Lisbon, Portugal reminded me so so much of San Francisco, California. It made me feel right at home since SF is one of my home cities. The cable cars, the hills, the bridge that is a REPLICA of the Golden Gate, and the bay all made me feel like I had just stepped back home instead of in Portugal! I spent three days in Lisbon as the last city of my Ireland/Portugal adventure and even escaped to the beach for my last day! (and yes, there are beaches near Lisbon)
Here is a lil guide I gathered from my time there.
First off, Lisbon is not a very walk-able city due to the intense hills. My style for exploring a city is usually just walking around and discovering spots to see/eat/etc but I was unable to do this with Lisbon (I tried and didn’t get very far before I was sweating and panting up steep hills) Luckily, they do have a great public transportation system with an awesome subway system, city buses, and of course, the classic cable cars! I didn’t actually go on a cable car because they all seemed super crowded and I wasn’t entirely sure where they were going, but reading the subway map was a much easier and better option for me.
I spent my first day in Lisbon exploring allll the touristy attractions. I mostly found these by googling “what to do in Lisbon” and just wanted to check out the main spots! There are places I didn’t get to go like the Sao Jorge Castle and the Lisbon Oceanarium mainly because I was all tourist-ed out, but check them out if you are so inclined.
Checking out the beautiful Belem Tower is a definite. Plus, I loved that it was near the water. I spent time at a local cafe eating a tomato & mozzarella sandwich and glass of rose with the nice view of the bay before me. There’s also a nice park nearby to chill at.
The architecture here was astoundingly beautiful. I did not go inside because the line to get in was what felt like miles long and your girl is not interested in standing in lines, so I enjoyed the architecture from the outside.
I was interested in Portuguese art and so I stopped by this museum. It was super cheap, only 5 euro with a student ticket and I spent an hour or two roaming around and learning more about Portugal’s history.
When I’m traveling, I always like to make sure I get introspective and take time to soak up art and history by visiting a local museum. I find it a nice way to get away from the hustle & bustle of the city.
Tip: I got a regular ticket which meant I could just see the three normal exhibits. If you get an all inclusive ticket you have access to the special exhibits, which I would recommend doing since i twas only about 2 euro more and I wish I had seen some of the special exhibits.
Pink street is characterized by – you guessed it, a pink street! I’ve heard this area is popular for nightlife and bars, but since I was not interested in going out during my time abroad, I went during the day to see the pink street for myself 🙂 This was near the famous Time Out Market, so if you want to get an exotic bite to eat and then stop by for some nice street views after, this is the place to be.
Padrao dos Descobrimentos
This was a nice statue to see, again by the bay and view of the bridge. It’s in the same area as the monastery and Belem tower, so you won’t be able to miss it!
I stayed at a hostel in this area and out of all the “spots” I hit up, this seemed to be the most popping out of all of them. Whenever I’m traveling, I like to go where most of the people are to feel like I’m not missing out on anything and this definitely seemed like the place to be. It was lively at night and there are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore.
Sao Pedro de Alacantara
I love a good vista and I actively seek them out when I’m exploring a new city. Luckily, the hostel I was staying at was directly outside from this amazing vista point. On my last night in Lisbon I bought a bottle of portuguese wine; vinho verde and sat overlooking the city writing poetry and it was easily one of my favorite moments being there.
I could not get over the tiled walls in Lisbon. Seriously like even a store like a pharmacy had the most beautifully designed walls. I want my whole house to be covered in these tiles. They’re such a unique characterization of the city.
One of my favorite parts about Lisbon were the multiple pastelarias on every street. I went in and tried a bunch of stuff without knowing what any of it was. I ended up loving this one pastry which I thought was going to be sweet, but ended up being this savory pastry with seafood inside!
I also learned that they call donuts bolas in Portugal, and surprisingly they sold them at every beach I went to. They did not taste like what I expected them to and I’m not even sure how to describe what it did taste like. I guess you’ll have to see for yourself 😉
I also really wanted to indulge in the tapas culture here and I found this place that did “gourmet tapas” and gourmet it was. This little plate consists of a whole hunk of cheese with walnuts, bruschetta with farinheira sausage and goat cheese, and black pudding with mushrooms and black garlic.
Don’t think I didn’t enjoy many a gelato while I was here, because Portugal, like Italy, has incredible gelato. Plus, the tiled walls make the perfect backdrop for the perfect drool worthy photo.
I’ve mentioned it already, but I loved the hostel I stayed at. It is called The Independente Hostel located in the Baixa Chiado neighborhood. I stayed in the all girls 6 bed suite and I was really pleased with it. It’s definitely one of the nicest hostels I’ve ever stayed at and they were just super nice and accommodating.
They had a really nice and simple complimentary breakfast and a gorgeous outdoor patio area to enjoy it in.
They also have a restaurant that I dined at one night and the food was absolutely delicious, so I would highly recommend staying in this hostel.
Exploring the Seaside
After a full day of touristing, I was ready to relax at the beach again so I looked up the closest beach I could get to. I ended up going to Caiscais Beach and although the reviews about Caiscais were not very praiseworthy, I chose to go anyways because I didn’t really want to spend more time in transit and go to the beaches that were further away.
Caiscais ended up being lovely and I spent the whole time tanning topless.
Let me just say, that’s another part I loved about being in Europe because I felt so free to be topless and nobody really judges you or looks at you any different (with the exception of some old men cause you can’t always escape the pervs). Like literally you can be surrounded with people of all ages, children, male, female, whatever and there are old and young ladies free to tan topless. It’s beautiful.
Have you been to Lisbon? What were some of your favorite spots?