My favorite cities that I had visited up until this past February were London and Barcelona, until I went to Lisbon.
Lisbon is the most beautiful, clean, friendly city I have experienced! The hills, the palm trees, the architecture, the cobble stone streets, electric railway systems, castles, old world culture, Fado music, bread, cheese, wine, gingha - oh my, the list could go on, are just some of the things I marveled at.
A quick 2 hour flight from our new home in the Azores and we were there. Only out of pocket 80 euros on RyanAir for a round trip flight, I might add. Super easy transport from the airport to our hotel, My Story, at the Rossio subway station took only about 30 minutes.
Our hotel was perfectly nestled in the Alfama district, which is the place to stay and hang apparently. Our hotel room had a perfect view of the Castle Jorge, with the buzz of any city below - people hanging out at cafe’s, commuting to and from work, tourists sight seeing and street performances all happening at our feet.
It was our city to explore for a few days. But first, dinner.
We had a lovely recommendation from the hotel concierge, to eat at Mar do Carmo. It was a great introduction to Lisbon - friendly service, authentic fresh seafood, wine, bread and cheese. Muito Bon!
The first day was spent on foot walking around the Castle Jorge. We watched an awesome street performer, bopped in and out of shops, and took in the beautiful sights. We stopped for lunch near the castle in a great little gem we found, called Claras em Castelo.
That night we experienced Fado music for the first time down in the ‘Fado district’. We were told we should get to Tasco de Chinco by 9, but apparently that was even too late. We didn’t make it in, but went into another restaurant across the street, to at least see what Fado was about. They had live fado music performers there too and some pretty good authentic food. The night was capped off with gingha, my fave! You can find it being sold on every street corner and you must try it - it’s a cherry flavored liquor usually served in a chocolate cup :).
The next day we headed to Belem - a must do day trip. There you find all the monuments and history of the Portuguese explorations. It’s very touristy but worth it. We walked there to enjoy the views and get a lay of the land, which took about an hour, but you could also take a bus. You have to get a pastel de nata pastry from the the shop next to the monastery. It’s a thing.
We walked back to the hotel meandering down different neighborhoods farther from the coast to stumble upon some more gems. We loved finding the LX Factory, which is a super cool arts district. I highly recommend seeing what they’re selling and getting a taste of the ‘hipster’ lifestyle. It reminded me of Venice, CA.
That night we went to a ‘local’s’ restaurant near our hotel which we loved! It’s called Restaurante Mil. Super friendly staff, authentic food, good price, definitely off the beaten path.
Our next day trip was spent in Sintra, a town filled with castles and steep hills. You can take the train there, which only took about 40 min from Rossio station and enjoyed Pena Palace. It sure is a sight to be seen and to take your time in. The cafeteria in there was a great spot for lunch too! Afterwards, we ducked into another cafe in downtown Sintra before heading back. Tascan Tiga was a great little spot for port and bread/cheese and caldo verde soup.
Oh, and we bought a bunch of authentic Portuguese tiles for our new home in the Azores! There are some great antique shops and tiles to be found in Lisbon!
3 days in Lisbon was just scratching the surface. I would love to spend more time there and wander about. But next, we want to visit Porto! I’ll be sure to report when we do.
I hope this helps you on your trip to Lisbon. I do hope you get a chance to experience it for yourself!