Lisbon: Easy on the eyes and the wallet

Lisbon, Portugal was a great place to visit to escape the winter in NYC. It is a very affordable European city and is also very walkable although some areas can be a bit hilly. Although it wasn’t warm enough to go to the beaches, I would be interested in visiting Lisbon again when it is warmer.

A Day in Lisbon

Some of my favorite places to go in Europe are the food markets. We stopped by Mercado da Ribeira to get lunch. It is Lisbon’s main food market that offers food and traditional local products. We tried octopus rice, meat and cheese plate, and egg tart.

We then walked around the Alfama District. It has a great view of the tiled roofs of Alfama and out across the Tejo Estuary.  

Around nighttime, we went to the Barrio Alto area. You can go there for the nightlife and the restaurants and bars that are open late night. We climbed up the hills to get this view.

If you are feeling interested in a homecooked Chinese meal, you can stop by the Chinês clandestinos, Lisbon’s underground network of Chinese restaurants. The interior layout reminded of a cross between a Chinese restaurant and home with the Chinese calendar, the tables/chairs, and the staff.

Day trip to Sintra

Sintra is a great day trip that you can take from Lisbon. It is only an hour long train ride and costs 4.50 euros roundtrip. Most people take the train from Rossio Station to Sintra since it is the closer one if you are near the city centre. There are two train stations that are called Rossio, one of which connects you to the Green metro line, and the other one will be the one that takes you to Sintra.

There are a few different castles that you can see in Sintra. The two that we saw were Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. They are a bit of a walk from the train station, which is why there are tour guides and tuk-tuk drivers who will offer to take you there.

We walked to the Pena Palace. What is unique about the Pena Palace is how colorful it is with bright red, blue and yellow colors. There are a few different admissions options. If you are interested in learning more about the history of the palace and seeing the different rooms within the place, I would suggest the Pena Palace and park ticket. Otherwise, I would suggest the Park of Pena ticket since you can explore the outside of the palace. There are also hiking trails that you can take if you are interested in exploring the park outside of the palace.

Afterwards, we went to Quinta de Regaleria. The house was constructed in 1904 for the residence of Portuguese businessman Carvalho Monteiro but was sold after his death. It was recently reclaimed by the Sintra local government. My favorite parts about the place are the gardens, the hidden tunnels, and the wells that are connected by the passageway.

Before we left Sintra, we stopped by Café Piriquita to get some desserts. The two must try pastries are the traversseiros (dough-based pastry with egg cream and almond) and queijada (small pies made from fresh cheese, sugar, eggs, flour and a little cinnamon).

Trip to Balem

Balem is a suburb of Lisbon and is a quick tram ride over from the city center. We made our first stop at the famous Pasteis de Belem for the Portuguese egg tarts. There is a short line but it moves fairly quickly. The egg tarts were good and had more of a custardy taste to them.

The Jeronimos Monastery and Belem tower are also located in Balem and you can get a combo ticket to see both. We decided to go to the Colecção Berardo, which is free on Saturdays. It is a modern art museum and has some unique exhibits and pieces. We spent a few hours there and I would recommend exploring if you are interested in modern art and are looking for a rainy day activity.

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