Seville to Portugal: a guide and my story

By: Maria Brunetta


  • Purchase a Viva Viagem Card in Lisbon
  • Take a half-day trip to Sintra
  • Visit Porto for 2 days minimum
  • See a “Fado” show, the traditional music of Portugal
  • Take a sunset boat cruise in Lisbon
  • Get pastel de Belém from Pastéis de Belém
  • Try the Bacalhau, a salted cod fish typical to Portugal


  • Take a day trip to Porto
  • Stay too far out of the city center in Lisbon
  • Take the overnight bus without snacks and a portable charger

Must-see sights

  • Castelo de São Jorge – Lisbon
  • Torre de Belém from the outside – Lisbon
  • Pastel de Belém from Pastéis de Belém – Lisbon
  • Monestario dos Jeronimos – Lisbon
  • Livraria Lello – Porto
  • Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas – Porto
  • Palacio da Pena – Sintra

If you’re studying in Seville, a trip to Portugal must be on your list – it’s a lot closer than you’d think.This was my first weekend trip that wasn’t with CIEE. I went with my roommate, a friend and we met up with my roommate’s friend who was studying in Barcelona. Because this was our first trip there were a lot of things we would’ve changed but regardless, we learned a lot. I had been to Lisbon before and I speak Portuguese so that helped assuage the anxiety of being in a new country but it was still not an easy trip.

First is getting to Lisbon from Seville. You can find pretty cheap flights but the bus ride is also very fast and very inexpensive (19 euros). We took an overnight bus that left around midnight from Plaza de Armas. A car ride from Seville to Lisbon should only take four hours but because buses make stops, the ride was scheduled to take about seven hours, meaning we would arrive in Lisbon at 6 a.m. – Lisbon and Seville have a one hour difference. What we didn’t realize was that because it was nighttime, stops were shorter therefore we got there over an hour early – needless to say nothing was open. The other issue was that we could not get into our airbnb until 3 p.m. that day. But, that’s what traveling on a budget is. A few things I would’ve done differently is preparing to get there early, bringing food and always having a portable charger.

On the itinerary for day one was exploring Lisbon. We first dropped off our bags at one of the main train stations and changed. We then went up to Elevador Santa Justa, which has a beautiful view of the city. We were blessed with a breathtaking sunrise. You can visit this spot during the day and take an elevator ride but it was much better in the morning before the tourists arrived. The elevator is also in the Baixa-Chiado area that has a lot of shopping and restaurants.

We didn’t do this at first, but I would highly recommend getting a public transportation pass that allows you to take all the public transport as well as the cable cars to get up the hills – the walk may be less than 15 minutes but it’s all uphill. The pass we purchases was “Viva Viagem,” which includes not only the metros but buses and toursit sites. These cards can be purchased at the airport and metro stations with a 24-hour unlimited ride option that can be reloaded. We started off by getting brunch at “Brunch Cafe” near Praça do Comercio, one of the main squares that faces the water. After brunch, we walked around the city center and then began climbing to Castelo de São Jorge. This sight is definitely a must see in Lisbon, it’s an old fortress with a lot of history and beautiful views of the city. This was my second time visiting and I was still impressed.

After our visit to the castle we got our bags and headed to our Airbnb since we could only get there after three. Our airbnb was a good price but farther from the city center, I would recommend staying in the center. It’s a lot easier as a tourist. We then quickly got ready and rushed to get to our sunset boat cruise – I can’t recommend this enough. The cruise took off near the Torre de Belém, which is a gorgeous area. We sailed around the bay and our guides were talking to us about history, culture and gave us several recommendations.

Day two consisted of a trip to Sintra. Sintra is a quick ride outside of Lisbon and is home to Palacio de Pena, a palace where Portuguese royalty stayed. The area is also a park so you can hike and see other castles and a moorish wall. Trains for a cheap price are offered from Lisbon to Sintra, unfortunately we were there during a strike so the trains were not running. We rented a car but I know of people who took an uber. For Sintra, I would recommend either packing a lunch or making plans to eat in the city. There is a coffee shop inside the palace with limited options.

For day three we had made a bold choice to take a three-hour bus to Porto. While Porto is an amazing city, which I had visited in the past, it was far too exhausting to do it in one day. But we did a lot regardless. We went to Livraria Lello, the bookstore which inspired J.K. Rowling to write Harry Potter. Definitely buy tickets in advance for this. We also saw Igreja do Carmo and Igreja dos Carmelitas, which is separated by a little house in the middle. We didn’t tour but saw it from the outside. We then crossed the bridge to the other side of the river where there are various wineries that serve the traditional port wine. While it’s a climb, I also recommend going up the hill and seeing the city lit up at night – it’s beautiful. We took the bus back home and were extremely tired. Porto also offers a metro pass, called Andante that makes getting around the city a lot easier, we purchased ours at the metro station.

Our last day in Lisbon was spent by the Torre de Belém and the Monestario dos Jeronimos. Both are very cool to see from the outside but the line to the monastery was too long to go in, I had gone in previously and it’s very beautiful, plus you can see the grave of Vasco de Gama. We wrapped up our time in that area by getting Pastel de Belém from Pastéis de Belém, a bakery that had been there since the 19th century. These mini custard pies are typical to Portugal and you can’t leave the country without trying them.

To get back to Seville, we took a flight from the airport. The flight was quick, barely an hour, which was nice since we got back exhausted. If you are trying to save money, I would definitely recommend taking a bus one way and a flight the other, plus you get a fun adventure out of it.


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