Each summer, there seems to be a new “it” place to visit, when everyone you follow on social media seems to be heading to the same destination. This year, Lisbon is apparently the place to be and since my boyfriend is Portuguese, I suggested a road trip to Portugal, starting in the capital city that I’d heard so many things about.
I always say that the best way to explore any city is through walking. Instead of taking the metro or bus from one tourist spot to another, the best experiences I have is what I stumble across in between. Lisbon is known for its pretty tiled and colourful houses, alongside its rustic tramway system and so strolling through Bairro Alto is sure to have you snapping every five minutes. A word of warning though, the hilly streets of Lisbon are not for the faint hearted; be sure to wear a good pair of trainers to get you through the day without painful blisters!
If you’re looking for beautiful viewpoints, you’ll be really spoilt for choice; from visiting the Miradouro de Santa Catarina to hiking up to the Castelo de Sao Jorge, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Tage river, the Ponte 25 de Abril and in the distance, the Cristo Rei statue on the opposite side of the river bank, which was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Even strolling along the river bank towards Comércio Square you’ll be treated to gorgeous views, a handful of trendy apéro spots and cute market stalls.
If you prefer to admire the skyline with a sunset backdrop, head to Park bar. This stylish bar is a car park rooftop, so getting there may be confusing to those not in-the-know. Take the lift up to the last level of the car park and go to the next level on foot; follow the music and you’ll be in the right place. Be sure to arrive early to secure a spot as particularly on weekends, this place is extremely popular.
Speaking of nightlife, we tried so many delicious meals at restaurants in Lisbon. It is a very cosmopolitan city, so there is so much on offer. However, I managed to narrow it down and pinpoint my favourite spots in the capital, that I’d recommend to try.
Top 5 restaurants in Lisbon
- Time Out Market: A selection of delicious food is available in this classy food court – there’s something for anyone and everyone!
- Palácio Chiado: Previously a palace, this spot presents some gorgeous architecture as well as absolutely delicious food, particularly their Bacalhau à Bras.
- Oficina do Duque: A cute place hidden amongst Lisbon’s back streets, with a mix of amazing dishes – I loved their recommended lamb, couscous and mint sorbet main.
- O Chiado: A typical Portuguese restaurant with grilled meat and fish for a very inexpensive price!
- Bairro do Avillez: Several different-themed menus await you in this space run by José Avillez, a well-known Portuguese chef, who we even spotted inside.
Besides exploring the streets and culinary delights of Lisbon, there are some fantastic day trips on offer, just a short train ride away. You absolutely must visit Belém; a mere 10 minute train ride from the Cais do Sodré train station, if only to taste their world famous custard-filled tarts in Pastéis de Belém. If you fancy heading further afield, Sintra is absolutely gorgeous. We decided to take a car up the hill to the Palace of Sintra, and hike back down which turned out to be a very smart choice, as even when you arrive into the park, you still have to hike up to the palace itself. The colourful walls and preserved interior decoration is incredible; you’ll feel like you’re visiting a fairytale castle.
With so much to see, do (and eat!) it’s easy to see why Lisbon has quickly becoming the “it” spot amongst the social media crowd. It feels different from other bustling, capital cities; perhaps its the sunshine, the quaint, pretty buildings or the friendliness of the locals. Whatever the magic formula, my first venture to Portugal (and into my amateur attempts to say obrigado with a half-decent accent) was an unforgettable trip, that will surely have me returning here soon.