Lisbon – Portugal
Lisbon was one of the places we have heard the most about yet not had the opportunity to visit it ourselves. That opportunity luckily presented itself last summer.
I guess already since the great days of exploration, Lisbon has been a place where people and culture have mixed. The music, the food, the architecture and general atmosphere here are something special. It is a unique mix of history and new ways of interpreting old traditions. It is quite unique. From the first glimpses of the city when arriving by plane over the rooftops to the last view of the Ponte 25 de Abril and Cristo Rei statue when leaving the city has you hooked. Here you wake up to the rolling clatter of the historic trams and the smell of freshly baked Pastel de nata. Open the windows and admire the views over the rooftops with the rising sun while enjoying the first Bica of the day. A new adventure is ready to begin just around the corner.
Let’s start with the food. Since our trip only lasted a week, we have surely overlooked some great eats but for the most part our tastebuds were blown away by the endless stream of seafood available. The variety and the quality of seafood as well as the expertise that people handling handling them had was just amazing. You could be here for months and keep tasting better and better dishes all the way from the simple sardine pate to some of the best sushi variations I have ever tasted. Our top 3 recommendations for fish are: Sea Me, Cervejaria Ramiro, and the Mercado da Ribeira where you can find small outlets of restaurants and great street food and drinks. Naturally you cannot talk about food in Lisbon without talking about Pastel de nata, which is a egg custard tart which is served with cinnamon and icing sugar. The original and arguably the best ones are served at Pastel de Belem.
Lisbon offers plenty to see and do. You have the historic town of Sintra near by and easily accessible by train. You have the entire coastal region between Lisbon and Cascais which offers you everything from beaches to a casino. You have some of the best surfing in Europe close too and a even some very nice scuba diving opportunities just south of Lisbon in Sesimbra. However, the best way to pass the time here is to explore the endless alleyways and streets of Bairro Alto and Alfama, the two neighbourhoods that overlook central Lisbon. Ride the historic tram number 28 to explore both neighbourhoods easily and enjoy not having to climb the rather steep hills of the town by foot. Jump of every now and then to enjoy yet another Pastel de Nata and a Bica at any cafe you fancy and suck in the local atmosphere. Don’t forget to have a glass of Vinho Verde at some point when the day becomes hot.
Top 3 tips for Lisbon:
- Stay in a place you found on Airbnb. While searching for hotels in Lisbon we could not really find anything that had much character to it and finally we decided to rent a place through Airbnb. Great choice. The city is full of beautiful and well kept apartments ready to accommodate your stay. Check for something in Alfama or Bairro Alto.
- If you decide to explore the coastal region, you can get a travel pass for the coastal train that gives you unlimeted travel for a few days. Great if you decide to spend a day at the beach and travel to Cascais.
- Go check out the views of the city from one of these: Jardim de S. Pedro de Alcântara, Jardim do Castelo de São Jorge or Cristo Rei statue. The last one will take you he longest to get to since it requires crossing the river by boat or the bridge but the views are spectacular.
Lisbon, we will meet again soon.