Please read, if you just found out you are going to Lisbon Portugal for work, you don’t have time to research what to do and see, you want to make the most of your short time there.
I had one weekend and some evenings to make the most of my business trip I took back in March. I saw a lot, and as a San Francisco native, I felt like this place was my sister city and fell in love with Portugal and Lisbon. Not only does it have a look-a-like golden gate bridge, it has the same coastal plants and landscape. The people are diverse and the hills make for a familiar place that I have never seen before. One day I hope to go back with my family and spend more time in Lagos and eat more egg tarts.
Day 1 – The East
You are going to have jet lag, so why not get up super early and head out for a run to catch the perfect sunrise photo in Lisbon. I got some address for a hotel, and some kind of balcony. Well let me warn you, there a big hills (think San Francisco) and if you are running, give yourself some extra time so you don’t miss the sun and the perfect photo.
If you are a Mom like me getting up early isn’t a big deal and since I am training for my first 1/2 marathon my real only time to do that is before my kids get up.
I walked a little on the way back and got some photos of the statue on the top of the hill. Great location to find a cafe and sip on some coffee if I didn’t have a country to see.
I also found a fun tunnel with cartoon art inside that overlooks a palm tree. So much to see and I wish I had more time to capture it all. The hills and stairs are a real workout and even the cobblestone streets give you a challenge.
After my run I went back to my hotel, DoubleTree Lisbon – Fontana Park. More about hotels later but I only stayed at this one for a night and it was already too long.
Grabbed a Uber Driver to take my coworker and I East to the town of Sintra. He was awesome and spoke a little english so we hired him for the day at 100 euros to take us to a few places.
First stop was Castle of Moor, a hilltop medieval castle in Sintra. This place is a huge park and you could spend all day here hiking trails, doing a picnic, or puts around the castle and spectacular views.
Mind you there are several entrances and parking lots. We ended up get mixed up and got lost. We asked a few people for help but most don’t speak english or very little. we ended up going the wrong way and couldn’t find our driver. Thankfully, he found us and this time we made sure to get his cell phone number.
Pena Palace is only about 20 more minutes drive away from the Castle and is a must see destination. Love the color, tiles, and architecture. There is a cafe outside on the deck with great views and a restaurant upstairs inside with air condition. No hot foods but you can get ice cream and some wine.
It was a warm day but you can tell you are closer to the ocean and can feel the cold wind in the air. In May I would suggest layers.
Next up, we went to the ocean to have a late lunch and see one more thing before going back south to Lisbon. Meals in Portugal take time and we almost missed out last destination before the sun went down.
Boca de Inferno, is located in the seaside cliffs close to the city of Cascais. There is a platform to walk out on and see the “Mouth of Hell” from the ocean viewpoint. Just a caution there isn’t any lights and there are steps so make sure to have something to light your way or it might be a hard walk back up.
We saw the sunset and used the nice public bathrooms before buying us and our driver a coffee and some snacks before heading back to Lisbon.
Of course, we couldn’t call it a day without visiting and seeing some of the night life. We headed to Pink Street for some drinks.
We heard things didn’t get good till 11pm and no one goes out before then. Me being a mama of 2 young kids I never go out at 11pm. Heck I am usually in bed by then.
My coworker really wanted to go out and thankfully my jet lag was working in my favor and after a shower and some new clothes, I was ready to check out the night-life.
We headed to pink street around 11pm and 30 minutes later the area was still dead. We asked around for a good place to dance and then headed to the spot a few people recommended, LUX.
It opened at midnight, and we heard it can be hard to get it as they get selective once the line starts to form. We got there right when they opened and had a few drinks while we waited for it to fill up. I would say it didn’t really get going till 1 am. We danced till 3am!
Day 2 – The South
Sunday was our full day to go south and see the town of Lagos. We woke up early and headed to the train. We already got our tickets the day before and thought we could sleep on our way down. On the map it looked to be a 3 hour trip. The train is slow. What could have taken 3 hours to drive took us over 5 hours on train. It stopped a few places and we had to connect to a different train at one point. In hindsight we should have taken another method since we only had a day.
The ticket was a great deal but not planning ahead cost a lot of money coming home. Since it was Sunday the train had a limited schedule; therefore, we would only have 2 hours in Lagos before having to take the next train back home. We opted to enjoy the day and worry about it later.
- Everyone is assigned a seat. I thought it was odd these two girls sat right next to use then the train was mostly empty.
- There is a food cart. We asked more than 3 people if there was coffee or food on the train and everyone said no. YES, there is a food cart and thankfully we found it after they announced over the speakers.
- It is very SLOW.
- Make sure to ask about transfers. The ticket was hard to read and this wasn’t very clear to us.
Final we got a taxi driver to expect our deal, over $400 dollars. We asked him why the others declined and he said they don’t want to be in the car that long with someone they can’t talk to since many taxi drivers here don’t know english. Still I thought this was crazy to give up so much money for one evening.
Evenings in Lisbon
Not too far from here if you walk towards the water you can find the best bakery in Lisbon for egg tarts. Egg tarts started here in Lisbon and they taste so amazing I had at least one every day. Joe my amazing taxi driver in Lagos told us the secret to these tasty treats. They are made with seagull eggs. Crazy I know, and not sure if there is some seagull farm or they just get them from the wild. Either way they taste amazing and you must visit Pasteis de Belém’ to eat one right out of the oven. They also have lot of port and other branded items like a cooking apron you can have or give as a great souvenir. Tip there are two lines so make sure you don’t just stand in the one line. One line is for take-away and it moved much quicker. I don’t think it is worth the wait to get a table. Just get some to go and eat at the park down the block. YES this is worth the line and you will be sad if you missed it. http://pasteisdebelem.pt/en/
I just loved walking around town and seeing all the neighborhoods and the wide variety of tiles.
Another shop I would recommend is Claus Porto. I came out this way one evening to get some of these locally made soaps that have gone global. This new store is so cute and the store smells great, as these hand crafted soaps are infused with fine scents taken from Portuguese ingredients and you just can’t wait to take a sample of that home.
The soaps are wrapped with finely and beautifully illustrated art work and make for great gifts. There is also a gentleman barber services on the lower level for some extra pampering with their shaving and location collection.
If you only have one night for dinner then you must go to Palácio Chiado
This place is a castle for sushi. Make sure to set up a reservation. You enter downstairs via a different restaurant and they hand you a card to enter the above venue. As you walk up the marble stairs with painted walls you feel like you are entering a place that is for the royals and perhaps your work attire isn’t enough. Don’t worry, it is.
This is the view half way up the stairs. The gold flying lion greats you.
I came late so my photos didn’t show up that great. Take a look at them here: https://o-tuga.com/mochilando/palacio-chiado-portugal/
Such a dream location and the food was amazing. Creative sushi and we had them make whatever they wanted. Of course we did order egg tarts or dessert.
I had enough time to see one more thing in Lisbon and I visited the Jerónimos Monastery and see the gothic style of architecture.
Beautiful place and a great place to visit and take photos. There is an the main courtyard and the rooms around it. Then near the entrance is a free view of the church that is also viewable at the balcony level with you ticket to enter the monastery.