Portugal / Travels

Visiting the capital of Portugal – Lisbon

Lissabon tammikuussa

Näköalapaikka Lissabon

In January, we took a nearly month-long break from work and the wintery Finland. We spent the majority of the time in coastal Portugal. For the men in our family, for Isak and Anton, this was their first time in the country. I had been to the Algarve as a teenager with my childhood family, but for some reason, that trip did not leave very rosy memories (I was a grumpy, cranky teenager, it was unbearably hot, and so on). Because of this, I always had a certain “suspicion” about Portugal, but now I was determined to prove my preconceived opinions wrong.

Read more: Travelling to Rome with a baby

Lisbon Did Not Give Me a WOW

From the airport, we headed first to the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, where we spent the first nights. For some reason, I had set huge expectations for Lisbon (even though I my previous trip to Algarve was not a huge success). I expected alleys filled with fado music, the clatter of historic trams, and the smell of freshly grilled fish. And in a way, it was like that, but not quite to the level of my imagination. Maybe I missed a clear downtown, not just suburbs growing into each other. I don’t know. I expected to fall in love with Lisbon at first sight, but that just didn’t happen.

Unlike many other European capitals, Lisbon didn’t have any “must-see” attractions. So, the big wow effect you inevitably get in Rome, Paris, or even London, was missing. This can be seen as a positive thing by many, but I didn’t feel a strong desire to necessarily return to this city, even though the vibe wasn’t negative in any sense. And yes, the city was hilly, but you got used to it within a couple of days.

What to Experience and See in Lisbon??

Lissabon tammikuussa

Well, perhaps the most iconic and famous sight in Lisbon are the yellow trams that transport passengers through the hilly city. The most popular is undoubtedly line 28, which was often packed with tourists even in January. This line takes you through tourist-favored areas. There the tracks are so old that the trams introduced in the 1930s can travel on them. It’s worth getting there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

Of course, in Lisbon, you have to taste pastel de nata pastries. These are pastries made from puff pastry with a vanilla filling inside. The pastry is just the right size and not too sweet. It’s perfect to have one each day of your holiday. Pastel de natas are sold literally on every street corner – some better than others – but all good nonetheless.

Pastel de bacalhau

Another Lisbon “delicacy” is pastel de Bacalhau, or codfish cakes filled with cheese. I tried this specialty at the Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau café, which was admittedly quite touristy. A small fish cake cost 5 € and, to be honest, I found the combination of cod and cheese a bit disgusting, even though I generally like fish dishes. The experience was about 1.5/5, so not something I would try again.

As I wrote earlier, Lisbon doesn’t feel like a clear big city with a distinct center. Rather, moving around there feels like being in different neighborhoods without ever reaching a large central area. Among the neighborhoods, Alfama is worth a visit. It is one of the oldest areas in Lisbon. In the narrow, winding alleys, you can admire the romantically dilapidated architecture, pop into cafes, and marvel at the arts and crafts for sale. The area was located outside the city walls. Before, it was home to the poor, dock workers, and sailors. As often happens, the area has now become quite trendy.

What’s Left for Next Time??

What we didn’t see, was a fado show. There are numerous fado restaurants in Lisbon, but apparently, to see a performance, you often have to attend dinner as well. Since we were traveling with a fairly young child, a late-night show with a multi-course dinner seemed like a risky combination. So, we decided to skip the experience this time. Of course, I could have gone there alone, but I think such an experience is best shared with someone else.

Our Accommodation in Lisbon: Portas do Céu

Portas de ceu

We stayed in Lisbon at a guesthouse called Portas do Céu. The location was excellent, in the middle of the Alfama neighborhood and just a short walk from a stunning viewpoint. The apartment was nicer than I had expected. Our apartment had a separate bedroom with an attached bathroom, a hallway, and a living room and kitchen. The kitchen was oddly placed behind a door. The living room, in particular, was homey and cozy and had big windows perfect for people-watching.

Hotellin sijainti Lissabonissa Alfaman kaupunginosassa

The downsides of the accommodation were the large steep stairs (no elevator). This was challenging with a stroller. Additionally, the soundproofing in the old building was quite poor, so the steps and even occasional conversations from the upper apartment could be heard very clearly. I found it quite odd that the bathroom had a price list for extra toilet paper, new towels, or similar items. You would expect those to be included in the (quite high) room price! Despite these small cons, I was satisfied with our apartment and could choose this accommodation for our next visit as well.

After a couple of days in Lisbon, we took a bus about an hour away to the coast to the small surf town of Ericeira. This charming place became our home for the next two weeks – and more about that in the upcoming post!!

No Comments

    Leave a Reply