I love a European city break… Not only is the flight short, you can catch some sunshine early October when it starts to get dark and rains back home (UK).
Our flight out of Birmingham was at 7am which meant we were in Lisbon for 930am. Though it may be tiring having an early start you get a whole day away and you are on holiday so you can do what you want at your own pace.
We got an Uber for about 9 euros from the airport to our flat.
I was unsure what area to stay at and googled where all the nicer hotels were situated and booked the closest Airbnb
about. In the end this was Bairro Alto.
We booked our first Airbnb after looking at the hotel prices.
The reviews for the one we stayed in were great however I was a bit taken back when we got into the flat. The flat looked a lot bigger in the photos. The lounge was a good size however the room, kitchen and bedroom were all crammed into a small space with no natural light.I would not have minded but based on the reviews and photos I was expecting a bit more.
The location was perfect and the owner was great. He gave us some recommendations and valuable tips. Though Bairro Alto is known for its night life, the flat was in a quiet area.
The flat was walking distance from many restaurants and had great access to many routes/tram stops.
Miradoura de Sao Pedro de Alcantare is about five minutes walk and you can get a tram down the hill to get you to Hard Rock Cafe/ Avenue da Liberdade. Views from the top are great and you can see the Castle day and night.
The first day we decided to venture out and find our bearings. The flat was in a quiet area and didn’t seem like it was central but it was.
The walk to Alfama was about 30 minutes walk.
Few tips on Lisbon
Lisbon is set on seven hills and the streets are all cobbled which means it is pretty hard to walk in heels and it’s not the best for prams or those less able to walk. You can however get Ubers there and trams which take you up down the hills.
The trams are about 2.90 Euro each way.
When in Lisbon do try and get a ride on one of the Trams. Tram 28 is a popular one that takes you right to the castle from the town centre. The castle (Castelo de Sao Jorge or St George’s Castle) is lovely and the surrounding area is beautiful. We were told to visit the flea market which is the next stop from the castle. If you like bric a brac then it’s worth going.
I would get off at the next stop anyway and walk down to the castle so you can visit all the little alleyways and get away from the crowds.
It gets really crowded so try and get on earlier stops. Also be aware of pick pockets on the Tram.
A lot of restaurants automatically put bread/cheese/olives on your table. These are not complimentary and you get charged for them. I think it is very sly of them. I don’t know what the rules are about telling them you don’t want it because sometimes we were just eating the bread because we thought it was free and it was given to us. We didn’t order it!
Places to eat:
Tapas Bucho: this little tapas bar in Bairro Alto was recommended to me. It’s always busy in the evening however if you wait for a bit you can get a table. Everything on the menu looks appetising. We had the pork cheeks, prawns, burger, green fries and the chocolate brownie and they were all tasty. We were tempted to order the egg and chips which looked amazing but could not physically fit it in. We would have gone back for it if we had more time.
This place was reasonably priced and had a casual atmosphere.
Restaurante A Baiuca: this was a recommendation again; we were told the octopus was a must. The food was reasonably priced.
Once we sat down we were given some warm bread followed by Parma ham, olives and cheese. Of course we paid for all this because we didn’t realise it was not free. Yes it’s not a lot of money but it’s the principal. Apart from the octopus which was tasty, the cod pie which the waiter recommended was not great. It tasted of butter and potatoes. I barely tasted any cod. A lot of locals cook with dehydrated cod flakes which I personally think tastes chewy.
Cervejaria Ramiro: this is a good seafood restaurant but not the best. Always try and book because it gets busy. If you have to wait they have a beer vending machine for guests while you wait in the terrace( it’s about 1 Euro I think).
You get a tablet to show you what is available and the price based on weight so you don’t actually know how much you will pay for most items.They don’t have any vegetables or fries with their food. You get some warm buttered and toasted bread at the start and think it is to be enjoyed with your mains. It is seafood heaven but I felt I needed something else to go with the meal. We ordered the garlic prawns and lobster. The staff member brings over the lobster and asks if it is okay; it is a good experience because you get to take a photo of you with the lobster you are going to it.The prawns were tasty and covered in melted butter. The actual garlic pieces would have been nice to eat but they were mixed with salt crystals and it was too salty.
The lobster was pretty big and came with lobster eggs and tomalley (the green stuff). The lobster wasn’t as tasty as a smaller one would have been and the tomalley, though it’s meant to be a delicacy, was not appetising. We tried the eggs and they weren’t tasty either.
It was a good experience and the restaurant had a great buzz to it however the meal was disappointing. Apparently all the Michelin chefs go here when they visit Lisbon.
Time out market
This market is buzzing and is open until midnight. It has a range of shops, restaurants and bars. If we had time we would have gone back and eaten here again. We had great Parma ham tapas from the time out market. All the food looked great and we were spoilt for choice.
We also had the natas from here and they were amazing.
Just outside of the main time out market entrance (the one opposite the train station) there is a little shop that has Ginga De Obidos marketed all over it. This is the famous Portuguese cherry 🍒 liquor. The store sells a lot of this liquor as well as cheap local beer and we stopped here to have a drink and watch the world go by. Think the bill for both the beer and shot of the liquor came to 1.80 euros so great price.
Manteigaria :I wanted to take some natas back home and came across this store. They make them on site and they are fresh. They staff member said they last 3 days if not kept in the fridge and just over a week in the fridge.<<<<<<
re tasty and fresh. We had them to takeaway and for satchets of icing sugar and cinnamon with them too. Everyone loved them back home. I like them crispy on the outside and warm and slightly gooey inside…
Os Jeronimos, Belem :Whilst in Belem we stopped for lunch at this restaurant.
We wanted to try the Portuguese Sardines and they had them here. The staff are quick and the food is great. The sardines come with salad and boiled potatoes. They were freshly grilled and really tasty. We had asparagus wrapped in Parma ham which was ok. It would have been better if the asparagus was fresh; it was white and had the texture of the tinned ones. The staff member who served us said if we needed additional sardines, salad or potatoes it was free. I don’t know if this is true because we didn’t need any extras.<<<<<<
her restaurants this one provided us with bread at the start which we paid.
Pasteis de Belem:< em>< img class=”wp-image-300″ src=”https://mostlyfoodandtravel.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/img_9585.jpg” width=”4032″ height=”3024″> This is the place to have the natas when in Belem. The restaurant is big and you can have lunch here too. The service is slow and it seems a bit disorganised so make sure you are not in a rush when you visit. You have to queue a lot of the times too for a seat. We sat down for coffees and natas and it must have been almost an hour by the time we queued, sat down, got served and received our drinks. The natas were tasty as expected.
Pastel de Bacalhau: In commercial square, Praca Do Comercio, there are a few restaurants with views of the sea and the square. It’s a nice place to people watch. We stopped by at Pastel de Bacalhau to try their croquettes because they looked great.
The photos made it look like the dish had melted cheese inside that was covered with cod then coated with breadcrumbs. We thought it was dry (probably made from the dehydrated cod) and didn’t taste of much. There was barely any cheese in it either.
Park; Roof top bar on top of a garage: This bar is on top of a multi storey car park and is easy to miss. It has great views of Lisbon and offers a nice selection of drinks. The atmosphere was vibrant and relaxed.
< em>Bettina & Nicollo Corallo: this is a chocolate cafe that has a great selection of chocolates and really good coffee.
One thing they don’t do in the summer is hot chocolate which we found a bit strange considering it was a chocolate store. They did nice brownies here and you got a piece of complimentary chocolate of your choice with your coffee.
this is a nice gallery with great little shops. The shops seemed to be independent and had a lovely selection of items especially leather goods.
Luvaria Ullsses: opposite the gothic lift (Elevador de Santa Justa ) in Baixa we stumbled across this little shop that had a queue outside. It was a specialist glove shop.
If you can’t normally find gloves that fit you well this is the place to go! I have small hands and can never find leather gloves that are lined in my size and they had them. A couple from China were in there before us and they said they come every time they are around to get gloves for their family. The owner offers a great service and said all their gloves are handmade. He also said if there were any issues with the stitching to send them back and he would repair them.
O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa ; The sardine shop/museum< em>
s definitely worth going to even if its just to look at the traditional tinned sardines. We didn't buy any because it was about 7 euros for a tin. Each of the sardine tins have a year and interesting facts on the year. I think there is some sort of show in the shop too but we didn't hang around.
Other interesting things..<<<<<<
there is a cable car that takes you across parquet das Nacoes. It was 3.50 euros one way and was a pleasant ride over the River Tagus and a nice way to get from one end to the other. You get nice views of the town. This part of Lisbon is different to Baixo.
Parks/ Squares <<<<<<
re lovely parks and squares dotted around Lisbon and the only way we came across them is by getting lost and walking everywhere. Some of the ones we came across were:
Martim Monez: This is a multicultural square; also known as Dragon Square. This had a massage place along with some food stalls and a DJ. You could get a nice view of the castle from here.<<<<<
rsity of Lisbon Botanical Garden and Praca do Imperio. < Gray hop on tours: with many other city breaks, going on a hop on hip of bus is a great way to see all the major sites of the town. We got the gray line which wasn’t the best because it seemed to take longer than the rest of the tour buses and the audio was appalling because it didn’t inform us on some key attractions.
We got the Oriente which takes you to the East side of Lisbon where you can get the cable car and visit Vasco Da Gama.
This route passes the Benfica stadium too.
We also got the Belem line which took us to the Belem Tower and all the great historic buildings around there. If we had one more day we would have gone to the beach; there are good reviews about beaches which are across the river from Belem.
Make sure you visit Belem whilst in Lisbon. It’s got great culture and is a busy town. On route to Belem you will pass a lovely bridge which looks like the one in San Francisco- that is because it was built by the same person.
The main centre in Lisbon has a great buzz. You can get all the usual high street brands as well as independents. Try and have a good wonder around because that I feel is the only way you come across lovely sights, buildings and architecture including the mosaic tiles/