As with many of the places I’ve travelled to, Portugal was on my bucket list for a long time before I finally got the opportunity to go. I can’t remember what sparked my interest. Maybe it was a picture or something I’d heard about Lisbon. What I did know is that eventually I would find my way there. To say that Portugal was everything I expected would be an understatement. I was absolutely smitten with the vibrant colours of the city as well how alive it was even at two o’clock in the morning. I enjoyed every single moment I spent there. Most of our time was spent in Lisbon with a short trip to Porto. To be honest, there is so much I could write about Lisbon. This would end up being a long article and it wouldn’t be good use of your time or mine. Instead, I’m just going to share with you the highlights of the trip.
HIGHLIGHTS OF LISBON
I definitely recommend going to the Time Out Market at least twice while in Lisbon. It’s an open seating space with different restaurants boasting of extensive menus. There is something for everybody to enjoy. We went there too many times to mention as we were determined to sample as much of the food as we could. I recommend going there for dinner because it gets really crowded during the day.
When I travel, I always book a food tour or a cooking class. I’m a huge foodie and I think food is an important part of any culture. To better understand the people, it’s good to understand their food. Portugal is no different. The Portuguese love their food especially Bacalhau, which is salted cod fish. We booked this food tour through Viator (through which I always book) and it was one of the best parts of our trip! Not only did we learn about the food, but also much about the history and landscape of the country. It was fantastic!
I remember seeing pictures of Pena Palace plastered all over social media and fell in love with it immediately. I knew that I had to go Sintra once I went to Portugal. We booked this tour through Viator as well. It was combined trip to Cascais as well as to Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost part of Europe. The weather was great for the most part. A little chillier than we had expected, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Pena Palace is breathtaking and unique - an absolute must see. The beaches in Cascais are superb, boasting of crystal clear waters. I highly recommend booking a tour and going. I know people take public transportation and go on their own. Logistically it’s more convenient to get the tour. Plus, the tours take you to other parts of Portugal. So you get to see more of the country which is awesome.
Apart from TimeOut Market, this place provided one of our favourite meals in Lisbon. Located at Cais do Sodre in a former warehouse, this beautiful space overlooks the Tagus River and draws culinary inspiration from Mozambique. The food was amazing. Probably one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to in life. The service was top-notch as well. Please check it out if you’re ever in Lisbon. Be sure to make reservations because it’s a very popular restaurant.
This is the place to be if you want to have a good time. There are lots of bars and bustling nightlife. I love the live music and the cheap but good drinks that keeps this part of town alive well into the wee hours of the morning. There are also tons of little restaurants that serve yummy tapas. We spent quite a few nights exploring the narrow streets, popping in and out of bars. We even discovered an authentic Brazilian restaurant called Acaraje da Carol with awesome live music. I admit that this review by no means comes close to capturing all the charm of Lisbon. There is so much to see and do and I guarantee that you won’t be bored even for a minute. This is a city you need to visit for yourself. Add it to your list and go ASAP.
KAHLEEL (LEELA) HAMILTON is an international educator, travel enthusiast and guru who hails from New York City.
Follow Kahleel on Instagram @theunfetteredjourney