If you want to do a weekend city break on the continent without paying a fortune look no further my g’s. I got you.
19:55: Flight from Heathrow with TAP Portugal to Lisbon. Great flight and an unexpected free meal/drinks. Lots of vino yes yes.
22:30: Arrived in Lisbon to meet my wonderful friend Simone who lives and works in Portugal (badman). Even the airport is magnificent, white marble everywhere and caricatures of famous Lisbon figures all around the metro. As far as airports go this one is amazing! So easy to navigate, clean and arty.
22:40 We took the metro to Baixa Chiado and then walked to the apartment in Bairro Alto. Travelling from the airport to the apartment took around 60 mins there and back, it’s all very dependent on the timings of the trains which can take 5-15mins to arrive.
23:45 Do not underestimate how hilly Lisbon is, make sure you bring your comfiest kicks. On the walk from the station the first thing I noticed were the amazing tiled buildings. Ajulejos (tiles) and cork are two things that Lisbon is very famous for. We also walked past the world’s oldest book shop in the world still in operation, it opened its doors in 1732 and is located at Rua Garrett in Chiado.
00:00 We arrived at the apartment. Our host Ricardo was wonderful and gave us a bottle of wine to welcome us in. Yes to vino. There was a distinct lack of newsagents/corner shops in Lisbon so I do advise you buy everything you need when you see one!
00:30 In Bairro Alto there are 5 or 6 different little streets that are packed with bars and clubs which do not charge for entry. For the first time since fresher days, we bar hopped. It was sick. Caipirinhas were the drink of choice, drinks cost on average around €3-5. Do not get a mojito from the Cuban bar – it was the deadest thing ever and a waste of €3-5 which could have gone on a caipirinha!
1:30 There are a variety of bars playing different genres of music. Our favourite was the Cuban bar and the Brazilian bars were playing some of the best music I have ever heard. Click here for my piece on the Lisbon music scene. The highlight of the night was a bar called Som Bem which played Brazilian funky. Everyone we met on our night out was wonderful, ready to dance and a lot of fun.
3:00 All the bars close apart from a few select clubs that are a bit further out. Our new found Angolan friends advised us to go to Place for afrobeats which is open until 6am. Next time I visit I will also be sure to check our B. Leza which plays live African music and hosts kizomba workshops. By this point we were too turnt/shattered from travelling and wanted to be in a decent condition to go exploring in the morning so went in search of fried chicken. NOTE: WE COULD NOT FIND A TAKE OUT. The nearest one was half an hour away in a taxi, near the river. Unbelievably dead.
One of the most beautiful days of my life.
First thing’s first we took pictures with one of Lisboa’s infamous trams. If you have the time you should go on the number 28 tram which is the longest route in Lisbon. It’s very popular though so you may end up waiting a while to queue and get on one.
I highly recommend heading to one of the vista’s (viewing points) around Lisbon. Lisbon has been built on seven hills on the margins of the River Tagus which means that there are views for days for your eyes to feast on. Close to our apartment is the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. This viewing platform is a garden with a panoramic view across the city to São Jorge Castle and central Lisboa.
We then walked to Santa Justa and ate the pengest munch for €5 a head. I had a pork steak with chips and rice, Portuguese food is simple and delicious.
We then visited Igreja De São Domingos a Roman Catholic Church that has been rebuilt after an infamous fire and earthquakes. The architectural style is baroque and reminds me of Catedral De Girona.
We then walked towards Praça do Comércio and on the way down we came across the Elevador de Santa Justa which was designed by Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, a student of the great iron craftsman Gustave Eiffel, who created the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This elevator transports passengers from the Baixa district up to the Igreja do Carmo church.
Praça do Comércio is absolutely beautiful. Towards the centre of the square is a statue of King José I and at the entrance to the square you can find the Rua Augusta Arch, a stone triumphal-arch which commemorates the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. The square is also known as Terreiro do Paço because the Royal Ribeira Palace used to be located here before it was destroyed by the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake. There was a cool af band playing with the river as their backdrop – everywhere you walk in Lisbon you hear music it’s so uplifting.
We then got an uber to Santiago to go and see Castelo de São Jorge, it costs around €8 and is 100% worth it. Not only can you walk around a moorish castle right along the top but the views from the top are incredible. It closes at 6pm and we got to watch the sunset over Lisbon as the streetlights turned on. The different coloured and tiled buildings are very distinguishable and you can work out where in the city you are staying from the castle. It’s muy muy cool.
We then made our way towards Alfama and stopped off in Sao Miguel for some cervezas and more live music. There was also another viewing point here. Miradouro das Portas do Sol is one of the most popular viewing platforms in Lisbon for its breathtaking views of the castle. We met some wonderful promoters of the live band who gave us a free copy of their CD because Conor had a football sticker of Nani on the back who is not only a Portugal player but like the promoter, also from Cape Verde. An Angolan guy called Kevin works around this platform, if you speak to him he might give you a free bracelet too as he likes to practice his English. The mix of people in Lisbon is so sick, we met people from Angola, Senegal, Brazil, Germany, Spain and France. The entire day was made as special as it was due to the continued kindness of locals we met on our journey.
Visiting Lisboa for the first time we found it imperative to go and find ourselves some good Fado. Originally I had planned for us to go to SR. FADO for a 7:30pm show to listen to some authentic Fado. Fado is Portuguese folk music which is full of soul and heartbreak. It’s stunning. On the way to R. dos remedios (SR FADO) we came across a quaint restaurant on a corner with a view of the river and lights. The host Teresa came out and convinced us to come in, her warmth and hospitality was fantastic and I would highly recommend that you go here to hear Fado. They had world class professional Fado singers performing throughout dinner in an extremely intimate environment. It made their bellowing voices a million times more intense. There was a lovely mix of male and female Fado singers but Tina Santos was my favourite and not just because she gave me a white rose when I left (what a babe).
We then got an uber back to the apartment which cost around €5 (100% necessary after all the walking we had been doing). Our lovely friend invited all of his colleagues and Portuguese friends out and we went to a Brazilian bar where there was a live band, €5 Caipirinhas in pint glasses that blow your mind. We spent our entire night in and out of the bar until close. The music and company was phenomenal. One of the best night’s out I have ever had!
10:00 We got up and ready to head to Belem for the day! We also were technically checking out but our host allowed for us to store all of our bags in a room within the flat until 2pm.
11:30 We got a train to Belem which was only two stops from Santa Justa
12:00 We ordered a padria portuguesa which is a traditional portugese breakfast of a ham and cheese croissant with freshly squeezed orange juice and a coffee!
12:25 We then made out way to Pasteis de Belem which have been around since 1837 following an ancient recipe from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. This is where the first Portuguese custard tart or ‘natas’ was made! There are two queues two get in and it is unbelievably busy but they serve you with military precision. Within 10 minutes we had been in and out with our own natas! I am not exaggerating when I say it is the most wonderful thing I have ever tasted in my life. I highly recommend you make the pilgrimage to try them.
12:35 We sat in the Jardim do ultramar just opposite the store and tried our natas – the pengest munch.
12:50 We then walked to Santa Maria de Belem along the river. There are so many museums here that we didn’t get a chance to go into properly but next time we definitely will. Lisbon leads the way in modern architecture and Belem showcases this magnificently. You can also find the Belem tower here along with the Jeronimos Monastery and Padrão dos Descobrimentos.
13:00 We began to head back to the apartment to collect our things.
14:00 We were at the airport and not ready to leave at all.
Lisbon you were wonderful and I will be back.
flights: I booked around a month before. The flights to and from Heathrow cost £95 return but you can book a weekend for around £60 on skyscanner if you book well in advance. If you are not constrained to just the weekend you can pick up flights from London for as low as £35!
accomodation: Airbnb cost £107 for two nights for a two bedroom amazing apartment in the centre of Bairro Alto. Our host was wonderful and let us keep our bags in the apartment on the Sunday whilst we travelled to Belem for the day.
spending money: I took €200 and did not spend all of it. Food was cheap and drinks were reasonable, public transport extremely cheap.