Earlier this year I read the book 'My Year of Yes' by Shonda Rhimes and it inspired me to attempt to live more freely and open myself to new experiences (a full review of my thoughts on the book coming soon). So when my good friend Zee pitched me the idea of coming with her to Lisbon, Portugal my first instinct was to say no for a multitude of very logical reasons. However, this logic was followed by the overwhelming urge to throw caution to the wind and say YES C'EST LA VIE!
I'm glad I did.
I landed in Lisbon at 11pm on April 3rd and thus began an adventure. One filled with food, lots of rain, steep hills, and a hint of romance.
One cannot talk about Lisbon without mentioning the hills. Often known as the city where everyday is leg day it certainly did not disappoint. So my first and most important tip is when travelling to Portugal, make sure to pack comfortable shoes.
Many of the sidewalks are laid over with tiles that can get very slippery when wet, so shoes with grip are ideal.
We decided to begin exploring with the help of the tram guided tour by yellow bus. It's 20 euro for 24 hours and it takes you all around the major districts while providing interesting trivia of the city. I would definitely advise anyone travelling to Lisbon to take this tour as its a great way to get around, you can hop on/ hop off anywhere within the 24 hour timeframe as well as free entry on the Santa Justa Lift.
The Alfama district is another must see. You can hop off the tram just explore the area by foot. I found it to be super charming with unique shops, beautiful churches, and the breathtaking view from the Portas do Sol veiwpoint.
Out of everywhere we visited in Lisbon, I have to say Belém was by far my favourite. With so many gorgeous sights and a rich history Belém is a must see and a pretty laid back day trip. To get there, simply head to the Praça do Comércio square and catch the 15 or 127 tram then get off as soon as you see Jeronimos Monastery. There's many signs and frankly you can always follow the large group of trourists travelling there as well so it's difficult to get lost.
Jeronimos Monastery was absolutely breathtaking. The stunning detail and intricacy of this majestic monastery was awe inducing. Fun fact: The monastery was built in 1502 and is the final resting ground of Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer who was the first European to sail to India.
After Jeronimos, you must cross the street and walk over a bridge to see Belém Tower. Completely surrounded by water, it was truly a sight to behold. I had seen many pictures of this tower on Instagram, and it truly did not disappoint. Torre de Belém serves as a reminder of Portuguese maritime discoveries and was often the starting point to many of the voyages Portuguese made around the world.
Unfortunately, we were unable to experience this stunning sight for too long when it started pouring rain and we had to run into Mcdonalds for shelter. The sunshine was nice while it lasted.
The next few days were spent mostly indoors as it continued to rain. We did take a day trip to Sintra, known for its stunning mountain high castles. Unfortunately, once we arrived the rain was so heavy it was impossible to do anything but stay inside and eat Chinese food.
So, if you like me, plan to visit Lisbon in the early spring, make sure to pack for chilly weather and don't forget an umbrella for those rainy days.
Overall, Lisbon was an amazing trip. Full of laughs, discovery, and meeting new people, it's a place I won't be forgetting soon. Next stop: Porto.
xoxo - B