Lisbon or as it is affectionately and officially called, Lisboa, has become one of our favorite cities in Europe. We talk a lot about ‘feeling the vibe’ or ‘not feeling the vibe’ of a city and for Lisboa we felt the vibe, oh yes!
We got to Lisboa early in the morning after our overnight bus right from Algeciras (Spanish port near Gibraltar) via Sevilla (Spain). We got dropped at the Oriente bus station and took an Uber to our hostel, Travellers House.If you like hostels and don’t mind sharing the room with random people, we recommend Travellers House. It has a very cool, chic feel and the people running it are passionate locals who organize daily activities for the inhabitants. They are willing, and more than happy, to help you plan your own trips. We got some great recommendations from them!
We spent 2 days in Lisbon (no surprises there) and can’t wait to go back! Here are the top 5 things to do in and around Lisbon.
1. Walk the hilly streets of Lisbon
Taking a walking tour is a great way to get a feel for Lisbon and all its neighborhoods. It helps when you go exploring on your own later to have a basic orientation of the city. And if it involves drinking Ginjinha on the way, ever better!
Every neighbourhood in Lisbon is quite unique, especially the Alfama district which retains it’s old and rustic look and feel
2. Visit Belem
Belem is a short train or taxi ride from downtown Lisbon. See the Palace, tower, explorers’ monument (Padrão dos Descobrimentos) and eat pastels!
One of the surprises in Lisbon was seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and Christ the Redeemer equivalents! We lived in the San Francisco bay area for many years and on seeing the bridge we felt at home quite quickly. Apparently, the 25 de Abril Bridge is built by the same company that built the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and is named to commemorate the Carnation Revolution (more about the revolution below)
3. Day trip to Sintra & the Westernmost point of Europe (Cabo de Roca)
A 45 minute train ride away, Sintra is a magical palace with fairytale castles and totally worth a visit. Cabo de Roca is windy and cold, but beautiful and its quite cool to be at the Westernmost point of Europe.
4. Eat a pastel de nata- for breakfast, lunch and dinner
They’re delicious and ubiquitous! With coffee, they are just perfect.
5. Watch/experience a Fado
While if it is performed in a large impersonal setting, a Fado might feel like any other musical performance, in a language you may not understand. But, in an intimate setting, where you can feel the vibrations from the guitars in the planks of the floor below your feet and almost can taste the singer’s tears, it is a completely different experience. The singers normally have powerful, beautiful voices and it is a pleasure to be part of the journey that they take their listeners on.
And while you do all of the above, eat some (or a lot of) seafood and drink the cheap, but delicious, local wines!