In Portugal: Lisbon

I have come to realise that I am not a massive fan of cities, I prefer places with lots of nature. I arrived in Lisbon and although it still has the elements I don’t like, it has a beauty that is so unique. Looking back at my photos there is so much this city has to offer, I only saw a small amount but it’s beautiful.

Comércio Plaza

My hotel was close to Comércio Plaza, this open square flanked by yellow buildings that were once the parliament buildings but now is surrounded by restaurants and bars. It’s the prime meeting place for the locals and a great place for tourists to take pictures and do a walking tour. It’s also on the river so it’s a great spot to sit down and take in the sun or have a snack.

Santa Justa Lift

I do things so you don’t have to! Going up in the lift is a waste of time, don’t bother. The queues start really early so if you want to go up in the lift, be there when it opens. The queue organiser doesn’t speak english so if he points randomly and you don’t understand, its fine, tetchy old women will sass you so you don’t skip the line *eyeroll* You can walk up to a viewing platform from the back of the lift and then pay the extra €1.50 to go up to the top. Going on the lift is a waste of time.

Time Out Market

Time Out Market is a perfect use of space and I think every city needs one. One side is a fresh food market and the other side is lots of different food kiosks. There is lots of different options but I knew I wanted croquettes and Pastéis de Nata. You could probably come here everyday of your holiday and still not eat everything. I really recommend Manteigaria custard tarts. There is a battle of the best tart between Balem and Manteigaria and I think Manteigaria is my favourite.

Castelo de São Jorge

The way up to George’s Castle is beautiful, small streets, lots of beautiful doors and tiles. A photographers dream! Entry into the castle is €8.50 but get all the information you need before you go in because there isn’t any signage inside.

I really liked this site, it’s fun to walk the walls and sit underneath the trees. The views from the top are beautiful, you can see lots of Lisbon attractions from up here and the expanse of the city.

Belém

Belem was a quick trip for the tower and the custard tarts. Pastéis de Belém is chaotic! I decided to get them to go so I queued for a short time and paid for my custard tarts and you stand with a crowd and the servers will just swipe your receipt and plonk your bags on the counter. I then sat looking at the tower and ate a custard tart. It was lovely!

Where I Stayed

TURIM Terreiro do Paço Hotel

This hotel is lovely, it’s comfortable, it’s clean and everything you need in a hotel. I didn’t opt for breakfast but I have one complaint. The tv is in a frame in the wall which means the speakers are incased and the sound is muffled so if your neighbour is watching TV they will have it up really loud and will be reverberating into your room. So be warned!PhoebeGill171005995

I really enjoyed my stay in Lisbon but to be honest I preferred Sintra. Check out my post on Sintra here. 

Happy travels!

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In Portugal: Exploring Sintra

I found out about Sintra watching a YouTube video and instantly put it on the list. That very long, detailed list. I had wanted to go to Lisbon for such a long time and since Sintra is close to Lisbon, I decided to book my ticket.

I arrived in Lisbon and got straight on a train to Sintra, the 40 minute journey is easy and relaxing. There are only a few stops till you pull into Sintra station, a small building opposite cafes, shops and tourist information points. 

Going right out of the station brings you to the less touristy part of Sintra, with restaurants and supermarkets but turn left and you get to all the sights, beautiful parks, colourful buildings and small streets. 

First on my agenda was to wonder around and figure out what to do for the next two days. The town is built on the bottom of a hill, so if you want to walk to all the sights prepare for the steep hills, if you don’t want to walk, outside of the train station there are buses to all the local sights. I went to Sintra in October and the queues for the busses were still very long. Be warned you will have little old women elbowing you to get on the bus. PhoebeGill171002564.jpg

Best things I did in Sintra

Quinta da Regaleira

This gothic palace and grounds is an amazing way to spend a morning. I walked to the park from my hotel, it’s an easy walk and a little uphill walk. The entrance fee is €6 which gives you access to the palace, the chapel, the sunken tower and secret tunnels. PhoebeGill171003745There are so many beautiful elements to this park, that you should explore for yourself, I would get up early, go straight to the tower and enjoy a quiet moment before the crowds roll in. The palace is like an IKEA type system of a walk through, whenever people get into this system it’s like no one can over take or you are just rude but if you are like me and get antsy when you are in a small space with lots of people, do it, there are many beautiful spots in the palace but it gets really busy! I would bring a snack and have a little picnic in one of the many beautiful spots in the grounds. PhoebeGill171003660

Park and National Palace of Pena

This palace is huge and beautiful, I recommend getting the 343 bus to this location because it is a very long way, up many small roads. The bus costs €5 euro round trip and entrance into the Palace and Park is €11.50.PhoebeGill171003866The walk up to the entrance of the palace is also uphill, are you seeing a pattern with Sintra? It is one big hill. If you are travelling with older people there is a little bus that brings you up and down the hill to the palace, for a small fee but again there will be queues. The palace is again, a walkthrough, IKEA type style so be aware that there is lots of people at all times. I don’t think this place would ever be quiet. The queuing and the hills are worth it, there are so many beautiful views, colours, and tiles that would make anyone want to take a million photos.

Walking around Sintra town

There are lots of things to see when walking around the town, from bars and cafes, palaces and the most beautiful buildings. There is so much colour nature all over the town. PhoebeGill171002605Some of my favourite places are the walk to the town from the station, pretty tiles, beautiful parks, views over the town, street sellers. It is the perfect balance of tourism ad natural. The little streets behind the palace square, lemon trees and pink flowers, small bars and restaurants. Eating Pastel de Nata from the cafe, sitting on the terrace watching the sun go down. PhoebeGill171002611Going to Sintra first was a great decision, it eases you in to the beauty of Portugal with the volume of tourists. It has to be on your list!

Where I stayed

Hotel Nova Sintra

This hotel is a 4 minute uphill walk from the train station. After you walk up the stairs you arrive at a beautiful terrace looking out over the main hill of Sintra. PhoebeGill171002614I got a room right next to reception downstairs and it was beautiful, airy and comfortable. There is no lift and a lot of steps but it’s a very comfortable hotel. Breakfast is a simple but tasty affair. I really enjoyed my stay. PhoebeGill171001013To me Sintra is a must, go, walk, explore, have angry older women get livid at queues, walk up a lot of hills and have fun! Next on the adventure is Lisbon.

Happy Travels!