I fell in love with Portugal after my first 24 hours. A lot of this has to do with Lisbon (or Lisboa), and I thought I should share my top ten favourite things about this beautiful city.
Top Ten: Lisboa
1. Miradouro de Santa Catarina
My lovely Lisbon friends took me here during my first week, but I could never find my way back. Then, the hostel owner at Gspot took a few of us out for drinks here! It is a beautiful view point of the water and attracts all types of people.
2. Lost In Esplanada-bar
This is my friend Ana’s favourite cafe in Lisbon. It’s hidden away down an alleyway and unless someone took you here you may never know it existed. I also took my lovely Aussie friend Sherry here and she loved it as well. Try their pumpkin-jam and toast for something sweet or their sandwiches are yummy too with a side salad.
Technically not in Lisbon, but since it’s less than a 5 euro urban train ride away it is part of my top ten of Lisbon. Yes it’s touristy, but I think I enjoyed it because it reminded me of going to the lakes back home in Ontario. The scenery is beautiful and it’s a great way to spend a warm day.
4. Beautiful Belem
Some people found Belem boring but I loved it. I wouldn’t suggest going into the tower (I did), but just merely walking around is enough. Also, the museums in the area are supposed to be really good. But of course, my favourite part are the pastries! Yummy!
5. Vasco de Gama and the Park of Nations
I visited this park 3 or 4 times during my two week stay in Lisbon. I loved the modernity and the views of the bridge. Also, the Oceanarium is near by, and it’s worth the 13 euro just to see the Otters.
6. Chapitos (restaurant)
This beauty offers an amazing view of the river. We headed there one night for drinks and then another night for tapas. I unfortunately have no pictures, but it is definitely worth checking out.
Another day trip from Lisbon, Sintra has palaces, castles, gardens and amazing views. There is even a vegetarian restaurant. Also under 5 euro for a round trip on the urban train, this town is a favourite with locals and tourists alike.
9. The people.
Honestly, Lisbon and Portugal in general have some of the nicest people I have ever met! Whether it’s a smile while walking down the street, the adorable man serving you dinner or the group standing drinking a ‘bica’ in the cafe, everyone has always been friendly.
A ‘tasca’ is a family-run small restaurant. They are generally small, only seating up to 20 people. What I love is that it is very intimate and very simple. A simple menu (vegetarians beware as there usually aren’t any options), cheap drinks and food (under 8 euro for a meal, wine/beer and a cafe), and the server is usually the owner! You watch as they make your food in a small kitchen and it’s a no-fuss atmosphere. They love when you tell them their food is delicious and you can hear them yell back to the kitchen (in Portuguese of course) ‘it’s all good over here!’
Then, they take out a pen and write out your bill in front of you on the table cloth. No fuss. If you’re looking for an authentic Portuguese experience head into the Baixo Chiado or Barrio Alto area and search out the small tascas. **head to Rua do Duque and go to the second restaurant down the hill from ‘Super Mario’ and try the Gamba Acorda and share the Encharcada do Convento de Santa Clara (dessert) with a friend.