Traveling back from Cape Verde we thought it would be a good idea to stay a couple of days in Lisbon. To readapt to western life. And it was. Lisbon is a wonderful city, perfect chill-out vibes anywhere. Here are our ideas for perfect 48 hours spent here.
The basics: where to stay and how to get around
We found ourselves a beautiful typical appartment in the historical centre of the city on Airbnb. High ceilings, lovely decorated interieur, and great pastelarias round the corner.
Most convenient way to explore Lisbon is probably to buy the 24 hour public transport ticket: You can use trains, trams, busses and the metro with it. We didn’t, cause we like walking. For us this is the best way to get to know a place. Apart from the metro we took from the airport to the city we only once got on a train – to Belém. From there we walked back to the center, which was easy enough. But keep in mind that Lisbon is not flat. Compared to where we came from (Santo Antao, Cape Verde), however, it’s a piece of cake!
What to do
That’s easy. Just go with the flow. Explore. Preferably on foot. Sit in cafes and eat pasteis de nata – delicious little custard tarts. Watch people. And when it gets too crowded, take a few turns left and right and you will find yourself in some lovely alley seemingly miles away from the busy tourist center.
Take a stroll along the banks of the river Tagus. Visit the Tower of Belém and the Discovery Monument where all the famous explorers of Portugal reunite. Then turn landwards and visit the imposing late gothic Hieronymites monastery,
Having done that it’s time for Pasteis de Belém. They were invented in the monastery. You will get the little pasteis everywhere in Lisbon as pasteis de nata, but here you find the best. All the other pastries and sandwiches they offer are delicious as well. You find it in a real TARDIS-like building. The line of people in front of the seemingly small cafe are just queuing for takeaway pasteis. Take the unremarkable entrance next to the salesroom and follow endless corridors and rooms. There are tables everywhere, if one is free, seat yourself. Or follow the signs saying „400 more seats“ to the end – a large hall, where probably a line of people will be waiting to get a seat. We waited for about 15 minutes – and it was so worth it.
Serioulsy, it’s probably the most touristy thing to do, but do it! We had pasteis, of course (put cinnamon on them to take them to the next level), cod cake and a sandwich each, along with tea and coffee. And only paid 16 something Euros. It’s not only delicious, it’s also great value for money. I could go on and on about how much I loved it. It’s also quite spectacular because it’s unbelievably huge: We asked how many people could fit in the cafe: „4000“ our waiter said. You see, I cannot stop going on about it.
When we were done indulging ourselves in the fabulous pastries it was time to work off these millions of calories. So we decided to walk back into the centre via tha LX factory complex. It used to be an old textiles factory that was transformed to some sort of hipster village. Lot’s of cool restaurants, bars and galleries. We are not too much into hipster culture, we have to confess, but it was nice to see.
Looking for Street Art
If you fancy urban art, the whole city of Lisbon is a wonderful big gallery for you. There are the ususal tags and graffities, small to big murals, and installations by known artists just about everywhere.
A few works we found most intriguing:
More street art: look here.
A wonderful way to spend a few hours and explore Lisbon is just strolling around, without a plan and get lost in the seemingly endless numbers of alleyways and little streets. Not only to stumble upon pieces of art everywhere, but also to find wonderful unexpected views over the city, beautifully tiled buildings and cute little cafes with more delicious pasteis. The Alfama neighbourhood for example is a perfect place to get lost.
Idling away with coffee (or tea) and pastries
Walked enough? Then it’s time to sit down in one of the fantastic pastelarias and indulge in some more pasteis de nata. Preferably somewhere busy, to watch all the people passing by. We quite liked the Rossio place for that.