We recommend spending a couple days in Lisbon, as the historic capital is filled with beautiful landmarks. Lisbon is broken into different areas/districts and each one has more to offer.
The transit system is very easy to use within this city. You have the options to walk, metro, train or bus (tram). To get the most for your money, I would recommend that you get a day pass (approx 9 euros) if you are planning on site seeing several things in one day. With your pass you will have access to using the classic yellow and white trams; a must do when visiting the city for the first time.
Belem is an area of Lisbon that lies along the water. There is several places to check out including the Torre de Belem (Belem Tower). For approx. 8 Euros you can go inside this 'mini' castle that has been a UNESCO Heritage site since 1983. Torre de Belem is a trademark site of Portugal so don't miss out! Nearby you can also visit the Jeronimos Monastery or the Coaches Museum that hosts the great coaches that the royal families of Europe used as transportation.
But one place that should not be missed while you are in Belem is visiting the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem. This delightful cafe makes the famous Portuguese custard tarts (Pasteis de Nata) in house and has been doing so since 1841.
There are several surrounding castles just outside of Lisbon. Its easy enough to take the train to the suburbs and check out other local areas and hidden gems. Trains are reasonably priced to suburbs and visiting castles are free.
Just outside of Lisbon is an enchanting town that makes for a perfect day trip. The town of Sintra hosts a castle where the last queen of Portugal lived. The castle is inspired by eastern culture and the items within the castle come from all over the world. If you are visiting Portugal during the high season be prepared for lines and crowds if you plan to visit Sintra. Additionally, because Sintra is a focused on tourism, its an expensive day trip but well worth the cost. To help cut costs, use local transit instead of tours to get to the town and pack food as resturants are not only busy but pricey.
Remember to spend some time looking at the traditional colours (Blue and Yellow) of Portugal. Before you leave ensure to try some of Portugal's finest wine. You have not had wine until you have tried a glass of Porto/Douro. If your looking to bring something local home look for a dark bottled Porto wine with your birth year. Warning: the older you are the more expensive and difficult it gets to find!
Before leaving Portugal make sure to pick up a colourful clay rooster that you most likely will find anywhere you go. Its good luck to have one in Portuguese culture.
Fatima is a home to a religious/spiritual happening. If you are catholic, you may have heard about the stories of Fatima (The 3 children who witnessed the virgin Mary). Even if you are not a practicing catholic or in fact, do not practice a religion and/or spiritual group, Fatima is still a great place to visit. The surrounding church grounds are grand and the cost of walking around is free (and by donations). You can light a candle for loved ones who have passed and send positive thoughts. Candles are purchased by a cost.
If you love seafood, your in the right Country. Portugal is the place to splurge on the cravings of various types of seafood. Sardines, Cod fish and Squid are part of most locals diets. As a backpacker you will be happy to know that seafood dishes are priced perfect for a backpacker budget.
Portugalia is my favourite restaurant to visit when I am in Portugal. The famous brewery/beer hall was first established in 1925 and serves excellent beer and food. Although there are several restaurant locations, make sure you go to the original. It is located near the Arroios metro stop (Linha Verde). Ensure to try out the famous Bitoque (steak meal). This is my absolute favourite meal to eat when I am in Lisbon. If you do not eat meat but are a seafood fan they have excellent seafood choices as well. Although prices range, a budget backpacker may find this a little bit pricier but trust me, splurge. Check out there website for more details: Portugalia Cerejaria
If you want to shop in Lisbon make sure you head to the main strip of La Baxia. You can find all your shopping needs here while grabbing a coffee at a local cafe. The mix between big box stores (ie. H&M, Zara), local owners and street artisans gives you various options. If you are interested in gaining a spectacular viewpoint of Lisbon, be sure to spend the 2 euros to the top of the arch way. The price is right! So do not miss out on the photo opportunity.
Similar to Brazil, Portugal has its own Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks the capital of its country. In Portugal, the statue is named "Cristo Rei' (Christ the King) and is located in the heart of Almada. It boasts a beautiful overlook of Lisbon at the top of the 341 ft base.
If its soccer season you better be heading to the stadium. After all the Portuguese do love the sport! Some of the big name teams within the country include Porto, Sporting and Benfica. Because I am Portuguese-Canadian I was born pretty much loving the family team of Benfica!!! The Estadio De Luz (Benfica Stadium) offers awesome tours for around 10 Euros and its well worth the backstage tour. In comparison to North American sports tickets, the prices to a regular game is affordable (25-50 Euros). If you do not have enough time to catch a game be sure to check out one of the stadiums. Regardless of what city you visit in Portugal you will find a field with excellent upcoming stars.
Looking for some relaxing beach time? Head to any part of Portugal's coast and you will find beautiful beaches. Most tourists head to the south of Portugal: Algrave. The beaches are amazing and the water is quite calm, however, you may find yourself paying for tourist prices (Hotel costs 80-130 euros during high season). It is worth visiting for a weekend where festivals and parties are lively at night. There are buses that head south out of Lisbon.
Finding the hidden gems in Portugal is like finding a shell. Each different but special. Find your favourite shell and hold onto it