Lisbon was not supposed to be my first stop on this installment of “Sharde’ does the most when she is traveling.” Initially, I was supposed to be going to Morocco then to Lisbon with some of my loved ones on a group trip. I kid you not, the day after I score a $540 roundtrip ticket to London/Budapest everyone dropped out on me. The reasons were valid, but I was left with two and a half weeks abroad and no idea what to do with myself. It took months (and a few sobbing anxiety attacks), but I finally settle on an itinerary that I was beginning to get exciting about.
The plan was to spend a week in Lisbon with a wishlist but no real plans, which is not my usual course of action. I am a planner. I have to know where I’m going, how and when I am getting there. One of my goals was to be more spontaneous and to let adventures happen to me. I ended up walking A LOT. Lisbon is comprised of a lot of steep hills and stairs, and I walked anywhere from 3-9 miles each day. In all of that, I came up with a list of five things that you absolutely should do if you find yourself in this charming coastal city.
1.) Get Lost– Plans are great. Seeing the monuments and doing tours are also great. Heck, a tour is on this list but to really experience the city I think that you should pick a neighborhood and just walk around with no real destination. I stayed in Pricipe Real, which is a quiet residential neighborhood near Barrio Alto, and I would just spend time walking around taking in the architecture and street art. I found a park less than 10 minutes walk from my flat and I got a Porto wine and sat in the sun reading at the park. It was lovely. Lisbon is such a charming city that you could spend days just finding little pockets to explore and appreciating the more mundane and day to day movements of the city.
2.) Time Out Market– This is a really touristy spot that is right on the river. I ran into it as I was attempting to get back to the apartment after going to Pink Street. If you are a foodie and want to get a sampling of the different foods that Lisbon has to offer, then Time Out Market is perfect.
It is a cafeteria with maybe 20 or more restaurant stall where you can get everything from charcuterie boards to sopas and tostadas. There is also another side to the market where you can shop for produce, which is also cool. It allows you to try the local fruits and veg. I tried the Pasatelles de Nata with hot chocolate which was delicious and ran me about €5 .
3.) African Roots Tour– I only did one tour while I was in Lisbon and it was Naky’s African Heritage tour. For those of you who may not know, Portugal has a significant African population and Afro-Portuguese roots. Portugal was the progenitor of the African slave trade in the 15th century. Unsurprisingly, this is not something that is spoken about much in Portuguese history, and certainly not in Portuguese schools. Naky is a fantastic guide. He is knowledgeable and really passionate about the work that he does. There were at least two members of the tour group that had done the tour before, and they expressed that Naky provided new and different information from their first experience. I think this is a must-do if you have any interest in history or the cultural intricacies of Lisbon.
4.) LX Factory Market– LX Factory is a conglomeration of restaurants and boutiques. It is VERY hipster, and I lived. Does that make me a hipster?? At any rate, on the weekends they have vendors set up in the walkways between the buildings selling everything: vintage clothes, cameras, food, sunglasses. You could spend hours walking up and down sidewalks and in and out of the stores in LX Factory. There is a bomb taco place in LX factory called Mez Cais LX where I had the most delicious fried cauliflower tacos. Stop in there if you’re walking around the market for sure.
5.) Go to Sintra– Sintra is about 40 minutes outside of Lisbon. It only costs 1.90 Euro each way. The architecture is absolutely breathtaking. Sintra has a bus system that you catch in the center of the town that drops you at various sites around the city. The cost to hop on and off all day is about €16 and is more or less convenient. Here’s the thing. The later in the day you go, the more people will be in Sintra, the longer you’ll wait for the bus. Sintra is absolutely idyllic. Just walk around and get a popcorn, ginjinha, and people-watch in front of the Camara Municipal de Sintra. Ginjinha is a sour cherry liqueur that is sometimes served in an edible dark chocolate shot cup. It is poppin’.
Have you been to Lisbon? If so, what is on your must-see list?
Love and Light,