The highlight of our trip to Portugal however, was Belém – just a short taxi ride (or an hour on the City Hop On Hop Off bus) down the coastline. Belém has incredible historic landmarks that recalls Portugal’s seafaring past. Of note were the grandiose 16th century Tower of Belém and magnificent sail-shaped Discoveries Monument. A visit to the UNESCO listed Mosteiro dos Jerónimos with its tree-trunk like columns, ornate wooden carvings, and fantastical gargoyles is essential.
Tips for other travellers
A MUST - We also discovered quite by accident (when we saw every man and his dog carrying a bag from a place with a queue a mile long) the shop that was the original creator of Portuguese tarts, Pastéis de Belém. It turns out the monks first created these heavenly pastries to raise much needed funds. They later sold the recipe to Antiga Confeitaria de Belém and the patisserie has kept people hooked on the custard cream-filled nests since 1837. There is nothing quite like the taste of a warm, gooey, traditional Portuguese tart – visit Belém for these if for nothing else!