After a relaxing time in Lagos in the south of Portugal, it was time to head north to the capital, Lisbon.
Train from Lagos to Lisbon
We prefer to take trains over buses as they’re (usually) faster, more comfortable, have less risk of delays, and there is less chance of getting motion sickness, something Emily is very prone to.
This said, we wish we took the bus as we missed our train stop (oops!) and had to get a 30 minute bus back to town. Not only that, but the bus driver charged us for four people instead of two and no amount of discussion could get our money back. “no possib” he insisted. Welcome to Lisbon.
For a fast bus from Lagos to Lisbon (quicker than a train), check out Rede National Expressos.
A Hostel Stay in Lisbon
Minute travel problems aside, we were looking forward to our stay in Yes! Lisbon hostel, which has won ‘Hostel of the Year’ numerous times. The hostel is perfectly located right in the centre of town within walking distance to everything.
It’s very clean (always a plus haha) with all the amenities (even curtains on your bunk!), pleasant and helpful staff, a solid social atmosphere, a well laid out common area & €10 dinners which include a starter, main, salad, dessert and 2.5 hours of all-you-can-drink beer, wine and sangria. This brought everyone together in the hostel and you constantly heard people introducing themselves and telling their story. A highly recommended place to stay if this is what you’re after!
Food in Portugal
What comes to mind when you think of Portuguese food? Is it Peri-Peri chicken? Portuguese Tarts? Cod fish? Pastries? All of the above?
Well yes, all of the above and we certainly had our fair share, especially the pastries & custard tarts, which can be found in every second store. Every time we walked past one of these stores we would “try” another… just in case it was different 😉
Portugal is also very well known for its cod fish (mainly imported from Norway haha). It’s claimed that they can prepare cod fish 400 different ways. One of the more common preparations includes their cod fish cake/ball, with or without cheese inside. A deliciously tasty treat.
Good things to know about restaurants in Portugal.
- You will be charged an extra 10% for sitting outside.
- If restaurants put out appetizers on your table, they are not free and you will be charged.
Things to do in Lisbon
Explore, Eat & Drink
The central area of Lisbon is very easy to explore on foot as there is one main boulevard and the rest on a grid. You can easily spend your days exploring these areas, with or without a map, but ensure you check out the neighbourhoods of Bairro Alto especially after midnight and Santa Cantarina. For Alfama get a tram as it’s very hilly.
Take a Tram!
We recommend hopping on tram number 28, which goes along the most historical & hilly route of Lisbon. This tram clanks up the narrow streets and sometimes you get so close to stores that you could reach out your window and grab yourself a treat!
You can hop on and off at anytime but we recommend riding to the flea markets or the final stop at the top of the hill, which after a short walk gets you to a view overlooking all of Lisbon.
Be prepared to wait for the tram and be crammed in, as they are very popular among tourists… as well as pickpockets. If you buy the ticket on the tram it will cost you €2.85 however if you buy off the tram in the small stalls around the city, it will only cost€1.80.
Take a Day Trip Out of Lisbon
A friend recommended we take a tour with a company called We Hate Tourism. Sound bizarre? We thought so too but it was a wonderful day trip that took us to many places outside of central Lisbon.
Our guide was a local Portuguese man, who was energetic, full of knowledge and a major lover of football. Not soccer which he assured us was a “girl’s sport”. His team had just won the championship match the day prior so maybe that’s why he was so energetic/loud?!
In our 8 seater mini bus we were driven through the crazy streets of Lisbon, zig-zagging our way past the buses, trams, bikes, tourists, cars & taken to the highest point in Lisbon to look over the city.
We also visited / did:
- Sintra – UNESCO World Heritage site, with many 19th century buildings, including typical “fairy tale castles”.
- Tried Ginja (A cherry liquer shot served in a dark chocolate cup)
- Monseratt Estate – Beautiful palace and themed gardens.
- Cemiterio dos Prazeres – One the most ‘beautiful’ cemeteries in the world.
- Consumed a typical picnic lunch (Ham, Chesse, Wine, Olives)
- Cascais Estoril Coast– A coastal town 30km west of Lisbon City. Cascais is one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in Portugal, with huge beach front mansions, fancy cars, cobbled streets and a variety of cute restaurants to eat at. Most notably Santini, a famous gelato shop known for its fresh gelato especially the fruit flavours.
Outside of the tour above, we visited Belem, a popular neighbourhood just outside of Lisbon, easily accessible by a 30 minute tram ride (Tram number 15).
Many of Portugal’s distinctive buildings and landmarks are located here such as the Tower of Belem, Jeronimos Monastery, oh and of course one of the original pastry shops Pasteis de Belem – you must have a warm custard tart here.
We also visited the modern art museum Meseu Coleccao Berardo which was free to visit and had some very interesting, weird and questionable art inside. Worth a pop if going by.
Overall, we very much enjoyed our time in Portugal – the friendly people, the delicious variety of food, the contrasting history and of course, the beaches! The next time we will be sure to visit Porto in the north of the country, but for now it was time to head back to Spain, to San Sebastian, the gastronomy capital of the world.
See here for 25 more best things to do in Portugal.
Marriage days survived: 56