If there’s one formula that works magically for me that would be the good ol’ ‘city break’. There’s nothing like the joy of heading off Friday after office to an exciting destination – be it urban or countryside, new or old, reachable by plane or car. My last such mini-adventure took me on Portugese territory, to a city with officially 7 hills but in practice felt like 100 :) Hope this post will get to capture how much I loved Lisbon and how much exploring was squeezed into a 2 days and 2 nights visit – I’ve put together a list of places to tick on your next visit there.
Especially when having so little time to explore a place, you won’t see me queuing for museums and super touristy attractions. I find it much more valuable to get a sense of how the locals in a particular place live and enjoy their time. Accordingly, Lisbon was a looooot of walking around – many stairs and hills, ups and downs, bridges, alleys, markets, tunnels and, when exhaustion would prevail, a bit of Uber :)
In terms of walking routes, try having the following areas in mind, connect them according to your own schedule and available time and follow the streets without too much discipline: Madragoa, Bairro Alto, Baxia, Castelo, Alfama with its’ Moorish influences and then walk down the river, passing by Comercio Square and going as close to the Vasco da Gama bridge as possible. If you cross it you will find the Almada area with its Christ statue – replica after the bigger version in Rio de Janeiro.
Between all the walking and climbing hills, one needs to rest, grab a (preferably traditional) bite and enjoy a proper glass of Porto wine. I noted the following selection of places for your to enjoy, must say that I enjoyed my time in each and every one of them:
- Brunch/lunch at Cafe Augusto – great food in a cozy welcoming place all thanks to our wonderful host :)
- Dinner at Atira’te Au Rio – great food in a very romantic setup overlooking panoramic Lisbon, blankets and heaters included; you can walk up to it from the ferry or come down on stairs from the hills of Almada – either way just don’t get intimidated by the slightly dark paths, it’s all safe and no Boogie man is in sight.
- Cocktails at Bar Foxtrot – thanks Max :) Very nice atmosphere with the lights slightly dimmed – a bit of jazz, nice drinks, pool table, chandeliers and vintage decorations.
- Listen to some priceless Fado at A Tasca Do Chico – super tiny place where locals wait in line for a spot side by side with foreigners. All in all, once you’re in, you might stay until they close as the voices that pass in front of the microphone are mesmerizing. Don’t miss this pure Portugese experience.
- St George’s Castle – as every respected castle it will demand you to climb your way up to the top of hill. Once you’re there you might need to catch your breath but rest assured as the view this place has to offer is definitely worth it. You can walk on top of the fort’s walls and enjoy a 360 amazing view of Lisbon and its surroundings.
- The PARK terrace is, as you might not expect, on the roof of a car parking :) Up until you actually see yourself inside you pretty much wonder “where am I and what am I doing here?” but don’t give in to your instincts and go to the last floor of the parking.
- Riberia das Naus – nothing fancy but a lovely atmosphere by the water front. If you’re lucky, there might also be some street artists performing. Enjoyed an awesome sunset here with a tad too much of that special “Sangria” – you ask for wine with fruits and you get wine with fruits and all the other drinks they have at the bar :)) Can’t complain.
- If you’re going to the castle, you might as well grab the iconic Tram 28 – born in the 30’s and still rocking it :) It will get you through the main walking areas in an awesome roller-coaster-ish version of a double decker tour.
This was my checklist for now and I must use a disclaimer – I am aware that this is only an itsy bitsy part from the variety that you can see in Lisbon, not to mention the surroundings. If you’re reading this please be a peach and continue my list with your best-of. I’m planning to return there soon and need to pick things up where I left them off :) Hope you enjoyed this tiny glimpse and found it a good foundation for your next city break. As for myself, expecting my next weekend getaway in spring. I am working on something more extensive and …. Carribean for now :) To be continued …