My friends and I decided to embark on a European voyage, promising our mothers a vacation they’d never forget during the quintessential time of year for travel: summer. A 7-day Mediterranean cruise won us over in the end. Cruising was the optimal option allowing us to maximize the number of cities we could visit within a week, offering a flexible itinerary.
After ending our cruise in Barcelona, Spain, we took a quick two-day trip to nearby Portugal before heading back to New York. It was the perfect destination because of its tourist-friendly neighborhoods, beautiful summer weather, walkable streets, and affordability, making it an attractive two-hour flight stopover.
However, unlike the cruise where we had a jam-packed itinerary, we opted for a more relaxing approach to Portugal. Figuring out the itinerary solely on our own for this leg of the trip, we realized we would need to intentionally plan how to accommodate middle-aged Caribbean mothers traveling with their daughters. Here is the itinerary we curated to create ease for a quick trip to Portugal.
1. Cruise the Lisbon River.
It cost about 45 euros each, booking the Lisbon River Sunset Cruise. We stopped at major sights while watching the sunset on the Tagus River, Portugal’s longest for two hours. A highlight was the Santuario Nacional de Cristo Rei, bearing resemblance to Rio’s Christ the Redeemer. Lisbon’s 25 de Abril bridge, built over the Tagus, mimics San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
We learned about global architectural influences on Lisbon through historic landscapes with stunning sunset views. As part of our tickets we were offered a complimentary beverage and provided blankets while learning about the history of Lisbon from a local.
2. Try popular Portuguese desserts.
We had to try the iconic Pastéis de Belém after the rave reviews, and the flaky, egg custard-filled treats lived up to the hype. We opted to get six in order to try the different toppings offered. The total came up to 20 euros for this pit stop in the Belem neighborhood.
We took a taxi to the busy shop and got takeout, opting to picnic in the nearby Monastery Belem with live music. If recreating this, bring a blanket and picnic small bites for you and your mother. We raved about this dessert the rest of the trip.
3. Plan a spa day.
Lisbon is hilly, so consider flat areas like Baixa when booking to accommodate a group of women with varying fitness levels. After strenuous walking tours across Europe, we treated ourselves to an impromptu mother-daughter spa day. The affordability of the massages brought us back the very next day. I decided on the deep tissue massage and my mom opted for the therapeutic massage. For 60 euros each we enjoyed our 60-minute massages.
Typically, in the U.S. what I paid for both massages would have been around the price of one massage. Terra Heal Massage Temple is a must-try for a relaxing visit and incredible service. It was one of our favorite parts of the trip and we both were able to receive a personalized experience.
4. Visit Pink Street.
No Lisbon visit is complete without Pink Street’s colorful photo ops. Once the red light district, it’s now lively yet family-friendly, with bars, restaurants and shops. The free tourist attraction was repainted pink in 2003 as part of a renewal project in the Lisbon area. Depending on timing, you may catch street performers and artists.