Lisbon was never really somewhere I thought of going and I hadn’t heard of many others going here on holiday. But after seeing a post of a woman I met travelling I knew that it had to be my next destination.

I am so glad it was as the city was unbelievable beautiful and on top of this I was able to catch a few rays at the beginning of April- something practically unheard of for a British person.

The main attraction in my eyes was for Sintra which could be a weekend break in itself. This is about a 20 minute drive from Lisbon (although I would recommend not driving and taking the train from Rossio Stattion-trains run every 30 minutes but less often on public holiday). This is a hilly landscape with an incredible amount of stunning buildings littering the landscape.

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Main attractions

  • Castle Sao Jorge
  • Walking round Alfama
  • Fado
  • Church of Vincente of flora
  • Fiero da ladra (Tuesday and Saturdays)
  • Lisbon cathedral
  • National Pantheon
  • Church of sao roque
  • Carmo convent
  • Fado Museum
  • Rossio square
  • Time out market
  • Praca do marques de pombal
  • Electrico 28 (the tram that goes past the main sights- recommended by many books and people but I personally found to be too over crowded so your couldn’t really see to much out of the windows anyway).
  • Belem
    •             Belem Tower
    •             Jeronimos Monestry
  • Sintra
    •             Monserrate
    •             Quinta reglia
    •             Pena palace
    •             Moorish castle
    •             National palace
  • Cascais- the beach if you have a free day and fancy a swim there are some nice restaurants here anda few small beaches. The best beach we saw was out towards Boca de inferno and was under a bridge.

SAM_6969.JPGThree day itinerary

Day one- Get up early and make your way to Sao Jorge Castle  (9am) which is on the top of the tallest hill in Alfalma- if you can’t walk this take bus 737 from Praca da Figueira (next to Rossio square 6.15 euros for a day ticket or 1.45 euros for a single). It is 8.50 euros to get in but they offer discounts for students and 65+ (5 euros). You can get some good views of the city from here.

11am Walk through Alfama there is plenty of buildings to see here spend walking time walking around the maze of pedestrianised streets and maybe grab some lunch in one of the many small cafes along the way. In this district there are some nice buildings to go in- Lisbon Cathedral (free), Church of Sao Vicente of Flora (free) and the National Pantheon (4 euros, half price for concessions), in the later you can climb up to the dome to get some more nice views over the city. If you are in the area on a Tuesday or a Saturday also check out the Feira da Ladra (thieving lady) flee market which takes over many streets between the church of Sao Vicente of flora and the national pantheon.

3pm check out the Fado Museum (closed on Mondays, 5 euros), to get an understanding and to learn the history of the melodramatic music that sprung up in the 1800’s.

8pm  Talking of Fado go to one of the many restaurants that have fado singers for dinner on this night as many of the are in Alfama- some are very touristy do a little research about who is playing in which restaurant on what night as there are some big names in Fado. Expect to pay a higher price for this meal and drinks. Some places also charge a Fado fee. If you are going to a more famous Fado restaurant make sure you email in advance to book a table.SAM_7655SAM_6957

Day two- Get the train to Sintra they run every 30 mins approximately and the ride is about 45 minuted. The palaces open at 9am and it would be best to get here at that time to avoid the other tourists and to get on a bus quickly. The train is £4.30 for a return from Rossio’s main train station to Sintra station or 10.15 for a day ticket (you can also buy tickets that include they whole bus system in Sintra for about 15 euros). Once in Sintra the main palaces to see are the National palace (10 euros), Pena Palace (14 euros) and The Moorish castle (10 euros). Bus 434  (5.50 euros) will get you to all of these but is often crowded with long queues- consider walking or getting a taxi/uber. Once you have finished the loop the historic centre is nice to look around although now very touristy. At the top of the hill there are som nice restaurants with terraces overlooking the hills. While you are here make sure you try the traditional cakes from the region- queijadas and travessas.

Catch the train back and head to the timeout market for dinner, this place brings a collection of fancy restaurants together in a self service food hall kind of way. It is nice as everyone in your party can have dinner from a different place- but the table can get full, especially on the weekend. Wine is pretty expensive here comparted to other places but there is a bottle shop onsite which will take the cork out for you- so this works out much cheaper.SAM_7360.JPGSAM_7452.JPG

Day three- Spend the morning in Belem (get there via bus 714 from Praca da figueira (1.45 euro) or Tram 15 (2.85 Euro)). Aim to get the monastery of Jeronimos before it opens at 10am (there will likely already be a queue tickets are 10 euros or 12 when combined with belem tower (50% discount for consessions). Walk along the coast or through the parks to the Belem Tower (6 euros). Before making your way back in to Lisbon centre grab a custard tart from Pasteis de Belem (they are meant to be the best in town).

2pm Arrive back into Lisbon historic centre. Take a look around Rossio square and the walk down Rua Augusta to get some nice views of the Rua Augusta arch, walk under the arch into Terrio do Paco square. Make you way to Santa Justa lift it is 5 euros to go up or is included in a travel day ticket. From the top walk to the Carmo Convent ruins (6 euros) and then on to the church of Sao Roque (free but can pay to visit the museum).  Have a drink in Topo Chiado- a roof top bar with great views of the city and the castle.

End the day walking around the Bairro Alto district (where you are) and pick dinner in one of the many eateries.

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Got extra days? Great, why not head back to Sintra to check out some of the smaller but quitter (and arguably nicer) buildings. The 435 bus is 2.5 Euro for a day, but queues can still be long and busses in frequent due to the busy roads that are very narrow- this takes you to Monserrate (8 euros), Quinta da Regaleria (6 euros) and Palacio de Seteais (is a hotel- so uyou cant really go in). There are also some places that the bus doesn’t take you but you could hire and tuktuk taxi or rent a twizzy (small electric car) for the day.

Or go to the beach Cascais or Estoril can be reached by the suburban train from Cais do Sodre train station (2.15 euro each way (you can’t buy singles) or 10.15 euro for a day ticket).

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Top Tips

  • There isn’t people to ask about transport tickets in most place so you need to know what your getting. You can pay the bus and tram drivers directly but forday tickets or their underground and train system you need to use the machines. A one off 0.5 euro charge will be added the first time you do this to get the travel card which you can top up in the future.
  • Getting from the airport- is about 8 euros in an uber or it is connected by their underground system 1.45 euros for a single ticket.
  • It is super hilly and cobbley- take comfy shoes with grip.
  • Make sure you check out the intricately tiled buildings called Azulejos (5 euros)- you can go to the museum and paint your own.
  • Not that many places take card so make sure you have some cash with you
  • Get to the big attractions when the first open to avoid long queues and it being busy (a lot of places are free to get in on Sunday mornings but remember for this reason it will be much more busy)
  • Watch a sunset from one of the many view points.
  • Waiters will often bring out bread cheese and olives (the couvert) you only usually pay if you eat it.
  • A lot of places don’t say they offer student discount but if you ask you can get in some places up to 50% off.
  • Don’t get a Lisbon card unless you plan to spend all your time in museums.
  • Sintra
    • If you are fit and able walk- it is actually quicker than taking the bus.
    •   Get there super early (especially to Pena Palace to avoid the place being too busy)
    •  If you aren’t fit enough to tackle the hills conider getting a taxi/uber- which a lot cheaper that than the 5euro per person in the tuk tuks.
    • Some places are quite easy to walk between for example the historic centre and the Quinta da Regaleria and between Pena Palace and the Moorish castle and the historic centre and the train station.
    • Discounts are offered on tickets if you buy entrance for multiple at the same time (valid until the end of the season).SAM_7346

Information correct as of April 2017

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