Welcome to Portugal (Taylor Swift’s Version)

Written By Becky Gillespie

We are only 14 days DTTS (Days Til Taylor Swift) here in Portugal, and we can barely contain our excitement. Not only is this Taylor Swift’s first time to perform in Portugal, for two glorious nights on May 24 and May 25 in Lisbon’s Estádio da Luz, but it may also be her very first trip to Portugal! We cannot officially verify whether or not this is true, but we started dreaming about what it would be like to take Taylor Swift around Portugal.com style through this amazing country that we call home. What are the can’t-miss locations that we believe Taylor just has to see? What would we show her that will make her want to return again and again? Come along with us and follow in the footsteps of our dream trip with Taylor through Portugal.    

1. Pastéis de Belém

If there is one thing in Portugal fit for a pop queen, it is the practically perfect pastel de nata from the place that invented them—Pastéis de Belém (R. de Belém 84 92) on the west side of Lisbon. First invented by the monks in the nearby Jerónimos Monastery in 1837, the pastel de nata is the most delicious culinary invention to ever come out of Portugal, a flaky egg tart of goodness topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar. This is why it should be, in our opinion, the first place Taylor should visit on her whirlwind trip through Portugal. If she wants to try more than one recipe, we also humbly suggest grabbing more pastéis de nata from across the street at Manteigaria (R. de Belém 31), which has several more locations throughout the city.

As Taylor asks us in “A Place in This World” from her eponymous first album, “Feeling lucky today, got the sunshine/Could you tell me what more do I need?” Trust us, Taylor, you need some pastéis de nata in your life.

Pro Tip: When visiting Pastéis de Belém, you can stand in the takeaway line at the left entrance (be sure to grab some cinnamon and powdered sugar packets) or wait in the much longer line to eat inside. You can also order online from Uber Eats or Glovo, but getting them fresh from the oven in person is always the best!

Photo by Anne Lotte (Flickr)

2. Pena Palace, Sintra

When we think of the epitome of fairytale castles at Taylor’s level, Pena Palace is at the top of our list. Castle exteriors do not get more unique than the multi-colored confection that sits atop the second highest peak in Sintra at 480 meters. Ferdinand II, the man inspired to build Pena Palace was considered one of the most cultured men of 19th century Portugal. He maintained a deep interest in the arts throughout his life, becoming ultimately called King-Artist by the Portuguese.

We have no doubt that Taylor would appreciate the artistic energy radiating from Pena, although we hope that she can get a special early entrance to the palace before it opens to the public at 9:30 am. If she can take a car straight from Pastéis de Belém to the gates of Pena Palace, this would get her there before the crowds, as this is one of the most popular places for tourists in all of Portugal.

The romantic Pena Palace and the surrounding Park of Pena, with trees from every continent, feels like the perfect happy ending for Romeo and Juliet from Taylor’s “Love Story” on Fearless, her second studio album. Just say yes to Pena Palace, Taylor.

Pena Palace. Photo by Mark Lawson (Unsplash)

3. Monserrate Palace

While Pena Palace may seem like the perfect happy ending to a love story, Monserrate Palace, only fifteen minutes away by car, is the kind of place you would escape to with your lover. Yes, we mean that “Lover” from Taylor’s seventh album. As Taylor says, “This is our place, we make the rules.”

Monserrate inspired poetry by Lord Byron, who visited in 1809, and its secluded location surrounded by some of the most beautiful gardens in Portugal make it an ideal getaway.

There is one particular room at Monserrate where we can imagine Taylor with her piano, writing her next best-selling album. Whether she visits with a lover or uses Monserrate as a muse, this would surely be an unforgettable stop on Taylor’s journey through Portugal.

Monserrate Palace. Photo by Håkon Åreskjold (Unsplash)

4. O Faia

What better way to introduce Taylor to Portugal than taking her to a special fado performance at O Faia (R. da Barroca 54 56), one of Lisbon’s most popular fado houses? O Faia has it all: fabulous fado singers, tasty Portuguese cuisine, including a selection of seafood, and friendly service from beginning to end. Fado is truly the music of the Portuguese, with its mix of heartbreak, longing, and deep feelings poured out in its lyrics—something that is second nature to Taylor in her music. We have a feeling she’s going to love it!

Fado, Beth Macdonald, Unsplash

 

5. Museum of Mechanical Music

To help inspire Taylor on her continuing journey of musical innovation, we would highly recommend a stop one hour outside of Lisbon at the Museum of Mechanical Music in the small town of Pinhal Novo. Private collector Luis Cangueiro spent over 30 years putting together a one-of-a-kind collection of antique music boxes, organettes, gramophones, and much more before opening his own museum in 2016. While this may seem like a strange stop on her itinerary and is not directly inspired by one specific Taylor song, it’s the incredible opportunity to see more than 600 mechanical instruments from the late 18th century to the middle of the 20th century all in working order that we think will inspire Taylor to make even more fantastic music from a different perspective.

The Museum of Mechanical Music is usually only open on weekends and national holidays from 3-6pm, with guided tours starting at 3:30pm, but we are sure that Taylor could get a special private tour.

Photo by Becky Gillespie

6. Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach

We would be remiss if we didn’t take Taylor to one of Lisbon’s gorgeous beaches on her first visit to Portugal, but we know that we’ve got to take her far from the crowds to a secret getaway, well almost completely secret. Like Taylor’s song “I Know Places” from her 1989 album, we know places where Taylor won’t be found, where “they’ll be chasing their tails just to track us down.” Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach does get its share of visitors, but this magical strip of sand surrounded by tall cliffs in Sesimbra will hopefully keep the paparazzi at bay.

If Taylor arrives early in the morning, she will likely be joined only by locals looking for a quiet dip before starting their day. This is the enchanting Portugal that we think is sure to bring Taylor back for another concert one day.

Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo, Vitor Oliveira, Wikimedia Commons

7. Café de São Bento

Picking one restaurant where Taylor can truly enjoy herself in Lisbon is a tall order indeed, but we think she might enjoy this unassuming place that transports you to another time from the moment you enter. Café de São Bento (R. de São Bento 212) has been serving high-quality traditional Portuguese fare including tasty steaks since 1982. We think that Taylor will appreciate the fact that this restaurant has no windows on its exterior, helping her keep her profile low while enjoying this charming, cozy spot known for its attentive service and delicious chocolate cake.

This also seems like a place that both Travis and Taylor would enjoy if he is able to visit her while she is performing in Lisbon.

Final Thoughts

We hope that Taylor enjoys our “Taylor-made” tour of Portugal and gets to visit a few of these places that make Portugal such an unforgettable place to visit. We know that her Eras Tour performances will light up the city of Lisbon, but we also hope she falls in love with our fair city in her free time, taking in its majestic views and relaxing on its beaches. And, of course, the pastéis de nata. Welcome to Portugal, Taylor!  

Taylor Swift, Photo by Eva Rinaldi (Flickr)

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