When we visited Lisbon last year we didn’t know what to expect from the City. Wether you have 48hrs, a week or more, Lisbon promises a vibrant, colourful history-rich experience. But was this enough to capture our hearts?
We started day one with breakfast at Basilio. Just a short walk from the Praca Do Comercio, it was lovely with a really nice menu. Plenty of choices from pancakes, acaį bowls, eggs and avocado, smoothies – everything! Really instagrammable interior too if thats your thing!
From breakfast we wandered down to Praça Do Commercio. This plaza is one of the highlights of the whole city, surrounded by yellow pombaline buildings it is a bustling hive of tourists and locals alike rushing to work or eating at one of the many restaurants in the square. After wandering the plaza we stopped for a beer in Can the Can which is right in the centre of the plaza. An ok restaurant but great views, and the perfect place to people watch!
Right next door is ‘The Sexiest WC on earth by Renova.‘ Honestly you’re probably as confused as we were but it deserves a mention! Public toilets with super contemporary art features, and a wall of different coloured toilet rolls – these aren’t just for show and you choose which colour you want, rip this off the roll and take it in with you. Weird or cool, i still can’t decide!
We then ventured over to Lisbon’s Alfama District. The Alfama district can only be explored on foot, due to its maze of medieval alley ways and narrow streets – prepare to get lost in these! It is the oldest district in all of Lisbon and houses many traditional Portuguese restaurants, ran by locals who have lived in the district for most of their lives. Running all the way through the Alfama District is Lisbon’s famous Number 28 Tram (More on this later). Watching the tram hurtle through the tiny narrow streets is magical, and i’ve never seen anything like it in any other city before!
At the top of the Alfama District sits Sāo Jorge Castle. While we didn’t pay to enter the castle, the views it gave us across the whole city were well worth the walk up there!
One of the main reasons we were in Lisbon was for an event called Brunch In The Park. These are hosted in Lisbon, Barcelona and Madrid mainly. It is a fully outdoor electronic music festival with international Dj’s and loads of different food and drink outlets. It was hosted at the Tapada da Ajuda em Lisboa, but wow what a mission getting there! It did take a bit of finding, but worth it as it was something completely different to the usual things you do on a city break.
As it was a pretty late finish, most restaurants had closed when we got back to our AirBnB. Luckily our host had recommended a lovely local takeaway called Retrogusto84. A bit of a cheat meal as its a really nice authentic Italian pizza place.
We got up fairly early on day two as we wanted to experience one of Lisbon’s main ‘must do’s’ – ride the number 28 Tram through the city. The tram runs rather infrequently because its so slow and old (it began in the 1930’s) you are sometimes looking at an hour queue time before one returns to the station. We got told to go early as you avoid most of the crowds – this was a humongous fail. The queue was snaked right down the street by the time we got to it – clearly everyone had the same idea!
While you’re queuing private Tuk-tuk’s offer you the same route the tram takes but for a more expensive price. While we desperately wanted to ride the tram, after spending an hour in the queue with no sign of the tram returning we decided to pay a little extra for a private tour. We stopped at plenty of the main attractions including, the National Pantheon, Basílica De Estrala, Church of Sāo Vicente of Fora and Miradouro Da Senhora do Monte. With not much time to spare it was probably one of the best decisions we made – and our tour guide was lovely!
In the afternoon we headed over to Belém via local bus. Belém is the home to many must see monuments in Lisbon including the Belém Tower, the Padrāo Dos Descobrimentos and the Jerónimos Monastery. While Belém is 7km out of the city centre, the monuments are beautiful pieces of architecture and deserve to be seen. We hired Circ scooters to whizz between each sight – a huge time saver and a lot of fun!
The last place we visited was LX Factory. This isn’t your usual must see in Lisbon but its something so different its worth adding to your list! Restaurants and shops are housed in this previously abandoned industrial complex. Its now become a contemporary space filled with art and sculptures – no two buildings are the same and even if you don’t dine or shop here, walking around the art is reason enough to visit.
So what do i think of Lisbon on the whole?
The way both our inbound and outbound flights fell meant that we really were quite tight for time on this trip. Normally we like to spend a day just wandering where the city takes us and stopping in different areas for food and drink. We didn’t have time for this day, and i’m wondering if we left Lisbon not fully appreciating all of it. That said, like Milan, when we are arrived in Lisbon i was met with that feeling of knowing other cities are more special. A problem with visiting lots of European cities is you find your favourites very quickly, and some just don’t compare. I would urge anyone to go and visit Lisbon, as again, seeing as much of the world as you can is never a bad idea, but would i be in a hurry to return? probably not.
What are your experiences with Lisbon?