When my travel mate and I booked our 10 day trip to Portugal we knew we wanted to visit the capital city and also the charming adjacent town of Sintra everyone writes about. We left the Algarve region after a few days of adventure there and hopped on a four hour train ride to Lisbon where we checked into our Airbnb apartment then headed out to explore.
We had no agenda on arrival, all we wanted to do was walk around the cities, see the trams, eat good food, listen to the famous Fado music, and taste some local wine.
We quickly learned there are several ways to get around the historic parts of town. Locals use trains, scooters and buses, tourists ride the tram or hire a tuk-tuk. We walk because we like the city to slowly unfold, to reveal itself street by street. Lisbon is a walkable city, just be prepared for hills and a guaranteed quad workout. :) The famous Alfama district has streets that meander but if you keep wandering uphill you’ll get all the views.
Like other large European cities, Lisbon has amazing architecture, historical sights, colorful streets and fountains.
I wrote about the azulejos tile of Portugal, and in Lisbon you’ll see it everywhere. Frankly it’s one of the reasons I found the city so appealing, I couldn’t get enough of the different patterns, and thankfully my travel mate was patient with me taking photos of ALL the buildings because I’m obsessed with tile. :)
Coming from the California Wine Country, I’m always interested in wines of the world so I tried green wine for the first time in Lisbon and loved it! It tasted young, but it was light and paired well with seafood.
One stop I was absolutely not going to miss was the National Tile Museum where I geeked out on all the tile. Design lovers take note! This place is filled with inspiration, tile from centuries ago and modern installations too.
Sintra is just a 30 minute train ride away. Take the train from Rossio station and you’ll arrive in the heart of this hillside storybook town. It’s major eye candy everywhere you go: meandering cobblestone streets and alleys with shops and cafes.
Up at the top of the hill is the fairytale Pena Palace, it’s not to miss! We hired a driver for a few Euros to take us to the top, strolled around the gardens and the palace, took in the views of surrounding towns, then leisurely strolled the scenic path back to town.
We spent a total of 3 days in Lisbon with a day trip to Sintra included on the last day. Our last night we spent at a street cafe people watching, talking to the fellow travelers at the table next to us, and sharing stories of where we’ve been. That’s the best part of traveling for me, meeting new people, connecting with them, making new friends from around the world.
We left Lisbon and traveled north by train with a stop in Aveiro. We spent our last days in Porto, the most magical spot, and my new favorite city in Europe. I’ll share some snaps from that adventure soon.