Our summer vacation for 2016 was to Portugal. We started and finished in Lisbon, with a trip to the Algarve for beach time in between.
Up first: Lisbon! The city has a laid back, relaxed vibe and is full of bright colors, street art, and hidden treasures.
SIGHTS TO SEE:
Bairro Alto is a lively neighborhood built on a big hill, full of bars and restaurants that spill over onto the stairs.
Check out one of the scenic overlooks to get a great view of the city.
All the street art!
Castelo de Sao Jorge: The castle grounds boast a beautiful overlook of the city. Get there early to avoid massive crowds and the heat of mid-day summer sun.
The area surrounding the castle has some interesting art installations.
The Sexiest Wash Closet On Earth: Really, it is just a nice restroom with a rainbow wall of papers to choose from before going…but if you have to go, it is worth it! It is located in the Praça do Comércio.
LX Factory, located near the water in an area called Alcântara, is a former manufacturing plant transformed into artist studios, restaurants, and boutiques.
Just past LX Factory is a cute little waterfront area. We took an afternoon break for popsicles on their deck at UAU.
WHAT TO BUY:
Pick up some beautiful handpainted tiles as souvenirs. Sardines are also a hot item here. They come packed in a rainbow of colored tins.
WHERE TO EAT:
El Clandestino: Mexican restaurant located in Bairro Alto
Quase Cafe: Hidden gem alert! We stumbled upon this little spot on our way to the castle. They have a full menu, but we opted for some refreshing and filling smoothies.
TimeOut Market Lisboa: A big part of travel is finding good food. TimeOut Market has something for everybody. The goat cheese ice cream salad was out of this world! A really odd combo, but AMAZING!
Cantina LX: Eclectic Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating, located inside the LX Factory
Café na Fábrica – Lx Factory: Sandwiches, salads, coffee and free wifi, also located in the LX Factory
Pharmacia: This apothecary themed restaurant has outdoor dining as well as an outdoor lounge complete with a D.J. and blankets for chillier evenings.
WHERE TO STAY:
We had great experiences staying in 2 different AirBnBs on the front and back end of our trip. The first was located in Alfama. Our host welcomed us with coffee and sat down to chat about the city and his experiences. As a Parisian with an interior design business, he moved to Lisbon for a slower pace of life at a fraction of the cost of Paris. Real estate is very reasonable, and his AirBnB has been almost completely booked since he started renting it out.
The second was in Mouraria, which is the home of Fado, a traditional Portuguese style of music. The sad sounding music could be heard floating through the streets. A charming cafe with outdoor seating was a few steps outside the door of our AirBnB.
A local artist photographed elderly residents of Mouraria and created an outdoor exhibit along one of the narrow streets. My favorite is the cat dad!
The airport is less than 15 minutes from the city, which is connected to public transportation and easily accessible by car.
Ubers are super cheap, but as always, walking allows you to see so much more.
Keep in mind that Lisbon is very hilly, and the sidewalks are slick from the stones being worn down. You could also take the trolley around if you don’t want to hike up the big hills.
Stay tuned for part 2: The Algarve, and part 3: Sintra.