Luckily for me, my recent jaunt to Portugal didn’t end with pretty Porto and I got to spend a couple of days revisiting one of my favourite cities: Lisbon. This city is undeniably cool, strikingly beautiful and full of life and colour. I loved it the first time I visited and I loved it even more on my return.
My first visit to Lisbon was four blissful days with new friends as we explored the city in awe of it’s beauty and lifestyle. I could’ve moved in there and then. We ticked off all the main sights, photographed our favourite street art, drank in cool bars and even ventured to Sintra, one of the most magical places on Earth. I have the fondest memories of that trip and I was so excited to get back. The best thing about this trip was that I had nothing on the agenda, I just wanted to enjoy the city for the short time I was there.
On my arrival into Lisbon, my lovely host decided to make me a glorious brunch and then take me to the local beach town, which I didn’t manage to visit last time. Cascais is less than an hour’s train ride away from the city and is a sweet seaside town with some very pretty beaches. It also happens to a number one tourist spot so was packed, but had a great atmosphere. The water was also absolutely freezing, so there was no swimming, but it was a relief to have some 30 degree heat.
A huge bonus of travelling solo: meeting random people everywhere you go, and staying in touch. I met a fabulous Brazilian on my New Year trip to Poland, spent a couple of days with her and then 8 months later was in her spare bedroom in Lisbon. She was a brilliant host and even took me to a Brazilian party in a random forest to show me a little of her culture, even though she lives in Portugal. I learnt that there are a lot of Brazilians in Portugal, and the Portuguese culture is hugely influenced by the Brazilians. I also learnt that they are all bonkers, super friendly and really know how to party.
Finding my favourite places
It surprised me how easy I found it to slip back into Lisbon life. I remembered a lot more than I thought I did and could find my way around the city easily. Most importantly, I could find my way to the best Pastel de Nata bakeries (the popular Mantegeria being the best). I ate 7 in one day.
I wandered aimlessly, stopping frequently to enjoy the views and read my book. With no destination in mind I gawked at the pretty buildings and squares and found myself completely relaxed in this lovely corner of Portugal.
Books and Botanicals
Walking on a little, I ventured into fresh territory. I’m a sucker for a bookshop so I spent a good while wandering around this sweet little store, before walking on and finding the botanical gardens. I didn’t realise Lisbon had botanical gardens, but I’m so glad I found them. It’s an green oasis with a backdrop of trickling water and, when I visited, hosted a modern environmental installation about plastic use which I loved.
Old and New Lisbon
A quick browse of google maps pointed out that Lisbon has a Roman Aqueduct, which I had no idea of. I decided to head to this as it was only a half an hour walk away. The route was beautiful and headed up some of Lisbon’s famous steep streets, across bridges and through some hugely different neighbourhoods. It was great to see a different and unexpected side of the city.
Aqueduto das Águas Livres
When I finally made it to the Aqueduct, after fumbling around trying to figure out how to actually see the damn thing, it was so worth it. I can’t believe I didn’t know it existed because it is absolutely monstrous. It spans across streets and roads, right to the other side of Lisbon. Standing underneath it was incredible and I couldn’t stop taking photos as I walked away.
Eduardo VII Park
Not far from the Aqueduct is one of the biggest parks in Lisbon. I remember taking cover under many a tree in this park as I hid away from the 38 degree June heat last time I was here. This time, as the real summer hasn’t really hit Lisbon yet, it was much more comfortable and I enjoyed reading on a bench with quite a view.
Praça do Comércio & Timeout Market
I had done a lot of walking around Lisbon at this point, so I decided to catch the metro south to explore an area I hadn’t really seen much of last time. Praça do Comércio is a sprawling, grand square looking out to the water on one side and a striking gate between golden buildings on the other. It is probably one of the most beautiful parts of Lisbon. Around the corner is the famous Timeout Market, which I didn’t go to on my last visit. Having been this time, I would say it is definitely worth seeing, but perhaps not worth eating in. Thanks to it becoming a huge tourist attraction, and it’s central position, it is absolutely packed full of people and overpriced food and drink. I walked through and ate some supermarket goodies in a square just outside.
For my last evening in Portugal, we headed up to a local rooftop bar to enjoy a drink and the incredible castle views. The castle is still something I am yet to do in Lisbon, so I will leave it for my next trip, whenever that may be.
Unfortunately, that concluded my teeny two night stay in Lisbon, but it was enough for me to remember how much I love this place. It’s cool, quirky, lively and colourful. I hope I will be back many more times and also that I will get to experience more Brazilian culture in the future (hopefully in Brazil at some point!).
Bye bye Portugal,
PS. Whilst I was in Lisbon I was reading a great book which I literally couldn’t put down (handy when you’re in a place that you’ve already been to and have all the time in the world to lounge about in the sun reading). It’s called ‘Sleep’ and it’s by C. L. Taylor and I was hooked! I think I read it in one day and now want to read it again.