Lisbon. There are so many things I could say about this cute capital city of Portugal. The friendly locals, great weather, elegant streets, beautiful architecture and bustling nightlife make it a great destination for all ages. On my recent visit there, I found myself wishing I had more time to spend and I am already planning my next trip back! There’s just so much to see and do that you might get a bit flustered, so I thought I would compile a list of 10 things I thought were some of the best. Vamos!
10. Grab a codfish-cake from Casa Portuguesa
The Portuguese love their codfish – or Bacalhau. This is a well known fact to anyone who has ever been to Portugal, because its everywhere. I found this gem of a store in the main area of the city, where you can watch them make these subtle cod tasting cakes with melted cheese that oozes out of the middle. A great way to enjoy the delicacy if you’re not a big seafood fan.
9. Check out the Monastery of Jeronimos in Belem
Belem is a great little town just a 7 minute train ride from the Cais do Sodre station at the southern end of the city. A popular way to get here is also by their famous yellow tram but it will cost a few euro more and take about half an hour (if you’re lucky). Because of traffic I got stuck on one and went about 500 meters in 30 minutes. The Belem Tower and National Coach Museum are among other museums and monuments to see here.
8. Go for a run under the Golden gate bridge look-a-like
The 25 de Abril bridge (yes the name literally means the “25th of April” bridge) is a spitting image of one of the most famous bridges in the world; the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. And rightly so, because they have the same architect. The harbor is truly beautiful and a lovely area to go for a morning or afternoon run – I particularly noticed a lot of runners in the Belem area as there is a nice view of the bridge from there.
7. Spend an afternoon or night around the Barrio Alto
The whole Barri Alto neighborhood is filled with restaurants, bars and cool hang outs for those up to mischief as the sun goes down. The drinking laws here mean you can drink on the streets so the streets are just as – if not more – alive as the bars themselves. Did somebody say “street party?”
6. For a big night out, try Urban Beach or LUX
Okay so if you’ve done your research you probably would have already heard about these, but they are clearly famous for a reason. Urban Beach is set up on the water with amazing views and Lux has a great set up and rooftop to enjoy. Entry of 12 euros into Lux is given back to you as drink tokens which I thought was a great touch, but the club itself wasn’t as great as Urban Beach.
5. Take a famous yellow trolley up a steep street
Lisbon is one of those cool cities – up there with San Francisco and Melbourne – that has the old school tram running through the city center. Take advantage of this on some of those steep hills and catch a ride.
4. Watch the sunset and grab a drink at the Park Bar
As you can see from the photo, I was a little late and missed my chance for a sunset view, but I have only heard amazing things. The view is incredible at any time of the day or night. Park Bar is set on top of a car park garage and to get there you need to take the car park elevator to the fifth floor and walk up to the sixth. It may feel like you’re finding a secret local hangout, but it is a very popular hot spot for tourists.
3. Head to the western-most point in Europe
An experience you probably wouldn’t care too much about unless you were in the area, but the views here are stunning. Most tour companies doing day trips to Sintra will stop here.
TIP for backpackers: If you stay at the Home Lisbon Hostel (which I couldn’t recommend highly enough) they organize Sintra day trips for 15 euros. Voted the best medium sized hostel in the world, so give it a go!
2. Day trip to Cascais
Just about a 40 minute train ride from Cais do Sodre, this beautiful beach town is worth a day or two visit. Cute palm tree lined streets with some great local buys. If you need a beach escape, this would be the perfect stop. I also heard good things about Estoril and Praia Carcavelos, both on the same train line.
Honorable mention also goes to to Costa de Caparica if you’re in need of a beach fix. You can catch public buses, a beach shuttle bus or a combination of ferry and bus routes to get there. There is a new company called the Beach Bus which will take you there and back for only 5 euros with a 50% off brochure. Pick one up at your hotel/hostel.
1. Visit Pena Palace
One of the most amazing things I have seen on my travels, Pena Palace in nearby Sintra. I was in awe of this 19th century castle, feeling like I was on the set of a Disney movie. The views of the surrounding area are incredible, as it sits a top one of the highest mountains in the area. Sintra itself is a very old town with about a dozen palaces, castles and museums to see, so if you have the time I would recommend spending a few days here. The Regaleira Palace is definitely worth a visit as well.