How do you know where to go?
Maybe it starts with a recommendation from a friend, or a post you see on Instagram. A cheap flight that you randomly found online, a long layover or a crazy close your eyes, spin the globe and go where your finger lands? Whichever way it may be, I’m sure that somewhere soon after you’d Google.
Praise be to the Google gods but of course, the methods of Googling may vary. For me, I start by Googling the city, then immediately clicking on Images (Google images) and from the pictures decide if the place is worth digging deeper into.
It may sound a bit superficial, but it works for me and when I'd decided to head to Portugal for part of the summer, I also did the same! I’d dreamed of visiting since I was a child (thanks to my part-Portuguese roots) and later on in life, the Travel Channel fueled this interest.
FINALLY, the time had come and Lisbon was our first stop!
Lisbon is hilly which made it easy for us to access its spectacular views. It is also a coastal city, which literally brought a fresh perspective on my experience there. Lisbon's architecture resonates its authenticity and evidence of its rich history is always within reach.
This post won’t be filled with my usual detailed travel tips and tricks, as I have decided, keep it short with the words and sweet with the pictures- my contribution to Google images I guess ;)
Keep scrolling for a glimpse of this rustic, charming, multicultural and vibrant city.
Close to the river is the lively Praça do Comércio where you can also access the tram that takes you to the St. Jorge Castle in the Alfama District.
Walking up and through the Alfama District was a great way to get a glimpse of local life as well as absorb more great views of Lisbon.
The Feira da Ladra or Thieves Market is also located in the Alfama District and is filled with local vendors selling second-hand items, tiles, food, jewelry, and other crafted items. What stood out to me was the mix of traditional and modern/hip restaurants on the immediate outskirts of the market (yes of course food stands out!)
We also checked out the shops and stalls at LX Factory in the district of Alcântara. LX Factory is somewhat of an oasis in Alcântara as the district is a bit of a no man's land but the vibe at the market made the trip worth it. The new concept shops and restaurants gave the market a hipster vibe, but the stalls along the street preserved the authentic Portuguese atmosphere.
Most of Lisbon is untouched by modern infrastructure and its old charm is now being infused with new people and ideas. This is evident in the restaurants, entertainment, coffee shops, organic shops, and boutiques and has become a haven for creatives and lovers of beauty. Bairro Alto became my favorite area of Lisbon and was, fortunately, the location of our hotel.
This won't be a real 'Lisbon' post if I fail to mention the famous Pastel de nata! Mentioning this Portuguese pastry also means that I must mention the cafe, Pastéis De Belém in Belém District.
These egg tarts were created by monks, who eventually sold the recipe. Pastéis De Belém was then opened in Lisbon and became the first cafe to sell pastéis de Nata commercially.
We didn’t have a chance to visit this café, but we did make an early morning trip (to avoid the crowds) visit to Manteigaria, which is considered by the locals as the best place to grab your pastéis de nata. Arriving before the crowd also allowed us seats and a view of the Nata making process.