After an early morning flight from Paris, we landed bright and early in Lisbon at 8am. From the airport, we took the Aerobus into town then walked to our apartment – the Conde Barão Apartments. We were pretty unlucky with the weather when we arrived in Lisbon; it must have rained and shined consecutively for about four times! The weather did get better after our first day though, so we’re not complaining!
We spent some of our first day shopping at Colombo – one of Europe’s largest shopping malls. It was probably the best day to do this as the weather was pretty average, so we’re glad we got this out of the way! To make things even better, the stores closed at midnight (yes, midnight!) so we had plenty of time after arriving around 4pm.
We were exhausted after being up at 4:30am, so after grabbing some dinner at the mall’s food court (which is gigantic, by the way) we headed back to get some rest before a big day to Sintra (see the day trip guide to Sintra here).
After arriving back from Sintra, we met up with my friend, Sergio (what a legend by the way) who had travelled three hours by train to meet and hang out with us for the weekend from Porto – another city of Portugal.
What struck me by surprise was how late everything opened in Lisbon. As it was a Friday night and a public holiday (Freedom Day), you can imagine how busy the streets were at night time from all of the day’s celebrations/it being a weekend. We were out at dinner around 10:30pm-11pm, and decided to stroll through the streets of Bairro Alto afterwards.
Bairro Alto is where the nightlife and parties are at in Lisbon. But not in the way you would think. Hundreds, if not thousands of people line the streets and party: on the street (just Google Bairro Alto parties and you’ll see what I mean). So, if you’re into nightlife, Bairro Alto is where it’s at. Just be wary of the guys selling drugs – we got offered drugs a total of 15 times in 4 days, not even kidding.. but, as dodgy as it may seem with the hundreds of people drinking and partying on the street and guys selling drugs no more than 20 metres away from the cops, we didn’t see one fight or violent act. In fact, the Portugese (as a whole) were by far, the nicest and helpful people we encountered on our European trip.
A lookout point over Lisbon, namely São Pedro de Alcântara
Buildings in some parts of the city appear quite run down
Trams are also a means of transport in Lisbon
Oriente Station – one of the busiest stations in the world with 75 million passengers per year
Monument to the Discoveries in Belém – built in honour of Henry the Navigator, who was instrumental in the success of the Portuguese explorations during the fifteenth century
Beautiful houses and condos line the streets of Cascais – one of the richest municipalities in Portugal
Cascais was a former fishing village which gained fame as a resort for Portugal’s royal family in the late 19th century and early 20th century
Take a moment to watch the boats come in and soak up the view
Intended unfinished business
A lookout over the cliffs of Boca do Inferno in Cascais
Boca do Inferno – Portugese for Hell’s Mouth; a chasm located in the seaside cliffs in Cascais
After a little sleep-in and some breakfast, we made our way to Belém via train from Cais do Sodre. Belém was really quite different to the city of Lisbon, and only just 15 minutes away by train. There is a patisserie in Belém called Pasteis de Belém, which is most famous for its tarts (we know them as Portugese tarts), otherwise known as ‘nata’. They serve them with optional cinnamon sugar, but I’d recommend trying it both with and without it as the cinnamon sugar is quite sweet!
We devoured our nata tarts in the park opposite the store, then proceeded to walk towards the Tagus River to see the Monument to the Discoveries and the Belém Tower (this we saw from a distance).
Our next stop after Belém was Cascais, which was approximately a 30 minute train ride. Cascais is a beautiful seaside town on the western side of Lisbon. It was very well looked after and had a very cosmopolitan vibe to it. We walked along the marina before grabbing some lunch then headed towards the Boca do Inferno as our last stop.
Back in Lisbon city that evening, we decided to go to a traditional Fado restaurant for dinner and a spot of Fado. Fado is a music genre which can be traced to the 1820s in Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. The music is usually linked to the Portuguese word saudade which symbolises the feeling of loss. We were lucky enough to get seated right in front of the Fado singers, so literally had the best seats in the house!
After brunch at The Decadente, we farewelled Sergio at Baixa/Chiado station. We then headed to Alfama, which is the oldest district of Lisbon. Alfama has a strong Islamic influence as the buildings still standing were built during Portugal’s Islamic rule. While a large part of Lisbon was destroyed by the Great Lisbon Earthquake in 1755, Alfama withstood it and remains a picturesque labyrinth of narrow streets and small squares.
After exploring Alfama, we grabbed a bite to eat before heading back to our apartment to pack our bags for the next leg of our journey: Barcelona.
Where we stayed: Portugal Ways Conde Barão Apartments. While we weren’t located smack-bang in the city centre, it was nice to stay in a quieter area about 15 minutes walk away from Baixa-Chiado. Closest metro/train station was Cais do Sodre.
Must-Sees: Belém and Cascais are a must for a day, but Alfama and seeing the nightlife of Bairro Alto were highlights for me in Lisbon city.
I want to thank Sergio again for being such a wonderful guide and taking out his time to share his knowledge of Portugal and experience it with us. We’ll be back to visit you in Porto one day!
SOURCE: ApriliaLove.com – Read entire story here.