I didn’t expect Lisbon to be so fairytale-like. I was there in August for 5 days and I wish I knew that in Lisbon you always need jacket and a pair of jeans! The temperature range between day and night is quite wide, so remember tissues and vitamin C for those with weak health.
As soon as you get off the plane and enter the metro and get a Viva viagem card. You pay it 50 cents and you can recharge it as much as you want. Even though the city is easy to walk. This card also gives you discounts or free entry to some of the city’s monuments. I was staying at the Lisbon Style Guesthouse, simple but with a great location and cleanliness.
As soon as you arrive in the city, you are dazzled by the azulejos – the famous ceramic tiles that cover most of the buildings. I started my tour at the Alfama district, visiting the Castle of Sao Jorge. Around the walls of the castle you will find street artists making paintings. Then, always on foot I moved to the Cathedral Sé, the cathedral of St. Anthony, who became the patron saint of Padua, but was actually the patron saint of Lisbon.
Moving further and further down you’ll encounter the Fabrica das Enguias from 1942, a store full of tin cans with eels. Passing through the Arch of Augusta, on which it is even possible to climb to enjoy the view, we reached the immense Praca do Comercio which overlooks the sea. Near the Arch you’ll find the Elevador de Santa Justa, an elevator that allows you to admire the entire city. Then, you can see the Convento do Carmo, in the Rossio district. It became the symbol of the city after an earthquake. Now, it’s still partly standing but without the roof.
Another stop is the famous Casa do Alentejo, created 85 years ago and now home to a very famous and unique restaurant. Then, Praça Marquês de Pombal where there’s the Edward VII Park, where you can enjoy a great view of Lisbon, along the famous Avenida de Liberdade, built in the mold of the Champs-Élysées.
A great night-life bar is PARK Lisboa. The place is famous among Lisboners, and it’s the rooftop of a garage. Once you’re upstairs the place is a bomb, a huge terrace overlooking Lisbon at night. You can admire the lights and the April 25th bridge.
Sintra – Lisbon trip
The town of Sintra, home to the Palácio Nacional da Pena, is one of the most fairy-tale castles and parks I’ve ever seen. An explosion of colors that together create a harmony isolated in a hill, overlooking everything from above. The palace is under the protection of UNESCO and since 2007 has been elected one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal, so it is certainly not to be missed. In Sintra you can easily get there by train using the Viva viagem card.
Getting to the top of the building on foot is a challenge, but worth it because you’re immersed in nature. You can choose to do this route by bus available for just over € 3 that also stop at various other castles and focal points of the district. Oh yes, because if you look carefully Sintra has not only this building but many others scattered throughout the village, including Quinta da Regaleira with gardens and caves, lakes, coves and temples, all in perfect Gothic style and Castelo dos Mouros from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view.
When you get to the top, at the foot of the Palácio da Pena, the entrance is not free. To enter the gardens and go up again to the actual palace you have to pay a ticket. The amazement of the architecture, colors and shapes was enormous. Seemingly each part seems to be built for another building, instead one next to the other did not disfigure, visibly so far apart and yet such a perfect combination. Then entering the inner courtyard at the back, the view of the cloud-covered hills, the wind and the fresh air that relieves you of your fatigue, almost makes you believe that you aren’t in the modern era. In that moment, with that postcard in my eyes, time had stopped.
Cascais – Lisbon trip
Cascais is a coastal resort town in Portugal, just west of Lisbon. It’s known for its sandy beaches and busy marina. You can take the train and in about 20 minutes you’re there. Before sitting on the beach we went to see the famous Boca do Inferno, a cleft-insertion that is located on the coast. It’s a suggestive place, especially if the sea is rough and the waves crash hard on the walls.
After this pitstop, I set off in search of the famous Cabo de Roca. A place that the poet Luís Vaz de Camões defines: “Here…where the earth ends and the sea begins”. In fact, the peculiarity of the place is that it is the westernmost point of the European continent. If you want to go to this magnificent place, just take a bus. Remember, however, that the gusts of wind are so powerful that you will need a raincoat, scarf, and hat.
Belém – Lisbon trip
You can reach Belém by train. There you can visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a place closely linked to the first explorers, such as Vasco da Gama. The monastery is simply breathtaking, with its beautiful carved stones throughout the large religious building! Then, there’s the Palácio Nacional de Belém, located high up, it was highly recommended in the guidebook, but apart from the inner courtyard, which has an architectural structure of arches whose view frames the sea I didn’t find it that special.
You can take a walk along the Tagus river and see the Padrão dos Descobrimentos – the monument of discoveries – and watched the imposing 25th of April Bridge and the Cristo Rei. Several kilometers further up, there’s the Tower of Belém, located on the shore, to reach it you have to cross a small bridge. It looks like a drawing they create in fairy tales to make children dream better. At one time, it stood at the center of the Tagus estuary and protected the city from attacks from the sea, and today it is located on the end of the banks of the estuary. Together with the Monastery, it is one of the most important symbols of the city and part of the UNESCO.
Where to eat
In Belém you must try the famous and ancient pastry shop Pastéis de Belém and their Pastéis de nata. In Lisbon, I advice Nicolau Lisboa. The menu is extensive, sweet, savory, bowl and avocado toast, there is something for everyone. If you wanna try a delicious burger and fries go to The B Temple. The place is beautiful, the food excellent and the service impeccable. Nearby there’s the old Alcôa pastry shop, with a great selection of typical sweets as well as pasteis de nata.