Lisbon caught me off guard. Although it’s Portugal’s capital city, I kind of assumed that Porto was the”place to be” with all the hype that surrounds it. The Algarve is Southern Portugal’s shining star and had already won us over (and put us behind schedule by a good few weeks) earlier on in our trip. So what did Lisbon have to offer us?
Well, let me tell you…
Three things immediately struck me when we first arrived in Lisbon; 1 – how colourful it is, 2 – how beautiful it is and 3 – how hilly it is. Most of the city was rebuilt in the mid-eighteenth century after a huge earthquake in 1755 brought most of the city to its knees. The architecture paired up with the array of pastel colours the buildings are decorated in is quite striking to say the least.
Another thing that struck me as soon as we arrived in Lisbon was the amount of graffiti. The city is steeped in it. On every wall, door and floor there is something, it’s even on the funiculars and trams. I really didn’t like it at first but the closer you look you see that the majority isn’t hateful or rude but that it’s actually quite good and really adds to the city’s charm.
We had three days in Lisbon which meant we had a lot to fit in, and although the rain was torrential for most of those 72 hours, it didn’t stop us exploring every inch of the place.
Rua Augusta Arch
Our first stop, mostly because you just can’t really breeze past it, was the Rua Augusta Arch. It was built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake.
Santa Justa Lift
Bang in the middle of the city, this 19th century lift transports you straight up and over all the other buildings, offering a 360 panoramic view. It’s the alternative to climbing all the hills to get a good shot of the city. We didn’t actually go up on the lift but we did walk three-quarters of the way up to the free view-point which gives pretty damn good views from there, and it’s free!
The oldest and most charming district in Lisbon (even in the pouring rain); we wandered for hours through the tiny winding streets adoring the wonderfully colourful buildings as we went.
Time Out Food Market
If you’re in Lisbon and you don’t go here, you’re a fool. Another perfect rainy day activity; eating and drinking. It’s the best of Lisbon under one roof; the best chef’s, restaurants and cooking workshops. There is so much choice of insanely delicious food, you could quite literally spend the day going between stands and trying everything on offer. Why wouldn’t you want to go here?
Oceanário de Lisboa
We don’t normally get sucked in to visits like the Aquarium or Zoo, but the weather was so bad and we got so soaked the day before that we opted for a dryer morning. So after getting the wrong bus for forty minutes, quickly followed by a Uber, we spent the morning gawking at all the big fish and some seriously adorable sea otters! It’s not cheap, but worth it on a very rainy day.
You need your walking boots on in Lisbon for sure; roaming around most definitely gives your legs a surprising workout –did i mention it is very hilly? The good news is, like San Francisco, Lisbon has adorably cute little tram’s that will woosh you up, down and around the tiny winding streets. If you want to take the tram then make sure you do Tram 28. It’s Lisbon’s most famous tram route, mostly because it takes you through all the picturesque streets that are an ‘Instagrammer’s dream’. Although, you might have to re-trace your steps after your tram ride as they’re a bit shaky and surprisingly fast.
The Smallest Bookshop in the World
Approximately 3000 books in fewer than 4 square metres. It is so small and cute and is about the size of a large broom cupboard. The World’s Smallest Bookshop and they don’t even advertise it as such! The first time we passed it and it was open, I didn’t even know what I was looking at. The second time we passed it and I wanted a picture, it was shut. Typical.
We love a church (or monastery, basilica, cathedral…) so this was a must see for us. The monastery is so beautiful and is a little like something out of Harry Potter.
We couldn’t go in to the tower on our last day, this was why…
The weather was wild and the tide was just as insane. Seems how the walkway to the tower was covered by sea, it was closed for the day.
Padrão Dos Descombrimentos
Close to Belem Tower, this huge exploration monument surprisingly wasn’t closed. They were still letting people up to the top, which we opted out of. They had blocked the viewing platforms from the sides though so getting a good snap was out of the question. So here’s a mediocre one instead…
Places to stay in a motorhome in Lisbon are limited and I thought it wise to heed the reviews of other moho lovers about wild camping in the city, so we opted for a campsite. Any campsites near a major city are always on the expensive side, generally just because they can be but oh my, Lisboa Camping and Bungalows Park left a lot to be desired. It did us fine for our short stay but I wouldn’t be returning in a hurry if there were other suitable options around. The upside; they offered us two extra nights at half price and there was a bus stop just outside to take us easily in to the city.
3 days wasn’t enough time to do everything we wanted to do in Lisbon. We could have easily have stayed for a week and probably then some. I can’t wait to return to this magnificent city, it truly swept me off my feet. Until next time Lisbon…
Distance travelled so far: 3,668 km
Days away: 119