Thursday, 8 October 2015

Lisbon and Cascais

A couple of weeks ago I spent 1 week in Portugal, with 3 nights in Lisbon and 4 nights just outside the city in a beautiful little fishing village called Cascais. From the moment I arrived in Lisbon I completely fell in love with the city. From the cute, narrow streets to the quirky bars and restaurants to the funky street art, it is the perfect mix of contemporary and history. 

Ben and I stayed in the most gorgeous Air Bnb in the Sao Cristovao area of Lisbon. We felt like locals in the city centre apartment with local brasseries and wine bars right on our doorstep. We spent our 3 days in Lisbon exploring everything the city had to offer, from the historic castle with the most stunning views over the city, to a tour on the old-fashioned tram. I always like to do a walking tour on the first day in a new city to get to know the area and tick off the main cultural sights. We did a tour of the Belem area of Lisbon which is a short tram journey away and home to many historical sights. It is also home to the famous Pasties de Belem which are known as the best Portuguese tarts in the world, and trust me, they were! 
Just outside our Air BnB in Sao Cristovao
Cramming in some drawing wherever we can!
Another must-do in Lisbon is the Mercado da Ribeira which is the old market hall which has been transformed by Time Out into a foody heaven! The huge space consists of some of the city's favourite food and drink stalls. It is basically an upmarket and very cool food hall, with some amazing food. One of my favourites was the green bean tempura which was amazing! Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the place! Talking of food, we ate at some fantastic places. Portugal isn't known for its food, apart from its fresh fish, but I think we got lucky and picked some great places. Most of our meals consisted of cheese, meats and wine- the best holiday food! On our last day in Lisbon we ended up in a tiny restaurant just round the corner from our flat and sat on one of the only three tables scattered around a small square. We had an incredible cheese and meat feast whilst sitting and doing some drawing of the incredible street art. I think that moment in time is the happiest I have ever been, it was just perfect! 

As well as seeing the sights and being cultural, we also had a wild night out in the Bairo Alto area of the city. This area is known as the bar and restaurant area with nearly every door along the narrow, cobbled streets being a different establishment. We did a lot of bar hopping and tried to test out as many as possible, from a convent which has been converted into a beer hall to an old brothel which is now a quirky multi-roomed bar, you could spend weeks on a bar crawl! We ended up meeting up with some of Ben's friends who happened to be in Lisbon at the same time on a stag do and spent the night drinking plenty of cheap beer and dancing the night away. 

Being the massive foodie that I am, I often find the best part about visiting a new city is scoping out amazing restaurants and bars. As well as the places I have mentioned above, if you are visiting Lisbon, dinner (or drinks) at a funky place called Lost In is a must, with an amazing view over the city with a hippy-ish vibe. Another place we tried to go to was a bar called Park, which is on top of a multi storey car park, once again with incredible views for a sunset drink. However, we went on a Sunday and it was closed! So we ended up just watching the sunset from the top of the car park instead.... same great views, just no beer to enjoy it with!
Lost In
Mercado da Ribeira
Watching the sunset on top of a car park!
View from the Castle
After our 3 days in Lisbon, we took the 45 minute train journey along the coast to a small town called Cascais. We stayed in another Air BnB here right next to the towns many beaches and above some delicious fish restaurants. Cascais is a gorgeous little seaside town which has grown in popularity in recent years. Apparently a lot of English people now have holiday homes here, and you can see why. We had a wonderful 4 days here, mostly consisting of chilling out on the beautiful beaches and of course, eating at some delicious restaurants! 

On our first day, we took a day trip up to a stunning town called Sintra which is home to beautiful castles and palaces on a backdrop of lush hills and forests. We took the bus to Sintra and explored the little town before embarking on the long trek up the hill to visit Pal├ício da Pena. We didn't quite realise quite how much of a hike it would be, but it was worth it when we got to the top and took in the incredible views over Lisbon and the surrounding area. The palace itself was breath-taking and had a definite Disney feel to it with bright coloured walls and intricate detailing. 

We also hired bikes for a day and cycled round to the West coast and to the famous surfing beach of Guincho and the surrounding area. As you know, I love a good bike ride, and riding whilst on holiday in the sunshine was event better! Luckily it wasn't too hot while we were there and it was the perfect temperature for sunbathing and exploring the city without getting overheated! 
Sintra
Mussels straight from the sea- delicious!
All in all, I completely fell in love with Portugal and it was the perfect place for a week away with a mixture of cultural times and relaxing times! If you haven't been to Lisbon, you need to go!! 

3 comments:

  1. Lovely photos. I've never been to Portugal, must be an eclectic mix of culture, very fascinating. Xx

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