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.

Accommodation: Porta Doze Guesthouse provides bed and breakfast living in the Algarve. For a truly homely experience, this guesthouse offers four bedrooms for groups of families, friends and couples. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Rooms.

Food: Porta Doze Guesthouse serves breakfast each morning to their guests. They also have a “honest bar” where you can purchase drinks and snacks at your own convenience.

Day 1 – Bread rolls and ham from the supermarket for lunch (€1.49), beer on Ilha Deserta (€3.50), dinner with a bottle of wine at A Venda (€16.50).

Day 2 – Bread rolls and ham from the supermarket for lunch (€1.49), Snickers bar at Faro Beach (€0.90), cocktails at Hotel Faro (€16.00), dinner with a bottle of wine at Portas de São Pedro (€20.00).

Transport: Return boat ticket to Ilha Deserta (€15.00), return bus ticket to Faro Beach (€4.50).

Average daily spend: €39.69 each* ($41.98 USD and $55.25 AUD as of 8 March 2017) excluding accommodation and snack purchases from the Porta Doze Guesthouse honest bar.

*This daily amount could be reduced by skipping the wine and sticking to water.


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Faro, Algarve, Portugal. Including Ilha Deserta, Faro Beach, and many Portuguese culinary delights.

Have you traveled to Faro or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.

Adoring Albufeira in the Algarve, Portugal

Adoring Albufeira in the Algarve, Portugal

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for adoring Albufeira in the Algarve, Portugal.

Are you searching for a European beach holiday that is spectacular yet inexpensive? Well, look no further than Albufeira in the Algarve. The Algarve is a coastal area in the south of Portugal with consistently good weather year-round. This stretch of golden sands is well connected with an airport in Faro, as well as buses and trains from the capital of Lisbon.

The summers are meant to be superb and as a winter escape, you can’t go wrong. After hearing rave recommendations, my friend Tamara and I decided to add Albufeira to our Portugal itinerary. We visited in early March and were thrilled to find weather warm enough for bikinis! At this time of year, there aren’t too many places in Europe where you can expect temperatures fit for frolicking on the beach.

And if that wasn’t good enough, throw in fresh seafood feasts, Portuguese hospitality and luxury hotels. Are you booking your flights yet?

Here are my recommendations for adoring Albufeira in the Algarve.

Planning a trip to Portugal? Check out my 2 day itinerary for Lisbon and 5 reasons to visit Porto.

Praia-dos-Olhos-de-Agua-Albufeira-Portugal-Chantell-Collins-Adoration-4-Adventure

Albufeira

If you are flying into Faro, it is just a 35 minute bus ride to Albufeira. From Lisbon, Albufeira can be reached either by bus or train (both around 3 hours and €20-30 one way). We chose the bus as it stopped at the Albufeira bus depot, where we could transfer onto a bus to our resort, Velamar Boutique Hotel.

Albufeira has everything you need for retail therapy, and just outside the center are beautiful beaches waiting to be explored. The old town is located in Praia dos Pescadores (beach of the fishermen) and has a lively nightlife with pubs and karaoke bars. We visited on our first night to eat dinner at Ruina (ruin), as recommended by the Velamar Boutique Hotel manager, Jose. The restaurant is in an old fortress and located right on the sea. If you are a fan of seafood than this is a treat not to be missed.

The Velamar Boutique Hotel is located in Olhos d’Água (eyes of water) which is walking distance to not one but three magnificent beaches! The area itself has many amenities including supermarkets, bakeries, clothing stores, bars and restaurants. You can easily spend your whole time hanging out at the hotel and beaches, without ever venturing into the center.

Praia-Maria-Luisa-Albufeira-Portugal

Praia dos Olhos de Agua

Moving from east to west, the first of three beaches located near Velamar Boutique Hotel is Praia dos Olhos de Agua. This beach has a number of sea-front restaurants providing an opportunity to dine in the sun and soft sea breeze. We stopped in at Restaurante La Cigale twice for mid-afternoon drinks. Tamara also tried the soup and fish, both which she loved.

The beach has many little coves which make the perfect place to lay down your towel, stretch out in the sun and read a book. We spent a whole afternoon doing only this.

Praia-dos-Olhos-de-Agua-Albufeira-Portugal

Praia Maria Luisa

Maria Luisa is the closest beach to the hotel and was also the beach with the least amount of people when we visited. Although we were there in off-season so it was very quiet and relaxed anyway. Besides being another great beach to relax and walk on, there are stairs that lead to the top of the cliffs for awesome ocean views.

There aren’t any restaurants near the beach front, however there are many on Albufeira street closer to the hotel. My favorite was 3 Maria’s where you can get a “Menu do dia” for €13. This includes a starter, main course, dessert and half a bottle of wine. For a sit down dinner in a charming restaurant, the value is unbelievable.

Praia-Maria-Luisa-Albufeira-Portugal-Chantell-Collins-Adoration-4-Adventure

Praia de Santa Eulalia

With all this eating and laying around, a stroll can be great to stretch the legs. Santa Eulalia is a long and wide beach that is nice to walk up and down. This would be a good option if you are looking to go for a jog as well. Tamara and I had grand plans to work out while we were in Albufeira but it never happened. And that’s okay, because when you are on holidays, it’s all about enjoying yourself!

The layers and textures of the colored sands at Praia de Santa Eulalia are very striking as well. All three beaches are unique and worth a visit.

Praia-de-Santa-Eulalia-Albufeira-Portugal

Velamar Boutique Hotel Pool

If you happen to get sick of beaches (is that even possible?) or feel like a change of pace, then there is the pool at Velamar Boutique Hotel. During summer there are sun loungers and a pool bar to help keep you hydrated.

Velamar-Boutique-Hotel-Outdoor-pool-Albufeira-Portugal


Velamar Boutique Hotel

Velamar is a boutique hotel that is both luxurious and affordable. The building was recently renovated and the decor is ocean-inspired with soft blue and green tones. There are many premium amenities including a stylish hotel bar, games area and meeting room.

Velamar-Boutique-Hotel-Lounge-Bar-Albufeira-Portugal

We stayed in the Classic Room that comes with either a double or twin beds. Our room was very spacious with a huge closet, en-suite and balcony. There is also a television, mini fridge, and facilities to make tea and coffee. The sliding glass doors and curtains can be opened up during the day for the breeze and sun. At night they provide a thick barrier for a peaceful sleep.

Velamar-Boutique-Hotel-Classic-Room-Albufeira-Portugal

Buffet breakfast is included for all guests at Velamar Boutique Hotel. The restaurant is located on the top floor and has sea views. One of the best parts of my day was leisurely breakfasts with multiple courses and coffees while looking out at the ocean. Breakfast includes range of cereals, breads, pastries, cold cuts, cheeses, fruits and juices as well as two coffee machines. There is also usually a choice of freshly cooked eggs, which the servers will tell you about once you are seated.

The staff at Velamar Boutique Hotel are multilingual, friendly and helpful. The hotel manager, Jose, and the team went out of their way to make sure our stay was memorable.

Location: Estrada de Albufeira, Olhos d’Água, 8200-635 Albufeira, Algarve

Website: http://www.velamar.pt/

Velamar-Boutique-Hotel-Restaurant-Buffet-Breakfast-Albufeira-Portugal

My friend and I were complimentary guests of Velamar Boutique Hotel, however my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for adoring Albufeira in the Algarve, Portugal. Including Praia dos Olhos de Agua, Maria Luisa and Santa Eulalia.

Have you traveled to Albufeira and Lagos or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

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4 great getaways from Barcelona, Spain

4 great getaways from Barcelona, Spain

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for 4 great getaways from Barcelona, Spain.

The words “getaway” and “Barcelona” don’t sound like they belong in the same sentence. Why would anyone want to getaway from Barcelona? Believe me, I am with you on that. I’m crazy about this city and am not shy to show it (it’s my favorite European city and in my top 5 of the world). So much so that I spent almost a month based here. And what a month it was!

Barcelona is easily worth a month (or more) of your time. However, it is still nice to get out of the city and explore other surrounding areas. The public transport system is easy to use and relatively inexpensive. Within just few hours you could find yourself in a totally different region or country.

Here are my recommendations for great getaways from Barcelona.

Heading to Spain? Check out my posts for Barcelona and Mallorca.

Montserrat (1 day)

Montserrat is the most well-known day trip from Barcelona. The monastery is just over an hour out of the city and easily accessible by a combination of train and rail or train and cable car. Alternatively if you have a car, you can drive. There are many ticket options available on the website and it can be confusing. My friends and I bought our train and rail passes from the ticket office at Plaza Espana.

Once you arrive, there is no actual entrance fee unless you want to visit the Museum, Audiovisual Space, or take a ride on a funicular. Access to the grounds and the Basilica are free. Inside the church you can view the famed Our Lady of Montserrat statue.

There are also numerous hikes, which were my favorite part. Visit the tourist office to pick up a map so you can find views like these.

Montserrat-Spain

Girona (1-2 days)

I visited Girona as a day trip, however it could also be stretched into a lazy weekend. By train, it is 40 minutes from Barcelona Sants station and costs around €25 return. For photographers, this city is a dream with a mixture of cultures and architectures. A majority of the activities are free or less than €5 so it’s also a destination that suits budget-conscious travelers.

Here are some of the things you can do during your visit to Girona:

  • Walk through the Jewish Quarter and visit Europe’s smallest plaza
  • Visit the Santa Maria Cathedral and Arab Baths
  • Explore the garden and church ruins
  • Walk along the city wall and take photos of the incredible views
  • Eat delicious ice cream from Rocambolesc (there is also a location in Barcelona)
  • Visit the Cinema Museum.

River-onya-Girona-Spain

Valencia (2-3 days)

I visited Valencia for 2 and a half days and absolutely loved it. It takes 4 hours by bus from Barcelona, so is not possible as a day trip but you wouldn’t want to spend less time here anyway. Life is meant to be enjoyed in Valencia and there is absolutely no rushing.

Valencia is in the region of Comunitat Valenciana with the official languages of Valencian and Castilian (Spanish). English is also widely spoken. As a different region with a different language, it is nice to see the contrast to Barcelona (located in the region of Catalonia with the language of Catalan). it is also a University city, so there are also many young international students.

Read my 2 day itinerary for Valencia, Spain.

Plaza-de-la-Virgen-Valencia-Spain

Andorra la Vella (2-3 days)

Andorra is the sixth smallest nation in Europe, located between the borders of Spain and France, and close to the Pyrenees Mountains. From Barcelona, you can take a direct bus to the capital of Andorra la Vella in 3 hours.

Andorra la Vella is small but picturesque with a mountain backdrop. The city itself can be explored in a few hours and is probably not worth a day trip unless you are counting countries or looking to shop. The attached neighborhood of Escaldes-Engordany is like a giant outdoor outlet store.

Majority of visitors to Andorra come here for the skiing and stay up in the mountains. The other option for visitors to Andorra la Vella is one of their luxurious spas.

Andorra-la-Vella-Girona-Spain


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for 4 great getaways from Barcelona, Spain. Including Montserrat, Girona, Valencia and Andorra.

Have you traveled to Spain or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.

Itinerary: Lisbon, Portugal (2 days)

Itinerary: Lisbon, Portugal (2 days)

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Lisbon, Portugal.

Portugal has become an increasingly popular destination and for good reason. The Portuguese are welcoming, warm and charming: just like their cities. The crown jewel of this Western European treasure is the capital, Lisbon. It is a global city with a provincial feel, and a destination that deserves a place on all European itineraries.

This was my second time in Lisbon but first time for my adventure buddy, Tamara. You may remember her from such posts as 2 day itinerary for Barcelona, Spain. Even though I’d been before, I still had a list of experiences I wanted to tick off and was excited to get started.

Here is our 2 day itinerary for Lisbon, including budget breakdown.

Planning a trip to Portugal? Check out how to find local cuisine and culture in Lisbon.

Day 1: Lisbon

Breakfast at Gat Rossio

While in Lisbon, Tamara and I had the pleasure of staying at Gat Rossio hotel. Each morning the hotel provides a buffet breakfast with breads, cheeses, cold cut meats, boiled eggs, yogurt, fruit, pastries, coffee, tea and juice. Not only is the food delicious but Gat Rossio is also conscious of guests with food preferences and allergies. There are lactose and gluten free options, all easily identifiable with labels. I was ecstatic to find oat milk to have with coffee!

Do you have a sensitivity or preference when it comes to food? Read my tips for traveling with a food allergy.

And if that wasn’t good enough, you can look forward to the Portuguese specialty of Pastel de Nata (cream pastry) each morning. Warning: these are highly addictive!

Breakfast-buffet-at-Gat-Rooms-Lisbon-Portugal

Exploring Barrio Alto

Another bonus of staying at Gat Rossio is its city center location. Barrio Alto has many historic and charming sites to visit including Praca dom Pedro IV and Praca do Comercio. Tamara decided to take a free walking tour with Sandemans New Lisbon (meeting point Martim Moniz at 10am). I had gone on walking tour during my last visit so decided to hit the streets with my camera instead.

Praça-de-D.-Pedro-IV-Rossio-Lisbon-Portugal

Taking the tram to Alfama

Alfama is the colorful “old town” of Lisbon and only a fifteen minute walk from Barrio Alto. If you are looking for an experience you might want to take the tram there. The 28E tram is very popular with tourists as it goes through different neighborhoods of the city. The ticket is inexpensive (around €1.25, paid with your standard metro card) but it can get crowded. Expect to wait for half an hour minimum, even if you get on from the first stop at Matrim Moniz.

Tram-28E-to-Alfama-Lisbon-Portugal

Alfama is a lot of fun to explore. Here you will find many restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. As a popular spot for tourists, some of the meal prices can be in the higher range, however it is still possible to find a cheap sit-down lunch at local restaurants. Basically, the places that don’t have English on the menu. If you don’t speak Portuguese but know Spanish, Italian or French you will see some similarities in some words (just don’t try speaking Spanish to the waiters – they are different languages!). Otherwise a bit of google translating, guessing and pointing goes along way.

I speak enough Portuguese to get around, and we found a quaint corner restaurant with meals from €5 each. The staff were incredibly friendly and when there was one word I was not familiar with, a Brazilian at the nearby table translated it.  I just love hunting for the more “authentic” places, especially if it means saving money.

Something to keep in mind when eating out in Portugal – waiters will often bring bread (sometimes also olives and cheese) to the table. These usually cost extra. Depending on the restaurant it can range from 50 cents to 5 euros for a bread roll (true story – happened to a friend of mine). Check the menu or ask your server before consuming.

 Lunch in Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal

Castelo de Sao Jorge and sunset at Zambeze bar

While in Alfama, it is worth taking a walk to Saint George Castle. There is an entrance fee, however you can still see the castle walls and explore the alley ways outside. After a wander around, we went to the nearby Zambeze bar for a cold drink and a beautiful sunset over the city.

Sunset-at-Zambeze-bar-Lisbon-Portugal

Fado concert

As this was my second time in Lisbon, there were three things that I was determined to experience: Pastel de Nata (I got to eat every morning at Gat Rossio), Sintra (we visited the next day) and a Fado concert. Fado is a type of song that is used to express “saudade” (the feeling of missing someone or something). It originated from Portuguese women singing to express heartache when the men left on long sea voyages.

The area of Alfama is the traditional place to see a Fado concert and there are many venues to choose from. We asked Gat Rossio for their recommendations, and subsequently made a booking at Parreirinha de Alfama. This venue is also recommended by the Lisbon Tourism office, so you know it’s really good.

We arrived at the reserved time of 8:30pm and were shown to our table. The restaurant has an intimate setting with stone walls and mood lighting. The performance itself is included with the cost of the meal and guests are required to spend a minimum of €30 per person. Considering the quality of the concert and food, it was well worth the cost.

Parreirinha-de-Alfama-Fado-Concert-Lisbon-Portugal

Day 2: Sintra

Sintra is a Portuguese town located around 30 kilometers (18 miles) outside of Lisbon. It is a magical wonderland of palaces and castles that feels straight out of a fairy tale. The area was once home to Portuguese nobles and is now open for the enjoyment of the public.

It makes a great day trip (or three!) from Lisbon. There are many places to see. You can try cramming in as much as possible with a guided tour or hop-on hop-off bus. We decided to visit just a couple of sites and spend more time in each. Based on recommendations, we chose Quinta da Regaleira and Palacio da Pena.

Getting to Sintra is easy and inexpensive. From Caminhos de Ferro do Rossio station you can take a train direct to Sintra in about forty-five minutes. Don’t worry if you haven’t planned your trip in advance. Upon arrival you will find the tourist information center inside the station, where you can pick up a map and directions.

Quinta da Regaleira

This stately home and lavish grounds is a short 15 minute walk from the Sintra train station. During our Fado dinner we had met a couple who raved about the gardens. I have to agree – they don’t disappoint! Prepare yourself for underground cave systems, enchanting wells and waterfalls. Entrance to the property and house is €6.00.

Quinta-da-Regaleira-Sintra-Portugal

Palacio da Pena

Pena Palace is a little further away. From the Sintra train station it is an hour walk. Alternatively you can buy a return bus ticket for €5.50 or enjoy the novelty of a tuk tuk for €5 per person, each way. Pena Palace costs €6.50 for access to the grounds and €11.50 if you also want to enter the palace rooms.

The walk to Pena is a highlight on its own, as it goes through the Natural Park of Sintra-Cascais. There are a a lot of hills so you probably want to be in moderate shape at least. The park closes its gates at 5pm sharp and the palace is open until 6pm.

Pena-Palace-entrance-Sintra-Portugal

Dinner and drinks in Lisbon

There is no shortage of traditional Portuguese restaurants in Lisbon. As we were staying at Gat Rossio and tired after a big day, we decided to stay close to the hotel for dinner. We ventured a few streets away to Rua dos Correeiros to enjoy Bolinhos de Bacalhau (fried codfish balls) for €4 and a bottle of house wine for €5.

For nightlife, many friends had recommended “Pink Street” (or Rua Cor de Rosa) which is actually located on Rua Nova do Carvalho. The street is literally painted pink and packed full of bars and clubs. For my last night in Lisbon, I decided to head to a Couchsurfing event instead. There I enjoyed a beer while chatting with expats, locals and other backpackers.


Gat Rossio Lisbon

Gat Rooms offer designer accommodation in central locations with a focus on value. The brand strives to embody the cat spirit (the word “Gato” is Portuguese for cat) with curiosity, friendliness and playfulness. Gat Rooms have hotels in Berlin and Lisbon, with a new site opening in Barcelona.

We stayed in their Lisbon location, Gat Rossio, and were awed by the helpfulness of the staff. The Gat Rossio team went above and beyond to make sure that we had a great stay in Lisbon. Which is not hard to do when you are staying in a hotel as nice as this!

Gat-Rooms-Lisbon-Double-Standard-Room-Portugal.

My friend and I shared a double standard room which comes with an ergonomic “5 star” bed. The furnishings and fittings are very sleek with fresh, bold colors.The custom-lighting control panels above the bed let you set the mood of the room with dimming. Or allows guests to read on their side of the bed while their roommate sleeps.

On the second level at Gat Rossio, you can find the kitchen, terrace and lounge area which is called “Roomroom”. Roomroom is a great place to chill, work, or message your friends to brag about the great time you are having.

Location: Rua jardim do Regedor, 27-35, 1150-193 Lisboa

Website: http://hotelgatrossio.com/

Gat-Rooms-Lisbon-Portugal-Terrace

My friend and I were complimentary guests of Gat Rossio, however my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.


Budget breakdown: Lisbon

All costs are quoted for one person and in the local currency (EUR). See below for the average daily spend including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.

Accommodation: Gat Rossio is a design-lovers hotel located in the center of Lisbon. They offer single, double and triple rooms as well as junior suites. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Rooms.

Food: Gat Rooms Lisbon provides a daily buffet breakfast to all their guests.

Day 1 – Coffee and muffin (€2.20), lunch in Alfama (€7.50), beer at Zambeze (€2.00), dinner at Parreirinha de Alfama, including Fado concert (€35.50).

Day 2 – Lunch in Sintra (€8.00), hot chocolate at Pena Palace (€2.50), chocolate cake (€1.20), dinner and wine in Lisbon (€7.25).

Activities: Entrance to Quinta da Regaleira (€6.00), entrance to Pena Palace gardens (€6.50).

Transport: Metro card for center (€6.30), 24 hour train ticket to SIntra (€10.25).

Average daily spend: €47.66 each* ($50.21 USD and $66.38 AUD as of 4 March 2017) excluding accommodation.

*This daily amount could be reduced by choosing cheaper activities. Also I made an error with my metro tickets and paid more than I needed to.


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Lisbon, Portugal exploring Barrio Alto and Alfama as well as a day trip to Sintra.

Have you traveled to Lisbon or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

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Itinerary: Valencia, Spain (2 days)

Itinerary: Valencia, Spain (2 days)

Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Valencia, Spain.

Valencia is a Spanish city located on the eastern coast, around four hours by car from Barcelona or Madrid. It is most known for its Valencia oranges and as the original birthplace of paella.

For me, Valencia was a tranquil and charming break from the pulsing energy of the bigger cities. A place to take your time, have daily siestas and multiple cafe breaks. I spent a large part of my time wandering around with a serene smile, stopping to take photos whenever I felt like it or just sitting down in a the plaza to people watch.

In total I spent two and half days in Valencia, however it could easily be fit into two days without rushing.

Here is my two day itinerary for Valencia, including budget breakdown.

Heading to Spain? Check out our posts for Barcelona and Mallorca.

Day 1

Plaza de la Virgen and free walking tour

A great way to get orientated and learn the basic history of a destination is to go on a free walking tour. Most cities will have at least one walking tour, which you can find by asking your hostel or hotel reception desk, or by searching online. The free tours are on a tip basis, so you pay what you think it is worth. I have also found this to be a great way to meet other solo travelers, making friends on previous walking tours in Barcelona, Porto and Amsterdam.

The free walking tour that I took in Valencia started in Plaza de la Virgen. Luckily for me, it was just a few minutes walk from my hostel. The guide led us around the center, showing us the main attractions and giving a brief overview of Valencia in two and a half hours. The pace is quite relaxed and overall we didn’t do that much walking (the center is quite small). I started chatting to another girl from Seattle and we decided to go exploring after the tour ended.

Plaza-de-la-Virgen-Valencia-Spain

Mercado Central 

The walking tour included a stop in the central market of Valencia, however I think that it is worth a trip (or two!) on its own. Many major cities around the world have these public food markets. They can be really fun to explore and get an idea of the local produce and cuisines.

The typical Valencia snack to purchase here is horchata and farton. Horchata (orxata) is a local drink made from ground tiger nuts. There are similar versions in Latin American countries. The farton is a sweet pastry which tastes somewhat like a doughnut. The custom is to dip your farton into the horchata, however as I am not a big fan of horchata, I had mine with coffee instead.

Mercado-Central-Valencia-Spain

Plaza de la Reina and Torre de San Miguelete

A short distance from Plaza de la Virgen is Plaza de la Reina. This is a busier square with more restaurants and traffic (both pedestrian and vehicles) but it still retains that relaxed vibe. Rising above the square is the San Miguelete Tower and Santa Maria Cathedral. Both require a ticket to enter. If you are really into churches and don’t want to pay then you can visit the cathedral in Plaza de la Virgen for free.

The cost to climb San Miguelete tower is only two Euros and definitely worth it for some amazing views of the city.

Plaza-de-la-Reina-and-Torre-de-San-Miguelete-Valencia-Spain

El Carmen street art

When I had arrived the previous night by bus from Barcelona, I couldn’t help but notice all the street art I saw while walking to my hostel. This area is called El Carmen and is a maze of decorated alleys close to Plaza de la Virgen. There are also a ton of cafes and restaurants littered throughout this area. A Spanish friend of mine who lived in Valencia told me that this is where she used to go for drinks.

El-Carmen-street-art-Valencia-Spain

Ruzafa

At the time that I was in Valencia, the place to go drinking seemed to be Ruzafa. So much so that I actually ended up here two nights in a row. There are a range of bars from craft beer to jazz clubs, and I tried to visit as many as possible on a crazy pub crawl.

One famous Valencia drink is “Agua de Valencia”. This is consists of cava or champagne, vodka, gin and orange juice. Usually served by the glass or in a jug. I bought a jug to share but have to say that it was very overpriced. The Agua de Valencia I tried was similar to a mimosa which are very common in the USA and Australia. Apart from that, the drinks are generally well-priced starting from €1 for a tap beer.

Day 2

Bluebell Coffee Co.

While in Valencia, I upped my caffeine intake. It wasn’t to stay awake (I was still having daily siestas) but rather for the taste and pleasure of sipping on the hot beverage in between my leisurely strolls. The only issue was all the milk that I was drinking. I suffer from a lactose sensitivity, which means that I can’t consume dairy in large quantities. With all my coffee breaks, I really needed to switch to something light for my stomach.

Do you have a sensitivity or preference when it comes to food ? Read my tips for traveling with a food allergy.

For those who have lactose sensitivities or prefer their specialty coffees, this can be a little tricky when traveling in Spain. Most cafes will only serve the standard types e.g. cafe con leche (coffee with milk) or cafe negro (black coffee). And if you are after soy milk, forget it. There more expensive options available are Starbucks and Costa Coffee however I tend to get sick of visiting chain coffee shops and crave the experience of an independent cafe.

And that’s what I found in Bluebell Coffee Co. A quiet and cute cafe with specialty coffee and fresh breakfast options.

Bluebell-Coffee-Co.-Valencia-Spain

Turia Gardens

When I asked a friend of mine what I should do in Valencia, she enthusiastically responded “Go to the river!”. The so-called river actually no longer exists but has been filled in and covered with a beautiful park-land that extends from Parque de Cabecera, in the west, almost all the way to the ocean in the east.

The park is full of people exercising, walking or just talking a relaxing. There is also a huge children’s playground in the shape of Gulliver from the book “Gulliver’s Travels”. I would recommend hiring a bike for a day and riding the entire length of the gardens to the sea. If you do go by foot, be aware of the different paths for cyclists, joggers and walkers. I was almost run down when I didn’t look before stepping out onto a bike track.

Turia-Gardens-Valencia-Spain

Ciudad de las artes y las ciencias (CAC)

The City of Arts and Sciences is a huge complex of futuristic buildings within Turia Gardens. Each building is unique creation and contribution to the education of arts and sciences. There is an entrance fee to the science museum, aquarium and 3D cinema or you can just wander around gaping at the science-fiction type architecture.

City-of-Arts-and-Sciences-Valencia-Spain

Playa de la Malvarrosa

If you bike east through the length of Turia Gardens then start to head north after the City of Arts and Sciences, you will find yourself at the sea! I actually walked the distance from Plaza de la Virgen to Playa de la Malvarossa and it took over an hour (I got the bus back).

The area around the beach is quite nice with a harbor, walking paths and Rollerblade park. The beach itself is calm and wide. Restaurants are lined up behind the shore and there is a feeling of merriness in the air. Especially if you visit on a sunny day like I did.

Playa-de-la-Malvarrosa-Valencia-Spain-Chantell-Collins


Budget breakdown: Valencia

All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (EUR). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.

Accommodation: 2 nights’ in a 6 bed female dorm (€22.20).

Food: My hostel provided free breakfast with tea and coffee however as the quality wasn’t very good, I bought my coffee and breakfast out of the hostel.

Day 1 – Coffee and farton at Mercado Central (€2.20), lunch and a beer (€6.40), latte with soy milk (€3.30), slice of pizza (€1.50), icecream (€1.50), beers in Ruzafa (€6.00).

Day 2 – Breakfast and coffee with soy at Bluebell Coffee Co. (€6.50), 1 liter bottle of water and bag of candy (€2.40), little sandwiches and fries at 100 Montaditos (€4.50), latte with soy milk (€3.30), slice of gourmet pizza (€2.50).

Activities: Tip for the free walking tour (€10), entrance to Torre de San Miguelete (€2).

Transport: Bus from Playa de la Malvarrosa back to Turia Gardens (€1.50).

Average daily spend: €37.90* ($40 USD and $52.14 AUD as of 22 February 2017).

*This daily amount could be reduced by cooking your own meals or sticking to drinking more water.


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2 day itinerary for Valencia, Spain exploring Mercado Central, Turia Gardens, City of Arts and Sciences, and Playa de la Malvarrosa.

Have you traveled to Valencia or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

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The ultimate guide to finding travel accommodation on a budget

The ultimate guide to finding travel accommodation on a budget

Adoration 4 Adventure’s ultimate guide for finding travel accommodation on a budget.

In addition to flights, one of the biggest costs associated with travel is accommodation. I am always looking for ways to save money and rarely ever pay the full price for a hotel or hostel. This means that I can travel to more places or spend longer in destinations for the same amount.

Here are the methods that I regularly use to find low-cost or free travel accommodation.

Working for food and accommodation

What if I told you that you could get free accommodation by working for a few hours a day? The idea of an exchange of goods or services is not new, however there are now websites that make these transactions even easier to find.

The most commonly known platforms are Help X, Workaway and WOOFing. Each of these usually has a yearly subscription fee but once you sign up, you can then browse for exchange opportunities in the location of your choice. I’ve used another platform called Worldpackers, which charges a small fee for each assignment. By referring friends you can receive discounts off your placements.

Click here to sign up for Worldpackers and search for your first host.

Alternatively, you can search for exchanges the old-fashioned way by contacting the host directly. We all have skills that can be valuable to others. Consider your own experience and what could be useful for an accommodation provider then get in touch with them to see if they are interested in the offer.

Jobs can range from manual tasks (such as cleaning and construction) through to experienced (such as website design and photography). Depending on the level of skill required, each job will have different requirements and provisions. The higher the skill you have, the less hours you will need to contribute and the more you can expect to receive in return e.g. meals, drinks, activities, etc. It is important to note that as these are exchanges, usually no money is paid and it is up to you to secure the correct visa for that country.

Worldpackers exchange in Barcelona Spain

Paying with points

If you participate in any points programs (hotel or air miles) then you may be able to redeem these points for a stay in a hotel. When visiting Portland, Oregon I used my frequent flyer points to pay for a two nights stay in a 3 star hotel with no extra cost for tax or fees.

Before choosing this option, I would recommend considering the value of the points as there may be better ways to spend them, for example, flights with a greater monetary value.

Discounted hotels and hostels

Last minute booking sites will often give great discounts on hotels. In the U.S.A., I mainly use Priceline or Hotwire however I’ll still shop around at other websites to see if I can find a better deal. By using a discounted hotel website, I was able to stay in a luxurious hotel on the Vegas strip for a fraction of the normal price.

The Luxor, Las Vegas

I also like Booking.com because it’s easy to use and usually has a flexible change and cancellation policy (check before you book). While on a 5 week backpacking trip around Europe, I had to cancel 5 hostel bookings which I did with a few clicks in the app and no penalty fees.

Click here to make your next Booking.com reservation and receive a $15 USD ($20 AUD) credit after your stay.

When using booking sites, always make sure you check for additional cleaning fees, resort charges and taxes which may not be included the advertised price. I have been caught out before and had an exorbitant cleaning fee waived because it was not obvious when I booked online.



Booking.com

Hotel alternatives

For long-term stays (3 nights or more) I like to use Airbnb. This is a great concept where you pay to stay in someone’s home. Depending on your budget and level of comfort, you can rent a whole house, private or shared room. For my first month in Vancouver I rented a master bedroom with en-suite through Airbnb. It was great because it’s fully furnished and the utilities are included in the costs. I received a a discounted rate because I booked for a whole month.

Airbnb also has a program that lets you earn credits towards your next stay when you refer friends or family. They receive a credit by signing up and you also receive one. By using my Airbnb credits, I was able to rent a private room in Barcelona, right near La Rambla for less than AUD $20 per night.

Click here to sign up to Airbnb and receive a $20 USD ($28 AUD) credit for your first stay.

Most Airbnb property profiles are filled out in full, however you can also read references left by previous guests to get a better idea of the owners and the property. As with the booking sites, check for additional fees before booking.

Airbnb-Barcelona-Spain

Camping

While on road trips, I will camp as often as I can (weather permitting). There are often free campsites which you can find on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website in the U.S.A. or using the Wiki Camps app in Australia.

Camping in National Parks will often have a nightly fee attached however its a small price to pay to experience the wonder of being close to nature.

Mt Ashland, Oregon, USA

Hospitality exchange websites

Hospitality exchange websites are more than just about a free place to stay – it is about a cultural and sociable experience where you will spend time with and get to know your hosts.

Since 2010, I have used Couchsurfing to host over 20 surfers, stay with over 20 hosts, and make countless friends all around the world. Other hospital exchange websites include BeWelcome and Warmshowers, however have not personally tested them.

Before sending a CS request, I would suggest doing the following:

  • Make sure that your profile is completed in full. Tell your future hosts and surfers who you really are!
  • If you don’t already have references, ask a close friend or family member to give you a personal reference.
  • Use the filters when searching for a host. I personally only look for hosts who have their profile set to “Yes” (not “Maybe”) and only contact hosts who have over a 80% response rate.
  • Read your potential host’s profile very carefully. Are they someone that you can see yourself getting along with? Do you have interests in common?
  • Check their references. Even if they don’t have negative or neutral references, it pays to read the positive references to get more of an insight about the person.
  • When sending a request, include a short introduction about yourself and why you are traveling there. Highlight why you think it is a good match. Make references to multiple points on their profile to show that you have taken the time to read it.
  • Avoid sending copy and paste requests. And don’t forget to include their name at the beginning!

Click here to see an example of a completed Couchsurfing profile.

Once you are accepted by a host, I would also try to take a gift along (such as wine, cake, etc.) as a token of our gratitude. Some surfers will offer to cook a meal instead, to say thank you. Recently I couchsurfed in Ibiza, Spain for three nights and we shared many meals and good conversations together.

Couchsurfing-in-Ibiza-Spain

Staying with friends and family

One of my favorite things about traveling is the people you meet along the way. I have made some incredible friendship connections which have lasted long-term from a long distance.

While traveling in Europe on a 5 week backpacking trip, I planned the majority of my stops around where my friends were living. I loved hanging out with them in their city and having a personal tour guide.

I have been so lucky to have such amazing friends and been welcomed by incredibly kind hosts, whom I hope we can also return the favor when they come to visit.

Staying with friends in Edinburg, Scotland


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Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventures ultimate guide for finding travel accommodation on a budget. Methods I regularly use to find low cost or free travel accommodation.

How do you find travel accommodation? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.