After spending five days in Cascais, we headed off to Lisbon. We spent two and half days there, just enough time to explore quite a bit of the city. Even though Lisbon is a very steep city, we still walked everywhere we went. It’s the best way to get around small, narrow yet steep streets.
The first thing we did on our first day was go to Castelo de Sao Jorge. Before heading in, we had to get our daily dose of pasteis de nata. It was our vacation ritual, that is eating one everyday for breakfast with a fresh orange juice for me and a coffee for my boyfriend. Once that was done, we were off to the castle. It’s famous for Lisbon’s almost 360 degree view. It was stunning and we weren’t disappointed. It is definitely worth a go. We went there early in order to avoid all the tourists that arrived an hour after we did.We were able to enjoy the view without having too many people around us, and were able to take our time for pictures too.
After spending most of our morning there, we headed to Mercado da Ribeira for food. Before going on holidays, we had watched a documentary on Lisbon (it dated a few years back but was still pretty much relevant) and saw that food market. We knew we would find some delicious food there. The wonderful smell lead us directly to the food hall. There was plenty of food stands to choose from, and I was pretty amazed at how much seating area there was. Lots of high and low tables. We went there twice and it never took us long before finding a seat. We took a delicious plancha of ham and cheese and a glass of red wine to go with. These little pleasures in life make things so much more enjoyable! After that we headed back to our apartment. It was super warm and needed some coolness and rest before heading back out later in the afternoon.
Another tradition of ours on this Portuguese vacation, was drinking a nice glass of red or white sangria before going to diner. Its super refreshing, with lots of fruits. We found some beautiful small terraces near a cathedral. We usually took a liter and would switch between red and white sangria. Both are delicious but I do have a preference the white one, surprisingly! When in Lisbon, you must go to ‘the hole in the wall’ and have a small glass of ginginha! It’s a type of cherry brandy. We tried it and enjoyed it. We drank it slowly because it does contain quite a bit of alcohol. This too we saw in the Lisbon documentary. A quick note on our second night there, we had a pretty disastrous diner. We went to Cantinho do Avillez. The food was good, but the service was horrible. We weren’t well seated meaning that the waiters never looked in our direction. Our aperitif and starters came at the same time. When asking if they had some sweet wine, the waiter replied no, without giving us any other options. They even made a mistake on the bill of a couple that was sitting next to us, and there was no one showing you out of the restaurants. No thank you’s, no goodbye’s. Even though the food was excellent, it was too pricey and definitely not our kind of atmosphere. There are simply too many tables for the amount of staff hired.
On our second day, we headed off to Belem known for its famous pasteis de Belem. Of course we headed to THE place where they make those. Everyone was queuing up for some takeaway pasteis, but we decided to sit down and enjoy the experience. Wonderful service! And oh god, those pasteis were so so good. They definitely were the best we tasted since the beginning of our stay in Portugal. They weren’t too sweet. Just perfect top off with cinnamon! We definitely fell in love with this wonderful little pastry. We walked around the city and off to the tour. Because Belem is known for its pastry and tour, it was full of tourist. We didn’t even queue up to visit the tour. It was way too long, and standing in the sun, waiting, was not what we wanted. So we walked around for a bit, before heading back to Lisbon and enjoying a second lunch at the mercado.
On our last night in Lisbon, we had a wonderful diner and would highly recommend you going to Taberna Sal Grosso. Our friends Jordy and Carina went to Lisbon back in May, and told us to go there. We made sure to reserve, as it’s very limited in seats (about 7 tables). The menu is written on a blackboard on a wall. The choice of food is limited but the quality is top notch, simply excellent! It makes it really authentic and changes from the regular menu you receive once being seated. We started off with the fish soup. At first my boyfriend wasn’t really sure about it – “fish soup?” he thought. We gave it a try too. It was by far our favorite dish of the night. It was a little spicy, a bit creamy. It was simply fantastic. I’m not sure anyone can top this off it was that good. We also had some lovely fondant stew as well as pork cheeks if I’m not mistaken. We had plenty of food for the two of us. The chef and the service was excellent. We even spoke to some wonderful Portuguese people while we were there. A great way to end a wonderful day in Lisbon!
On our final morning in Lisbon, we decided to walk around and enjoyed some much needed water and coca-cola on a roof top terrace. We had been there on our first time and enjoyed the place so much we went back. They view wasn’t as great as our first night, thanks to a huge cruise ship. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful final morning in Lisbon!
If you’ve never been to Lisbon, I urge you to book your next spring and summer vacation there. It’s beautiful. You eat wonderfully and there are plenty of things to do. You want to go to the beach? Take the train and within 30 minutes you’ll be in Cascais where you can take surf lessons if you’d like. Lisbon is definitely one of those cities I will go back to. I’ve seen a bit of it, but would love to stay longer and discover more. It’s definitely one of my favorite European cities!