Lisbon| October 2017
As you wander the streets it’s like you’ve stepped into the land of candy.
Blue mosaic tiles cover apartment blocks and multi-coloured pastel buildings form a sight that can only be described as ‘paddle-pop street art’.
You could leave Lisbon with nothing more than photos of its colourful streets, and have a story to tell.
Inside these buildings, cafes, restaurants are even more wonderful stories from kind and welcoming people. The streets, and to some degree the people, have a rough-charm to them. Almost as if the entire city, and its people’, spirit animal is a baby lion. They have seen things but still knows they’re an innocent and playful cub.
WHERE WE STAYED
Lisbon was a part of a two month European holiday and the one city we spent a lot of time, in fact, the most amount of time, researching accommodation.
A lot of friends and family had travelled to Lisbon before and gave their recommendations on the best neighbourhoods to stay in.
In the end, we went back to how we like to travel. Staying in wonderful and historically charming hotels or apartments just out of the main square or street of the city. This gives us a chance to explore and see more of that city during our walks to and from our accommodation
We chose to stay in the oldest district, Alfama, which is also known as being the most romantic area in the city. Only a five minute walk into the main town square but far enough away of the noise if we wanted.
We stayed in an Airbnb Apartment named ALFAMA 182. The perfect space for two people and more than enough space for us. If you like to cook and eat at home while on holiday, the apartment and host also provided a full-service kitchen. We only ended up using the kitchen for a cup of tea and something sweet in the evenings … and perhaps a bottle of wine shared on the table at night.
If you can’t do stairs however, we recommend looking elsewhere as this charming small apartment block only has a narrow staircase up to the apartment.
OUTSIDE THE HOTEL
We took a train [about 1.5hrs] out of Lisbon towards Sintra. This is where a lot of the incredible castles and historical landmarks exist.
There is so much to do and see here, each requiring almost a full day to explore on their own. The trains between Lisbon and Sintra are really few and far between so we chose to spend our day at Quinta Da Regaleira which is a 20th Century UNESCO classified residence and one that provokes a lot of questions from it’s past and 20th Century charm.
If you have the time, we would definitely recommend staying overnight in Sintra and exploring more there. Or, likewise, if you have time, doing another day trip out there to see the other sights.
One of the reasons for us heading towards Lisbon was also because of the World Surf League in Peniche. The weather was on and off so a lot of days were called off which meant we only got to head out to Peniche once during our stay, with the intention of catching at least two days.
An early morning bus ride took us out there, which was a few hours long, and we returned early evening. The crowds and the vibe on the beach were perhaps one of our favourite parts of this leg of our trip. There’s also nothing else quite like sitting on the sand, watching world surf league pros surfing shore breaks right in front of you.
If you fancy catching a few waves while in Lisbon, Peniche is the place to head as it’s informal name is Super Tubos’ [super tubes].
The Joneses Rating
Lisbon is such an affordable European city. Even if you decided to stay in the middle of the “city” district amongst the bars and main shopping neighbourhood, it is still so affordable.
The drinks, eats and everything in-between are not typical of a major European city. The restaurants are traditional, no matter how new, and serve delicious food and drinks at really fair prices. It’s almost like the tourism spike here hasn’t changed their way of thinking around costs for such luxuries.
WHAT WE WOULD RETURN FOR
Five days is what we like to give any new city when we are travelling to a lot of places at once. We feel this is the perfect amount of days to get a feel for the city and known whether or not you want to return.
We would 100% return for the WSL Competition again, but other than that, we feel like we experienced Lisbon for everything it had to offer. Nothing really drew us in or connected with us to want to stay longer, or return. It could have been because it was at the end of a big European-City trip and it felt the same as all the others, or it could have simply been that we didn’t connect to Lisbon like many others we know have.
If we found ourselves back that way, we would look to stay in another town in Portugal and explore more of the castles just outside of Lisbon.
WHAT WE WOULD LEAVE BEHIND
The streets are calm and relaxed but sometimes slightly too quiet. There didn’t seem to be a lot to do past midnight and as a traveller, that’s when we’re finishing dinner and looking to move on to a lounge bar.
LISBON CITY GUIDE
The Joneses Lisbon
DO EAT …
You can’t go to anywhere in Portugal without eating a [or many] custard tarts a.k.a Portuguese Tarts.
In Lisbon, our favourites were from Manteigaria.
DO EXPLORE …
We booked a food tour with two other friends who were in Lisbon at the same time. They booked it but there are many options. Ours started in Chiado and ended in Alfami, so explored most of the main districts.
Regardless of which one you choose, you can never go wrong with a Portuguese antipasto.
DO SEE …
The Time Out Markets are the top of all ‘Must Do’ lists when looking up Lisbon. And look. We of course took a walk and checked them out but ate beforehand which was a mistake. Take in the walk and build the appetite and then indulge once there. It’ll be much more worth it.
DO EXPERIENCE …
Find yourself a traditional Fado Restaurant or Bar and listen to the traditional music of Portugal. You’ll find this mostly in Alfama over the Chiado district.
If you need a wine bar pre or post Fado, we loved the wine and vibe on offer at CorkScrew Wine Bar.