When I arrived in Lisbon, I immediately felt at ease. I’m not sure if it was the warm sun on my face after a rainy few weeks in London, or the energy I felt from the people, but I felt at home. Lisbon, Portugal has been on my travel list for quite some time, so I was hopeful and excited for a new adventure. Here are some of my new favorite things to do in Lisbon.
I took the bus from the Lisbon airport, which I quickly learned is the least efficient way to get into the city center, but it helped me get my bearings and enjoy the weather. When you fly into Lisbon, take the metro, it’s less than 2 Euros and it’s incredibly easy to navigate.
The week before I booked a cheap Airbnb for only $25/night. I try to live on $50 a day or less, including accommodation, so this was right in my budget. I think I hit the jackpot with this find. Not only was it incredibly cheap, had an amazing view, and I had a spacious queen sized bed all to myself, but little did I know I was about to create my own Lisbon gang of friends.
My Brazilian Airbnb host, Erasmo, was so nice and hospitable it was hard not to find him endearing and his Brazilian comrade Luiz helped me translate to English and attempted to teach me proper Portuguese pronunciations. My flatmate, Adriano, was a financier waiting for his work visa to Brazil. Then of course, I met up with a fellow blogger and journalist, Priscilla, whom I met in Prague. The group of us navigated the city and Erasmo and Luiz took us to the best places in town.
Of course, I started my journey with a free walking tour. This is my favorite way to greet a city. Not only do I get a ‘lay of the land,’ but I can mark down favorite spots to visit later. While I waited for the tour to start, I ordered a couple pastel de nata. The original Pastéis de Belém can only be found in Belem. Since I quickly fell in love with these custard filled pastries, Belém was on my places to see. After the tour, which took us through Bairro Alto and Bairro Chiado, I had my favorite spots to go back to.
The Carmo Ruins
This church was once known as one of the most beautiful Gothic temples in Lisbon until the earthquake of 1755 struck. The earthquake was disastrous and not only did it kill many many people, but also destroyed most of the original architecture. Some believe it to be a miracle that most of Carmo was still left standing. Inside is an archaeological museum filled with artifacts.
Just beyond the Carmo ruins is a little pathway that takes you the top of the Santa Justa Lift, which promises an amazing view of Lisbon. Most people will wait at the bottom of the elevator for over an hour and have to pay €6 to get to the top. You can skip the line and a few Euro by taking the extra steps.
Another place with a view, and a great place to see the sunset is at the top of **. I forgot that it was Valentine’s day when I went and was surrounded by lovers. When you can’t beat em, join them right? I offered to take pictures for couples with the romantic backdrop of Lisbon behind them.
Another place with a view, and a great place to see the sunset is at the top of Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. I forgot that it was Valentine’s day when I went and was surrounded by lovers. When you can’t beat em, join them right? I offered to take pictures for couples with the romantic backdrop of Lisbon behind them.
Ok, one last place for a great view. If you’re exploring Alfama, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte boasts another great rooftop view and you can stroll through the narrow streets and look at different shops and cafes. Unfortunately, the day I went, it was pissing down rain, which made it a quick visit.
Things to Do in Lisbon at Night
While I was in the Alfama district, I met some friends at a hole in the wall bar, where they were playing traditional Faro music. Everyone was crammed into this tiny bar, some sitting on floors, laps, and taking up every available inch of space to hear the band. Different singers would take turns performing for the crowd. Due to my Lisbon gang making way too much noise in the alley way, we soon departed to explore the rest of the Lisbon nightlife.
One of the very touristy and must see bar streets is Pink Street. The street is painted pink and the bars are open until the wee hours of the morning. You can carry your drinks from bar to bar and enjoy your beer on the street if you prefer.
I have to say my favorite bar we went to was Pensão Amor. It used to be a whore house back in the day. The walls are covered with nude photographs, an alcove filled with erotic novels, and a hidden room where you can get your fortune told. There is even a burlesque show in the evenings. We went on a Tuesday and it was still packed, I can’t imagine how busy it would have been on the weekends, but it’s an experience not to miss.
Lisbon for Book Readers
Don’t worry, I also did a bit of geeking out while I was in Lisbon. The oldest standing bookshop is in Bairro Chiado. If you buy a book, you can get a stamp that says “From the World’s Oldest Bookshop” in either English or Portuguese. I got both. They had a few English books for sale. I found a crime novel titled, A Death in Lisbon, I thought it was quite fitting.
Reconnecting in Lisbon
Part of my purpose for visiting Lisbon, was to meet up with my fellow blogger friend Priscilla. We met on a free walking tour in Prague. I still remember the day we met. The tour started at about 10 in the morning, not incredibly early, but early enough. I see a Brazilian woman waiting for the tour and drinking a beer. I took a few side steps to try to ensure we were put in the same group. I asked her, how come she was drinking a beer so early, “This is my breakfast, a beer was cheaper than water.” We were instant friends. Priscilla was making her way back to her home in Brazil and we met in Lisbon to do some sightseeing and reconnect.
Our first stop was to Belém to try those tasty pastries I talked about earlier. While we were there we stopped to take a few photo ops atéé