In July I went to Salamanca, Spain where my friend and more importantly, P’s best friend, was getting married! This was the first wedding I was going to as an adult, and a Spanish one at that so it was all very exciting but perhaps more on that another time. (My First Spanish Wedding (VLOG))
Once we knew the dates for the wedding, we started discussing where we could go for a short trip after the wedding. Salamanca is a town in the northwest of Spain and is part of the Castile and León region, around 3hrs from Madrid by bus. Due to its proximity to the Portuguese border, our initial list of possible vacations were Porto, Aveiro or Lisbon. After researching mode of transportation, budget and a few other factors, we decided on Lisbon.
Let me preface this by saying that I am not a planner. I usually don’t research any of my travels other than flight, hotel and a few main must-sees but because this was Lisbon (when would be the next time I’d go back with so many other places to see and go in the world?) I spent many an hour pouring over blogs, travel sites and official tourist sites so today I wanted to share our 4 Day Lisbon Travel Itinerary, Lisbon tips and some lessons I learned for future travels
We took an overnight train (7hrs) from Salamanca to Oriente Station so we arrived at 7 am and headed to our hotel in Entrecampos Station. We had breakfast at Tartine then went to the top of the Santa Justa Elevator and walked around Rossio Square to Arco da Rua Augusta and Praça do Comércio. We had a shot of Ginjinha, Portuguese sour cherry liqueur, and after a late lunch headed to Parque Eduardo VII before calling it a day and heading back to the hotel to chill at the pool before dinner.
We started Day 2 with a tram ride (the famous yellow trams of Lisbon) which we waited almost 40 minutes for (we had a late start to the day and got to the tram stop around 10 am). After an exhilarating ride through the narrow streets of Alfama, we got off and explored the area, looked at the views from Miradouro das Portas do Sol and checked out St. George Castle (we didn’t go in). For lunch, we popped into a cute local restaurant with old Portuguese regulars and tried bacalhau (cod) which I loved but P not so much. We then walked down to Arco da Rua Augusta/Praça do Comércio and caught a tram for Belem. There I headed for Jerónimos Monastery (P wasn’t interested and didn’t want to pay the entrance fee so we went our separate ways) which was on the top of my Lisbon bucket list; the architecture was just stunning and one of my favorite parts was an exhibition called “Celebrating a Lifetime: A 500 years Old Monastery” which was a historical timeline with a side-by-side comparison of the history of Jerónimos Monastery, Portuguese history and world history. After being humbled with the realization that my existence is a just a tiny speck in what is the history of the world, I walked to the Discoveries Monument and Belém Tower (I did not go in though you can get a cheaper combination ticket for the Monastery and the Tower) and met up with P again. We then headed back to the main street in Belém and went to Pastéis de Belém which had been recommended to me by many. We devoured our pastel de natas, these are not overrated at all. They are perfectly rated and incredible and I am not ashamed to say that we bought 6 more tarts to go before heading back to Entrecampos. For dinner, we googled for a place near our hotel and found a hidden gem just 15min away: Restaurante Lucimar, which is said to have the best francesinha (dish from the North of Portugal) in Lisbon. Naturally, I ordered that and P tried the bacalhau again. Honestly, I preferred the bacalhau but P loved the francesinha so we swapped plates and rolled back to the hotel with our hearts and stomachs full.
We spent the day in Cascais and Caixa. This day I was so unplugged from my electronics that this is the only picture I have from Day 3, taken by P. We went to Cascais and after lunch and relaxing we headed to Caixa as the beach there was much less crowded. Biggest lesson of the day: the Atlantic Ocean is freeeezing, as in i-can’t-feel-my-toes-anymore freezing
We spent our last day in Sintra, (to our joy we discovered there was a train that went straight from Entrecampos) spending most of the day at the Castle of Moors and Pena Palace both breathtakingly beautiful. We had a very late lunch in the town center and then it was time to get on the night train back to Salamanca.
I was enthralled with Lisbon and will definitely be going back. There was something more than the classic European charm; you could feel the history and pure energy radiating from the street below you. The food was amazing and there was lemonade everywhere we went – freshly squeezed, sour and the sweetness is determined by the drinker by how much they put in, great for me as I love me some tart lemonade. The people were kind, the city was clean and the city felt (relatively) safe. I cannot wait to go back again (and again and again)
For next time: Time Out Market, Cabo da Roca (Cascais), Quinta da Regaleira (Sintras), Bairro Alto, Cristo Rei and of course another trip to Pastéis de Belém
- Don’t forget to tip!
- Wear sneakers or shoes you are extremely comfortable in because the city is hilly and you’ll either be walking or waiting in line (at tourist attractions)
- Research attractions ahead of time (even if it’s very roughly), depending on the museums/attractions you are planning to go to, it may be better to get a Lisboa Card and these need to be ordered in advance
Lessons learned for future travels:
- Do have a few extra options so you can be flexible if you want
- Do research whether there are 24-hour unlimited transportation passes – we saved so much money with the Viva Viagem 24hr cards!
- Do set a very rough route to refer to as a guideline for your day (so you don’t end up walking past Rossio Square 3 times like we did)
- Do google restaurants based on your location (google maps is amazing) to find the hidden gems that only locals go to