Visiting Lisbon as a day trip from our relaxing break on the gorgeous coast of Sintra, we spent a boiling hot September day exploring one of the oldest cities in the world. Just a 40 minute train ride from Sintra and a 2 hour 40 minute plane journey from London, Lisbon is the perfect city break for when you need some sun, sea air and a lot of indulgence. Here are my Lisbon travel tips for when you only have 24 hours to explore.
Known for its independent vintage shops full to the brim with clothing, accessories, shoes and homeware, Lisbon is a vintage shopper’s dream. Bairro Alto is where it all happens, where cobbled street after cobbled street is full of vintage gems. Agência 117 on Rua do Norte is shoe-sheaven, and A Outra Face Da Lua on Rua da Assunção is the best vintage hang-out you’ll see in Lisbon. Great for clothes, shoes and jewellery, there’s even a kitsch cafe and a gramophone playing old records.
Food and drink
You can’t visit Lisbon and not try one (or four) of their national pastries – Pastéis de Nata. They’re little custard tarts, usually eaten slightly warm and with a strong dose of espresso. Very sweet but very light, you can easily chomp your way through a plate full of these little tarts and not feel one ounce of guilt. The best place to eat a Pastéis de Nata for the first time is at Pastéis de Belém, where they bake around 15,000 tarts a day for delighted visitors. Sprinkle your tarts with sugar and cinnamon for even more flavour and sweetness.
There are also plenty of places to eat and drink with a view in Lisbon. My favourite place is Doca de Santo Amaro, between Baixa and Belém. Sat right under the Ponte 25 de Abril, there are many chain restaurants to eat at but the views more than make up for it…
Stop for a pizza or seafood dish as you awe at the bridge and the Cristo-Rei across the river, take a photo opportunity, then for dessert walk along the decking and pick up a scoop of ice-cream from the Häagen-Dazs vendor.
Lisbon has some fantastic architecture and historical areas to do a bit of sightseeing. Here are my favourite places to go:
- Torre de Belém – a Moorish, Renaissance and Gothic-style tower on the riverbank. Visit in the late afternoon for its quietest time and then go for a paddle on the bank to cool off.
- Padrâo dos Descobrimentos – a monument created in the form of the prow of a ship. Meaning a ‘monument to the discoveries’, you won’t realise the sheer size of this until you see it for yourself.
- Ponte 25 de Abril – Portugal’s ‘Golden Gate’, it’s over half a mile long and is spectacular to look at from the banks of the Tagus River.
Read more about Pastéis de Nata on ThisCityLife.co.uk