Lisbon was a fairly last minute trip, as it ended up being a fairly cheap flight on Royal Air Maroc to get there from Niamey. Although we had eight days, I didn’t want to rush and try to get up to another part of Portugal, and I am glad we didn’t. There was definitely enough to do in Lisbon to fill up the entire week. It may be just the fact that I am a huge fan of walking during travels, as I have stated before here, but I think it’s important to take your time and really experience a place. Sure you could do Lisbon in a few days, but I don’t think you ever get the true picture of an entire city from a couple days. To be fair, I still got out of the city, to Caiscais and Sintra, which I will tell you all about below.
Where to Stay
If you read my blog, or follow me on instagram, you should already know I am a huge fan of Airbnb, which I have written all about before here. When I look for places to stay, I like to find something in a central area, close to things to walk to but also ease of getting on public transportation as well. Added bonus if it’s unique or comes with a view, which are my two things I also look for.
Carlota’s apartment in Graça is the perfect location and apartment for 2 (or even 4). The two bedroom apartment on the 4th floor, was located in the Graça area, with the Tram 28 literally right outside the door. Personally we walked everywhere but it was nice to know that if we needed it, we had a faster and less strenuous way to get places. My favourite part of the apartment was definitely the view, as it had a beautiful balcony; added bonus the window from the kitchen had a spectacular view of the sunrise every morning too.
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Where and What to Eat
First off all, you have to try the pastel de nata, a portuguese custard tart that is absolutely delicious. They were literally offered in every bakery so I feel like I can’t even tell you which one to go to; they are not hard to find. Pick up a few and enjoy!
There were so many amazing places to eat in Lisbon, though since we book Airbnb’s we like to grocery shop and make some of our meals ourselves. But that doesn’t mean we don’t also indulge in local restaurants. We attempted to go to PARK Bar but after having trouble finding it (it’s on top of a car park) and getting there an hour before sunset, there were no tables anywhere that you could actually watch the sunset, and the good food wasn’t served for another 3 hours. So we decided to go watch the sunset somewhere else and then grab food at a random restaurant on the walk back to our place.
We went to a few restaurants that honestly I cannot remember the name of, but we literally were just walking and decided to pick random places as we strolled along. My two favourites were in the Bairro Alto and Alfama areas. There are honestly so many to choose from I couldn’t imagine telling you which one to go to. One night I wanted paella so we looked around for what looked like a good paella stop. One night I wanted Indian food so we found a good place for that. I think the best was the one afternoon we happened upon a street food festival going on and sat and had sangria and chorizo. There so much to offer, my favourite thing to do is pick at random. If you listen to much to others recommendation, you might miss a hidden gem.
What to Do
I find castles fascinating. Just the crazy architecture of each of them, the history behind them and I don’t know, the vibes from exploring them. There were a couple we explored. The first one being right in Lisbon called São Jorge Castle. It was pretty standard to me, on what I expect out of a castle. Nothing crazy out of the ordinary other than the spectacular view. We decided to go up there for sunset and it did not disappoint. I suggest doing the same, as there many spots for sunset watching in Lisbon, due to all the hills, but this one was definitely a favourite.
A train ride away from Lisbon is the incredible town of Sintra. Many people call the castle there Sintra, but Sintra is actually the name of the town. The castle is actually called Pena Palace. We walked to the Rossio Train Station in Lisbon and hoped on the morning train to Sintra. The train ride is only 40 minutes. Once you get to Sintra, there are buses you can take to get up to the Palace, if that’s your thing. My partner and I walked the long road up to the Palace. If you don’t like walking, or want to get more done in the day, skip the walk and head up on the bus. We were the only ones walking, other than one couple who were walking down from the Palace as we were walking up it.
One of the reasons I would suggest not walking, unless you are looking for lots of exercise, is that when you get to the Palace entrance, there is even more walking around the grounds. The castle itself is beautiful to walk through, but don’t skip out on walking around the grounds of the castle. There are some beautiful spots, and some great viewpoints to see the castle itself. The town of Sintra has much more to it than the palace, but we spent most our time walking, we didn’t really see much else.
I have a thing for abandoned places. Whenever I am traveling somewhere new, I tend to look up if there are any cool and unique abandoned places to explore. I don’t condone doing anything super dangerous but that’s why it’s important to read stuff about it beforehand. We took a bus from just outside Rossio Train Station to get to the Monsanto’s Panoramic Restaurant. Even though it’s been abandoned for awhile, it can still be found on google maps! We took a bus to the closest bus stop to it, then wandered the streets to find it. It was not hard to find. We then found a lovely fence that was wide open to walk through and entered.
The restaurant was covered in graffiti. Some great art, but mostly just peoples graffiti tags. It wasn’t the street art that I was that interested in this time, but the view from the restaurant. Though the windows were shattered, with glass everywhere (be careful if you go!) there was an epic view over Lisbon once you walk up the stairs to the higher floors. We spent some time taking photos and just wandering through the place. There was little to no furniture left, just shattered glass and garbage from others who have explored the now abandoned restaurant as well. We decided to walk back to Lisbon from here, cause that’s how we roll… and to be honest it was a beautiful walk through streets lined with trees, that changed to city. It was exhausting but such a great way to explore Lisbon.
Another spot we found our way to was Tapada das Necessidades, which was an abandoned park. Kinda crazy since there was a fully active and open school on the grounds too. Nonetheless I enjoyed wandering through the park and checking out the abandoned houses and such. I don’t know why I found this so fascinating, there was nothing crazy interesting about it, other than it being abandoned. No views, no cool graffiti, just a typical abandoned place.
Lisbon is full of incredible street art. It’s literally everywhere you go. I would be surprised if anyone said they went to Lisbon but weren’t able to find any. Every section of Lisbon has it’s own bit of art. My two favourites were the three abandoned buildings that were completely covered at Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo. I still can’t get over how incredible the art work was and how the city actually embraces this form of art.
The next was the Wall of Love at Av. Conselheiro Fernando de Sousa. This is where there was a whole wall dedication to a bunch of artist’s street art. It was incredible to see all the different ways in which people chose to express themselves. We were able to check this out on our walk back from the abandoned restaurant, as we happened upon it. But as I said, Lisbon is literally full of street art and you can find it everywhere.
Another short hour long train ride away you can find a quaint little town called Cascais. It was a lovely place to just wander and get lost in the scenery. We didn’t go here for any particular reason, other than to wander. We stopped at a random cafe and had a espresso and I finally tried the delicious custard tart that day. But really I wanted to go to see Boca de Inferno… basically I came to see the coastline and all it’s natural beauty. And it was well worth the train ride.
On our ride back from Cascais, we got off our train early so that we could go check out Belem Tower. It was beautiful, but crowded. There was a constant stream of people crossing the bridge over to get there, or get out. We decided not to try to go in, but to admire from afar, before heading along on our way. The area is beautiful, so once again we decided to wander by foot to get back to our Airbnb. Once again, I can’t stress enough how much we enjoyed wandering by foot everywhere we went. There was so much to see along the way and I loved every minute of it.