Hi Dolls! As the travel bug has started to rear its head, I’m reminded of my latest international travels that took me to the beautiful country of Portugal last fall. Affectionately known for its pastries, port wine, canned sardines, cork, and Azulejos (glazed ceramic tiles), I’m so thrilled that I was able to behold all of it during my short 4-day excursion there. Though my visit was short, I was able to visit Lisbon, Cascais, Evora, and the absolutely stunning, Sintra, and I didn’t miss a beat! In other words, 4 days is really all you need!
Lisbon has been gaining a little steam on travel bucket lists lately! I’ve seen a lot of folks on social media make stop overs in Lisbon and I’ve even seen the city pop up on a few travel documentaries I’ve watched recently. I think it’s great that people want to explore a country off of the typical beaten travel-path! From the antique tiled buildings with orange roofs, steep streets, and the ocean, there is so much beauty to be seen in Lisbon!
SIDENOTE: On my way to Portugal, I had a super short layover in Amsterdam (I actually thought I was going to get stuck in Amsterdam but that’s another story!). The airport alone was so beautiful it makes me want to go back…LIKE NOW! I’ve heard a lot of other things that make me eager to visit Amsterdam and the airport heightened that. But, okay, back to the topic at hand! The first stop on my Portuguese tour was Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The weather is ideal during the months of March and October, so I went in October which was perfect! It wasn’t too hot and the temperature cooled down just right, in the evenings. My first impression of Lisbon was that it was very colorful, very laid back, super hilly, and full of charm. At a glance here are a few of the sights from my two days in Lisbon!
One of the things I wanted to see before heading to Portugal was the old school trams in the Almafa District of Lisbon. This was the “Gloria” tram that started in 1885 as a mode of transportation from Lisbon to Barrio Alto, an older area of the city. What’s so cool is that it is still running today!
While driving through the city, we made a stop at the largest local park in the center of Lisbon called Parque Eduardo VII. Previously known as Liberty Park, it was renamed in 1902 to pay homage to King Edward VII.
The park is a beautiful green open field and at the head of the field is a monument that commemorates the 1974 Carnation Revolution. The Portuguese flag flies next to the monument and from there, looking south, you can get a really pretty view of the city!
Being the foodie I am, I did a little research before my visit to find out what foods Portugal is known for and Pasteis de Nata was the first thing that popped up! For my first taste of the flaky, custardy treat, I wanted to go to a cafe that was renown for them and Cafe a Brasiliera was that spot! This is one of the oldest and most famous cafes in Lisbon. They are, of course, known for their Pasteis de Nata as well as their incredibly strong espresso!
I read that historically, the cafe attracted intellects like poets and philosophers who often sat and debated world events with each other, while enjoying their espressos and cafe delights.
As for me, I just wanted to try the Pasteis de Nata and espresso in peace! The pastry was delicious! It was perfectly flaky on the outside and had a sweet custard on the inside. We won’t talk about how many of these I consumed throughout the trip but I loved them most when they were hot right out of the oven! The espresso was unbelievably strong! It definitely woke me up and gave me the kick I needed to continue my first day of walking through the city!
Before heading to Lisbon, I had read about there being a Pink Street somewhere in the middle of the city and I quickly added it to my list of places to see during my short visit. On my last day in Lisbon, I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t come across it and was convinced that I probably wouldn’t see it. After a little back and forth with myself, I knew I’d surely regret not seeing it so I caught a taxi, asked the driver to wait for me, and had a few strangers walking by snap a few pics of me on the surprisingly, very short and colorful street!
I read up on the history of The Pink Street and learned that it has a pretty interesting past. Present-day, Pink Street is where you’ll find the hippest clubs and bars. It is the district for nightlife and partying. However, it was once the home for Lisbon’s Red Light district. Back in the day, the street was filled with brothels and prostitutes, and lots of seedy bars and gambling establishments. It has an interesting history but I’m glad the area is known for fun times now.
A few more historical sites I saw included the Santa Maria de Belem.
This really cool monument is located on the Tagus River and represents Portuguese exploration from the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Santa Maria de Belem Church is a must see as well. It was built in the 16th century and is an architectural dream with it’s high ceilings and both Gothic and Renaissance influences. Although, it is totally free to visit the church, I unfortunately could not get in because someone was having a wedding there that day! Still just as beautiful from the outside.
Of course, I am always excited to eat new things whenever I travel and have had my fair share of disappointments when it comes to international cuisine but I have to admit that Portugal gets a solid “A” from me. The food I had in Lisbon didn’t compare to the food I had in Cascais and Evora (coming in a later post), but it was still pretty tasty! Of course wine is always necessary as a starter and this Portuguese wine hit the spot!
Lisbon is located on water so seafood is a HUGE there. A lot of the food I ate while in Portugal was seafood. Bacalhau was in excess! It is Portuguese for salted cod fish. Here is a Bacalhau dip with crostini, fried Bacalhau, and octopus ceviche!
Frango is another “Must-Eat” while in Portugal! It is Portuguese Rotisserie chicken! It’s spicy, and sometimes comes with a Peri-Peri Sauce! If you’ve ever had Nando’s Peri-Peri chicken (a fav of mine), this is is the inspiration!
Last but not least, was my visit to Barra Cascabel during my trip to El Corte Ingles shopping center! It looks like your typical Tex-Mex restaurant and in a sense it is, but it was opened by two, Michelin star chefs, one from Portugal and one from Mexico. The hip dining establishment lures you in with music, a lively staff, and hometown familiarity with it’s Tex-Mex menu and Latin inspired cocktails! I usually lean towards local fare but I enjoyed my dining experience here as well!
Lisbon was great! I highly recommend adding it to your travel list. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a little off the beaten path for travel, but there’s so much to see and experience and you only need a few days to do so. I was only there a couple of days during my Portuguese excursion but I was able to see and try all of the things on the list I created before arriving. I will share more from my trip to Portugal in a couple of future posts I have planned but until then, thanks for stopping by and have the most amazing weekend!