trivago Experience Academy: Photography in Portugal

If you have ever visited Portugal, it’s likely that you were taken aback by the rugged cliffs, charming towns and dramatic landscapes. Well, at trivago, we figured more people should experience Portugal’s magnificence (and have the pictures to prove it). So, for our latest Experience Academy, we took 20 lucky employees on a guided photography trip to historic Lisbon and the picturesque towns of Sintra and Cascais.

Upon return, we couldn’t wait to catch up with the attendees to hear all about it and of course, check out their photos. The group took some outstanding images and the feedback on the Academy was some of the best we have heard!

Could this Experience Academy really beat rafting in Austria? Or sailing to the Netherlands? surely not trivago on snow?! well, you be the judge…



Luckily, I was selected to join the academy among 250+ applicants, the photography experience included locations such as Cascais, Libon and Sintra. I was super excited for the trip and it exceeded my expectations, even if I was already familiar with the basics of photography, there was still the opportunity to exchange learnings with the participants and the instructors. My favourite moment of the trip took place at the coast outside of Sintra, where the weather was not ideal for a proper sunset seascape, with intense winds and dark clouds coming in. After letting the time pass with amazing people all waiting for the right moment, we were blessed with a beautiful sunset with dramatic clouds.



It doesn’t happen everyday that you get the chance to follow professional photographers around the coast of Portugal. I learned a lot about the technical aspects of my camera, composition and light.

Having 20 other people to share this experience with, made it even more immersive. We discussed and exchanged learnings of our images over dinner. Taking into consideration that we had online marketers, content experts and designers onboard, who all shared their input on the business value with the group.



When hearing that I got a spot in the academy (after being one of the lucky ones out of over 200 people) I was extremely thrilled and immensely grateful. I’ve been into photography since my high school years but never had the chance to attend a photography workshop. I loved taking pictures on my trips around the world and was eager to learn how to get the most out of my snapshots in a stunning country side.

After being picked up at the airport and being driven to Sintra by the workshop team through the marvellous scenery I was sure I wouldn’t be disappointed.  Even though there were some language barriers, the team did their very best to help each one of us to become better photographers and were hilarious at the same time. My biggest wish was to learn more about long time exposures which was fulfilled on the second night when we took pictures of the sunset right on top of a cliff above the sea. But what made that trip so very special to me were again the trivago people – friendly, open-minded and curious as always!



The Photography academy was an amazing way to learn the basics about what it takes to take the perfect photo from an experienced photographer, Fernando Piçarra.

I was really touched by what Fernando told us in the first day “there are a lot of things that make a wonderful photo, like composition, light, focus, balance, but the most important thing about your photos is that you like them as everything in art is subjective”.

I would say that my favourite moment in this trip was when we went walking through the streets of Lisbon where you could see the varied photography style of each person. It was quite easy to observe that each of us was attracted to different things, therefore I stand by the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

From my point of view, the thing that made this trip so special was the diversity of our group and the multiple points of view expressed by each of us. Sharing great photography experiences with other photography enthusiasts is an unforgettable moment that I will always remember.



Fernando and his team held a very successful 3-day photography course for my colleagues and myself. Being a group of 21 people is not easy, especially when everyone has different skills and equipment. The team managed to handle this in the best way possible. I had the chance to learn many new things about my camera that I didn’t know before, and I was lucky enough to be given a replacement camera when my battery died. The group of people, the organisational team, and the breathtaking Portuguese scenery made the whole trip one of the most unforgettable experiences I ever had.



This experience academy allowed me to see the best of Portugal while learning all about photography. Having my camera for five years, I haven’t had a chance to fully discover it’s functionality and had many questions. The academy had a perfect combination of theory and practice with professional photographer’s help. They were extremely nice and funny guys.

We were taken to hidden spot and shot the best Atlantic sunset ever. We walked through the Lisbon old town to capture its vivid liveliness. I learned on one side how to play with the light, on the other side to always have a special eye for the surroundings and catch its beauty.

Special thanks to Manuel and Sabina who made this happen, with a full experience even before the tour (we had a team lunch, a documentary screening, and a Düsseldorf city shooting trip). We were an amazing group with photographers of all kinds.



It was a pleasure organising this Experience Academy, not only because I am very passionate about Photography, but because I had the chance to share this lifestyle hobby with other colleagues that are exceptionally skilled and it was awesome learning from them.

Despite the level of knowledge or type of cameras we had, the support and the team bonding was something hard to describe. Especially, when you realise that some strangers coming from Düsseldorf, Leipzig, and Mallorca become friends in just some few days. I’m glad to know that I can say hello to those familiar faces next time I see them again.

It was my first time in Portugal and we couldn’t have picked a better location for this workshop, it provided us with exceptional material to do landscape, architecture and street photography. The weather was amazing and we were very lucky, the sunniest days occurred when we were outdoors and it rained only when we’re doing the theoretical lesson inside the hotel and when we were departing from the airport. What about the food? I will only say one thing: make sure to try Pastei de Nata.



Dramatising through photography – that’s how I would summarise my experience in a couple of words. I was always interested by this art and had this fascination on finding that particular angle that nobody had previously explored. While everyone looks at Mona Lisa, I am interested on the huge beautiful painting on the other side, or catching random people’s spontaneous reactions.

In this amazing experience, I was able to learn tricks of light exposure in my camera and explore the outstanding landscapes in Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais. The instructors were passionate individuals who could transmit not only their feelings, but also their knowledge to us. I appreciate it, being myself an emotional individual – as you might have already noticed through my text.

In the end, I chose the 5 pictures above to represent my experience. All of them full of drama and emotions – with a personal favourite being the over exposed white picture, which I’m in love with.



I have always been into photography and have participated in several courses in the past, but for the last few years I had left this passion behind, as life can be very busy sometimes…

Luckily, I had the chance to participate in this astonishing trivago Experience Academy, where photography found me again and where I got to share a journey with 19 other enthusiasts from all around the world and discover the most amazing hidden gems of Portugal.

We travelled across Sintra, Cascais, Santoril and Lisbon, hand in hand with a talented team of picture-taking experts, who shared with us not only super useful advice on photography but also some secret spots where the hours really flew by while we were snapping away and creating beautiful images.

I will never forget the sound of the magnificent ocean, crashing into the coast, creating an atmosphere that was out of this world.

Thanks to Manuel and Sabrina who organized this spectacular trip and to the entire trivago crew for creating a mind-blowing experience that I will never forget!



I had already visited Sintra, Cascais and Lisbon eight years ago, however looking the cities through the photographer eyes gave me a totally different and much more amazing experience than just being a tourist there. These cities are incredibly beautiful.

I learnt a lot about my camera settings, compositions, different lenses and filters that you can use to get a perfectly exposed picture. I loved the passion of our team and our ’teachers’, browsing through their pictures it was great to see how everyone had a different style to capture the same moments.

The highlights for me were definitely the ’teachers’ who were incredibly entertaining, the team of great talents, the beautiful landscapes and the sunsets that made the four days a very memorable experience. I am looking forward to further test my new learnings/skills on my next trips in Lanzarote and in the US this year.

Thank you for the organisers for the wonderful tour!



I feel incredibly lucky to have had the chance to go on this trip! Photography has been a hobby of mine for a while now and I have been playing with the idea of taking a course to learn more about the technical aspect – So this experience was perfect!

Even better than learning more about the theory of what makes a great picture, was the opportunity to go out on location with three professional photographers and get some practical tips as well. The locations that were chosen for our shoots were beautiful and we had the opportunity to practice our landscape as well as street and portrait photography skills.

It was fun to play around with aperture and shutter speeds and to practice using the fully manual setting instead of staying in my favourite AV mode. What made the trip truly special though was brilliant bunch of people that went on this trip and the great photography team. We had a few very packed but incredibly fun days together. I kind of wish we could do this every month!



I was very fortunate to be able to attend the trivago Experience Academy on Photography in Portugal, especially so since I have been a keen amateur photographer for nearly 15 years. During our trip we stopped near the edge of some small cliffs in order to take a few images, as the light was too harsh for me, I could just sit, relax and enjoy the absolutely massive waves crashing against the rocks, definitely one of my favourite moments during our trip.

One aspect that I learned during our trip is that sometimes less is more – I missed some shots because I took too long to finish complex setups. However, by far the best part of the trip was getting to know some of my colleagues better, creating long-lasting bonds and heading home with the distinct feeling of belonging to a large family, trivago.



Photography is usually an individual hobby, alone in the great outdoors with camera, lenses and tripod. So I was curious to see how different it would feel with a group of 20 people. Would we all be elbowing each other to get that one perfect shot, feeling the pressure of 19 other photographers watching you and rushing from one scene to the next?

Whilst we visited many different locations from a cliff top village to a rocky beach to the beautiful capital of Lisbon, and there are no doubt hundreds of pictures of us taking a photo of someone taking a photo of someone taking a photo, every time I held the camera up, framed the shot, adjusted the aperture and shutter speed, it was my moment alone to think of nothing but the photo.

As much as I learnt about composition, I learnt these four days to slow down and focus on my surroundings. For me it wasn’t about taking the perfect shot of the tram passing us in Lisbon but appreciating the beauty in small things, a reflection in the water or catching a smile on someone’s face. When 20 of you stop together and focus like this we will remember the experience academy for much more than the few perfect pics that we’ll print.

Stefan Durski
Stefan Durski

Stefan is a Marketing and Employer Branding specialist in trivago’s Talent Attraction team.

Related posts