I can’t really talk about Lisbon without mentioning a few important historical facts, which if you decide to visit Lisbon you will be told BUT at least I can give some background for you.
- Lisbon is the second oldest capital city after Athens.
- There are a huge range of cultures living here due to it being the empire for South America (Brazil) and Asia (China, Goa and India),
- An earthquake destroyed almost the whole city in 1755 meaning there is not much standing pre-dating this natural disaster. The earthquake (or three should I say) caused fires and a tsunami.
- It was a safe haven during WWII.
Paul and I wanted to stay near the centre of the city and Miguel’s apartment seemed to have access to everything we need. We were right. Just a few meters away from shops, restaurants, transportation and some wonderful tourist attractions this apartment was perfect. The apartment has two bedrooms, a living room with TV, wifi and a dining room. Lotsa space for two people.
Here are a couple of locations to grab a bite to eat:
MERCADO PRAÇA DA FIGUEIRA
Whether you want to eat out or in this beautiful little indoor marketplace sells delicious fresh food. Meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, bread… Fresh! You can buy these items within the shop itself or you can head to the little counter where there are a selection of freshly made sandwiches and fruit pots for you to try.
Find Mercado Praça da Figueira here.
Lisbon is famous for it’s pastries so you should try at least one! Paul and I were pretty good and only went to this house of wonders (founded in 1989) a couple of times to pick up some cake. They were sooo scummy. But what do you expect from one of the oldest and best candy houses in Europe?
Find Confeitaria Nacional here.
Want something a little healthier? Pop by Vitaminas for a sandwich, a salad or just a freshly squeezed juice. Like a Subway (but better) you can pick and choose what you want to go in your salads and sandwiches. pretty cool huh?
You can find Vitaminas here.
What a meal this was. For 4 of us it cost €60…. This included: 4 papadums, 2 naans, 8 onion bhaji, 3 rice dishes, 3 vegetable curry dishes, a mini desert selection, 8 drinks (non-alcoholic). Needless to say we were all pretty full.
The restaurant itself is small but big in flavour. The staff are friendly and helpful… There’s nothing to complain about really. One of the guys lived in the UK which was pretty cool. It meant we didn’t have to rely on Ricardo for Portuguese translations.
The reason why you have to eat here is not just because the food is cheap, delicious and filling but Indian food is part of Portugal’s culture and shouldn’t be missed.
You can find Bangla Restaurant here.
A great way of seeing many of the great Lisbon sights is by going on a bus tour. Paul and I chose the City Siteseeing Lisbon tour as we were able to witness many of the wonders Lisbon has to offer.
Now… This was a little scary for me, seeing as I haven’t been on a bike since I was about 10. But the electric bikes are so easy to use and require very little work. What I will say is, watch the tram lines and keep looking up, otherwise you’ll be like me and you’ll wobble and fall (twice)!
Our guide, Ricardo (who we later in the week went out for dinner with) was super friendly, positive and full of information about Lisbon. We rode round several hill tops (not all seven like the tour title!) viewing different sides of Lisbon. This tour was super fun and it was wonderful getting a personable experience.
HAVE A CUSTARD TART
There are plenty of places that sell these yummy little treats so be sure to have one (and may I recommend that you have it with cinnamon sprinkled on top?)
You will notice throughout Lisbon there are building covered in stunning tiles. This is to prevent wind damage so I am told! The museum Paul and I went to showed many examples of these tiles and their origins throughout Europe and Asia.
The first half of the museum highlights Oriental and Classical Art and goes through to the galleries of the Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian, Eastern Islamic, Armenian and Far East. The second half is dedicated to European art with sections specifically for to the Art of the Book, Sculpture, Painting and the Decorative Arts with special emphasis on the French art of the eighteenth century.
GO TO CASCAIS BEACH (OR A BEACH NEAR THERE)
There is a whole coast of beaches in and around Cascais. We had actually requested to go to Cascais but the taxi driver said he knew a better beach so we took his advice. It is a golden, sandy (and a bit windy) beach. Very picturesque and very few tourists. Surrounded by the beaches are hotels with restaurants so there’s no fear about getting something to eat.
If your taxi driver is nice you may want to ask whether they can pick you up from the same spot. It cost about €30 each way as it’s a good distance outside of the centre to get here by car but you can also go by train (double the time) and less comfort.
Whether you go on a 2 day tour or just one day, Sintra is the highly recommended location to visit. Plenty of greenery, beautiful buildings and stunning views. We were also lucky enough to visit Cascais again and get ourselves an ice cream as well!
TIPS AND ADVICE
- Don’t be silly with your possessions as pickpockets are renowned for targeting tourists in Lisbon, especially on trams. Keep everything close by and don’t leave wallets in your pockets.
- The collect rubbish every day in Lisbon so if you’re staying in an apartment you can chuck away your bin contents the same day.
- If someone approaches you with sunglasses or any other piece of tack, be careful of your surroundings as they may be working with others to pickpocket you. They may also really be trying to sell drugs. Even if you do like the occasional spliff (naughty naughty) don’t take it as it will be a combination of goodness knows what.
- Good shoes are always a must as Lisbon is very hilly.
This is an incredible city and is so underrated. But I would be sad to see it become like many popular destinations that are swarmed with gimmicky merchandise and crowds of tourists. Lisbon has so much culture, eye-catching architecture and history that it shouldn’t be destroyed. If you’re lucky enough to have more than a day here make sure you try your best to see as much as possible as there is more than meets the eye.