I spent 3 days and nights in Lisbon with a group of friends in January, when the winter was still too cold in France, and slightly more bearable down in Portugal.
Night 1 : Dinner at TimeOut Market
We headed into town upon arrival and checking in to our airbnb, grabbing dinner at TimeOut Market, where there are “pop-up” stores from restaurants in the city. The ambiance was lively and we had a good meal!
Day 1: Walking through Lisbon
On our first morning here we caught a Sandeman’s free walking tour through the center of Lisbon. The guide was informative and we learnt a lot about the history and current situation in Portugal. At the end of the tour, he showed us a little restaurant, which seemed like a local canteen where workers popped in for lunch. The small space was bustling with locals calling out orders – we were split up into groups of 4 and 5, seated elbow to elbow with the other customers, and briskly served with a delicious and satisfying octopus stew and rice.
What I loved about walking through the streets of Lisbon was that everything was beautifully tiled and pastel coloured! The different hills around the city made the architectural style as diverse as amusing, there seems to be a beautiful house to discover on every corner. We winded through the streets and finished the day on Castello St Jorge, watching the sun set over Lisbon.
Day 2 – Sintra’s unique palaces
Sintra is strictly speaking, not Lisbon. One hour away by train, this city is known for the many palaces and castles. At the foot of the hill, we first visited the Sintra palace. The roofs of each room were decorated differently and intricately; threading symbols and design and history into the curls and lines.
The next stop was slightly up the hill, we trekked through a wooded trail to get to the Moorish fortifications. Views spread out in all directions, the fortifications themselves were classically beautiful. We walked all around the part of the wall that was perched on the ridge to the different points of view, pretending to be soldiers at our watch-posts 😉
The last would turn out to be the best – Pena is a castle out of a crazy Disney king’s dream. Coloured and tiled with clashing primary colours, with equally colourful courtyards and statues (spot Triton in the photo below!), Pena seemed like a candy coloured kingdom overlooking even the fortresses and other palaces dotting the countryside.
Day 3: Belem’s seaside beauty
On our last day here, we headed to Belem, an area in Lisbon a little further from the center of the city. We visited two main sites of interest here : the Belem tower, and the monastery situated slightly across the street.
The Belem tower was part of a series of defense guarding the river coming into Lisbon. The defense structure was interesting and on the sunny day that it was, there were great views along the riverside.
The monastery herself was a oasis of peace, with beautiful arches and center courtyards. It’s definitely a place that conduces one to reflect and to be away from all the distractions going on outside. Later, we walked around and along the riverside, soaking in the winter sun. Lisbon has been a relaxing city to explore and a good break from our studies.
P.S.: Must-eats of Lisbon? The breakfast pastries, of course – Pastel de natas and Pao de deus!