Lisbon is one of the most laid back capitals I’ve visited. It actually felt more like a smaller city than the capital of a country which was a nice surprise. I actually expected it to be a lot like Spain but in reality it was very different. From trying the pastel de natas (Portuguese custard egg tarts) to the windy and narrow roads to the yellow iconic trams, Lisbon has a lot to offer and best of all – it’s so much cheaper than the rest of Western Europe! My highlights included;
#1 Exploring the city through windy, narrow roads and discovering what is hidden beyond the next wall. Lisbon is very hilly but the paths going up and down the city are an attraction in itself. Many of these stairs and walls are lined with beautiful street art and along the way there’s plenty of places to stop and take a break with some tapas and a nice cold drink. Two of my favorite walking adventures was the climb up to St. George’s castle from Baixa (downtown) area and wandering around the Alfama district.
#2 Gorgeous views that made Lisbon look more like a Mediterranean city with white washed walls, red tiled rooftops and warmer weather than a Western European capital. There are multiple free lookouts within the city that offer great views of the city and ocean so no need to pay (especially for attractions like the Santa Justa elevator which costs €5, has a queue to wait in and is apparently pretty touristy and crowded at the top).
#3 Riding on a tram. We found out that there were a few routes that were more scenic than others so we hopped on the 28 towards the north and took it back down towards the city centre. This was such a fun experience! An old tram, crammed with tourists and locals chugging along windy narrow roads. Some of the roads are so narrow that pretty much only one tram can fit on the road at one time… and that’s exactly what happened to us…we were stuck in a TRAM JAM! 🙂 And then there were the locals. On one of the trams we got on, there was a big group of old Portuguese men and women. You’d think they’d be the quietest but they were the ones swinging from the bars, singing at the top of their lungs and making the most noise. A good reminder to not let age keep you from having the fun!
#4 Food and Drink. Where to start… the tapas were amazing and different than Spanish tapas. We had this flaming sausage that you had to eat with very skilled hands! The custard egg tarts were absolutely heavenly. We went to the most famous place called Pasteis de Belem that usually has a line out the door and onto the streets and ordered a few of them along with some coffee for a delicious late night snack. And lastly, we tried a Portuguese – Mozambique – Indian fusion restaurant. We were really excited for to see what this fusion would be like but sadly although the food was really good, it was really just Indian food. Going out is really fun in the city too. All the bars stay open very late (a nice change from London’s midnight Cinderella curfew) and everyone is spilled out on the streets, leaving the inside of the bars actually empty.
#5 History. There is a lot of history to this small nation especially since their influence spans multiple continents. As with the UK, I was really interested to see the originals of many things such as custard egg tarts (found in Asia), the replica of the San Francisco bridge (ok it’s probably the original) and Christ the Redeemer statue (although the one in Brazil is way bigger).