The Darling Nomadess: Lisbon City Guide + Video!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Lisbon City Guide + Video!

Portugal is probably one of the most underrated countries in Western Europe. You don't hear too many people enthusiastically proclaim that they're going to Portugal. Unless that person is me. I've been dreaming of going to Portugal since last winter. I can't really say where the idea to spend a month in this country came from, but when I told people I was saving to go to Portugal, I was responded with "why Portugal?" My response: why not Portugal?!

My trip started in Lisbon, which greeted me with unique architecture (all.the.tile), delicious food (read: pastries), and beautiful scenic points that seem to take you all over the world. Have you always dreamed of seeing Christ the Redeemer in Rio? Lisbon has its twin named Christo Rei. Golden Gate Bridge more your fancy? Try the 25 de Abril Bridge.

                




Where I Stayed
I stayed at Sunset Destination Hostel upon the recommendation from some of my friends who stayed with them previously. This hostel was in a convenient location in the Cais do Sodre train station. It was right by the riverfront and a few minutes walk from the gorgeous plaza. The rooms were clean and offered amenities such as curtains over the bunks for privacy, individual reading lamps and electrical outlets for each bunk, and extremely large drawer lockers under the bunks. The bathrooms were well-maintained. Their showers are timed showers to reflect their commitment to the environment. Some of the bathrooms had hairdryers, but many did not.
The complimentary breakfast is one of the best I've seen offered by a hostel filled with different toasts, jams, cereals, juices, a fancy coffee machine, and pancakes. The facilities are wonderfully done with various areas for guests to hang out including a fun safari-themed bar, and a roof-top pool. Lastly, the complimentary wifi had a strong connection.
I only encountered two problems during my weeklong stay with Sunset Destination. They provide laundry service for $7, which I took advantage of since I was traveling with limited outfits. They did a great job following my requests for my clothes except for a few details. They mixed my personal towel with the hostel's towels and I never got it back. I also requested that my jeans be air-dried. They placed them on hangers outside which was great, except it rained mid-afternoon and they didn't retrieve them. I ended up having to rewash them once at my new location due to the smell the rain produced on them. The second was that the electricity and wifi went out on my third night and didn't come back on until 11 a.m. the next morning. Considering I spent most of my evenings working on some projects, this was a bit unexpected, but we got through it!


Day 1

I love walking tours so I kicked off my stay in Lisbon with Destination Tour's Free Walking Tour of Alfama which took me to three overlooks, the National Pantheon, St. George's Castle, 2 churches, and through the weekly flea market. After the tour, a group of us grabbed fresh fish for lunch from a random restaurant. After filling up our bellies, we shopped for sunglasses and souvenirs at the Feira da Ladra flea market. In the evening, I mades new friends at a dinner party hosted by my hostel then took to the streets to explore Lisbon's nightlife with Destination Tours Pub Crawl (12 euro)!

PRO TIP! Tourist attraction to skip: Tram #28. This is the most popular tram to take in the city as it goes past many popular attractions. I found it to be way too crowded and ended up not seeing anything! if you do take the tram, I recommend taking it in the early morning before the crowds take over.

Try Ginjinha! This cherry liquor may come in a shot glass, but it is meant to be sipped!


View of 25th de Abril Bridge from Cristo Rei Monument

Up close with the Christo Rei!

Day 2
I spent most of day two just wandering the streets of Lisbon admiring the architecture and checking out street stands and shops. In the afternoon, I took the ferry to visit the Christo Rei monument (guide coming soon!). After returning to Lisbon, I had dinner with one of my new friends at Can the Can, located in Praca do Comercio. The drinks were good (all.the.mojitos!), and the dessert was even better! I had the couscous de frutos vermelhos and it was fantastic! Essentially, it was couscous soaked in port wine topped with yogurt and honey. Who knew couscous could be an excellent dessert?!

PRO TIP! The sidewalks are covered in marble chips which can be quite slippery without proper foot attire, even if it's not raining. Make sure to wear shoes with decent tread.

Bright & colorful Pena Palace in Sintra


Day 3
Sintra has been on my bucket list for so long so it had to be a day trip while I was in Lisbon! I'll be writing a guide soon for this day trip, too. The train ticket was quite affordable at 5 euro round trip. While in Sintra, I visited Moor Castle (8 euro) and Pena Palace (13 euro). I took the Pena Palace Loop bus for 5 euros while in Sintra. There was not enough time to get everything in as there are so many castles to explore! I would definitely recommend Sintra be a two-day excursion. If you want to try to get everything in in one day, the Hop On/Hop Off bus was 12 euros. I definitely want to go back to explore Quinta de Regaleira someday!

PRO TIP! The line for tickets to Sintra at the train station will be outrageously long! You can skip the line by purchasing your ticket at the magazine store next to Destination Hostel in the Rossio Train Station!

Jeronimos Monastery

Day 4
Day four was spent exploring the Belem district! I took the bus for 2.50 euros round trip from Cais do Sodre. I purchased the Jeronimos Monastery + Torres de Belem ticket for 12 euros. Both of these locations are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Jeronimos Monastery was an incredible site and highly recommended. Personally, I didn't think the ticket for the Torres was worth it as I didn't find it necessary to go inside. The tour inside only takes to you the tower, which has a ridiculously long line, and there are better views from other places in the city. After exploring the UNESCO sites, I stopped by Pasteis de Belem which is absolutely worth it if the line is short. You can get one of Lisbon's famous custard pastries for 1.05 euro. Unfortunately, the Age of Discoveries monument was under renovations and covered in scaffolding while I was there.

Overall, Lisbon is easily one of my favorite cities in the world! I could definitely see myself living in this colorful and vibrant city and I can't wait to return one day.

Have you been to Portugal? What were your favorite things to do?

With Love,
Ashliegh

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