Lisbon is a cultural and historical city full of sights to see, people to meet and delicious delicacies to savour. Add to this Mediterranean sunshine guaranteed for the best part of the year, and it's the ultimate destination for a winning weekend.
Portugal’s capital coastal city is built on a bustling range of districts from the cobbled streets of Alfama to the hip Baixa and historical Belem, with many design and architectural attractions to visit.
I spent a jam-packed 24 hours in Lisbon and enjoyed every minute walking and wheeling around the city and taking in historical and cultural tours. There is a lot to see and do, so allow a few days to get under the skin of this great city and all it has to offer. Thankfully, the city is very safe, which put me at ease being a single, female traveller.
Where to start
The City’s Central square, Praça do Comèrcio is a great base for exploring the local area on foot but if you don't feel up to walking, you can take one of the many trams that run the length and breadth of the city.
I started my morning stroll with a coffee and pasteleria from A Padaria, which has a mouthwatering selection of sweet and savoury treats on offer - perfect to whet your appetite before a morning of exploration. From here you can catch the Tram 28, probably the most famous moving tour in Lisbon. This vintage yellow tram connects Martim Moniz with Campo Ourique, and is a great way to sit back and enjoy the cobbled streets and back alleys while observing the quaint, beautiful homes of Alfama while exploring the other popular districts of Estrela, Baixa, Alfama and Graca.
After a morning of exploration, I ventured to Castelo de S. Jorge, a historic castle in the heart of Alfama that dates back to 8th century BC, just one of Lisbon’s many historic traditional sights to visit. Walking around Lisbon is definitely hunger inducing, so I took up a recommendation from my Air B&B host and headed to one of Lisbon's famous fish restaurants, Ramiro’s, where I enjoyed a simple feast of garlic prawns, a platter of Manchego cheese, freshly baked bread slathered in garlic and a local beer - a feast fit for a queen. The dishes on offer vary from simple fish dishes to outlandish seafood platters, ensuring there's something for everyone to enjoy.
When I visit a new destination I like to experience new activities to immerse myself in the culture, so as a budding 'wanna be chef', the Pastel de Nata Workshop at family-run bakery, Pastelaria Batalha was right up my street.
One of the only cooking classes in Lisbon where you get to learn to make pastries first-hand, this fun-filled class led by owner Joao, was fantastic. After watching a pastry making demonstration, we tried our hand at preparing delicious pastries from scratch. We made three tarts using the specific Pastel de Nata technique, which resulted in the most scrumptious Pastel's I’ve ever tasted, but I may be slightly biased!
Old cultural traditions
Lisbon is a city bursting with culture and authenticity. If you're looking for a unique entertainment experience, ensure you enjoy Fado during your visit. This melancholic and expressive form of singing, which originated in Portugal around the 1820s, is often performed in pubs in cafes throughout Lisbon.
During my visit, I was delighted to be invited to the Casa De Fada where the wonderful Lay Duarte and Catarina Escandeias performed traditional Fado tales from years gone by as I tucked into a traditional Portugese meal. The singing was hauntingly beautiful and transported me to an age of years gone by when local fishermen would venture out to sea while the women stayed home waiting for their return.
The city centre is only 20 minutes from the airport and thanks to multiple transport options (tram, metro, buses or Uber) it's relatively easy to get around. On my final morning, I booked Miguel's cycle tour of Lisbon, which was hands down the best 8 euros I spent that weekend and one of the most effective ways to see the city.
Leading the group on his trusty two-wheeled steed, Miguel imparted his impressive bank of knowledge of all things Lisbon related, while pointing out the many sights including: Jerónimos Monastery, a 16th century masterpiece; Belém Tower; and the Discovery Monument, along with its expansive views of the Tagus River.
In addition to historical sights, we also visited the trendiest spots to shop and eat – Lx Factory, Time Out Market and Pink Street, the M.A.A.T. and the Museum of Art.
After my whirlwind visit, I felt content that I had taken in as much as possible in a short amount of time and I'm sure it won't be long before the city's charms lure me back again.
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