Well friends,

She is officially back in the good ole US of A. 

What. A. Whirlwind.

In case you missed it (and if you did... don't worry, I saved everything into a story highlight on my Instagram for your viewing pleasure), I just got back from my first ever SOLO TRIP to Portugal.

A solo trip that was not supposed to be a solo trip until around 48 hours before my flight took off. Crazy, I know.

Don't ride your bike at night, folks. You may hit a pot hole, fall off and break your collar bone.

*This is what happened to my friend and why he couldn't go*

*He is okay*

Before we get into the nitty gritty details of my trip and all the "musts" I have for those planning on going to Portugal... Let me just gather my thoughts on how this blog post is going to work. 

Part of me wants to combine everything into A MASSIVE NOVEL OF A BLOG POST and include my itinerary, advice, all the crazy stories and what I learned... but let's be real... we all have the attention spans of peanuts now (I blame TikTok) and no one is going to read a post that is miles long.

So I am going to break it up into TWO. 

First, let's chat about exactly what I did, what I saw and most importantly... WHAT I ATE. Sweet baby Jesus, the food was amazing. That's what this blog post will be alllllll about, so break out your journals and get ready to take some notes. Warning: you will want to book a flight immediately because you WILL fall in love with Portugal just like I did.

I am going to focus on:

Lagos.

Lisbon.

Madeira.

Then once you get an idea of how to plan your next solo trip to Portugal, I will do a little bit of a deeper post, where I do what I do best...

Get into my feels and share it on the internet! WOOHOO!? I will tell you about who I met and what I learned each step of the way. I am already crying thinking about it, TBH.

Okay, let's do the damn thing. I just ordered another oat milk latte and my typin' fingers are ready to GO.

PORTUGAL TRAVEL RECAP

What to do, what to see & where to go.

Let's start in Lagos, because that was the first leg of my trip. Also, I would like to state that the way we (my friend + me) planned this Portugal adventure made ZERO sense. Absolutely zero. I am not sure where my brain was during the planning process but it wasn't paying any attention. Lesson learned. 

Here's what I did:

  • Flew into Lisbon 
  • Took a car to Lagos 
  • Stayed 2 days in Lagos
  • Took a car back to Lisbon
  • Spent 24 hours in Lisbon (not enough time, PS)
  • Flew to Madeira 
  • Spent 2 days in Madeira
  • Flew back to Lisbon for 3 extra days (always extend the trip, folks!)

Here's what I recommend instead:

  • Fly into Lisbon and stay minimum 3 days 
  • Take a train/car to Lagos for 3 days
  • Take a train/car back to Lisbon and catch a flight to Madeira the SAME DAY (they offer flights in the morning and evening... trust me when I say you want the evening flight)
  • Stay in Madeira for 3 days
  • Fly back to Lisbon and then fly home (or extend your trip a couple days because you absolutely will NOT want to leave this city)

But ya know what? Hind sight is 20/20. I learned a lot, I met amazingggg humans and I wouldn't change a thing about my trip. 

But just like... take my advice, ok?

LAGOS RECOMMENDATIONS

Where to stay:

I stayed at Belmar Spa and Resorts (around $175 a night, so not too shabby) and when we booked this place... again, I did not research OOPS. My advice would be always always always look at the map and make sure you are staying in a convenient place that is near the center of the town or in a fun area. The hotel was beautiful and very quiet + relaxing, but the negative was that it was not near Old Town Lagos, which is the more lively area that all the bars, restaurants and shops are at.

The Belmar is lovely for honeymooners or families, but if you are a solo traveler... not the greatest. But hey, you know what my travel lesson was? MAKE. IT. WORK. SISTER.

I had *small panic attack* when I got there and realized I was around a 35 minute walk from civilization and the front desk guy told me ubers were tricky to get, but turns out he was wrong (thanks for the anxiety, dude) and I had no issues getting rides into town. The prices definitely racked up, which is why I suggest staying closer to Old Town while in Lagos - unless you plan on never leaving the resort. But like... don't do that. 

What to see & what to do:

There's SO MUCH to see and do in every city, but here are my absolute musts. What I learned while solo traveling is that you can't do everything (I wish), so pick a couple things you absolutely want to see and just focus on these!

Hike the coastal walk from Ponta de Piedade to Old Town

Looking for a wholesome, beautiful and free activity? This is a must. STUNNING!

I did this on my first morning in Lagos, after someone on Instagram recommended it to me... Sorry kind stranger, I do not remember your name but thank you for the tip!

If you aren't a big hiker (and when I say hike... it's more like a leisurely walk), make sure to at least stop by Ponta de Piedade for the view. In. Freaking. Sane. This is one of the places you will recognize from all of the Instagram photos take in Lagos... it's a pretty popular tourist destination and worth seeing from the top (you can also take a boat to see it... I did both). There's a parking lot for cars, but honestly I just had an uber drop me off at the destination and let me tell you... WORTH IT. Always pay for peace of mind. Travel lesson #1 I learned.

Beyond just looking at the view, you can take the path all the way from Ponta de Piedade and walk alongside the beautiful cliffs until you reach town. It's about a mile and a half to reach town, so if you go there and back... 3ish miles round trip? Not too bad and the views are 10 out of 10. You’ll be walking on a combination of sidewalk, road, and then natural earth... so sneakers are definitely recommended. Along side walk, you will stumble upon the most beautiful beaches, which leads me to my next must see spot...

Hit the beach at Praia do Camilo 

This is ranked one of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL beaches in Lagos and I absolutely understand why. I recommend spending a solid half day here because 1) it's beautiful and you won't want to leave 2) you have to walk down 225 steps to get to the bottom so you better make that walk worth it and stay for a couple hours.

This was actually the very first place I went in Lagos. Well JK, I actually went on a hunt to find a cosmetics store because my silly self forgot my setting powder and looking like a greasy glazed donut and we could NOT have that happening the whole trip... but AFTER THAT... this was my first stop.

*It was also where I met my Lagos lover, Florin. AKA Chivalrous paddle board boy. IYKYK.

So like, pack a beach bag, put on your cutest little bikini, and go enjoy! They have a beach bar - if you see a pair of cute boys working there, please tell them Morgan said hello and misses them dearly. Order a aperol spritz and Florin's moms homemade fruit salad (this will make sense if and when you go there) and grab a spot on the beach.

What's even cooler... you can rent a paddle board right there on the beach and go explore the caves right around the corner (when you paddle out, go to the RIGHT). DO. IT. They are unbelievable! Couldn't tell ya if it was hard to paddle there because I had a cute guy doing the work for me, hehe... but I can tell you it was truly so cool. You can park your paddle board in the little coves and check out some hidden beaches!

Go on a boat tour 

So you can see the cliffs from above at Ponta de Piedade, you can see the from the beach at Praia de Camilo but y'all... you have to see them from a boat! 

I decided to take a little solo tour with Blue Fleet, after seeing another blogger post about them. I wasn't sure what to expect honestly, but at this point in my trip... I was kind of winging anything and everything so I had nothin' to lose.

I ended up taking Blue Fleet's Coastal Cruise which takes you to look at the "famous secluded beaches of Lagos such as Praia D. Ana and Praia do Camilo" and even better... the anchor down and let you jump in for a little afternoon dip.

At first, I wasn't sure how this would go because I am Miss *Action Adventure* and part of me wanted to take the grotto tour on the super fast little speed boat or tour the epic Benagil caves but let me tell you...

I loved this so much! 

It was one of my favorite excursions in Lagos and truly was WORTH IT. (Plus only 30 euros which is truly a steal). The tour guide was so cute and information - but not boring because ya girl cannot handle boring tour guides - and she tells you all about the history of Lagos while you get to chill on your aesthetically pleasing little bean bag and enjoy the views. Plus, there's only 12-15 or so people so the boat is not crowded at all. I honestly felt like I was on a private tour which I LOVED.

Then, the crew docs you at one of the most insane + beautiful hidden beaches (it took my breathe away, y'all) and you're allowed to jump in and swim for a bit. Look... I know the water is cold but just jump in, okay?! It was truly so exhilarating and the perfect way to end the 2 hour trip. *Look at me being adventurous and getting her hair wet because F it, when in Portugal!!!!*

SKYDIVE! 

When I told my parents I was going to Portugal solo... they gave me one vey strict rule. DO NOT JUMP OUT OF AN AIRPLANE.

They know I am rather impulsive and they also know I love any adrenaline rush I can get.

So what do I absolutely have to do when I was in Portugal?

Jump out of an airplane.

Look, I survived and that's all that matters.

I ended up last minute booking a 15,000 ft. tandem skydive with Skydive Algarve because I had a couple hours to kill before my car took me back to Lisbon and I had two options: take a chill little tour of the Benagil caves (which you should check out if you have the time, PS) or do something that really scared me, like skydiving solo.

When I decided to take this trip by myself, I said I am going to do whatever I can to step OUTSIDE my comfort zone with every single situation that is presented to me. I wanted to do the "scary" things, so I could prove to myself just how strong I was.

So I went sky diving?

This was definitely a pricier option (I think it was around 200 euros plus I did the video and photo pack which was an extra 160 euros or so) but literally, I will NEVER EVER forget this experience. I would do it all over again in a heart beat.

The views you see from that little airplane are some of the craziest views you will probably ever seen in your life. The bright, neon blue water.. the cliffs... the literal TIP of Portugal. Things you can really only see while plummeting to the ground from an airplane! 

Worth it. Do it. No regrets!

Check out Praia de Luz 

This photo gives me chills. The churches here are just so serene and stunning.

If you have time to venture OUTSIDE of Lagos, head 15 minutes to the next town over called Praia de Luz. I had never heard of it until Florin invited me on a romantic date (that's a story for the OTHER blog post I will be writing). I didn't really know what to expect about this town but it was SO CUTE?! It's got it's own little beachy vibe, lots of restaurants, a path to walk on the beach, live music and a truly gorgeous church. It's a bit less touristy than Old Town Lagos, which I was a big fan of. I wish I had more time here so I could have explored longer! Guess I will just have to go back...

What to eat & drink:

Casa do Prego 

If you are wanting a good steak... this is your place! I read about Casa do Prego on another travel blog and decided to give it a go. The line was OUT THE DOOR when I got there (definitely make a reservation) but aha! The perks of a solo traveler. The manager saw me sipping wine solo on the rooftop while I waited and offered me a table... score.

Goji Cafe 

My favorite place I ate in Lagos (But keep in mind... I was not on a foodie mission here so I didn't do a ton of research. I was way more concerned with all my action adventure activities LOL). 

This cafe definitely gets crowded to be prepared for a little wait if you want to eat on the outside patio - which you definitely will want to! Also, they close at 2 pm which I was totally unaware of and luckily, I made it in time. It's healthy, yummy, vibey and probably the best avocado toast I have ever had. A must for brunch.

Indigo cafe 

I wandered into this cafe for lunch one day and it was quiet, quaint and even better... affordable. There's an adorable rooftop that you can grab a quick cocktail that has a view of the city and if you want a simple, but yummy lunch or coffee break... check it out. Plus, I got an ommlette, toast, coffee and a water and it was like 10 euros. Sick. Portugal rocks.

Pasteleria Gambo

Another random place I read about on a travel blog. Yes, even the blogger reads other blogs! GET HERE EARLY FOR ALL THE PASTRIES. 

I stopped by in the afternoon after my boat tour and the majority of the desserts were already gone, but I did get a piece of homemade coffee cake and holy freakin' moly. DELISH. (Now is a good time to point out that I have a massive sweet tooth and will go completely out of my way to find all the yummy desserts).

Crema di Gelato 

Speaking of desserts... The best gelato I have EVER tasted. And! I have been to Italy.

Are you sold yet?

Don't let the long line turn you away. It is so worth it!!!

LISBON RECOMMENDATIONS

Where to stay:

Okay, I am going to lump EVERYTHING I did in Lisbon into one section for the sake of not making it incredibly confusing. But keep in mind... I spent one full day in the city (and 2 nights) initially, and then I flew back after Madeira and I extended my trip by 3 days because I loved Lisbon so much and needed more time to explore. So whatever you do... I beg of you...  spend AT LEAST 3 nights here. Nothing less! 

PortoBay Liberdade

This was the first hotel that I stayed at and it was conveniently located close to the center of the city. Even better... it was a 5 star hotel (look, I like nice hotels okay?! Let a girl live her best life) but it was only around 200 bucks a night?! Lisbon is wildly affordable compared to the states so your money definitely goes a long way.

I was only there two nights, but there's a gorgeous rooftop that's a great place to hang out and grab a little pre-dinner cocktail and if you are looking for a hotel with ALL the "things" (gym, spa, views, location, etc) then this is it!

Mama Shelter

Not 5 stars, but still nice and a total STEAL.

I loved this hotel so much and I loved the rooftop even more. Two words: Watermelon. Mules. My new favorite cocktail, friends.

I ended up staying here because during my first leg in Lisbon, I ate dinner at Mama Shelter's restaurant (an influencer perk, full transparency) which is conveniently located inside the hotel and I instantly loved the aesthetic and how lively it was. Seriously, this place was consistently poppin' with a young crowd. Perfect for my fellow solo travelers out there! 

But don't let this deter you from staying there... The rooms were actually super quiet and peaceful.

What I loved even more though than the vibes... was the price. For a boutique hotel that is honestly really nice, it is only around $70 a night. Y'ALL. WHAT.

Plus, it's still close to the city centre and conveniently located by all the fun areas you want to go to at night. (For example, it was maybe a 10 minute uber ride over to Pink Street which is where the fun bars are).

The rooms are a little small, and you won't get a killer view of the city like you get at PortoBay but the price. The price is great.

Like, I am sorry. 70 bucks?!?! 

More transparency though... I ended up using credit card points to pay for 3 nights here at the end of my trip once I decided to extend my stay. Chase Sapphire Preferred for the win, baby!!! If you guys are not using a credit card and gaining points to use for travel... you are doing it wrong! Game changing. Free room for days! 

What to see & what to do:

Castelo de Sao Jorge

If you are wanting a breathtaking, panoramic view of the city, well here you go. This was actually the very FIRST sight I went to in Lisbon after getting a recommendation from a friend and I am so happy I went! Look... I could give you the history of the castle and all that jazz, buuuut you probably don't care and probably won't remember what I tell you. All you really need to know is…

1) Buy a ticket ahead of time online so you don't have to wait in line. 

2) This isn't an "all day" thing so definitely plan other things before and afterwards so you can get the most from your day. I got through the whole castle / grounds in about an hour.

3) Make sure you get a photo at the top of the castle because it's pretty darn beautiful. #doitforthegram

Santa Catarina Church 

I stumbled upon this church and was in awe. Honestly... I was in awe with every church I went into in Portugal. We are doing it wrong in America, folks.

I have to laugh because the church I went to in Granbury, TX was in an old Walmart building and meanwhile in Europe, they have hand carved gold angels hanging from the ceiling. LOL.

I wanted to include this church in my little guide mainly because there's a super cute flower wall outside of the church, so go ahead and get that Instagram pic, sis! See above.

Igreja de São Roque (Church of Saint Roch)

The most beautiful church I have ever walked in. Who needs a flower wall?! This is an absolute MUST MUST MUST when visiting Lisbon (for my fellow tourists who love a good historic church). I wandered around in awe for at least 20 minutes... I simply could not believe the amount of detail this church included. And all the gold... wowza. 

Make sure pop in and don't be fooled by the appearance on the outside. It seems like just another basic, white building... but just you wait.

Time Out Market

This place was so cool and you ABSOLUTELY need to make your way here for lunch or a mid afternoon snack. It's like a food court... but 100 times better? Who knew that was even possible? 

There's different stalls with all sorts of amazing and delicious foods for you to try. And not just like pizza and french fries like your typical mall food court but instead, it's home to some of the city's best known (and longest-running) market vendors of meat, fish, fruit and flowers. 

If you go, make sure to try the  pastéis de nata at  Manteigaria... I didn't go and I am literally losing sleep about it because their pastries rival the Pastéis de Belém (essentially the same pastry but with different names, idk why) which were the absolute BEST LITTLE PASTRIES I HAVE EVER TASTED. EVER. 

So like, please. Please make sure to try them at both locations and report back to me.

LX Factory

This is where I decided to have lunch on my first day of Lisbon adventuring and it is a must. If you are looking for a fun, artsy, hip, and amazing little shopping area with a ton of unique shops and restaurants... Well welcome to LX. It's like Austin, meets Venice Beach, meets Brooklynn, meets Portugal? 

Definitely carve out two hours or so to walk through the shops and plop down at one of the restaurants for lunch. Grab some wine, sit back and people watch. I could have stayed here for days (& this is where I met my tiny friend, Queen Eva! If you watched my stories... you know).

Belem Tower

This is the iconic tower in the water that I KNOW you have seen on Google... if you were creepin' on Lisbon and deciding if you should travel here.

Answer: you should.

I ended up taking an uber here because it was hot as hell, and ubers in Lisbon are CHEAP - comparable to Los Angeles. It's around a 20 minutes drive from the city center (aka my hotel). You could easily take the train, but honestly... for around 15 euros... the uber drive was worth it. Once you get to Belem, expect to stay for at least a couple hours so you can walk around, check out the tower and monastery and most importantly... get the Pastéis de Belém!!

You can get tickets to go into the tower for a tour, but you have to do that AHEAD of time (I did not). But honestly, I felt like you could see enough from outside the tower. You can walk around, snap some pics & still appreciate the beauty.

Up to you and how *touristy* you want to be.

Jerónimos Monastery

I am convinced Game of Thrones was filmed here. CONVINCED!

This is a definite "must" for me and you absolutely should buy a ticket to go in because while yes, the outside of the monastery is gorgeous... the inside is even insane. I bought my ticket the day before online, and had no issues getting in.

Again... if you take anything from this blog post it should be to BOOK YOUR TICKETS ONLINE AHEAD OF TIME. It will save you from the crazy long lines that everyone else is in because they did not read a cute blonde influencers travel blog (hehe).

Pastéis de Belém

The best pastries in all the land. Truly. 

Once you head to the Belem tower and tour the monastery... reward yourself with a flaky egg custard... or five. Or 10?

The bakery is just down the street from the monastery and there will absolutely be a line out the door and you absolutely should wait in it because I promise it's worth it (I did it twice LOL). The line moves quickly and then you will be seated in the massive, airy cafe where you can order all the desserts your heart desires. 

Day trip to Sintra

SINTRA IS A MUST. I specifically extended my trip just so I could make my way to the iconic red and yellow Pena Palace (AKA an influencer's dream).

You absolutely need to get tickets in advance, probably 2-3 days prior would be ideal. My friend tried to get tickets the day before and it was sold out! I ended up choosing two to get tickets to (I only had a half day to spend in Sintra so I was trying to choose wisely) and I picked the Pena Palace & Quinta da Regaleira after getting the most recommendations for those two.

You can take the train from Lisbon to Sintra and get there in around 40-45 minutes but of course... I took an uber. I am like, low key ashamed of myself? But like I said... I was short on time and by myself?! So I didn't really feel like getting lost and I definitely didn't want to waste my day trying to locate my correct train. Look, I am learning to be a pro solo traveler but we aren't there yet, folks!

An uber there was only around 25 euros (not too bad) and was way quicker than taking the train and then having to get a bus or TukTuk up to the castles. With an uber, they can drop you off right at the front entrance of Pena Palace! So... I actually was kind of smart?! Go me.

I spent around an hour at Pena Palace and then got a TukTuk down to Quinta da Regaleira (I paid 20 euros but honestly, you can negotiate way lower). Once you get to  Quinta da Regaleira... get to exploring! The grounds are literally massive which I was not expecting it at ALL. I tried to see as much as I could, but then I started sweating excessively in my dang maxi skirt and had to call it a day. If you go and are just trying to see one EPIC thing... make sure you go to the initiation well. It's eerie and creepy and really freaking cool (see above).

Beach day in Caparica or Cascais 

If you have spare time and want to hit up a gorgeous beach... these are both amazing options. Cascais is definitely more touristy, but talk about picturesque. It's an easy train ride to get here and it's worth spending a whole entire day. 

If you want to go somewhere a little more "local" - check out Caparica! This is where I went surfing (with my cute, Portuguese private surf instructor named Marco which I KNOW you all know about via Instagram) and I LOVED it. Perfect for a relaxing beach day and a great place to try a surf lesson.

There were tons of beginners like myself getting drowned by waves.... I mean, thriving and hanging 10. 

Hit the bars on Pink Street

A street that is pink. Clearly I was a fan.

This is a super fun area to grab a drink before dinner and hit the bars after dinner! I swear this town does NOT SLEEP?! People are out until about 3, 4, 5 in the morning... quite the shock for my '10 hours of sleep' loving self. But when in Portugal, right?

It's truly wild and such a fun time. You cannot go to Lisbon and NOT go to Pink Street! 

What to eat & drink:

Mama Shelter

This is where I went to dinner my first night in Lisbon and while yes, they do have a Mama Shelter in Los Angeles so it isn’t super authentic Portuguese food.. It’s SO GOOD. My suggestion? Grab a drink on the rooftop before your dinner reservation (Again.. Get the watermelon mule) and then head downstairs. For dinner, the steaks are phenomenal but THE BURRATA. YOU MUST GET THE BURRATA.

Once you eat, sit back and have a post dinner cocktail and enjoy the DJ/live music! 

O Boteco with Chef Kiko

This is where I had dinner with my new found friend, Chris (I’d like to mention that I had dinner with someone different each night I was in Portugal. I thrive in solo situations apparently) - If you are wanting a vibey, authentic Brazilian restaurant, that’s a little more high end, but SUPER delicious… This is for you.

The food is unique and Chef Kiko really does a phenomenal job. He even stopped by our table to say hi and he was adorable and I just really, really enjoyed this place. One of my favs! Make sure to get the ceviche. Holy moly.

*Note: Chef Kiko has another restaurant, Cevicheria, which I didn’t get a chance to go to but I heard stellar reviews. If you love seafood, I’d say it’s a must.

LX Factory - A Praca

You can’t go wrong with any place in LX Factory for lunch because it’s truly just such a cute little area. I wanted to get something a little more “authentic” so I stumbled upon A Praca and decided to give it a whirl. I let the server bring me out his favorite dishes because I felt like being adventurous. What did I get you ask?

Well, I ended up with a plate of mushrooms + toast and Squidward's LITERAL family in a bowl (see above)… Which sounds low key gross, right? But it was truly divine, y'all. Soooo tasty!

Travel tip: Always ask for recommendations from locals and trust that it’s going to be amazing.

Leonetta

HOMEMADE PASTA. That’s all you need to know. Make a reservation & thank me later. 

Atalho

This was a super interesting and unique spot that’s known for their meat… Y’all know I am a Texas girl through and through and take my red meat very seriously, so I had to try it. Plus, they’re known for their *steak sushi* and how intriguing does that sound?! 

10 out of 10.

The meat was incredible, the steak sushi was really delicious, and the provolone appetizer. Y'ALL. Please go and get the provolone and send me a message once you realize it’s the greatest thing you have ever tried. Ever. Just look at that cheesy, glorious photo above!?!

Also, I have to laugh because this is where I met Leo, the cute guy with the motorcycle for the first time and I am over here taking photos of cheese. He was probably so confused. But we had a great time, fear not.

Heim Cafe

Need a cute and casual brunch spot? Make sure you check out Heim! I actually got a recommendation to go here from my friend Blaire, who had just left Lisbon and claimed this place was HER ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. So obviously, I had to go?

Super yummy. Great coffee. Superior avocado toast. But very crowded! Make sure you get there early to put your name on the list and expect a little bit of a wait. Worth it.

JNCQuoi

Okay, you guys KNOW I love me a boujee dinner every now and then. I had heard through all of my cute dates (I mean new friends), that this was the place to go if you wanted to splurge and go all out. 

Honestly, it was delicious and a great place to go for a special occasion.. But keep in mind it is pricier and it’s VERY hard to get a reservation. If you do end up going… the truffle pasta. THE TRUFFLE FREAKING PASTA. Made it all worth it. Trust.

Friends Acai in Cascais

Best acai bowl in all of Portugal. I said what I said.

I went to this place with my new friend Angelique (hey, girl!) and at first I was skeptical if this bowl would rival the ones I have had in Hawaii. 

But it did. 

Make sure to get peanut butter on it! 

O Bom O Mau e O Vilão (AKA The Good The Bad & The Ugly) - Cocktail Bar

Probably my favorite bar that I went to in Lisbon. WOAH… I know. It helped that I went on a date with the owner a couple hours before and then got free drinks all night. Look… don’t judge Portugal Morgan. She was thriving, okay. 

But beyond that, this place was SO much fun. There was an amazing jazz band that played all the hits (I even requested Sweet Home Alabama cuz… duh) and the cocktails are DELISH + not your basic well drink.

If I had to recommend one place to go at night, this would be it! 

Pensao Amor - Cocktail Bar

This is also a really cool, speakeasy type bar that I was recommended to go to by one of my followers. Note to self: Instagram always knows best. 

Fun fact: This place used to be a brothel and you get all the weird, but intriguing brothel-y vibes. I came here for a happy hour cocktail and it was very chill + enjoyable. I also came here later in the night and danced around to the DJ. It was not as chill, but still super enjoyable.

You definitely need to stop in just to check out the cool decor! 

Monkey Mash - Cocktail Bar

This place should be at the TOP of your list when looking for a place to get an insanely good craft cocktail.

It's got a really fun, tiki inspired decor and all of the drinks are unique (you know they're going to be good too when you don't know what half of the ingredients in them are). I ended up stopping here before dinner one night and met my (now) good friend, Chris. Apparently it's a great spot for solo travelers?! Nifty.

Park Rooftop - Rooftop Bar

Eh. Over rated in my personal opinion. It's a cool concept (it's kind of hidden and you have to access it through a parking garage) and has a KILLER view of the city. But the drinks are subpar and I honestly felt like I was in a college bar. I left after 20 minutes and went to Monkey Mash... but it's a pretty popular spot and I felt like I should include it and give my honest opinion. Worth it for the view and a quick photo, but that's about it.

MADEIRA RECOMMENDATIONS

Where to stay:

Reids Palace, A Belmond Hotel

Truly the most beautiful hotel I have ever stayed at. 

But remember how I was supposed to go on this trip WITH SOMEONE ELSE? That’s an important detail to remember here. Well, I didn’t realize I would be paying for everything solo until I got there and got the bill for this hotel that we booked months in advance. Not going to lie… I gasped a little bit (JK, a lot).

BUT I HAVE NO REGRETS. I think it’s always fun to splurge on one of two excursions or places that you’re dying to go to when you travel. I had seen Reids Palace on Instagram a year or so ago, and ever since… I had been absolutely dying to stay at this beautiful pink palace.

Yes, it’s pink. Do you get why I wanted to stay there now? 

I wanted to make sure to preface that it IS a big splurge but it is worth every single penny, in my opinion. The hotel is nestled in the cliffs, overlooking the ocean and giving you glimpses of the beautiful red roofed town of Funchal. The rooms make you feel like you’re in some kind of European fairytale and it’s full of history (Winston Churchill even stayed there?!)

It’s so nice you won’t even want to leave the property, I can guarantee you that. Also, breakfast is included. That’s a plus!

Honorable Mention: Tree House Hotel

I did want to include another, more affordable, but still worthy hotel. I ended up stumbling upon Three House Hotel one night when I was looking for a restaurant to eat at and I was immediately sold by the aesthetically pleasing little rooftop that overlooked the city. I ended up befriending the general manager (shocking, I know) and he gave me a tour of the new boutique hotel. 

Super freaking cute.

It’s also in a great location, right in town and only runs you about $120 a night. 

See… I am giving you OPTIONS, folks! 

What to see & what to do:

Explore the town of Funchal 

You absolutely have to spend a couple hours getting lost walking around the town of Funchal. There’s shops, desserts, restaurants, churches, sights… everything! I ended up walking around here for hours one day after my boat tour got canceled (womp, womp) and it ended up being such a lovely afternoon.

P.S. They have a great Zara.

Take the Funchal cable car up to Monte

A MUST! Grab a ticket online (will save you some time versus waiting in the incredibly long line at the bottom) and hop on one of the cable cars. If you are wanting a view of the city… this will blow your mind. Truly unbelievable and worth the 18 euro round trip ticket.

Once you get to the top, you’ll hop off in a town called Monte which is a fun place to spend an afternoon. There’s gardens, restaurants, churches, the famous TikTok sleds (which by the way will have you waiting in line for AT LEAST 3 hours). Definitely carve out 3-4 hours to spend up here before taking the cable car back down.

Take a private tour of the island - DO THIS! 

If you saw my Instagram stories… you know all about Sweet Tour Guide Val. This man is a true gem and gave me a private tour of the WHOLE ENTIRE ISLAND! I am not really a “tour guide gal” and oftentimes get very bored, very easily when on tours. 

Val kept me entertained the whole entire time and was just so full of LIFE and KNOWLEDGE and his passion for the island is truly something incredible.

You get to hop in an open air jeep, stand up and simply enjoy the beauty of this insanely beautiful island. 

He took me through all the small towns where the locals lived and I got to see epic churches, different beaches, waterfalls… We also did wine tasting, lunch, a hike to the highest point and ended the day with a homemade glass of Poncha (their famous cocktail on the island). 

From hiking the highest point of the island, to driving back down and celebrating with an authentic glass on Poncha. All in a days work! Cheers!

I ended up stumbling upon Val’s tour through Viator and it was WORTH EVERY SINGLE PENNY. Always do a private tour when you can because it’s simply soooo much better and 10x more enjoyable (rather than being crammed in a car with 15 other people). It cost me $245 for this ALL DAY tour. Y’all… What a freaking steal.

Please… whatever you do… book a tour with Val and give him a big hug from his Texas blonde influencer friend. He absolutely made my time on the island so special and fun (He also took me to the airport after my tour was over because everyone in Portugal is truly just SO NICE).

What to eat & drink:

Kampo 

Best meal I had during my whole entire trip.

Make a reservation and try to get a seat at the chef’s table. This is an especially great option for my fellow solo travelers because there’s likely going to be other solo people there with the same idea and you can make some new friends (Hi, Julian!!)

From the chef's table, you get to watch them quite literally prepare your meal right in front of you. It was SO cool!? Here’s what you absolutely need to try from the menu (I am very passionate about this place because I still have dreams about their food):

  • The sourdough bread (see above)
  • The tuna cones 
  • The oxtail 
  • The salted caramel and tangerine dessert 

I am butchering the names of these items but trust me, they will know what you are talking about. CHEFS FREAKIN’ KISS. Bravo to you, Chef Pereira.

Three House

A cute option with an incredibly gorgeous rooftop. I definitely came here more for the cocktails, but the food was also pretty good. Get the bao buns. ;)

High Tea at Reid's Palace

I didn’t end up getting to indulge in high tea at my hotel because I was too busy living my best tourist life but I heard ALL about how fun this experience is, and you better believe I will be coming back to my favorite pink hotel for high tea.

Well... I think that’s all friends!  

L O L. I LITERALLY TYPED OUT 12 PAGES ON GOOGLE DOCS. Talk about a novel.

If you are still reading... bravo.

I hope this travel blog lives up to all your wildest dreams and you appreciate it, because I literally cannot feel my fingers anymore and my hands are cramping from typing so much. 

Worth it to me though if it means you get to plan an epic trip to my new favorite country! I wish you could understand how magical Portugal is and I truly hope you fall in love with the city, the people, the food and the culture just as much as I did. 

I hope the next time I am visiting, it’s to buy an apartment in Lisbon.

…A girl can dream, right? 

Thanks for reading along with me and stay tuned for another blog post on all the juicier details of my solo adventure. What I learned, how I changed, who I fell in love with… (KIDDING, Y’ALL). 

Until next time…

Xoxo,

Morgan

 

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