For the next part of my trip, Seeing The World In Steps will be making its way to the west! Checking out the most western country of continental Europe, Portugal! A new country for me and the start of the thirties! Portugal will be my 31st unique country in the world and with this, I can finally say that I have completed the entire Iberian Peninsula! Portugal is often seen as the little sister to Spain but this is a country that is full of character and history. With their cuisine mainly focused on seafood, the fine wine and the vicinity to the Atlantic Ocean, there is much to be discovered in this city! Without further ado, let us make our way to Portugal and the capital, Lisbon!
Lisbon is a huge city and it consists of various neighbourhoods, it can stretch along the coast like Belem or Almada which is across the Tagus over the Ponte 25 de Abril! It is not a city that you can see just on foot itself. Lisbon has an estimated population of more than 500,000. Thankfully, transportation is well developed and easy for tourists! Public transportation is very affordable as well! Besides the trusty metro, you also do have the various ride-sharing apps that make rides even more affordable when zipping across town! The metro is well connected and takes you to all the major points in the city. It is also directly connected to the airport! A ride on the metro cost 1.50 Euros. You can also take trams and bus as well.
Bolt, Freenow and Uber are some of the apps that are available in Lisbon and rides are so so affordable! Dirt cheap in fact! As a matter of fact, if you are travelling in groups, most of the time it will be cheaper to get a ride rather than taking the metro! The traffic might be bad sometimes but I am thankful for the affordable rides given how hilly the city is. Those slopes and stairs are not for the faint-hearted. Just to offer some datapoint, our ride from the airport cost us 5 Euros! Even the furthest ride we took across town from the Doubletree Lisbon to Santuário de Cristo Rei cost us only 8 Euros! We took a ride to another city, Cascais for only 16 Euros.
The first place we visited was the Santuário de Cristo Rei! This is the furthest attraction I had on my list so I was thinking to get it out of the way first and then slowly make out way back to the city centre areas. The Santuário de Cristo Rei or the Christ the King of Almada is something like the one in Rio! It is located in the Almada district and across the river. Public transport that convenient for this place and you are better off getting a ride for ease as well as to avoid the hike up the hill.
I really love it here and what was even more lovely than the monument was the amazing views and panoramic pictures opportunities. You get to see the whole of Lisbon here. One of the best spots in the city for those Instagramable pictures. This is where you get the iconic sight of Lisbon and the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge. The iconic red suspension bridge!
Then we took a leisurely walk down the hill and en route we managed to check out the houses in the neighbourhood which were quite nice.
The next place that we went was the MAAT and the waterfront promenade area. It is sure bustling here and we got another angle of the city, this time around closer to the water and from below. The MAAT is a museum dedicated to Art, Architecture and Technology. It also has a very unique designed exterior and you can also get up to the viewing deck on the roof.
We spend the rest of the day exploring the Belem neighbourhood. The Belem is home to many attractions including the Jeronimos Monastery, Rose Compass, Belem Tower as well as the Belem Palace. This is the official residence of the President of Portugal. It is a lovely neighbourhood.
Strolling down, we got to see the grand Monastery!
Belem Tower! Sadly the tower isn’t open for visits right now.
The LX Factory is a rather new addition to the lineup in Lisbon. Once the factory complexes and buildings of the Company of Wiring and Fabricos Lisbonense are now refurbished into a one-stop destination for restaurants, bars and shops. It does give me a night market feel. Pretty nice to wander around in the evening and there are usually street stalls selling all sorts of stuff.
When in Lisbon, one of the best things to do is to hunt for Miradouro. These are viewing spots located all over town. Given that Lisbon is a city literally created on hills with tons of stairs and slopes there are plenty of great viewing spots located around the city. These free viewing spots can be one of the best places to be at!
One of the main central areas of the city, Praca do Comercio! I am sure you recognise this iconic yellow square. It is located right by the waters in Baixa. This is one of the most beautiful squares in all Europe, opening southwards onto the huge Tagus estuary and one of the largest in Portugal. It was completed and rebuilt after the destruction during the great earthquake in 1755. In the past, commerce will be funnelled thru the plaza and the port.
Lisbon is also home to the oldest bookstore in the world, Livraria Bertrand! It is founded in 1732 and this might just be a great place for a stop to see a sight of history.
Lisbon, such a pretty city! Great weather and festive vibes all over the place.
When sharing about food in Lisbon, the first one that comes to your mind has to be the Time out Market aka Mercado Da Ribeira! This is the one-stop destination for eating out and food in the city. It is one of my favourite places in Lisbon and the place to go to for culinary delights. If you are short of time or unsure where to head, this is it! It works like a gourmet food court where inside the market you have plenty of stalls to choose from and they are all well selected to be the best representation of the city! You can also find the Manteigaria stall here.
I love the vibes and the idea of this place. It is absolutely bustling and opens till late at night. Just get any food you want and find a seat in the middle of the market. Grab a bunch of friends, order an obscene amount of food and “wine” down the night with some drinks! Here are some of the stuff that we tried! Prices are fair but certainly not on the affordable side. Do note that only cashless payment are accepted in the market.
Adega De Belem is also another great stop for lunch if you are in the Belem neighbourhood, it is down to earth, local and fussless. Looks like a rundown restaurant on the outside but inside, it is absolutely packed with people. They are known for the classic local dishes like grilled fish and other Portuguese food. We got the cod as well as another grilled sea bream! They were cooked simply, well charred on a hot griddle before a sprinkle of salt and a generous amount of olive oil. Just the way I like it! Paired with a simple salad and potatoes. The sea bream is the better one!
Another landmark of Lisbon and Portugal, yes LANDMARK! The most famous Pastel de Nata, in the city and the country, Pasteis de Belem. This popular bakery in Belem churns out an average of 20,000 tarts a day. Highly sought after by both locals and tourists. You definitely have to give it a try when in Lisbon. Do not be put off by the long queue outside as it goes very fast. Furthermore, the queue for takeaway is much shorter. For only 1.10 Euro, you get a flaky tart base and a creamy and sweet custard filling. This can also be said original idea behind the Portuguese and Hong Kong egg tart that we are more used to. It has its roots since 1837 in the nearby Jerónimos Monastery. The ancient recipe is a tightly held secret.
The other favourite stall and brand is Manteigaria. This came about after Belem and also has a strong following in the city. Some do prefer them due to the richer filling. They are priced slightly cheaper at 1 Euro. I love both of them and the best way is to have them still warm and with a cup of espresso or black coffee. Do give them a try and let me know which you prefer.
On our 4th day in Lisbon, we decided to take a little day trip out since we have more or less seen most of the sights in town. It was kind of a last-minute decision and we were deciding between Sintra or Cascais! Both are located around 30 mins from Lisbon making them perfect for a day trip. We decided to go with Cascais instead and took a ride straight from the hotel. I got a ride from Bolt which only cost us 16 Euros and it took about 30 mins. Car rides prices here are unbelievable.
Cascais is a traditional and quaint fishing village to the west of the capital and is located along the coast. The gorgeous coastline makes it more than just a fishing village or parking for luxury yacht. There is much to explore in this place. It would be perfect for a lazy day out. We didn’t have a plan for Cascais but rather just randomly stroll around and take in the charming fishing town. It felt very different from Lisbon despite the short distance. We started out walking by the yacht club and the area around the Citadel. Sadly, the Citadel isn’t open for visits. We spend some time seeing people enjoying some water sports. After that, we got lunch and wander around the chic little town for a bit before taking the train back to Lisbon. The commuter train takes you straight into Cais do Sodre and runs every 30 mins and takes about 40 mins. It lets you out right in front of the Time Out Market. Tickets cost 2.25 Euros.
I had an amazing lunch at Hifen and would recommend all of you to dine here when in town. I love the decor here and it is such a pretty restaurant. Complementing it are the views of the waters in the vicinity. The food is really good and the prices are really affordable. We had some drinks and ordered a couple of dishes to share. Everything was great but what was really memorable was the squid dish. They made the squid into thin little long strips that mimics flat noodles or “Horfun” paired with some amêijoas, olive oil and lemon. Yummy.
It is nice to be finally checking out Lisbon and Portugal after hearing so much about them. You will be amazed at how much legwork you put in when in the city! Those stairs and slopes are unbelievable so do come with a pair of comfy flats. You will be out of your mind to wear heels here. Well, it does help you eat more Portuguese food and wine! Lisbon and Cascais are the only two cities that I have checked out and the start of the Portugal leg of my trip! Next up, I will be heading up north to visit another well-known place in the country! Porto and Gaia! It is time for some port! When in Porto, drink port!