We arrived in Lisbon early Saturday evening after a six-hour red-eye flight from Toronto, Canada followed by a layover in Heathrow T3. As you could imagine, we weren’t thriving in those first moments at Humberto Delgado Airport but excited nonetheless. After a quick Uber ride, we arrived at our hotel: Figueira by The Beautique Hotels in Baixa. The historic heart of Lisbon known for its Neoclassical architecture, surrounded by two squares: Commerce and Rossio.
The weather for the duration of our trip was 15-16 ° C, which sounded perfect for January to this Canadian. However, everyone at our hotel kept mentioning the “seasonally cold weather” that they were having in Lisbon. Not too phased, we head out on our day, rested and ready to explore. First up was Bairro Alto & Chiado, the west end of Lisbon and a quick walk from Baixa. Although close in proximity, the stark difference between Chiado and Biarro Alto was apparent. The former, a collection of well-known shops both upscale and fast fashion with many internationally well-known cafes (i.e. Starbucks). Biarro Alto, contrasty, was more unique, a place that we later learned came alive at night & the spot for live FADO music.
Up next, Praça do Comércio, a square near the Tragus River. However, many still know it as Terreiro do Paço because it was the location of Paços da Ribeira, the main residence of the Kings of Portugal, until the great Lisbon earthquake in 1755. The square was active with people taking pictures and enjoying the weather.
We then head to Belém. Once there, visit the Gothic Jerónimos Monastery and Discoveries Monument. However, if I’m being honest, I was more excited about going to Pasteis de Belem to eat pasteis de natas. The tarts came out warm with the option to dust either cinnamon or white sugar on top, I chose cinnamon and enjoyed it with an espresso macchiato. The line is long for the cafe but it is worth the wait and I recommend everyone go and check it out.
It had been brought to my attention that Sintra and Cabo Da Roca was a must-do day trip from Lisbon, a short 30 minutes on the train from Rossio station.
Sintra could easily take a full day if you are passionate about history and want to see everything in its entirety. We chose to explore the grounds of Pena Palace. Pena Palace is a Romanticist castle with Romanesque Revival architecture and I have never experienced anything like it before. The rich colors of red and yellow in union with pastel purple tiles were beautiful and a dream to photograph.
By 2pm we were on our way to Cabo Da Roca, 18km west of Sintra and the westernmost point of continental Europe. I do not think I can properly describe the absolute calm I felt looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean. Cabo Da Roca is peaceful and truly took my breath away.
During our final days in Lisbon, we visited Principe Real and Alfama. Riding the infamous Tram 28. It is the oldest tram line in Lisbon. It starts in Baixa, through Bairro Alto and Chiado towards Alfama and Gracia. After Tram 28, we were close to LX Factory, a historic industrial complex, which now has many restaurants and shops. Make sure to stop at Landeau Chocolate and get a slice of chocolate cake, it is more of a mousse and absolutely delicious.
On Thursday morning we left Lisbon back to Humberto Delgado Airport for our 7am flight to London. Lisbon is a city rich in history, one that I am happy to of visited.