7 Days in Lisbon – Travel With a Bond Girl September 22, 2016 – Posted in: Blog
By CHELSEA BOND
Traveling to Portugal is in my DNA. It has been a second home to me since I was five years old. While we typically flew to The Algarve region for Summer vacation, we only had seven days of travel to Lisbon this time, so we decided to stay around the city and travel around its surrounding areas which were all accessible by train.
This travel itinerary is written in a more leisurely way to travel to Lisbon, Portugal and its surrounding areas. We typically started our days between 9-10am and decided to explore on our own instead of booking tours. Traveling on the metro is fairly easy around Lisbon. These seven days will take you from the beach, the city and the mountains (sometimes all in one day). Depending on how many days in Lisbon you plan, the itinerary can easily be modified.
Our travel day to Portugal departed from Tampa with a connection in Newark. Flights to Europe from the East Coast are always overnight flights, so stock up on Melatonin, an eye mask and even this new travel accessory that was a successful purchase for my husband and for me, the Trtl Pillow. It ended up being a great alternative to the traditional travel neck pillow that often leaves my neck in bad position and in pain by the time the flight is over.
After a power nap at the hotel, we traveled on foot to Rossio Square. Rossio Square is an area packed with restaurants, shops, and pedestrians from around the world. We decided to go to Pastelaria Casa Brasileira on Rua Agusta for delicious sangria and the Portuguese signature treat, custard-filled tarts called pasteis de nata.
Continuing on our walk, we found an opportunity to take in an incredible view from the top of the famed Miradouro do Arco da Rua Agosto. We soaked in the incredible view of the Tagus River and the tiled rooves of this city of hills.
As sunset approached, we headed to Barrio Alto, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Lisbon. Hiking up cobblestone hills towards the music, setting sun, and more incredible lookout points, we were in for a treat.
The setting was perfect with a view overlooking the river and an impromptu singer strumming his guitar. Happiness filled the air to the clink of glasses.
Strolling through Barrio Alto always provides elements of surprise. Fado music fills the narrow walkways, bars and restaurants are a stone’s throw away, and it’s the perfect place to not have a plan. A man yelled over in Portuguese to come over and listen to the fado show at Canto do Camões. Fado is the music that speaks to my soul. It’s one of the most nostalgic reasons that I travel to Portugal.
It makes no difference if you do not understand Portuguese. The music is hauntingly beautiful. Depending on which restaurant you choose, there are different options for prix fixe meals, minimum spend requirements, and group bookings. We decided to have dinner and listen to two different fado singers, male and female. The wine flowed and the grilled shrimp were perfect. It turned into a perfect quintessential night in Lisbon.
#TravelWithABondGirl: I’m never a night owl…until #Portugal is involved. Stumbling upon a #fado bar, a pop-up #singer and botellón overlooking the hills 🌉 and #rooftops, and making memories at every turn…and my dress 👗 blowing over my head…oops! // • • • Follow the full adventure on #Snapchat: @chelseabondgems 💎 #BarrioAlto #VisitLisboa
I even asked a guitarrist in front of a restaurant if he could play for a moment so you could hear the beauty of the Portuguese guitar:
After a late night, still being our first day of travel, jet lag, and confused body clocks, we decided to shop along Rua da Agosto for some of my favorite Euro stores. Europe tends to be ahead of the US in clothing trends, so it’s always great to catch a glimpse of what will undoubtedly be arriving in the US a few months beforehand.
Spending the day walking up and down the cobblestone streets through the narrow cobblestone streets, having no itinerary and no real destination was perfect while our bodies adjusted (there also happened to be a freak heatwave the first two days in Lisbon).
After reading tons of reviews on Frangasqueira Nacional, we opted for a casual meal to take to the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara to have a picnic, one of the incredible lookouts over the city with a view of the São Jorge Castle. Spending the rest of the night listening to local music at the overlook was the ideal end to Day 2.
LISBON & CASCAIS
The metro system is fairly straightforward to use once you’re comfortable with it. We ventured on and planned to visit a gorgeous seaside town, Cascais. Another highlight of this adventure was to experience firsthand what we read all about, Time Out Market.
This market is a culinary destination beyond what words can describe. Local restaurateurs have opened up a haven for fresh seafood, the best charcuterie, wine, beer, pastries and beyond. We shared an incredible prego sandwich from O Prego da Peixara, and the freshest squid with rice from Monte Mar.
And I may have started the day with the largest and most amazing oysters on the half shell that I’ve ever had from Monte Mar…and espresso. When in Lisbon…
After our culinary delights were consumed, we walked right across the street to the train station, Cais do Sodre.
TIP: Purchase your tickets or Viva Viagem metro card at a different train station than Cais do Sodre for a local trip. The lines are HUGE and while we made the mistake of buying our ticket at the kiosk the first time, we bought them at a different station (the Avenida stop) the second time and avoided the line altogether. If you’re in Lisbon for a few days, it’s best to purchase the Viva Viagem card and recharge it as you go.
The train ride from Lisbon to Cascais was only 30-40 minutes long and was gorgeous along the sweeping views of the Tagus River. It’s a unique way to see the sights, passing through the 25th of April bridge, Cristo Rei Statue, Belem, and more.
Upon arrival to the train station in Cascais, we crossed the street to wander throughout the town, and eventually down the steps to a gorgeous little beach known as Praia da Rainha or Queen’s Beach. This was a former getaway for Royal Families of Portugal, with the former mansions still built on the craggy cliffs.
We spent the day swimming in the ice cold shallow pools that naturally form grottos, listened to the children playing and we sipped on vinho verde (my new favorite wine thanks to Portugal).
After taking in some beach time, we meandered past a small cafe with tables out front, when we caught a glimpse of the beautiful seafood. We had no idea that we were in for such a treat at Clo-Clo. Just a few modest tables out front and a location along a little narrow cobblestone walkway was an understatement based on the quality of food and presentation. We did not leave hungry…clearly.
After lunch, we continued our walk towards the Cidadela de Cascais (Cascais Fort) overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This impressive piece of history is perched on a cliff, overlooking the Rio Tejo. It was constructed in the 15th century as a fort and has since been transformed.
The first time was in the 19th century when it was turned into a lavish palace for King Luis and his royal family and more recently, into a luxury hotel.
After an amazing day in Cascais, we boarded the train back to Lisbon for a low-key evening.
Day 4 was probably the most unexpected day.
We boarded the train to travel to Sintra (from Rossio Station) and arrived at the bustling town which I hadn’t visited since 2004. Following the signs to the Castelo dos Mouros and Palácio da Pena, our adventure began. Tuk-tuks and cars swirled around the steep hills as we continued on foot.
We arrived to the Percurso de Seteais, one of the hiking routes and a way to avoid traffic. Lush gardens and steep hills were the themes of the walk which took about an hour and a half. I say this day was unexpected because we didn’t do extensive research and didn’t know just how long and vertical this hike would be. Luckily, my Havaianas were troopers!
This area of Portugal is truly amazing. The Castelo dos Mouros and Palácio da Pena are out of fairytales. Travel time is so minimal and worth every minute.
The views, the colors and the VIEWS are simply breathtaking. After hiking all day, we ended our adventure by creating our own pub crawl and sampling various brands of the incredible contributions of Portugal, Ginjinha. Try the one from Óbidos, it has a hint of cinnamon. Enjoying this poured in an edible chocolate “shot glass” doesn’t hurt either.
This link details a few different hiking trails which you can take when exploring Sintra.
BELÉM, ESTORIL & LISBON
The Day 5 adventure took us to the hauntingly beautiful city of Belém. A must-see was the Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos. Although years prior I had traveled to visit this monastery, I had almost forgotten how intricate, peaceful and stunning this work of art truly was.
After skipping the opportunity to go at lunch time due to the wraparound lines, we walked over to the most famous headquarters for the pasteis de nata, Pasteis de Belem. If you can’t make it to Belém, we found an amazing shop specializing in those custard filled delicacies in Lisbon, Fábrica da Nata.
Following our adventure in Belém, we hopped back onto the train to Estoril. This famed seaside town has been highlighted by the James Bond series and for its beautiful beaches. We walked around town and decided to relax by the sea for cocktails at the Tamariz Beach Club.
We eventually headed back to the train and had dinner at our favorite restaurant, Cervejeria Ramiro. An hour, bottle of wine and multiple internationally inspired conversations later, we revisited one of our favorite culinary destinations on the globe. Welcome to the freshest shellfish and an inexplicable romance of bread and butter. Keep your low carb adventures out of Portugal…it’s worth it. This could be the #1 reason to travel to Lisbon.
We saved one of the closest attractions in Lisbon for the end of the trip. A gorgeous afternoon was the perfect setting as we walked up to Castelo de São Jorge. Panoramic views of the tiled rooves, the river and benches all around to sit and take in the moment made for a wonderful day-trip right in Lisbon.
Quiet and narrow cobblestone roads lead up to this beautiful castle which houses permanent collections of treasures throughout the centuries in Portugal and even a periscope. Keep in mind the periscope presentation was only available in Spanish and lasted 15 minutes.
After popping into local shops and strolling around to find insanely gorgeous views from all over the city, we happened to be in town the one weekend of the month when the Mercado de Agricultures (farmer’s market) was taking place at the Praça de Figueira. Charcuterie, sangria, and positive vibes filled the plaza as we headed into the evening.
#TravelWithABondGirl: Delights from the Local Gods. 🧀🍞🍷🍺 • • • One weekend each month, local vendors selling the best cheese, meats, vegetables, wines and more, convene at Praça do Figueira in Lisbon. We lucked into stumbling upon it today. The rest is culinary history. #WeWalkedAllDay @super_lisboa // #MercadodeAgricultures #chelseabondjewelry
SINTRA & QUINTA DA REGALEIRA
One of the sites we wanted to experience but simply didn’t have the time to while in Sintra on Day 4 was the Quinta Da Regaleira. The palace is absolutely incredible with its ornate detail from floor to ceiling in each room.
The gardens are an out of this world experience with lush greenery, moss-laden ponds, and stunning waterfalls. Since we were a bit limited on time, after arriving in Sintra we decided to take the Hop On Hop Off bus in order to reach Cabo da Roca, the Westernmost point of Continental Europe.
Before getting up to the top of the mountain, we stopped at Praia Grande (Big Beach) where we saw wild waves on gray and misty day.
We traveled in and out of the mids-filled mountains (tip…bring clothes to layer), it’s significantly colder in the mountains than in Sintra.If you decide to go on the Cascais train line, you can even spend the day at the beach afterward. Prepare for multiple climates in one day.
These #jetsetters are BEYOND ready to be home, snuggle with our doxies and make all of the jewelry orders (well…one of us is). • • • It really is true. Create a life you don’t need a vacation from. While our trip was amazing, coming home is always the best reward. • • • 1 pretty rough transatlantic flight down (a middle seat no less), 1 more to go. Take us back to the #sunshinestate ☉🌝🌞
Day 7 finished with another grand adventure that provided beach-to-mountain experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. I hope this #TravelWithABondGirl style itinerary has inspired you to explore this incredible country.
Train Stations: The two major train stations that we used for daily travel were Rossio (to Sintra) and Cais do Sodre for Belem, Estoril, and Cascais. Tip: The Rossio train route cut through different areas that were less scenic, while the trains from Cascais traveled along the coast. This provided a beautiful view of the Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean as we traveled to our destinations.
Scenic Views: The Rossio train route cut through different areas that were less scenic, while the trains from Cascais traveled along the coast. This provided a beautiful view of the Tagus River and the Atlantic Ocean as we traveled to our destinations.
Social Media – Even when offline, take a video in your Snapchat app (make sure you hit the arrow to go to the next page as if you’re going to share it) and save an entire video library to upload back at your hotel room. Download directly from the app any videos that you’d like to save.
Culinary Adventures – While the Portuguese do not take a traditional siesta as they do in Spain, many restaurants close down from around 1-3 in preparation for dinner, which is typically eaten around 9 or 10pm.
Transportation Adventures – Don’t be afraid to be adventurous in your travel. Hop on a train (Comboios de Portugal) and explore one of the many surrounding cities and beaches. Each town offers its own way of life and whether you’re looking for a resort-style afternoon by the sea or palaces with lush gardens (see Sintra above), it’s easy and extremely inexpensive to hop on the train. It’s also a great way to see the country as opposed to driving on the highways.
Day to Night Outfits – You may find yourself traveling from one part of the city to the next and realize you’ve been traveling around all day. Depending on where your hotel is located, it may not be the most convenient to head back throughout the day for outfit changes. I suggest maxi dresses for the Spring/Summer/Fall weather and pashmina scarves. Don’t forget your bikini bag in case you decide to hit the beach. The last thing you want to travel with is a wet swimsuit mixed in with treasures that you’ve picked up throughout the day.
Jewelry – Whether it was climbing cobblestone hills or sitting down to an amazing dinner, jewelry versatility was a must. Throughout the days and nights my staple pieces were the following:
Footwear – Walking shoes/Flip Flops. Living at the beach, I practically live and travel in Havaiana flip flops (no, this is not a paid endorsement). While it’s highly recommended to wear your most comfortable “walking shoes” I find myself loving my Havaianas to walk all around Lisbon and surrounding areas. It’s also a good idea to bring sneakers along. Lisbon is built in, around and on cobblestone hills (it’s called the city of 7 hills after all), so prepare to walk more than you ever imagined. It certainly won’t hurt after indulging in pastries, wine and every other culinary delight that doesn’t appear on your typical daily meal plan.
Wishing you a beautiful trip! Have a question about Lisbon or anything else in this post? Comment below.