Spending a lot of time in London this year means I can take regular trips to Europe, which I absolutely love. Little weekend getaways to always look forward to. One of the best weekends so far was a whirlwind 48 hours in Lisbon.
This post shows some of the highlights from our weekend, which would make a great starting point if you’re planning a trip, but is by no means exhaustive.
We woke up to rays of sunshine pouring across our very cosy, green-themed Airbnb apartment (for a bargain of £50/night). The location was perfect, right in the centre of the restaurant and bar hub, Bairro Alto. If you’re looking for bustling nightlife, this is definitely the place to stay.
After being recommended the ‘foodie hangout’ Time Out Mercado da Ribeira by several friends, I couldn’t wait to check it out for myself. I leaped out of bed on our first morning, ready for a strong coffee and brunch feast at this huge market hall.
The market is lined with little, perfectly manicured food stalls, making a decision as to what to order very difficult. You’re given a buzzer to take to your table (tip: arrive early as it gets packed out pretty quickly!) and get the shock of your life when about 10 buzzers lurch to life all at once, violently flashing and vibrating as they tremble across the table.
With fresh bread, cheeses and hams aplenty, as well as array of international dishes, it literally is food heaven. I’ll write a dedicated foodie post for this market next – a highly recommended place to fuel up for a busy day ahead.
Bellies full and satisfied, we spent the rest of the day exploring the city on foot. We walked through Alfama – Lisbon’s oldest district forming a wonderful maze of narrow, winding cobbled alleys, all leading up a steep slope towards the historic São Jorge Castle, towering dramatically over Lisbon.
We walked back down towards Feira da Ladra market, a cluster of small stalls often run by gypsies selling all sorts of trinkets, from vinyls to old boots.
You can’t come to Lisbon without hopping on the iconic Tram 28. Sit back and enjoy a tour of Lisbon’s quaint neighbourhoods on charming vintage carriages, still a part of the city’s main transport line today. (tip: you may want to buy a Lisbon card for pretty decent discounts as well as traveling on public transportation for free!)
We hopped off the tram at a large, beautiful park called Jardim da Estrela, before strolling up another hill towards the grand Águas Livres Aqueduct, along the way seeing groups of old friends playing endless hours of chess without a worry in the world. We walked around the aqueduct, taking in the fresh air and fantastic panoramic views.
As the soft evening light began to emerge, we dashed back to our apartment to freshen up for our decadent dinner at 100 maneiras. We opted for the tasting menu, a truly special meal that deserves it’s very own post, coming soon!
After having a pretty active first day (it really is a very hilly city), we decided to spend our second day focusing more on the food and of course, Lisbon wine.
We actually went straight back for round 2 of the Time Out food market, with a little coffee stop in Barbica, soaking in all the sunshine we could get.
Visiting the fortified tower, Tower de Belém on the bank of the Tagus River is a must while exploring Lisbon. Built from 1514, it’s been classified by UNESCO as a “Cultural Heritage of Humanity”.
What impressed me the most was the place next door. An incredible building designed by architect Charles Correa called Fundação Champalimaud, which is in fact a private biomedical research centre. The majestic, white-stone building glimmering against the sunset was utterly breathtaking.
The rest of our evening was spent bar and food hopping in an attempt to consume as much delicious wine, cheese and jamon we could in true Portugese style :).
First stop was a fantastic wine bar called By The Wine in Chiado, only 5 minutes walk from Bairro Alto – highly recommended with a great cheese board selection (tip: order the fortified Muscat wine, Moscatel de Setúbal – it’s irresistibly refreshing and sweet).
Other recommended wine bars are Grapes & Bites, Wine Bar do Castelo and BA Wine Bar do Bairro Alto.
After a few more stops in cute hole-in-the-wall type restaurants, we decided to head up to PARK, one of my favourite rooftop bars. And if you’ve read my post on the top rooftop bars in New York, you’ll know that sparkling city views, cocktails and a warm summer breeze sums up my perfect evening.
Completely hidden away on the roof of an old car park, it really felt like we had discovered a hidden gem, a stylish oasis elevated above the unassuming bars below. With a great DJ, moorish caipirinhas and a buzzing crowd, we partied in to the small hours of the morning, making the most of our last few hours in Lisbon.
Have you ever been to Lisbon? Please comment if you have any other must-see tips to share for a 48 hour trip in Lisbon!