Details of… Lisbon

When you visit new places and cities, it is sometimes such an overload that we forget to slow down and look at the beautiful details that make each place so special.

Here are some details of Lisbon…

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Magical Sintra

Sintra is a beautiful town a quick train ride away from Lisbon. The town of Sintra is known for it’s royal retreats, estates and castles (hence, magical!). During our day trip to Sintra, we visited two castles –  the Castle of the Moors and Pena National Palace.

Castle of the Moors

The Castle of the Moors was built in the 8th and 9th centuries (by the Moors). To get to the castle is a beautiful pathway from the road. Once in, you can see that the large majority of the castle is built from stone. There are a ton of stairs but the views are stunning.

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Pena National Palace

The Pena National Palace began it’s history in the Middle Ages as a chapel but the castle grew into what it is now between 1842–1854 under King Ferdinand.

This palace is incredible and looks like it is straight out of a Disney movie. So colourful and whimsical. The castle is surrounded by a park that you walk through (and up) to get to the palace, itself.

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Both castles were absolutely beautiful but Sintra has way more to offer. Do a little research and be sure to check out the estates and castles in this incredible town.

 

Fantastic Belem

Belém is a municipality of Lisbon, a short cab ride (or train) away. It was suggested we spend a few hours here as a day trip from Lisbon for a few sites, but more importantly for the pastel de nata!

Here are some of my favourite parts of our day trip…

Tower of Belém

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The tower was built in 1519 and used as fortification of the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém. It is stunning, and so beautiful to walk through, with different passageways and old cannons ready to protect.

Tip: Try to go early in the day. The line gets long when big tour groups arrive.

Jerónimos Monastery

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The monastery is for the Order of Saint Jerome, completed in 1601 and closed in 1837.  It is believed that the original recipe for pastel de nata was developed here by a nun. Both the monestary and tower are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Tip: Closed Mondays, as well as the first of January and May, as well as Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.

Casa Pastéis de Belém

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This bakery was the first in Lisbon to sell Pastel de Nata. These pastries are crispy on the outside, creamy custard on the inside and topped with icing sugar and cinnamon – my mouth is watering just thinking about them. This is definitely the best place to eat them! The story goes, there are five bakers in Lisbon, who are hand picked by the Casa Pastéis de Belém, who know the recipe. These men have the recipe memorized, and can never travel together (in the car or otherwise) or eat at the same restaurant.

Tip: Don’t wait in line to get the pastries to go. Walk inside (the place is huge) and get a table.

This municipality has so much to offer and is so close to Lisbon! Be sure to take a little trip and (at least) try the pastel de nata!

Beach Life in Cascais

Oh, Cascais. I dream of these beautiful beaches and lovely town almost nightly. As I mentioned, part of this year’s Lisbon jaunt was spending time on the beach. Cascais was the perfect option! We had visited for a day in 2015 (while my mom was traveling Portugal with us) but we didn’t have a chance to explore the town, we had plopped our butts down on beach. This year, we visited Cascais two separate days.

Here are some photos of Cascais:

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Here are some photos of us enjoying Cascais:

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Tips for visiting Cascais:

  • If you’re traveling to Cascais from Lisbon, take the train. It’s a 40 minute, 6 Euro round trip from the Cais do Sodre train station (the one closest to the water). This train will also take you to Belem.
  • If you want to spend most of the day at the beach, try to get there around 10, walk around for a while and get to the beach by 11, if possible. The beach starts to fill up afterwards. Cascais offers a ton of things to see, though. Maybe consider one beach day and one exploring day.
  • We were at the Praia da Rainha, the Queen’s Beach (or at least it was). There are a ton of different beaches in the town. Choose one that’s best for you!
  • The Praia da Rainha has a private area run in conjunction with the restaurant, Cascas. We could be served lunch and beers throughout the day (and took full advantage). The chicken sandwich was to die for! It also allows you access to the restaurant’s bathrooms.
  • For us to rent two chairs and an umbrella was 20 Euro. Six each for the chairs, eight for the umbrella.

Lisbon 2016

We fell in love with Lisbon on our last trip and knew we wanted to get back. We positioned Lisbon at the end of our trip for a few reasons:

  1. It would be a close city to fly home from as it’s pretty far west in Europe.
  2. We’ve been there so we have a comfort level and it’s always nice to end a trip that way.
  3. We figured we’d be tired so we had planned a few beach days to relax before coming home.

We also realized this return trip would be a perfect time to get to do some of the things we missed the first time ’round like the Castelo Sao Jorge. Unfortunately when we got there and looked at the weather forecast, we realized we’d have less beach days than originally planned which meant more strolls around the city. All fine by us!

We got extra lucky because we were there the last weekend of the month – the only weekend there is a market in the Praca Figueira. The market was filled with local artisans making clothes and jewellery, a fabulous port sangria area, cheese, meats, honey, the works! We visited twice for lunch and ate pork sandwiches, chorizo plates, a fabulous sandwich that had meat and melted cheese, all while drinking our sangria and beer! What a fun market, covered from the inevitable rain.

Here are some snaps from this year’s Lisbon visit:

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I’m so glad we made it back to Lisbon! I can’t think of a better way to end a vacation!

Quick Take: Lisbon

We visited Lisbon on our (now annual) Eurotrip in 2015. Here is the quick take!

Visited: May, 2015
Days in Lisbon: 5
Travelled to Lisbon by: Plane from Paris
Stayed at:
 Airbnb

Favourite site:
 Rua Augusta.
Favourite restaurants: Bonjardim and Restaurante Faca & Garfo.
Favourite Squares: Praca do Comercio, Rossio Square.
Tours: Best of Lisbon Walk with Inside Lisbon.
Day trips: Belem, Sintra, Cascais.
Must Do: 
Visit each of the unique districts in Lisbon. Enjoy a Fado show. Stroll and enjoy the historic capital.
If you have time: Spend a day on the beach.

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Take a look at what we did during our trip to Lisbon in 2016!

Beautiful Lisbon

Last year while planning our annual Eurotrip, my husband and I decided we wanted to go somewhere different. I love Italy, obviously, but four trips in a row was a bit much for the poor guy so we compromised. Four days in Paris, five days in Lisbon and the last few days in Milan.

Why Lisbon? My friend is from Portugal and went back recently. She raved about how beautiful and inexpensive it was. That was pretty much all it took to convince us! Lisbon became one of our favourite cities – so much so we’re going back to Portgual this year!

Here’s what we loved about Lisbon:

The Views

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Lisbon was founded in the middle of seven hills. Luckily, there are trams to take you up to the top (or walk and get a great leg work out in) but the views once you’re there are incredible.

The Food

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Because Portugal’s coastline is mostly the Atlantic Ocean, there is a ton of delicious and fresh fish to eat! Not a fan? Traditional Portuguese chicken is to die for! My personal favourite food from Portugal, though? Pastel de natas (which you can try in the next door town of Belem, where they originated). Crispy pasty, warm egg custard, topped with icing sugar and cinnamon. I’m drooling just thinking about them.

Beaches

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Portugal is known for it’s beaches, and boasts the biggest surfing wave in the world. After a day of exploring, you can enjoy some relaxing time by the water.

The People

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Everyone we encountered in Portugal during our trip was friendly, accommodating and spoke at least broken English!

The Castles

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Lisbon and the surrounding area has a ton of castles! Sao Jorge Castle is right in the heart of Lisbon, but take a quick trip outside of the city and you can find castles of all types!

Day Trips

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Lisbon is a pretty small capital city, so during our stay we took a few days trips out of the city – Belem (for the tower, above, and pastry), Cascais (for the beach), Sintra (for the castles). All easily accessible by train (or cab), and all very beautiful.

The Classic Tram

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As I mentioned, Lisbon is a hilly city and the easiest way to get to the top of the hills is the classic (pre World War 2) yellow tram.

Rua Augusta

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Extending from the Rua Augusta Arch on Commerce Square, up to Rossio Square the is a pedestrian only street filled with cafes, stores, restaurants and street artists.