What If I told you I have experienced spring,autumn and winter in just 10 days while traveling in Europe? Last January, I had planned a Eurotrip with three more friends as an attempt to run away from Cyprus for a few days. It was a spontaneous decision just like most of the trips and we booked last moment. Initially, we were looking for the cheapest tickets from Cyprus and then it is pretty cheap to travel around Europe once you make it to the mainland. In total, I have paid only 120 euros.
DAY 1 : So our journey started from… Brussels
We arrived at Charleroi Airport very late at night and our next flight to Lisbon was at 9 am at Brussels Airport. We had some issues regarding the trip since there were no buses available at that time. Since we were four people, we decided to split money for a taxi which cost us 80euros. (It was more expensive than our tickets from Cyprus – *logic* ). The taxi driver was speaking in French when he called us and the only words we could say were ” Bonjour, oui and ca,va? “. But we made it!
We had to spend some hours at the airport until our morning flight. Thankfully, this is probably the coziest airport I have ever stepped in! There are even special sleeping couches. At the airport, we were probably less than 10 people in such a huge space so It felt like we owned the place! (not really – but you know what I mean). We explored every corner and managed to sleep or at least fool our brain that we got some rest. Looking back at it, it was kinda funny and it was cool that we were a group of friends so we could kill our time till it was time to leave.
DAY 2 : Lisbon – Love at first sight
When we arrived in Lisbon I was amazed by the colorful buildings and the homely feeling of the city. Since it was January, I first visited Lisbon when it was the least touristic so It was quite peaceful actually. I was also impressed by the willingness of the Lisbon-ese people to help us find our way every time we were feeling lost even If not all the times they spoke in English.
We have actually seen most of the things in Lisbon, in just one day – perfect way to start our Eurotrip! Jeronymos Monastery, Belem Tower, Santa Justa Elevator and even Cristo Rei. We were pretty much running up and down the entire city and trying to see the most. Before arriving to Lisbon, we had a really specific program to follow to make the best of our visit. When I am thinking about it, we were super fast and organized and did things that would normally take at least two days!
The popular statue of Cristo Rei is also one of the most iconic monuments in Lisbon. From far, you can’t really tell how big it actually is unless you go there. We had to go there with a ferry to the other side and then we used Uber as it is a bit tricky to reach the popular statue. It was built by the Portuguese in 1959to thank God for protecting the city during the World War II.
Santa Justa Elevator
Views from the popular gothic elevator in the Baixa-Chiado area. I believe it’s one of the best touristic traps in Lisbon and I will explain why. First of all, to get into the elevator, you either pay 5euros on point or just pass with your metro card! ( I really don’t know how it even worked- but it does!) Also, there is a way to actually go from the side than use the elevator from the restaurant above. The top views cost 2euros and is something you can’t avoid! But for everything there is a life hack !
My first experience with Withlocals during our Eurotrip
I am not usually the type of person who is likes tour guides much but as we were really short in time and didn’t have a car, we decided to try Withlocals. Withlocals is a platform that lets you hire a local guide for some alternative experiences in different cities around Europe. Each guide is censored so they have a really good control over who does the tours. You can also check the reviews of the individuals. We spent the next day with Diana, a super sweet Portuguese who ensured all the time that we enjoyed our trip. It cost 160euros, but as a group of four we paid 40 euros each. It was definitely not as bad since going around Sintra could be really costly and time consuming. I consider this as one of the greatest investments of our trip! ( don’t forget that the taxi was 80euros between two airports in a city).
On our second day of the Eurotrip, it was on the top of our bucket list to visit Sintra, the Portuguese Wonderland. We visited Quinta da Regaleira and Pena Palace. I was mostly impressed by Quinta da Regaleira as it feels more magical and mysterious. Pena Palace is a must too, as it’s really vibrant and colorful and gives you some breath taking views of the entire place. We spent approximately 3 hours in Sintra but It was pretty much a fast forward visit. Diana told us many stories about the royals while we were riding to Sintra and I will admit it was fun to have her with us.
Want to know some more information about Sintra and see more photos? Check out my previous blog post about Sintra!
Cabo da Roca
At some point, we even made it to the most western most point of Europe, Cabo da Roca. It was really really cold since it’s always windy at the certain part. The views are stunning and you can take some amazing photos from the cliff!
Cascais & Boca do Inferno
Boca do Inferno is a natural cliff formation which translates to “Hell’s Mouth” . It is on the way to Cascais and it makes a really good quick stop. Cascais, is a fisherman’s village and they say that sea food restaurants there are really good. Poor fishermen and rich people used to live close to each other and the houses were hard to distinguish. Also, Johny Depp has a house in Cascais, so you never know!
Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara
On our way back to Lisbon, we had asked Diana to drop us at the best viewpoint for a sunset. That was also my first time visiting the Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara, the spot where I used to take my lunch breaks during work last summer.
DAY 3 : HELLO PORTO
On our third day we flew to Porto ( mainly because it was cheaper to fly from there). The entire city reminds you of Harry Potter ; Gothic Buildings, students dressed with the classic HP uniform and a cool atmosphere. We saw some turkeys in the alleys, had francesinha and most importantly visited the most beautiful library in the world.
Whenever someone mentions Porto, the first thing that comes in my mind is Livraria Lello. Previously, it used to be a cafe where J.K Rowling used to spend her time there getting inspired for her HP novels. Porto was in fact the city that inspired the author at a great extent! Even the HP uniform was in fact inspired by the uniform people wear at college. In the library, you can find some limited edition books and some really rare ( and popular too) books!
The fabulous Livraria Lello
Definitely one of the “Must see’s” in Porto is Livraria Lello where J.K Rowling used to write her Harry Potter books!
DAY 4: Back to Brussels
Leaving the sunny Portugal, we were approached by the rainy Brussels and wore an extra layer of clothing since we dropped 15 degrees. Our eurotrip was suddenly getting more “European”.
In the other cities, most of the things in the bucket list included monuments and things to see. Our Brussels bucket list was pretty much ” Food here, food there , food everywhere!!”. So besides walking to the main square of Brussels and the surrounding areas, we had food – lots of it! We had some belgian fries, some waffles , a lot of chocolates and also some homemade beers. Brussels has a really rich beer culture so If you like beers, that’s definitely the city for you! The beer options are endless at any bar and most of them have their own signature beers.
DAY 5: Have my last waffle in Brussels and then…….. Poland!
My friends left quite early on that day and ended their Eurotrip gracefully. After the sunny Portugal, the heavy rain in Brussels,I found my way in snowy Gdansk. Looking outside the window of the plane, I witness some really heavy snow. Great, one more layer of clothing I told myself. This time, I had to use tights under my jeans and every warm clothing I had. It was almost impossible to cope with the cold without gloves and a beanie. I think I spent 5-6 days in Poland and I have visited a very nice and unpopular ski resort in Wiezyca and did many things for the first time like skiing and horse sledding(which is cooler than I have ever imagined!). Bucket list? Check!
Why spent 300 euro on a two way ticket to an expensive typical country when you can actually visit so many places with just 120euros and have some really good time? Even if it was a bit of a rollercoaster with the temperatures, starting from 20 degrees to minus something I would say that there wasn’t a moment I was bored! If of course you excluse the time spent at the airport waiting for the flights!
Also, everything is so much cheaper in January since there are no tourists! You are visiting the real side of a country while nothing is packed. I don’t remember waiting at a queue for a long time plus everything is much more relaxed! That’s why I love traveling during winter. It’s definitely a win-win situation. I have ticked of many things off my imaginary bucket list and hopefully I will be able to repeat something similar in the near future – is it January yet?
- Uber is a saviour. I have used it in every city from Lisbon to Gdansk! Plus, If you travel as a group of four, it’s sometimes cheaper than a metro
- The shawl-blanket is a must during winter travels. The one moment you use it as a blanket in the airport and the other you use it to keep you warm during the coldest days in Poland.
- TIme is money, money is time. If you are traveling fast, everything needs to be organized If you have a big bucket list!
- Living on an island where it has over 300 days of sunshine, makes you appreciate the snow and different climates. There are countless activities to do in the snow too!
- Power Bank added to travel essentials
- Sim card in Portugal is very cheap. I paid 10 euros for 5GB . They even gave me a hoodie for free!!!
- Traveling in a group saves you A LOT of money.
- There’s a guide to sleeping at airports