Lisbon is stunning! The city is covered with patterned tiles and endless stairsteps. But we survived the hills and stairsteps of Lisbon during our 6 day visit. Lisbon is one of those cities where everywhere we looked, we wanted to capture it with our camera. I think we took 3,000 photos in Lisbon alone.
While in Lisbon, we stayed at this beautiful rental apartment in the Santa Catarina area in Lisbon’s historic center. We rented our apartment via housetrip.com as it has lesser fees than airbnb (though, we oringally found it via airbnb). While searching for an apartment, I wanted to be in the historical area but in a more residential neighbourhood as I wanted to stay where the locals live. With Lisbon being a hilly place, I made sure we were in the “lower” neighbourhood so it’s flatter and easier to get in and out of the apartment with an umbrella stroller and for a taxi to be able to drop us off right at our doorstep. The “lower” neighbourhood of Lisbon would be Rossio, Baxia and Chiado. We were a short walking distance to these places and just on the bottom of Barrio Alto. The hilltop neighbourhoods would be Bairro Alto to the west and Alfama to the east. With Luna in tow and an umbrella stroller, I knew it would be a challenge to stay anywhere in the hilltop neighbourhoods as with some places, you can only get to it by endless stairsteps. Imagine getting off the taxi and having to drag a couple luggages, an umbrella stroller and Luna up the stairs to get to our apartment?! That would be a nightmare!
The cab from the airport to our apartment was super fast. I think it was a 15 min ride. We were warned by Alexandre (the apartment owner) that taxi drivers can be sneaky and will probably overcharge us. He said we should not pay more than 15 euro as that covers the taxi ride + luggage. When the taxi driver dropped us off at the apartment, he was charging us 25 euro. So we called Alexandre and he came down and sorted it out with the taxi driver. At the end of it, we payed 15 euro and thanks to Alexandre! Apparently, this happens all the time.
The great thing about traveling and being in a new city is just getting lost in it. We did A LOT of walking up and down the hills, peeking into homes, walking into shops and just discovering the city and all it’s different neighbourhoods by foot. On some occasions, we did take the tram to take us to Alfama area. That saved us a lot of sweat pushing the umbrella stroller. The Metro is also pretty easy to use and we took it to Belem and LX Factory. We also checked out Museo Berado, Modern Art Museum and MUDE (design and fashion museum) and the best part was, they were all FREE! Yes, FREE!! MUDE is pretty awesome. It’s in an old bank and the basement exhibit was in a massive Ocean’s 11 worthy vault. Artifacts were displayed in safety deposit boxes. Very cool.
Some other places we visited:
Såo Jorge Castle
A Moorish castle on a hilltop overlooking the historic centre. Amazing place that you can’t miss.
Spectacular architecture! A UNESCO World Heritage site.
National Coach Museum
This place wasn’t on my list of places to check out but we walked right by it and decided to go in. We weren’t disappointed. It was amazing to see a collection of Portuguese royal coaches & carriages and it has the largest collection all over the world. There were about 45 coaches and carriage on display and most were ceremonial vehicles owned by the Portuguese royal family. It was amazing.
If you’re looking for Lisbon’s art & design district, that would be LX Factory and is located between the core of Lisbon and Belem. It’s located in an old manufacturing district where you will find great eateries in a warehouse setting, design firms, production studios and a lot of great shops. This place is totally not touristy. Everything is design-centred focus. We probably spent half a day here. While at LX Factory, you have to check out Ler Devagar bookstore inside a large warehouse that used to be a printing workshop. On some days, exhibitions, theatre shows, poetry and concerts are held here. You’ll see a vintage printing press, a bar and a cafe inside the bookstore. We had lunch at Cantina which is set in a warehouse setting and serves amazing traditional Portuguese food. This was one of the best meals we had in Lisbon. Everyday, the menu changes and it’s simple with only 2 entrees to choose from. They also make their own bread in a log-fired oven. I would highly recommend stopping here for lunch. The space is unpretentious and beautiful at the same time.
As for shopping, check out:
A Vida Portuguesa
It’s kind of like Anthropologie but everything locally made from Portugal. A great place to buy souvenirs.
Embaixada LX in Principe Real
Set in a beautiful old palace from the XIX century with an arabic inspired courtyard for coffee and snacks. Browse around the shops selling design focus items made in Portugal.
21PR Concept Store
Just a couple doors down from Embaixada and also offers “Made in Portugal” products. Great space and great little coffee shop on the ground floor where we had delicious pastries.
Loja das Conservas
A shop that stocks tinned seafood from all over Portugal. Tinned seafood has gone gourmet in Portugal. This place is great and they’re super helpful. They carry all different brands. I bought a lot of bacalau to take home. So good!
In Lisbon, wherever you see a sign ‘Miradouros’ it means viewpoints. With Lisbon being a hilly city, there a lot of Miradouros everywhere and all have spaces to sit and rest. Some have cafes serving snacks and refreshments. Miradouro De Santa Catarina was just around the corner from our apartment (a 2 min walk) and we spent one evening there after dinner sipping wine and snacking on peanuts. The view is stunning and it was packed with people sitting on the grass, hanging out, playing music and kids riding their bikes. It was great and Luna loved it. Lisbon has an awesome public drinking culture which I absolutely love! You can drink everywhere and amazingly, everyone is so civil.
Being in Lisbon in the Spring was great. We were there early April and the weather couldn’t have been better. It was hot during the day but not scorching and evenings were cooler. It was perfect. Though, it was funny to see some locals in their winter coats and tights. But for us tourists coming from Canada, it was summer weather to us! If you plan to go to Lisbon, make sure to bring comfortable shoes! I put Dr. Scholl’s gel insoles in my flats and it worked perfectly. I was able to walk all day with no pains. Our umbrella stroller worked out perfectly too in those cobbled stone streets. So don’t be afraid to bring it. It made our life easier. If Luna got tired, she would nap in it and we were able to be out all day. Our days were long. We would start at 10 am and go to bed by 1am. So having an umbrella stroller was great for short siestas as little people can only handle so much walking in a day.
We truly enjoyed Lisbon and hope to go back again one day. Stay tuned for a post on eating in Lisbon and a day trip to the magical town of Sintra coming soon!