Make yourself a cup of iced coffee, fill your soul with pure joy and wanderlust desire. Today you are travelling with me to Portugal, Lisbon. When I was in my first year at University, I took advantage of the foreign language courses, and I chose Portuguese. All I remember was Bom dia, Obrigado and Meu quarto esta limpo which meant “my room is clean”. Since then, I dreamt of visiting Lisbon. And I did learn another word: Ginjinha. Keep on reading to find out how to spend four magical days in Lisbon and make the most of it. Discover Lisbon, Belem, Sintra and Cascais.
I am that kind of traveller that likes to do his research before going abroad. I love castles, cobbled streets, warm days and great food. And Lisbon has them all. I was debating if I would like Lisbon more than Barcelona. And I think we have a winner. Plus, I found Lisbon so affordable I couldn`t believe my eyes. I am attracted to new places and cultures, I want to see and absorb so much, but the clock is ticking. So without rambling too much, here are some tips and my Lisbon travel board journal. Hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Tips. Avoid touristic places/neighbours, wake up early and book in advance. Self-explanatory. I am not saying to stay away from famous attractions, but sometimes it`s worth visiting something you are really keen on like art galleries, museums, castles, etc. Then you can spice things up by adding new places that truly make you curious. Don`t visit something just because a travel agency says so. Their job is to sell, yours is to be smart and enjoy your precious time.
I already feel this will be such a long post. Are you still with me? So without any further ado, let`s go.
Day 1. LISBON
Accommodation. Book directly with the hotel as you will get a better deal. I know Booking.com is so convenient – I am guilty of booking with them too. We have stayed in Bairro Alto, in a cute guest house called SOLAR DOS POETAS. The breakfast was served in an old Portuguese house with bold paintings on the walls. The atmosphere was divine, we could see a glimpse city on the balcony and listen to music from the gramophone while having fresh food and baked pastel de nata ♥
Transport. We only took the metro from the airport to the hotel, and the rest of the time we walked or chose the train for bigger distances. The Lisbon metro fare prices are €1.45 – Single or €6.15 – 24-hour unlimited travel, which includes all Lisbon buses and trams. You can check the metro map here.
Eating & Drinking. You can go wrong with the food. The portions are huge, and the food is so scrumptious. While I was in Lisbon, I felt my stomach double its size. I am not a gourmand, but I was eating non-stop. On the first day, we randomly choose a restaurant on Rua Nova do Carvalho known as the pink street. You can check more places to eat like 11 fantastic restaurants with great views and restaurants under 30 euros (for two). Try the Green wine known as Vinho Verde and you will thank me later. Also, be aware of waiters bringing all sort of starters to your table ( they are not free of charge of course) so definitely let them know if you want starters too or just the main course/tapas.
Visiting. I like to start my day in a new city by taking a free walking tour. Sandemans are the best, and I strongly recommend them. Their daily free walking tours are just great: you will learn some history and you will get to know what places to eat/drink/ avoid/ visit, etc. Besides, the Sandemans tours are free of charge so at the end of the tour you will tip your guide. They are active in 18 cities so check them up for your next adventure. You are supporting and interacting with locals. Saúde ! Tip: If you are visiting Lisbon at the beginning of the month, on the first Sunday of each month some of the biggest museums are free of charge.
Day 2. BELEM
Just reserve yourself one day to explore the Belem district. It takes 20 minutes with the train from Lisbon and costs 4.40 euro per person for a return ticket. Walk from Pasteis de Belem to Torre de Belem to discover Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, the Discoveries Monument, the Jardim da Praça do Império and the Jardim da Torre de Belem. Don`t miss the flea market which is just opposite the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. And since you are there, go inside the monastery. The tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões are placed in the southern chapel.
If you have the patience to wait in line couples of hours, you can visit Belem Tour – a gorgeous UNESCO heritage. Finish the stay eating a hot dog ( even a veggie one) at a local cafe overlooking the Tejo river. Or if you fancy fine dining, try the restaurant Amargem.
Return to Lisbon to visit Alfama – the oldest district in Lisbon. The viewpoint Santa Luzia – Miradouro de Santa Luzia will please your eyes: impressive views over the tiled roofs and Tejo estuary.
What about a sweet stop? ALCO has one of the best desserts I have ever tried.
Day 3 – SINTRA
If you are thinking about the hill-top town of Sintra, go for it. You need 3 full days, but you can make one day trip too, visiting the primary site: Palacio de Pena. Don`t miss Castelo dos Mouros and Palacio National de Sintra. We only did Pena Palace and Pena Park, I just don`t like to be on a touristic marathon. Built to serve as a summer residence for the royalty, Pena Palace will amaze you due to its sophisticated styles: Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic and Neo-Renaissance. I could have stayed there for hours and hours. After visiting the Palace, we went to Pena Park. The lush forests and the fog created such a magical environment. From there, we took the bus to go back to the town. We had a lovely meal at Espaco Edla. How gorgeous is the setup?
Tip: Sintra gets crowded with day trippers so quickly. Be prepared for people eager to see the Palace. If you arrive in Sintra by train don`t panic seeing so many tours in the train station. You don`t need to pay any tours, just take the bus and pay for a loop ticket and you will get to Pena Palace. Also, get warmer clothes as it is chilling as you reach the top. More information about Sintra (entrance fees, routes, organising your trip) can be found here.
Day 4 – CASCAIS
To get to the historical fishing port of Cascais, we took the train as you probably guessed. As we went there in the spring season, the weather was great too. During the summer, Cascais becomes a popular holiday destination because of the famous beach (surfers` paradise), beautiful parks, museums and historic monuments. Oh, I did forget the seafood! Boca del Inferno was on the list but we decided to leave it for another time. After all, you need a reason to visit Lisbon again. You can`t just visit everything. Right?
After spending few good hours there ( shame we didn`t bring our swimming suits) we headed back to Lisbon. Time for another castle – Castelo de Sao Jorge – ” the ancient seat of power for Portugal for over 400 years”. If you want to visit Alfama at the end of your trip or again ( why not), just link it and walk your way to Castelo de Sao Jorge. In half an hour you will be there. If you don`t like walking, take the mini bus 37 or tram 28. The entrance fee is 8.50 euro per person and the castle is open until 9 pm so you have enough time to be there.
I hoped you enjoyed my tips and tricks along with my travel journal. Let me know in the comments down below if you visited Lisbon or if in on your list? ♥
Disclaimer. This is not a sponsored post. I included many links so you can have all the info in the same place.