Travel - Lisbon {Part 1 - Our apartment & cycling to Belem}

July 11, 2017

We spent last weekend in Lisbon for our third {!!} wedding anniversary. I'd heard a lot about the city in the past couple of years, everybody suddenly seems to love it, but it wasn't until we were there that we realised exactly what the fuss was about. It was just the perfect city break and great in so many ways. Pretty streets where if a building wasn't covered in tiles, it was pastel coloured, easy to get around both on foot and with straight forward public transport, sunny almost year round {it's Europe's sunniest capital}, cheap {the supermarkets especially. It's Europe's cheapest western city}, a quick flight away, amazing food and has the beach and beautiful Sintra just a short train ride away. Oh, and did I mention the tiles already?! 

We booked three nights, which was basically four full days with an early flight out with Easyjet on Friday morning and then an evening flight back on the Monday which meant we packed a lot in. A few people have asked me if I think three nights was long enough. It is a compact easy city but there is a lot to do there. We LOVED the beach {and it was the most beautiful weather ever} so because of this we didn't want to leave! {and would have liked maybe one more night}. We also do things quite quickly so you might want four nights/possibly longer if you want to do everything properly if that makes sense. So three nights minimum I'd say. 

We booked an Airbnb apartment in the Bairro Alto neighbourhood {this one} after I fell in love with both the photos and the reviews. It's always hard to decide which area to stay in when you haven't visited somewhere before but we thought this was a great location. It is in the nightlife area but on a quiet street and we walked everywhere from here. Handily it was just about a 6 minute walk from each train station and just a few minutes walk from the main shopping area, the river and the Time Out Market. More photos of the apartment below. You can also get £30 off any Airbnb stay if you sign up with this link {I think sadly it's only available if you register a new account}. I love how Airbnb has changed the nature of travel across the globe, there are so many cool places to rent through it for every budget. They are nearly always cheaper than hotels though and it means you get to experience living as a local. I might write a whole post on our Airbnb experiences at some point.

We took an Uber from the airport to the apartment. It cost €9 for a half an hour's ride, everything seemed a lot better value in Lisbon than London. {And if you'd like £15 off your first Uber ride then i have this code to share with you - enter REBECCASTERLING when signing up and the credit will be in your account ready to use! You'll need to download the app on your phone}. Our Airbnb host was so helpful and sent us a full guide to the city and maps before we'd even arrived so we'd made a rough plan before we got there.

We arrived to this tile wall right opposite the apartment. Talk about happiness! We dropped our bags off and then went to get some lunch. Side note - the Lisbon supermarkets were amazing, especially for Iberico ham which was crazily cheap for stuff that tasted better than I've paid £££ for at Brindisa in Borough Market.

Dress online here. Bag is last summer Primark. Similar hat here - mine is also a men's hat.

Walking just across the road from our apartment we stumbled across the tram! This is a funicular that runs up and down the hill but there's also the famous 28 tram on the road outside. We'd stepped out the taxi for about five minutes and already felt immersed in Lisbon life.

We headed towards the river, passing the famous Time Out market en route. So many people had recommended this to us, Time Out have vetted the best restaurants/chefs in Lisbon and bought them all together under one roof. Such a great idea.

There's also a food market there on one side and the restaurants the other with big communal tables. 

Our first stop was the bike shop, we used Bikeiberia to hire bikes for the afternoon to cycle up to Belem area along the river. We were advised not to visit Belem at a weekend as it gets crazily busy so we decided to go for our first stop on Friday afternoon.

These streets and buildings!

There's a marked 10km bike path along the river that you can follow all the way to Belem. 

We instantly saw the 'Golden Gate' bridge. It looks identical! In fact we said that the city felt like a very European San Francisco with the trams, hills and the bridge.

A lot of the river area is very industrial but you get pretty views nonetheless.

Bikes and boats.

I think Ben and I have hired bikes on most of the trips we've taken, I'm always happiest when cycling somewhere pretty.

Belem was spectacular. The famous tower coming out the sea like a giant sand castle. We just saw it from the outside rather than going in but I imagine the views are nice from the top looking back across the bridge and river. 

We were really in Belem though for the famous custard tarts. You can't come to Lisbon without visiting Pasteis de Belem, it's an institution! People queue and queue out the door to buy them but if you go inside and ask for a table in the cafe there's no wait at all and you can still buy them to take away out there. This was an invaluable tip that the bike hire guy gave us.

They were soo good and come with cinnamon and icing sugar to sprinkle on. They must make hundreds if not thousands every day.

Custard tarts and tiles, so Portuguese. 

You can see them being made too. If you're planning to visit Lisbon then try and watch the Rick Stein TV show on his weekend in Lisbon, it will show you behind the scenes at Pasteis de Belem amongst other famous eateries.

Afterwards we went to get back to the river, passing through the parks but then stumbled across this street of dreams.

Pretty coloured houses and restaurants covered in bougainvillaea. 

*Dies and goes to heaven*.

With lots of photos taken we headed back to the centre of Lisbon to check in properly to the apartment. 

These tiles were literally on every street corner.

This was the apartment we stayed in. I loved the views out across the pink rooftops.

and the stylish decor whilst being all light and lofty up in the roof. 

For our first evening we walked to Ramiro's, Lisbon's most famous {and oldest} seafood restaurant. We'd seen it on Rick Stein's TV show and been recommended it countless times. Be prepared to queue, even early in the evening but the food is more than worth it. 

Walking there we passed the main square and pretty streets, taking in the vibe of Lisbon.

Ramiro's is really only worth visiting if you love seafood. It literally serves fish, shellfish and bread, and I think some steak. No sides or fancy dishes. But they were the best prawns we've ever eaten. It doesn't look much inside or out but once you taste the food you'll be glad you visited.

Afterwards, to walk off our dinner we went to find the view point our Airbnb host had recommended. You'll want to find 'Miradouro de Santa Graca' which is by the Graca church. It's marked on most maps as being a tourist view point. From here you can see right across the city, past the castle on the hill, across the rooftops and out to the bridge on the river. People were playing music and just enjoying the sunshine, it was a gorgeous evening.

When doortraits meet tiles. Such an Insta cliche.

In just one afternoon we'd covered miles and miles. We had an early night ready for our early start for the beach the next day.

Lisbon, we were in love already! {Part two here and three to follow}

R <3 xx 

You Might Also Like


@rvk_loves on Instagram