Living it up in Lisbon
Lisbon is everything and anything you want it to be. A bustling cosmopolitan city, lined with cafes and boutiques to tempt you on every corner. A colourful, tiered cityscape, dotted with castles and picture-perfect, winding alleyways. A rich tapestry of history, a city still bearing the scars of the earthquake which levelled Lisbon in 1755. The scalloped beaches which characterise the Algarve are a stone’s throw away, and to top it all off, world class cuisine.
Lisbon is a city well worth your time.
There is a lot to do in this city. We spent three gorgeous days exploring with our cameras at the ready, and our bellies blissfully full. We ticked off some of the tourist boxes, and were not disappointed at all - my favourite is Castelo St. Jorges, and 11th century Moorish castle nestled in the middle of the city, offering some stunning views.
A visit to Lisbon is not complete without a short trek out to Belém. Set along the river Tagus, Belém is pivotal to the country’s history and is home to some architectural delights. Most importantly - for my other half with a concerning addiction to custard tarts - it’s the birthplace of Portugal’s national treasure, Pastel de Nata.
Every single guide book you read will tell you to take Tram 28 from Martin Moiz to Prazarez Cemetery for one of the most hair-raising journeys of your life. Lisbon’s quaint yellow trams are probably the most famous visual cue in the city, and we raced out the door one morning to partake in what is now a firmly entrenched tourist ritual. The line was hours long, even on a Sunday. Instead, we flagged down a tuk-tuk and had one of the most memorable adventures on our travels. Our driver took us along the same route, but with the added bonus of commentary and local knowledge. Definitely a better option.
Lisbon is full of unexpected beauty, from crumbling apartment blocks covered in the ubiquitous Portuguese tiles to modern structures.
Now, there are some lovers and some haters out there with respect to Portugal’s food scene. After some less-than-average meals in the south, I don’t blame the latter. Lisbon on the other hand is quite something, and our stomachs high-fived us the whole time. Pharmacia is a must. Formerly a pharmacy (no points for guessing), the decor is incredibly unique and the food was delicious. I recommend coming to watch the sun go down in the early evening, and staying for the 7 course menu.
Taberna da Rua das Flores is a hidden, hipster-esque nook of a restaurant serving traditional fare. The soup was delicious...I couldn’t quite tackle the fish.
Our all-time favourite was probably Tasca da Esquina. Again we took on the 7 course tasting menu and were not disappointed in the slightest. Delicious soft cheeses, tender red meat and the freshest seafood swimming in butter and garlic. We had to be rolled out.
Finally if you’re after a more casual lunch spot, head to Mercado da Ribiera, a culinary haven of a food hall near to the river. I’m a massive advocate of catching the tourist bus if you’ve only got a couple of days in a city, and this joint is perfectly placed along the route for a lazy lunchtime spot.
Lisbon was an amazing city to spend a few days in - it’s a perfect place to ground yourself for trips further afield to beautiful beaches like Caiscais and cultural sites such as Sintra. My gorgeous mother wanted to visit the aquarium, which was one of the best I’ve ever been to.
All in all I can highlight recommend Lisbon. It’s got such a unique vibe, a chilled blend of southern Europe relaxation coupled with a cosmopolitan beat.
Where: Lisbon, Portugal.
When: Early October.
We stayed: The Corinthia, surprisingly affordable in Lisbon.
We did: Visited the majestic Castelo St. Jorges for the best views of the city, jumped on the bus tour, snapped away at the tower of Belem and sampled the famed Pastels de nata, cooled off while learning a thing or two at the Aquarium and hired a tuk-tuk to take us through the nooks and alleyways.
We packed: sandals for walking, sunhats and day dresses.
We ate: Pharmacia, for a unique, memorable dining experience; Taberna da rua das Flores, for authentic fare which the locals line up for, Tasca da Esquina, for our best meal yet and Mercado da Ribiera for a top-notch food hall experience.
Tips: Lisbon is hot - take your time and make sure to make use of some of the beautifully located bars to catch an afternoon drink overlooking the city. Our favourites included Noobai Cafe for panoramic views of the city sipping cool Sangria.
With Love, Kate