16 Oct Travel Diary: 2 days in Lisbon
A mash up of all the things I love about vacationing in European cities, Lisbon has officially taken the number 1 spot as my favourite European city. From the glorious weather (according to telegraph.co.uk, Lisbon is Europe’s sunniest capital city, with an average of 2,799 hours of sunshine a year), to the fact that you can walk everywhere in between beautiful postcard-perfect buildings with a perfectly preserved old-world charm, Lisboa is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
And… there are ocean views!
But seriously speaking, this city took my heart by surprise. Every little tile captured my heart. I had very little expectations, and I didn’t have enough time to do all my regular pre-travel research. So when I arrived in Lisbon, I was in an “anywhere the wind blows me between the 7 hills” kind of headspace. Even the ideal location of the guesthouse I booked was by mistake.
Our weekend began with a short walk to the Miradouro das Portas do Sol and Miradouro de Santa Luzia observation decks located right next to each other to take in one of Lisbon’s many views. Super popular, because they offer views of the Alfama’s terracotta rooftops and the ocean, these observation decks get incredibly full in the afternoon and early evening, so I would recommend getting there in the morning like we did. However, if you do end up there in the early evening, I would suggest enjoying the view from a seat at Bar Terraço de Santa Luzia drinking sangria.
Located along the staircase between the two observation decks is the Painted arch – Rua Norberto de Araújo, a mural of the history of Lisbon by comic strip illustrator Nuno Saraiva. After taking some pictures for the gram at the arch, we continued down the staircase and opted to take the scenic route through the old world charm of Alfama to our final destination Café Tati, in the Cais do Sodre , district.As we meandered down, or rather up, interesting looking alleyways, occasionally getting off track to look closer at things that caught our eye, we ended up taking a detour and walking through Praça do Comércio, a large beautiful square near the water, where we continued to marvel at Lisbon’s beauty, as we looked out at the 25 de Abril Bridge.
After a morning of walking, we arrived at the laidback and understatedly cool Cafe Tati famished. So, we ordered their weekend Brunch: a 13 EUR meal special with lots of food, orange juice, and a hot drink. The homemade jam was so delicious, I had to stop myself from over-indulging in all the bread on table. With barely any space left in our stomachs (because of all that bread and jam) we crossed the road to try grab a drink at the Time Out Market Lisboa, which I was keen to check out after I had started following their IG account earlier this year. The market was incredibly full and so were the bar stools’, so getting a drink was immediately de-prioritized. However, this made room for us to try out Manteigaria’s infamous pastel da natas… and look… those things are damn good. Like, “I don’t want to share or give you a bite” good.Our next stop involved a quick photoshoot on Rua Cor-de-Rosa, also known as Pink Street. This brightly painted pink street, used to be Lisbon’s Red Light District and has now become one of the most popular places to take a picture for the gram. Nothing was really open when we walked through there, perhaps it was too early in the day, but I did read on several blogs about how the parties continue in the bars on that street.
Described, on its official website as a Portuguese shopping gallery, Embaixada in Príncipe Real was next on our list of places to see. Our 30 minute walk, not only provided us with some scenic detours like the view at Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara, but also gave us the unexpected experience of arriving just in time to catch the Organic farmer’s market adjacent to Jardim do Príncipe Real, a public garden or park near Embaixada.
When researching things to do in Lisbon, I obviously googled “shopping in Lisbon” and that is how I discovered Embaixada. A former palace, the building is exceptionally beautiful. Nothing about it feels like a shopping destination, which is why, besides discovering some Portuguese designers I was personally intrigued to visit this iconic shopping experience. A jug of sangria later, we decided to go shopping after spotting a COS bag on one of the ladies in the bar and basically ended up on Avenida da Liberdade and the surrounds shopping. I will say, that there is nothing special or different about the shops around this area, so if you are looking for uniquely Portuguese brands etc, I am not sure this area and its surrounds is the place to go.
After taking a sangria and shopping fatigue induced power nap, we had dinner at a place called Zambeze. The dinner wasn’t bad, but the place lacked a bit of ambience, however, I am willing to say that it could be because our dinner was at 22:00. Either way, I was expecting more life and more flavour (from the food) from a place that describes itself as Portuguese with the flair of Mozambique.
Feeling knackered from the physically grueling day of walking up and up and up more hills, we took it easy and started our day late with a brunch at Heim Café.
This hipster-esque brunch spot serves delicious, yet humble food at a reasonable price point as well as yummy cocktails. It does seem to get quite busy, especially on weekends, so be patient. We found ourselves in a queue waiting for a table for a good 15 minutes, but it was well worth it.Full from brunch, we headed on over to LX Factory, a former industrial complex that has been turned into a trendy multi-usage space that houses cool eateries, shops, offices, bars etc. It is also home to Livraria Ler Devagar, one of the worlds most beautiful book shops, and some really striking street art and murals as you walk around. We didn’t get up to much shopping, but rather opted to enjoy some food and drink as the sun set, before ending off our weekend at Topo Bar, in Martim Moniz, where I tried several cocktails whilst dancing to some old school hip hop.
A surprising love story. Lisboa completely has my heart and I will definitely be returning for more. So many more pastel da natas to eat, glasses of sangria to enjoy and views of a truly beautiful city to take in. Obrigado Lisboa.