I love to take weekends away to European cities, especially when I can make use of the bank holiday weekends! I’ve been to the south of Portugal and spent several sunny, beach holidays in the Algarve but I had never been to the capital.
Over Easter I got to spend 24 hours in Lisbon for a whistle-stop tour of the city. I felt like I only got a taste of the city, which has so much to offer!
Here’s what we got up to…
We flew from Heathrow direct to Lisbon. The flight takes about three hours – I always think Portugal is a much shorter flight than that – but once you’ve landed it’s just a short metro ride from the airport to the city.
Where we stayed:
I booked our accommodation through booking.com. We knew we wanted something right in the centre that wasn’t too expensive so our choices were slightly limited. However we definitely lucked out with the place we found!
We booked a studio apartment at Lisbon Short Stay which is located in Baixa (‘bye –sha’], the heart of Lisbon with loads of shops and restaurants.
The hotel is made up of a group of apartments in a few different buildings that are all on the same street. There is a 24-hour reception desk, restaurant and roof terrace too. All the apartments are really arty and are full of brightly coloured painted walls and accessories. It definitely makes a change from the standard hotel rooms that are usually on offer!
As I said, we had booked a studio apartment as we weren’t there for long but we were lucky enough to be upgraded to a 3 bed apartment!! I’ve never been upgraded for anything so this was a great start to the holiday!
The apartment had everything we could need – we had 3 beautifully decorated bedrooms to chose from, a fully equipped kitchen, 3 bathrooms and a living room/dining area. It did feel a bit too much for 2 people for 24 hours – but I wasn’t complaining!!
I would definitely recommend this hotel and not just because we got upgraded! The staff were really friendly and happy to help and the place was spotlessly clean. It was also in such a perfect place to explore the city.
What we did:
With only 24 hours our time was limited so we had to choose carefully. There are so many things to do in Lisbon – from museums and sight seeing to spending an afternoon at the beach.
We did spend a lot of time wandering around the shops and getting lost in the historic centre.
We visited the Praça do Comércio which is a large piazza near the water. It is pretty impressive and has some expensive restaurants and cafes around the edge if that’s your thing.
The main activity we did was visit the castle – Castelo são Jorge. You have to pay to get in but it’s not too expensive and if you have a student card that helps.
You can walk round the castle grounds (look out for the peacocks!), admire the view out over Lisbon and also go to the câmera escura.
The câmera escura is a short 15 minute talk where you learn about the historic use of the periscope and how it works as it gives a a detailed view of the city. Women apparently used to use it to spy on their husbands! On a clear day you can see why as you can literally see every detail including into peoples windows!
We also took a short train ride to Jerónimos Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Belem. It was raining and there was a really long queue so we just visited the Church part of it. It is free to enter the Church but you have to pay for the Monastery (10 Euros).
Where to eat in Lisbon:
There are plenty of cafes to choose from in the centre but for an evening meal I recommend heading to the Time Out Market. It is a huge food hall and you can take your pick of many different food options – from traditional Portuguese dishes such as bacalhau (salted cod fish) to a tasty pizza! We happily ate our way around the hall, I can recommend the cheese and meat boards on offer! We also went back here for some soup the next day.
The tables are communal so if you’re there with a big group be prepared for some waiting around before you can all sit together!
You can’t leave Portugal without trying the famous Pastal de Nata. This is a delicious egg tart pastry that originates from Belem and they were created by the Monks of the Jeronimos Monastery. You can visit the original shop in Belem, but to be honest we tried a few from different bakeries and they tasted just as good without having to queue for half an hour to get them!
24 hours in Lisbon wasn’t enough. I would love to go back in the summer to explore the city a bit more and also head to the beach. I think a city with a beach is a perfect holiday spot – you can explore the cultural side of a country and take in the sites then spend an afternoon relaxing on the beach!
Have you ever been to Lisbon. Let me know in the comments below!