12 min read
After our Travel Expert Ellis shared his tips on how to spend 48h in Krakow, our Founder Greg tells you all about how he spent his last weekend break in Lisbon, Portugal’s vibrant and enchanting capital, home to the famous Pasteis de Nata!
In 2019, World Travel Awards proclaimed Lisbon the top city break destination and it’s not hard to see why. Boasting magnificent historical monuments, charismatic markets and an electric nightlife all set against the beautiful backdrop of the Tagus River and the Mar de Palha bay, Lisbon is the full package.
Lisbon may be second to Athens as Europe’s oldest capital city, but I can guarantee there is nothing second rate about this gorgeous city as the perfect holiday destination.
The city suffered a terrible earthquake in 1755 but this resulted in widespread renovations which have left Lisbon more glorious than ever. Traditional heritage and architecture mix with modern innovations in a glorious fusion across the seven hills that the city is built upon. The magnificent metropolis is just a two and a half hours flight away and with no time difference I’ve had worse Friday evening commutes! So, what are you waiting for? (Lis)bon voyage!
After a two and a half hour flight from Stanstead Airport, I arrive in Lisbon at 11 AM.
It is still early so I decide that I will use public transport to head to my hotel. Alternatively, a taxi from the airport to Dom Pedro Palace Hotel is priced at around €10.
After a short 25 minute journey, I arrive at this grandious hotel, the 5* Dom Pedro Palace situated in the city centre in front of the Amoreiras Shopping and near to Marquês de Pombal and the luxury boutiques of Avenida da Liberdade.
With access to the hotels' Spa Aquae, breathtaking views from your hotel room and an unique design, you will truly feel like royalty during your stay in the Dom Pedro Palace.
One thing I must mention is that the hotel is frequently visited by celebrities so do not be surprised if you bump into your favourite superstar.
Launch straight into Lisbon’s cultural heritage by hopping on a tram and heading west to the charming district of Belém. Located a scenic 20-minute journey from the city centre, Belém is a must see. The area celebrates Lisbon’s rich sea-faring heritage and is home to many extravagant buildings that showcase the vast wealth that once flowed into Portugal from newly discovered colonies.
Photo Credit: @bao90
Begin your exploration of the district with a trip to Belém Tower. The tower was first built to defend Lisbon in 1514 and today the Manuelino style architecture stands as impressive as ever. Inside you can explore the pits and dungeons where prisoners were once kept before climbing up through the Governor’s Hall, the King’s Hall and the Chapel to the stunning rooftop terrace.
Photo Credit: @unidentified.mc
After your tour of the tower, stroll along the waterfront soaking up some sun on your way to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. This impressive 56m tall monument commemorates the Portuguese explorers whose journeys brought Portugal immense glory and wealth during the Age of Discovery. The striking central pillar is flanked by 32 sculptures of illustrious navigators, cartographers, missionaries and the like - well worth a visit in my opinion.
Photo Credit: @vem.e.viaja
After all that walking, finish off your morning with a well-deserved Pastéis de Nata from the oldest bakery in Portugal, the Pasteis de Belém - as if we need an excuse to indulge! These delicious treats are world-famous and simply heavenly so don’t be put off if there is a queue when you arrive, you will be rewarded for your patience.
Photo Credit: @pasteisbelem
Continue your cultural journey through Belém by heading over to the Jerónimos Monastery. This ornately decorated religious building dates back to 1502 and in the late twentieth century UNESCO classified it as a world heritage site claiming the church “exemplifies Portuguese art at its best.”
Photo Credit: @thenavigatio
The grand cloisters, decorative columns and fine stone detailing positively ooze opulence. Here you will also find the tombs of great figures from Portuguese history including those of King Manuel I and of Vasco da Gama (the first European to reach India by sea).
The monastery’s garden leads to a park and picturesque traditional restaurants with outdoor seating. The perfect opportunity to grab some lunch I think! If you fancy it, try out another Lisbon delicacy Bacalhau à Brás.
Photo Credit: @almeida1984
This dish is made from salted cod and thinly chopped fried potatoes combined with scrambled egg. It might not sound like your cup of tea but be brave and give it a go! With full stomachs, say bye to Belem and make your way back to the city centre.
For a sensational end to your day of adventures, there is no better neighbourhood in Lisbon than Bairro Alto. Bairro Alto is a vibrant maze of cobbled streets teeming with nightlife located at the top of one Lisbon’s seven hills.
Photo Credit: @bernardespelaeuropa
“You’re making us hike to the top of a hill!? After the day we’ve just had!?” I hear you cry, but do not fear! Save your legs the steep journey by climbing aboard the Elevador da Glória, one of Lisbon’s three iconic funiculars.
Photo Credit: @descubralisboa
Opposite the top of the Elevador is the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. From here you can see panoramic views of the St George’s Castle (spoiler alert for tomorrow’s explorations!) as well as of the historic areas of Mouraria, Baixa and Alfama.
Photo Credit: @josefmagalhaes
Watch the sunset over the city and relax in preparation for the big night ahead! Tasca do Chico is the next spot on the tour for a fado concert and some petiscos (Portugal’s take on tapas). An intimate space with walls covered in artwork Tasca do Chico is a gorgeous setting to listen to the traditional and soulful fado music. The experience is guaranteed to charm and leave you feeling closer to the city and its culture.
Photo Credit: @flaviogilsilva
Wind up the night with a drink or two (or three!) from the many bars Bairro Alto has to offer. One of our favourite locations for a late-night tipple is Park – a trendy rooftop establishment above a carpark with stunning views of the city below.
Photo Credit: @parklisboa
But no pressure! That’s the beauty of laid back, late night Lisbon, simply go where the wind takes you and see what tickles your fancy as you meander through the city’s enchanting alleyways.
Rise and Shine my jolly jet-setters - it’s time for day two in Lisbon! Now I know you might be feeling a bit precious after last night’s activities but I have a good incentive for you to crawl out of bed, down a coffee and get going – the Castelo de São Jorge!
Photo Credit: @nicolede94
Hopefully last night’s sneak peak of this majestic castle from the São Pedro viewpoint has got you eager to explore the fortress up close. The castle has an incredibly extensive history.
It dates all the way back to the Romans in 200 BC before being occupied by North African Moors who were then pushed out by Christian Crusaders in 1147 AD. The castle then became the seat of Portuguese power when the capital was moved from Coimbra to Lisbon in 1256 AD.
Residues of the castle’s long history can be traced in the heavily fortified battlements, 11 watchtowers and medieval royal quarters which are open for tourists to walk. The castle also holds beautiful gardens, an interesting camera obscura and an archaeological exhibition.
Photo Credit: @mattomac83
Next on the agenda, take a stroll to marvel at the Arco da Rua Augusta. Built as a celebration of Lisbon’s recovery following the 1755 earthquake, this triumphant stone archway is a stunning example of neo-classical architecture. What better way to wrap up the morning!
Photo Credit: @atraverleglobe
After absorbing all that history, I’m sure you’ve worked up an appetite. Let the enticing aromas of Lisbon delicacies draw you towards the Mercado de Ribeira for an exciting culinary experience guaranteed to satisfy.
Photo Credit: @diez.mar
This giant food hall has everything your heart (or should I say stomach) could desire. Whilst the upper floor offers cutting-edge eateries with terrace seating, downstairs is filled with bustling stalls selling a variety of Portuguese street foods. Enjoy budget-friendly samples from some of the country’s Michelin star chefs, grab an ice cream from a local favourite Santini, or try a sip of Ginja, a traditional Lisbon sweet liqueur made from sour cherries.
Photo Credit: @colellagamescocktails
Continue to immerse yourself in the vibrant modern street life Lisbon provides by heading to LX Factory. Once a huge fabric manufactory, the warehouse-style spaces are now home to a plethora of hip cafes, unique boutiques and bold street art. Perfect place to pick yourself up a souvenir!
Photo Credit: @pponruu
There are tonnes of funky spots to discover in this incredible part of the city but a personal favourite is the Ler Devagar bookshop. It may sound anticlimactic after everything you’ve seen so far, but the floor to ceiling bookshelves are jaw droppingly gorgeous and the shop has been called one of the most beautiful in the world.
Photo Credit: @ego.hernan
Upstairs you can find a bakery selling an array of cakes to sweeten the deal, or to convince an unenthusiastic travel partner that this spot is worth a visit!
Sadly, your time in Lisbon is coming to its end but in true BeRightBack fashion we are not going out without a bang! Jump onto a ferry and gaze at the breath-taking views of Lisbon from the water as you cross the River Tagus to Cacilhas.
Photo Credit: @mgphoto18
The boat journey is a splendid experience only made better by the picturesque neighbourhood of Cacilhas that greets you on the other side. Situated right on the waterfront and known for its Cervejaria (traditional beerhouses) and seafood restaurants, Cacilhas is an ideal setting for a delicious dinner.
Photo Credit: @pombares
After returning from Cacilhas, stretch out the night and make the most of your holiday by taking a walk down the Rua Nova do Carvalho - Lisbon’s Red-light district turned pink!
Photo Credit: @travelswithmylove
Historically brimming with bars and brothels entertaining returning sailors the area has been gentrified in recent years and got a major makeover in 2011 when the street was painted bright pink. The brothels have been replaced with quirky cocktail joints and al fresco bar stalls. Now that’s what I call a glow up!
If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Barcelona, Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!
The team at BeRightBack believes that the mission of a travel company should be to save you both time and money.
With BeRightBack, you get three trips a year to three surprise European destinations, all for the monthly cost of £49.99, which includes your return flights and your hotel.
With BeRightBack, creating a trip takes 60 seconds. Simply tell us how you like to travel when you create your account, and our concierge service does everything else for you. You won't have to lift a finger.
Best of all, you always pay the same price for your trips, no matter when you go away and we help you spread the cost of your travel, thanks to our monthly subscription.
I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Lisbon and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!
Greg (Founder of BeRightBack)
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