I’m a little bit late with my post for this, but on the 14th April I jetted off to Lisbon from the UK for a ‘surprise’ birthday trip.
I lie when I say it was a surprise, because I did actually know a couple of weeks beforehand that I was going, but this is only because Joe is so bad at keeping secrets!
I was really excited to get to Lisbon, as I’d never been to Portugal before, so this was another place I could cross off of my list of places to visit! I didn’t really know what to expect from Lisbon, as obviously I’d heard of it, but had never really researched into the city.
Below, I’ve put together my top 5 places in Lisbon of things to see and do!
My favourite place in Lisbon was the beach. This might be a little bit controversial point, because Lisbon doesn’t actually have a beach and we had to travel on the train to get there!
Obviously the reason I liked this so much is because it’s a beach, and what’s there not to like when the weather is so nice!
As it was only April the water wasn’t very warm so we didn’t go swimming- but we did do one better and hire a kayak! It was reasonably priced to rent at 15 Euros for an hour- but as it wasn’t busy he let us use it for longer.
We set up camp on our 3rd day in Lisbon at Carcavelos beach by a little bar, which had deckchairs outside. We paid our rent for these in the excessive amounts of cocktails we ordered while we enjoyed the sunshine.
Carcavelos itself was about 30 minutes away from Lisbon on the train – and only cost us roughly 3 Euros each way.
As we enjoyed kayaking and sunbathing so much the day before, on the 4th day of our stay we decided to visit a second beach at Casicas.
Casicas was much more scenic with a historcial town and an absolutely beautiful beach. We didn’t plan on spending our entire day here, but it was so nice that after lunch we didn’t want to leave. There was a lot to do in Casicas too, from shopping in the small town, to renting stand up paddle boards and kayaking.
On our 2nd day in Lisbon we decided to take a wander around, just to see some of the sights. We took the train about 10 minutes outside of the centre to a little spot by the Belem Tower. We had planned out in the morning the sites that we wanted to see there, and also discovered the art gallery near by in the Belem Cultural Centre.
The museum was huge- and was also free entry which gives even more of a reason to visit. We had only planned to do the 1st floor of the gallery so that we could fit more sight seeing in, but we enjoyed it so much so we ended up doing all of the floors.
You’re allowed to take photos inside the gallery, which is something that surprised me, as almost all of the exhibitions in Milan don’t allow cameras.
The museum was filled with modern and contemporary works from the likes of Warhol, Picasso, Dali, Pollock and many many more – which all come from one mans collection – Joe Berardo.
If you have a spare afternoon in Lisbon and have a passion for modern art this is a must see!
On the second to last day of our stay we decided to take a bus tour. We did the tour with ‘City Sight Seeing’ and it cost about 18 Euros each. It seems pricey, but this was a ticket that would last for 2 days and which was ‘hop on – hop off’.
We had seen pretty much all of the major sites before, but we thought it’d be a fun thing to do as the weather wasn’t as nice.
The tour took us to all of the sites, from the Belem Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, to bull fighting rings, and so many more.
The bus takes two routes, red and blue. The red route was the best – as the blue route takes you on more of a scenic ride through mostly the middle of nowhere.
I have to admit, it was the most touristy thing I’ve possibly ever done – and I probably won’t ever do one again.
On the same day as our bus tour, to walk off our lunch we decided to go and find the Cathedral (because the bus tour doesn’t take you here!!) It was apparently a 10 minutes walk from the centre – but turned out to be more like a 40 minute steep climb which results in leaving you with a serious need for water. By the time we actually got there (from being lost for a while) we were too tired to fully appreciate it!
The cathedral isn’t in such a monumental place as many of the other cathedrals I’ve ever visited. It’s really out of the way and just placed on the side of a road.
I didn’t know before I went, but Lisbon is actually very hilly – so if you’re thinking of going make sure you take yourself a comfortable pair for shoes!
We walked a little further up the hill to get to a view point of the city, and you can also see the castle from there. If you’re feeling a little less athletic than us, you can take the number 28 tram which will give you a good run of the city.
Lisbon really isn’t what I expected from the capital city of Portugal. I’m not sure if it’s because we went in April, but it was extremely quiet. There weren’t many shops and there was no rush to get around.
My favourite place in the centre was the Rua Augusta Arch. It reminded me so much of Milan.
The square surrounding the arch had lots of nice restaurants – two of which we tried and were really delicious!
The square got busier in the evening with people visiting to find somewhere to eat, and also taking in the views of the water. It was a nice place to just sit and admire the beautiful views.
A short walk from the square we found a little bar with deckchairs and parasols which overlooked the sea and the 25 de Abril Bridge.
We sat a couple of times with cocktails and beers, just to watch the world go by.