Sunday, 7 October 2018

TRAVEL GUIDE: 48 HOURS IN LISBON



Lisbon was an absolute dream. 

I think I am still in shock by the beauty of it. Stepping into the city felt like being stepping into a complete different world, and definitley not somewhere in Europe. Somewhere only a 2 hours flight away from home. It has such a different vibe to any other European city - so relaxed, so culturally rich and so majestic in an almost antiquated way. 

We spent three days in Portugal, two in Lisbon and one in Sintra (a small town near Lisbon, stay tuned for another post coming your way very soooon!). Realistically,  three days are enough to get to know the city. However, it is the kind of place where you kind of want to stay forever. You know, quit your job and open a hotel à la Mamma Mia.

What I loved the most about Lisbon is that it has so many quirky neighbourhoods that are perfect to wander and get lost in, you never know what's going to be just around the corner. So, get lost with me. Here's where we stayed, what we did and (most importantly) where we ate.

where we stayed

We stayed in a beautiful apartment in the centre of Lisbon, near Praça do Comércio on Rua da Padaria. It was a great location as it was very close to the metro, the tram and within walking distance to many restaurants, markets and also the ocean (which is always an added bonus).

The apartment was very Portuguese - very colourful but not in an obnoxious way, and very modern. It basically looked pretty much like what I want my future house to look like - clean look with a rustic touch and some colour

what we did 

There is a lot to do in Lisbon, but at the same time there isn't. Whilst you could easily spend two days visiting all the touristy sites, the best way to get to know the city is to simply wander around and explore the city by foot.  

That being said, there are a few things you should definitely check out whilst you're there. 

On the first day, we visited Praça do Comércio which was very near where we were staying and then took the tram to Belém, one of the most famous neighbourhoods in Lisbon.




Belém

The main thing Belém is known for is the famous Pastéis de Natas (or custard tarts), which are quite literally heaven on Earth. If you don't know what they are, think of the standard British custard tarts but more cinnamon-y and just a hundred times better.

Whilst you're there, definitley go to the bakery called Pastéis de Belem - you won't miss it, as there is usually a very long queue. Definitely worth the wait. Best custard tarts I have ever tried, and I have tried quite a few.




Near the bakery you will find the Jerónimos Monastery, a stunning white building with very intricate designs. If you have time, try to go inside; it's not cheap, but definitely worth it!

From there, we walked towards the ocean/river and then walked to the Tower de Belém. At that point I had eaten too many custard tarts so I was in a diabetic coma and could barely move. Therefore, I didn't pay much attention but it was a pretty tower... and we also saw some giant jellyfish. And when I say giant I mean bigger than my face. 





LX Factory


If you are into Shoreditch (in London), Berlin and this kind of vibe... what some would call edgy, then LX Factory is your place. 

It's an old industrial complex of house turned into restaurants, shops, libraries, hairdressers, tattoo parlours, everything. A very creative space which can only be described as the Shoreditch of Lisbon. 

Alfama

Again, another very famous neighbourhood in London. Every day they have the so called Feira da Ladra, a massive flea market which I guess it started off being for the locals but has now become very touristy. It is nice to walk around and you might find some interesting stuff, and a lot of people selling tiles, but I don't think it's worth spending too much time there. 




Once you have seen the market, just walk around the streets of Alfama. There isn't anything specific to see except the beautiful tile houses and random colourful streets. 

There is also a great viewing point called Miradouro Santa Luzia, it doesn't only have great views but the place itself is also stunning (and great for photos... because you gotta get that Instagram).


Bairro Alto & Chiado

This was probably one of my favourite areas of Lisbon - probably because it was more "city-like" and lively. It's a very central district, where all the big shops and many restaurants are. Even though it definitely has a city vibe, it is still very picturesque and there is no lack of narrow quaint streets.

It is great to walk around in the evening or late afternoon. It's also a very hilly area and where the classic Lisbon photo is taken. You know the one: uphill street, yellow tram and colourful houses? 

Chiado is another are that is very similar to Bairro Alto but a bit more structured and with bigger wider streets. And also more commercial. It is more modern and what feels "less" like Lisbon if that makes any sense. 

Still beautiful, though. I just can't say no to a house with pretty tiles.


where we ate 

If you're a foodie, Lisbon is your place. They have countless types of pastries (all equally delicious) and so much seafood. 

Breakfast


We had breakfast at the same bakery near our apartment - Portela Cafe. My favourite pastries (which you can find at most bakeries) were pao deus (sweet dough with some sort of coconut-y paste) and, obviously, pasteis de nata. But I honestly didn't try a bad pastry during my entire trip, so everything is delicious. 

Lunch

The only noteworthy place we went for lunch was TimeOut Market. A food hall where every "restaurant" has been chosen by TimeOut - so you know it's good. I was a bit skeptical first because it just looked very touristy but everything we tried was really good and there is so much to choose from.   Anything from oysters to croquettes - the latter being my absolute favourite. 

Dinner


For dinner we went to A Casa do Bacalhau, which is a restaurant that specialises in cod. In Portugal (or Lisbon at least), it is very common to have a few smaller sharing dishes - sort of like tapas - rather than one big dish each. However, they only bring on at a time - they wait until you have finished and then they will bring the next one. It is a bit odd but I kind of prefer it, you get to try so much more food! 

We also went to Taberna Rua dos Flores - a very traditional Portuguese restaurant. It is a very small restaurant and you can't book in advance, instead you have to go to the place at around 6-6:30pm and they will put your name down and tell you to come back in about an hour or so (depending on availability, it is an extremely popular restaurant). So you don't really get to choose when to eat but it's definitley worth the small inconvenience. 

Their menu is very traditional and everything we tried was absolutely incredible. Again, they also serve tapas style dishes for the table to share instead of big plates. I would recommend you try as much fish and seafood as you can as that's what I found to be the best! 

Desserts/Pastries


I have a big sweet tooth, so Portugal was my heaven on Earth - the amount of pastries and little sweet treats that hey have is mind blowing and they are all equally delicious. 

The number one place you have to go to if you're in Lisbon is Pasteis de Belem - I can't even tell you how good their custard tarts are. So good that I had too many too quickly and then felt sick for the rest of the day - but I still don't regret it. Expect a big queue, but 100% worth the wait. 


We were walking around Alfama when we stumbled into this little bakery called Fabrica Pastel Feijao - a very traditional and small bakery that specialises in Pastel de Feijao, a white bean and almond pastry. I was not expecting much of it as I didn't know how I would feel about white beans in a pastry, but it was so good. If you're in the neighbourhood, definitley try one! 

Finally, another dessert worth mentioning is the éclair we had at the TimeOut Market - not very Portuguese but still delicious. I can't remember the name of the stall but there is only one place that sells éclairs so it's hard to miss! 





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