I decided to take my first real vacation in Lisbon, Portugal. And when I say “real vacation” I mean a trip without any plans or pressure to create… although I guess I did cave by producing this video and blog post! Nonetheless, compared to some of the other trips I’ve taken, this one was definitely a great opportunity to recharge.
When You Land
There’s a tourism booth as you exit arrivals at LIS, and also a Vodafone kiosk if you need a SIM card. The tourist booth offers the Lisboa Card, which will get you metro access and admission to a bunch of attractions. Since I wasn’t planning to do any sightseeing on the trip, I didn’t get it – but I’d definitely consider it next time I come back.
For most of the trip, I stayed at Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa which is near the airport and within walking distance to shopping. I also spent a night at the Fontecruz Lisboa which is a little more central. From Fontecruz, I walked down to Chiado, Bairro Alto & Baixa districts which are home to tons of cafes, restaurants, shopping, and attractions.
I was actually really impressed with the Sheraton here – it was unexpectedly modern. My room was very comfortable and clean and had a great view. And as is usually the case with higher-end Starwood Hotels, the breakfast buffet served tons of options (including doughnuts!) and it was just incredible.
Beaches are big in Portugal and there are a ton of options for relaxing, surfing, or just being by the water.
If you aren’t renting a car, there are two options for beaches accessible by transit/taxi from Lisbon: Costa da Caparica and Estoril-Cascais.
I took a day trip out to Costa da Caparica, which is a long stretch of beaches lined with bars & restaurants. It was about a 20 min Uber from the Sheraton. There’s a developed boardwalk, but as you go further south it becomes less busy – there’s a tourist train that can take you down to the various beaches (including a nude beach if you’re feeling that). I saw some people surfing, and kitesurfing rentals are available right on the beach.
It was a long weekend when I went which meant that I had the place mostly to myself – except for these fishermen:
Costa Da Caparica is tourist-friendly, but not touristy in a Venice Beach kind of way. If you’re interested in exploring more of the beaches, I’d rent a car – some of the most stunning beaches & best waves are apparently south of Lisbon in the Algarve region. If I came back I’d definitely check that out, fly a drone, and stay in one of the towns there.
Portugese cuisine has Mediterranean influence, and as such, they are big on seafood! Make sure to try the Pasteis de Nata, a well-known custard tart.
Also make sure to check out the Time Out Mercado da Ribeira in Cais do Sodré. It’s a selection of food & drink stalls curated by Time Out journalists and food critics, some featuring renowned chefs. It’s a remarkable concept and I hope that we’ll see more of these around the world. I honestly could have spent an entire day here sampling everything!
The best peixe e fritas (fish & chips) courtesy of renowned chef Henrique Sá Pessoa. Time Out has gathered an amazing & diverse selection of food vendors in the Mercado da Ribeira in the Cais do Sodré district in Lisbon. They've made some pretty incredible & classy food accessible to people like me! I could have spent all day there. #visitportugal
I’d have to say that Lisbon is one of the prettiest and most relaxed cities I’ve been to. I’ve only scratched the surface of all that it has to offer, but that just means I’ll have even more to be excited about when I come back!
Watch the video above to see the whole adventure!