This March I grabbed a few gals and headed to Lisbon, Portugal for the weekend. After visiting Porto, a couple of years ago, I knew I would be coming back to this wonderful country. Everyone who has been to Lisbon tells me how much I would love it. They were right. Absolutely one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in Europe I have been to yet, I am in love with Lisbon.
How we got there? We flew RyanAir out of Baden-Baden with a direct flight and it went flawless. Small luggage, nice flight times. I know this is not everyone’s “cup of tea”, but I rationalize that it gets me from point A to point B typically inexpensively. We flew Sunday through Thursday, so being flexible and a mid-week flight made it easier to grab those better times and inexpensive flights. School and work schedules don’t always align, but remember the further out you book the best chances you have at getting a deal on a flight and possibly asking for time off. You’re only in Europe, once or maybe twice, right?
Since we knew there were four of us, we decided to book a furnished apartment in the heart of the city. LX4U apartments was a great choice for us, especially for the location. They offered a shuttle from the airport (€30/trip.) This saved a lot of time and energy figuring out how we would get to our place and check in.
It turned out our driver Tiego would become our fast Lisbon “go-to” local. Almost immediately our little group felt a little “mama” attachment to him. Excited about being a tour operator and living in Lisbon he shared some of his favorite must-see’s!
Our apartment location and view was spectacular. Across the street from us was Martim Monez park and wonderful views of the fortress. These rental properties are run by a company, so it is definitely a different experience than just booking a hotel room or AirBnb. We did need to pay in advance but only by one week. We had only one little gliche, one day it took us a little bit to figure out how to get a hold of the management for heat in our room. March is still a little chilly in Europe. This might depend on the property you rent. Some of the neighborhood ~
Walking the streets of Lisbon
Almost as soon as you arrive you’ll want to grab those tennis shoes and walk the city. Just to start snapping pics. There is so much beauty around Lisbon every artist should put this destination on the top of their list.
#28 Trolley Car & Tuk-Tuk trips
You can grab a Tuk-Tuk (or a covered golf cart) to tour the city as well. On our rainy first day we decided we would grab a tour and were happy we met Ariana. She brought us around the city for €60 for the four of us for a few hour tour. This price might be seasonally affected. We hopped on her Tuk-Tuk at Praço de Comércio by the harbor.
The flea market in Lisbon on the hill is Tuesdays and Saturdays in the Fiera da Ladra. We were lucky to be stay over a Tuesday and check out the scene! Oops… unfortunately while we were scoping it out, it started to rain. It’s o.k. it led to us to another adventure. More about that in the next blog ~
Taking an UBER around the city of Lisbon was not only inexpensive but super easy. I would definitely download the app for this service. Sometimes it would only be €5 for all of us. On GoogleMaps it may not have seemed the distance was bad, but sometimes the traffic was difficult and it would have been too long or too late in the night to walk. Plus, you make some friends ~ this is Fernando and yes…I had to sing some ABBA!
Unfortunately for my ever increasing waistline we did not find ONE bad restaurant or eatery in Lisbon, they were all fantastic! Staying in an apartment did make it easier and healthier to make our breakfasts to cut the cost of our meals down.
Our first night in Lisbon, thank you Tiego, was at the Castle ~ Palacio Chiado. Try to make reservations as this was so easy to just walk in and sit right down. Again, I used the Fork App with TripAdvisor.
Next we ate at Versiculo d’OFaia, we ended up here by a little mistake but I think it actually turned out FANTASTIC! Our server, Jonathan was attentive, courteous and willing to share every special and local dish in English, THANK YOU, Jonathan, haven’t learned portuguese, YET!
Tiego tells us one of the biggest “party” months in Lisbon is June. This is when they celebrate the “Fado” dancing and singing. This heart wrenching and romantic style of singing will make you cry with joy when you here it… here are a few of the translated lyrics (sounds fantastic in Portuguese) from Marisa, Gente Da Minha Terra ao vivo em Lisboa
Whenever you hear the groan from a guitar to sing it gets lost soon, wanting to cry O people of my land, Now I realize this sadness that I bring, it was from you that I received and it would seem tenderness…the greater the bitterness, less sad my singing, Oh people of my land now I realize this sadness that I bring it was from you that I received it
It is important not to take FLASH pictures when you are eating in a Fado restaurant because it is very distracting for the singers. They really pour their heart out singing these songs.
We were lucky enough to snag a reservation at O’Faia a wonderful Fado restaurant located in the lively quarter of Lisbon. We made reservations when we had dinner the night before with Gonçalo, the waiter extraordinaire from Versiculo d’O Faia.
Day trips around Lisbon
I will be adding a full blog about day tripping around Lisbon because it was too much to add here! You’ll be happy to know though, because it has a LOT of information as well. There are so many active lively neighborhoods, it will be hard to decide where to make your base camp.
Lisbon at night
Walking around European cities at night is so much fun and Lisbon is no exception. Street musicians and artists occupy the streets with different melodies from Portugal or Ed Sheeran, ha!
Other notes on Portugal
- Everyone spoke English…however, I would encourage you to pull out the Duolingo or Google Translate and learn a few phrases. Like “Please and Thank you” ~ again, just good ambassadorship
- Lisbon closed up shop around 11 p.m. except for near the party district, we weren’t near there, however, old ladies. I think the night life does start hopping when the warmer the weather comes
- Expect some usual hustlers and gypsies in the highly touristy areas, but the police do keep them moving along
- Lisbon is an incredibly clean town, we heard street cleaners all through the night, it was great waking up for a run around town and it seemed spotless
- Like several larger European cities Lisbon is going through a re-birth, it is not completely without graffiti or buildings in disrepair but you hardly recognize them with all the gorgeous architecture and marble streets, everywhere ~
I hope you fall in love with Lisbon like I did, it is an absolute must-see and one I will re-visit again and again. So much to do in our little time, but lots more to put on the list. Look for my upcoming blog on DAYTRIPPING around Lisbon, ’cause I’ve only just started!