I love Lisbon. It’s the perfect European city. It’s small enough to master but big enough you don’t get bored. It is lively without being in your face and it is truly beautiful.
I first encountered the city last year (read my take on it here) and soon found myself back last month for a cheeky three night break.
After a tricky start to the year with flooding and unbeknownst to us a Coronavirus knocking at the door, I’m so glad I had a break in the 22C sunshine to lift my spirits a wee bit.
Last time I visited, Lisbon was a base to explore but also to venture further out. This time Lisbon was the star of the show. My friend who I went with has been a few times so she was the perfect guide. It feels so decadent to sit outside in a t-shirt with a beer in February but that’s what we did when we first arrived and took in the view of the River Tagus.
Whilst we were there to relax, we also didn’t let the few days pass without squeezing in as much as possible. We toured the streets of Alfama and Bairro Alto, tiny little pavements and streets which veer off to the left or the right. It’s on a par with Venice for just being able to wander aimlessly and thoroughly enjoy yourself.
We loved the Tile Museum. Now that might sound a bit dull but when you see the beautiful tiles that make every property in Lisbon come alive, you’re entranced. The museum is great with an amazing church inside which makes quite the statement as well as seeing how the tradition of ornate tiles came to be so prevalent in Portugal. If you haven’t mentally redesigned your bathroom by the time you come out, there’s something wrong with you.
We also went up the huge arch dominating the Praca do Comercio down by the river. One thing Lisbon is very proud of are views with opportunities everywhere but this is pretty spectacular. We caught it at sundown and it was stunning to see the golden light covering all the terracotta buildings.
Lisbon has a vibrant nightlife and we found ourselves in Pensao Amor for two nights. A former brothel which now plays host to DJs and burlesque performers, a sex shop and a tarot reader. It’s clearly a tourist haunt but its fun to people watch.
It’s easy to find a decent meal in Lisbon. In the day get yourself down to the Time Out Market, a gourmet food hall with all the Portugese favourites such as croquettes and pasteis (don’t come back without having at least one), you can also find seafood, meats and veggie dishes galore. You must call into the espresso cafes they have dotted around. No chairs here, you simply take a slug of the good stuff and maybe a pastry and then on your way. They also translate this to Ginja bars where you can get a hit of cherry liquor.
At night we just wandered until we found something that caught our fancy. Tapas is wonderful here, Portugese dishes seem a little larger and really tasty. We also had amazing Peri peri chicken, for ten euros we were in heaven.
I would really recommend getting a Lisbon Card when you arrive at the airport. For 30 Euros we travelled on all public transport including funicular, tram and bus plus we got free entry to attractions. Just remember to carry it with you at all times because you feel a fool when you have to pay needlessly for a funicular, believe me.
One other thing is that street dealing of drugs is rife and sometimes they can be a little over persuasive. Just be firm and say no and don’t engage in any eye contact. It’s not in their interest to make a fuss but they can still be intimidating.
I’m definitely going to visit Lisbon again, something about this city has got into my heart.