Travel Log: Lisbon, Portugal
I promised a travel log on Lisbon, and today I want to share a peek into the main sights of this beautiful and vibrant city. We recently traveled to Europe for the wedding of two dear friends in San Sebastian, Spain (more on that city later), and we had extra two days at the beginning of our trip to spend in a different city of our choosing. Portugal has been on our list to explore, and on this trip it finally worked out for us to squeeze in an quick visit to its capital city. During our two days in Lisbon, we were able to walk through the main areas and see the many of the major sites. However, we by no means were able to see everything, or try all of the amazing restaurants, and we certainly want to return. Please read on for more photos and details of the lovely city of Lisbon.
This square, Praça Luis de Camões, is located between the Chiado and Bairro Alto neighborhoods and is named after Portugal's greatest poet. It was a perfect place to take a break, grab drinks, and people watch on Sunday afternoon.
Lisbon is famous for its yellow trams that connect the different neighborhoods via six lines. The first tram started operating in 1873, and its most famous line is Tram 28 that passes through the most popular tourist districts. We thought about riding the tram on Sunday afternoon as we walked around, but they were always completely packed so we took Ubers instead (Ubers in Lisbon are readily available and reasonably priced). Next time we visit Lisbon, I absolutely want to wake up early and catch one of the first trams to have the experience!
One thing I loved about Lisbon was the significant number of well maintained public spaces throughout the city. The below photos were taken at a scenic viewpoint called Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. This small park had not only a gorgeous view, but also a cafe with outdoor tables to sit and enjoy that view. It was warm and sunny on this particular Sunday afternoon, so there were quite a few people enjoying a drink or a bite to eat in the shade of the park.
We wanted to watch the sunset Sunday evening, so we first headed to a hotel that is known for its rooftop terrace and sunset views (Memmo Alfama). Unfortunately, the hotel had closed their rooftop for a private event but the staff suggested another restaurant, Porto del Sol, that was less than a 10 minute walk. On our way to our new sunset destination, we stopped at another lovely public park called Miradouro de Santa Luzia for a few minutes. There was a live band playing and a fun, lively atmosphere.
The sunset views from Portas do Sol's outdoor terrace were lovely, and a great recommendation for people like us who did not think ahead to make a restaurant reservation. We enjoyed drinks on the terrace and then walked further into the Alfama neighborhood for dinner.
The next morning, we met up with friends at the Time Out Market. Whenever we travel, we love to visit local markets and food halls! This one was created by the media company Time Out Portugal, and brings the best Lisbon talent under one roof (one of the four sides is dedicated to Portugal's Michelin-starred chefs). The site has contained the Mercado da Ribeira since the 1890's, but the market as it stands today was created in 2014. It was difficult to choose a dish, but I went with an octopus rice daily special from Marlene Vieira and was not disappointed. We also grabbed delicious ice cream from local favorite Santini.
After lunch, we took an Uber to the visit the Jerónimos Monastery and Belem Tower. While we did not go inside the monestary, we walked around the outside and took in the detailed sculpture work. We then took a tuktuk over to Belem Tower--you could walk, but 1) it was 90 degrees out and 2) we walked back from Belem Tower to the monastery and Pastéis de Belém next door, so our thought was that walking one way was enough.
Torre de Belém is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Lisbon's most famous landmarks. Built in the early 1500's, Belem Tower was built at the mouth of the Tagus River to defend the city from attacking ships. These days, you can tour the tower any day but Monday (the day we stopped by), so we enjoyed the views of the exterior and the river.
After checking out Belem Tower, we walked along the river to Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to Discoveries). The Monument to Discoveries pays homage to 33 Portuguese figures from the Age of Discovery, with Prince Henry the Navigator at the forefront. Other notable figures in this monument are Vasco da Gama (discovered a sea route to India), Pedro Álvares Cabral (discovered Brazil), and Ferdinand Magellan (first to circumnavigate the globe). Along this walk, we could not help notice a bridge that looks eerily similar to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. The Ponte 25 de Abril was built by the American Bridge Company in 1966, not the same as the Golden Gate Bridge but perhaps inspired by them.
There is an observation deck at the top of the Monument to Discoveries that can either be reached by a small elevator plus one flight of steps. On the day we visited, there was no line so we sprung for the 5 euro admission fee. We hung out on the observation deck for 10-15 minutes soaking up the afternoon sun and enjoying the views before heading back down to ground level.
One reason for leaving the Monument of Discoveries observation deck was to walk back across the street (via an underground pedestrian passageway), past the monastery, and into Pastéis de Belém for their famous pastel de nata (egg tarts). This shop started making pastel de nata in 1837, following an ancient recipe from the monastery next door. Egg tarts and iced coffee were the perfect treat to follow an afternoon of sightseeing! Now we sampled a few different pastel de nata, and I loved them all. I don't discriminate when it comes to Portuguese egg tarts.
On the way to dinner, I requested a stop at Rossio Square (actual name: Praça de D. Pedro IV) because of its historical significance. "Rossio" is roughly equivalent to the English word "common," as this square has been a meeting place or commons since the 13th century. This square, and many others in the city, are covered in Portuguese Pavement: small stones arranged in beautiful mosaic-like patterns. These days the square is a tourist attraction, but some of the buildings around the square are also historic and worth walking around to see.
For dinner, we knew we wanted to try one of Chef Jose Avillez's restaurants (he's a Lisbon legend with 2 Michelin starred restaurants) and we were able to get a reservation at Bairro do Avillez Pateo, known for its delicious seafood. Below you will see a few of the fabulous dishes we shared: a charcuterie plate, "exploding olives," giant prawns, and a crab salad. It was a wonderful way to finish our two days in Lisbon!
I hope you enjoyed this photo tour of Lisbon! This was a quick visit, but I am glad we were able to go and see as much as we did. I definitely want to return to Portugal to see Porto, Sintra, and several of the seaside towns. Please stay tuned for an outfit post this Thursday (I will be linking up with Ada of Elegance and Mommyhood for her Thursday Moda Series), and a travel log for San Sebastian next week. Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a wonderful week!