On our third day in Portugal, we flew from Porto to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. After checking into our Airbnb, we explored the streets of Lisbon and searched for dinner.
Similar to Porto, Lisbon is not flat. In fact, we often found ourselves walking up and downhill which was exhausting, but totally worth it. I’m a sucker for city views and there were many panoramic viewpoints throughout Lisbon. The photo above shows one of the first viewpoints we passed as we climbed towards Sao Jorge castle, located in the centre on Lisbon’s historical quarter on a hilltop. Google Maps didn’t provide a clear route towards the castle so we never actually reached it, but the walk there was amazing.
After walking down the hill, we visited Praça do Comércio, more commonly known as Terreiro do Paço. Terreiro do Paço is a huge square that faces the waterfront. In the middle of the square is a giant statue of a man riding a horse. Behind the horse statue is a magnificent arc which marks one of the entrances to the square. The square is also surrounded by yellow, palatial buildings which house restaurants and stores. One of my favourite things about European cities is the number of open spaces for pedestrians in the downtown area.
Terreiro Do Paço faces the Tagus River which is pictured in the photo above. In the distance (on my left), you can see the Santuário de Cristo Rei (Sanctuary of Christ the King), a Catholic monument inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. The monument is over 79 meters in height and is situated in Almada, a city located across the river from Lisbon. Also in the distance is the Ponte 25 de Abril Lisbon (25th of April bridge), a red suspension bridge that connects Lisbon to Almada. The bridge is red in colour and reminds me a lot of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
As I mentioned before, there is an arc that marks one of the entrances to Terreiro do Paço. After exploring the waterfront, we exited the square through the arc and entered a major shopping and eating street for tourists. The street reminded me a lot of La Rambla in Barcelona. Many of the restaurants had hosts standing outside to encourage passing by tourists to stop for a meal. Cafes and restaurants also had outdoor seating areas in the middle of the street and several even sold paella. Additionally, there were many street performers and artists creating a lively vibe for pedestrians.
For dinner, we came across a small and crowded restaurant serving meat and seafood dishes…yum! It was just what we needed after a day of travelling. My friend ordered sardines while I had steak and rice. Portugal is hard to beat when it comes to good and cheap food; our first meal in Lisbon was delicious, filling, and well under 10 euros!
After dinner, we took a scenic route back to our Airbnb. Lisbon is filled with colourful buildings and walls with tons of graffiti. I’m also obsessed with the different modes of transportation in Lisbon including the tram pictured above. The graffiti on the tram and walls really add to the overall fun and lively feel of the city.
We also walked by the famous elevator in Lisbon which provides amazing views of the city. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go up, but it was cool to see how well-embedded the elevator structure was into the city.
The next day, we woke up super early to go to Sintra and got back to Lisbon in time for dinner. We found a restaurant close to our Airbnb that served Portuguese chicken, as well as a variety of other food. The chicken was very flavourful and delicious. We also ordered a meat dish, pasta dish, and a side of potatoes. The meal came out to over 20 euros each, making it our most expensive meal on the trip.
For our third and last day in Lisbon, we headed to Belem, a district in Lisbon. Belem is home to the famous Portuguese egg tart; in Portuguese, the egg tart is called “Pastel de Nata”. Upon arriving in Belem, our first priority was to visit Pasteis de Belem, the original café that sold Pastel de Nata. The café was chaotic with a huge line up of people waiting to try the famous pastry.
Prior to visiting Belem, I had tasted Portuguese egg tarts in Canada, Spain, and Portugal. As you can imagine, I was pretty flipping excited to finally try the original Portuguese egg tart. When I received my order, I took my highly anticipated first bite into the pastry. It was delicious and exceeded every single one of my expectations. What really set the pastry apart was its perfectly warm, thin, crispy, flaky crust. Looking back on it now, visiting Pasteis de Belem was definitely one of the highlights from my Portugal trip and Pastel de Nata probably wins best dessert during my semester abroad.
After enjoying Pastel de Nata, we visited Belem’s waterfront area along the Tagus River. In the photo above, there is a huge sign that reads LOVE with a heart. On the right of the photo is the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries), commemorating and romanticizing Portuguese exploration.
In the early afternoon, we headed back to central Lisbon where we continued to explore the streets. As I mentioned earlier, I really like the various forms of transportation in Portugal. The photo above depicts a tuk tuk which is a small vehicle that operates as a taxi. It’s a popular choice amongst tourists who don’t want to go through the hassle of climbing up and down the hilly roads of Lisbon.
We also took Lisbon’s famous Tram 28 to one of the viewpoints of the city. For just over 3 euros, visitors can take Tram 28 for a city tour. Not only is the route for Tram 28 incredibly charming and historic, but so is the tram itself. Due to limited time, we were unable to stay on Tram 28 for an extended period of time.
At the top of the hill, we got to enjoy several views of Lisbon including the one pictured above. The reddish rooftops and colourful buildings in the photo are very characteristic of Lisbon architecture.
After visiting the viewpoint, we walked to an ice creams store called Santini where we ordered several unique and tropical flavours to enjoy. Santini was recommended to us by a friend and is very popular amongst both locals and tourists. When we arrived at the ice cream parlour, there was a huge line up. The wait was totally worth it and the ice cream was a great way to end our Portugal adventure.
I really enjoyed my stay in Lisbon and can’t wait to return soon. Similar to Porto, Lisbon is a city that’s absolutely beautiful to walk around in. The architecture is colourful and the streets are charming. It also doesn’t hurt that there are many breathtaking viewpoints in different corners of the city.