TGIF! And what a better day to plan a new city trip? Last week Buenos Aires was covered, so this week I thought about picking a city close by, but still one that has the same exotic vibe to it: Lisbon!
The city is perfect for year-round travelling due to its soft climate. I went this winter, as ‘it’s got the warmest winters in the Europe’. Well, time to put that theory to the test!
Lisbon is a vibrant city with many different areas all representing a different part of the city’s life. If someone’s up for a ‘slow’ city trip with little walking, think again! The city is build on seven hills, even though it seemed more like 200, so Lisboa is about building some buns of steel! You can take trams and busses wherever you want, but sitting in public transportation just doesn’t give you the experience as walking through little alleys and around corners to discover colourful artwork and mosaics. To help you get started on your walking tour, here are some of my insider tips:
Areas like Chiado and the Barrio Alto ooze the city life of music, street-artists and little shops. Due to their charm, big brands have discovered the area and are opening up shops in old pavilions. So make sure to get there before it’s taken over! Enter little sideways and steep narrow hills, as there’s wall-art everywhere, which makes a nice contrast to the old granny’s hanging up their laundry. In Chiado, Café Brasileira has a great outdoor sitting area, and, while sipping your cappuccino or enjoying your Port, live entertainment comes with the package.
A must do, whether you’re a traveller, local or tourist is a ride on the historical trams. Announced as a national monument is the N.28, which takes you up around the old St. George Castle and through the bendy Almafa area west of Rossio. Almafa is also the place to be for quaint Fado houses. If you have a daycard, hop-on and -off wherever you like. N.28 is still used by many locals, so in contrast with the tourists the tramride itself is like a free theatre show.
The Belem-area is also something which is on most to-do-lists. Especially the bakery Pasteis de Belem – touristic, but VERY good! The old monuments are nice, but keep walking past the Padrao dos desobrimentos (monument for the explorers) and walk along the little harbour and across small café’s and Portuguese shops. The colourful houses alone are worth the wandering hour. On your way back, hop-off the tram at Docas de Santa Amaro; great views of the river and outerbanks, typical seafood restaurants and cheap wine!
Transportation: Another perk of Lisbon, the airport is very close-by! Only 15 minutes by car, but I recommend taking the metro, which will only cost you €1,20 for a one way to any destination in the city. You can also buy a day pass for €6,-, which is valid on all trams, busses and the metro. Sure beats paying €3,40 for a singly ride on the historical trams.
If you have some more days to visit the area, make sure to take the train to Sintra, an old town with palatial estates and parks. It’s like you’re walking around in an episode of Game of Thrones. Close-by are Cascais and Estoril, characteristic beach towns which offer a perfect breezy afternoon. And if you have a week or two in Portugal, make sure not to miss out on cosy Porto up north and Albufeira down south, great for surfing!
Cheap hostels: Personal recommendation is the Downtown Design Hostel. This cosy hostel is truly a little gem, located near the main square of Rossio and parallel to the main shopping street. It has 5 minutes walking distance to Chiado, it’s got three stops for the 28 tram nearby, and 2 metrostations right outside the door. But the quality of the hostel is not due to its accessibility alone. The hostel is run by two friends, who know exactly what travellers are looking for. There is quite an elaborate breakfast with fresh fruits, fresh breads, range of choices for toppings, sometimes pancakes, coffee and tea, and the best of all…. every day freshly baked cake! When you walk down the stairs, you can already smell the spices or chocolate and your tummy will sure start to rumble. Besides this, the gentlemen really know what hospitality is and have washing facilities, free wi-fi, comfortable lounges, and even a accessible printer you get to use in case you lost some of your documents. Even though it’s located above a peep show (great for male population probably!) and it’s up 3 flights of stairs, it’s got a lot of charm and the owners are genuinely nice and humble. Sit on your balcony with a bottle of wine and let the city life pass below you. When travelling in low-season I came across prices ranging from 9 to 15 euro’s a night, bargain!
I may have now given you a little insight into Lisbon, but main tip will always be: explore yourself! You will come across cultural diversity and plenty of beautiful or awkward sights by yourself. So put your walking shoes on and go!
See you soon,
Team Culture Can