Lisbon/Portugal Travel Diary

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Our next stop was Lisbon in Portugal. We had no idea what to expect from our trip, since we only know a handful of people who have been to Portugal, but what we didn’t really expect was 80+ degrees of summer temperatures in October!

Despite the heat, we really enjoyed all of the sights, sweets, and tile of Lisbon! It’s slowly becoming a more popular European travel destination, but still has a non-touristy feel!

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Top Ten Things to Do in Lisbon/Portugal (in the order we did them):

  1. Explore Faster Via a Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus -This is always been my best recommendation in most European cities…the dreaded “tourist” hop-on/hop-off bus. Yes, you look like a tourist on your giant double-decker bus, but isn’t that what we all are when we visit a new/foreign city? These tours help you see the best sites (with some fun facts thrown in) in the city that you are in…and you’ll get there quickly! In Lisbon, the bus will take you out to Belém, which is difficult to get to on your own!
  2. Sample a Pastel del Nata – The tastiest little egg custard pastries (see them in one of my snapshots above) that are basically the national dessert/treat of choice. The best ones (in my opinion) are in Belém, but you can find them everywhere! Best enjoyed warmed with a cappuccino!
  3. Find All the Tile You Can – This should be pretty easy to do, since there are little touches of tile all throughout the city! It’s all over the walls and covering the sidewalks and streets. Apparently, it is super costly to repair when on the ground, and the city has expressed interest in slowly getting rid of it, but the residents just won’t let it go (which I greatly appreciate)!
  4. Take in a Sunset from a Rooftop Bar – A lot of people recommended Park, but I actually prefered the views from Hotel Mundial (though they were both beautiful). Good people, great sangria, and even greater views at sunset!
  5. Try Something Outside of Your Comfort Zone (Foodwise) – Maybe it is octopus salad? Maybe it is cuttlefish stew? Or maybe it is a pastry that you have no idea what is inside of it, because you can’t read Portuguese. Just try it! Worse case scenario? You won’t like it…and you can use your Euros to buy something else!
  6. Hike Up to São Jorge Castle – Lisbon is a lot like San Francisco (hills galore, trolleys, and a Golden Gate-esque bridge), so bring some comfortable walking shoes and hike up some stairs and inclined roads to a Moorish-style castle and gorgeous views of the city.
  7. Explore the Three Neighborhoods – We like our Rick Steves walking tours (no matter what European country we’re in), and he took us through the three neighborhoods  (Rossio, Alfama, and Bairro Alto), each which has its own hidden gems. Lisbon is a great walking city, so if you ever visit, be sure to wind your ways through the hidden alleys/streets.
  8. Listen to Some Fado – The sad and longing musical styling of Portugal. Most commonly, these songs are about the sea or losing someone or something to the sea. We had dinner in a fado restaurant and enjoyed having our seafood with a side of fado songs!
  9. Day Trip It to Sintra – Sintra is a town that is about a 40-minute train ride outside of Lisbon. It has roughly 20 different sites to visit and is definitely worth a day trip (if not even more time)!
  10. Pena Palace – Worth a mention of its own, since it is THE palace (and place) to visit in Sintra (even though the Moorish castle is great too). It was built by the cousin of King Ludwig II (who built Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany), and it basically a Disney castle come to life (see it in the picture directly below). Crazy bright primary colors with tile and carving all over the place! And beyond the castle, the views from the top are great too, and the garden/grounds are gorgeous!

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Our next stop (to be posted next Monday) will be Spain (both Seville and Barcelona)!

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