Updated: Jul 10
2.5 DAYS IN PORTUGAL
Portugal was my first real European trip and last on our "babymoon" journey! I was so excited to immerse myself in another culture and check out all the amazing architecture. We had 2.5 days to spend in Lisbon, so we wanted to make the most of each day and see as much as possible. Below is everything we were able to do on our short stay!
STAY: Corpo Santo Hotel
We had a great time staying at the Corpo Santo Hotel. Again, the boutique vibe allowed for personal connections with the staff and extreme care for our comfort. We had a little European style balcony, which was great for some fresh air in the morning! We did have a slight issue when ordering room service. The person taking our order didn't speak great English, so there were a few things missing in our order, but they fixed it right away. It was a great location, central to most of the sites and restaurants we were visiting. Also, I have to mention they have a great breakfast buffet. We ate there every morning and it was delicious!
ACTIVITIES: Praça do Comércio, Arco da Rua Augusta, Rossio Square, Jerónimos Monastery, Alfama District, Belém Tower, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Lisbon Cathedral, Santa Justa Lift, Carmo Convent, São Jorge Castle, Tram 28, Barrio Alto, Sporting Club Portugal Soccer Game
We arrived to Lisbon late afternoon, and what else would we do on my first day in Europe but go to a soccer game! It was such a fun energy and definitely cool to see how much everyone gets into the game. A cool way to see how locals might spend their night.
The next day was jam packed. We wanted to hit all the major sites in Lisbon. We started with Praça do Comércio and Arco da Rua Augusta, which are right next to each other. We took the street under the arch straight to the Santa Justa Lift. We didn't take it up a level because the line was so long, but the walk up wasn't terrible. Then we ventured out to Carmo Convent, which had some really cool ancient artifacts, including two mummies! After that we walked through the Rossio Square. We arrived to Lisbon late afternoon, and what else would we do on my first day in Europe but go to a soccer game! It was such a fun energy and definitely cool to see how much everyone gets into the game. A cool way to see how locals might spend their night.
Note: I thought Portuguese was going to be somewhat similar to Spanish. It is not lol. While some words are the same or similar, I was able to read and decipher what might be said, but it was really hard for me to understand people speaking. We didn't have to worry about this too much as most people speak at least a little English, however our cab driver did not know any (luckily our hotel concierge spoke with him about where we were headed.
The next day was jam packed. We wanted to hit all the major sites in Lisbon. We started with Praça do Comércio and Arco da Rua Augusta, which are right next to each other. We took the street under the arch straight to the Santa Justa Lift. We didn't take it up a level because the line was so long, but the walk up wasn't terrible. Then we ventured out to Carmo Convent, which had some really cool ancient artifacts, including two mummies! After that we walked through the Rossio Square.
Then we took Tram 28 to Alfama to explore that area. It was really pretty with all the red shingled rooftops. With São Jorge Castle nearby, we headed that way. We didn't end up going inside but it was still a cool area to see. We also stopped by at a few churches, one of them being Lisbon Cathedral.
Note: Portugal is VERY hilly. The incline is really similar to San Fransisco. Keep this in mind when choosing outfits and shoes. One day I wore a form-fitting midi skit and that was not great for climbing the streets. It was a great workout though!
To end our day, we Uber'ed from Alfama down to Belém Tower. We walked along the water to Padrão dos Descobrimentos, which was really close by. Then we just had to walk under a tunnel, across the street to Jerónimos Monastery. It was so beautiful and grand. Really cool to walk around. For dinner we went to a Fado restaurant in Barrio Alto. Hearing the music was amazing! Just make sure you carve out enough time for the whole "show". Ours lasted from about 9:30pm to around 11pm. We left a little earlier because I was being lulled to sleep by the beautiful voices.
Note: Some Fado restaurants won't allow phones, pictures, videos, texting, or loud conversations at the restaurant, especially during the performances. Ours did not allow any of the above, while a different restaurant my sister went to did.
ACTIVITIES: Moorish Castle, Pena Palace
On our second day in Portugal, we headed up to Sintra by taking the local train. It was about an hour ride. Once we got there, there is a bus route nearby that takes you to all the tourist destinations. We had four castles/palaces mapped out, but only ended up hitting two of them, both because of time and interest. First up - Moorish Castle! It was a longer trail to the main gate to purchase a ticket, then we walked through a shorter trail that led you right to the outer walls of the castle. The castle and area were breathtaking. You can see the whole city from the top, including a view of Pena Palace, our next stop! We were going to take a bus to Pena Palace, but it was a short walk. The actual trail was closed so we walked on the streets. Again, it was a short walk, but a really high incline, so be prepared if you opt to walk. Once we got to the main trail to Pena Palace, there was a shuttle that took you to the top for a fee. We again opted to walk - wanted to get in some exercise since we hadn't worked out in awhile! Once we got to the palace, it was really crowded! I was too distracted to care TBH. The palace looked like Magic Kingdom or something a kid would draw with Crayons. Really whimsical, but tremendously gorgeous. There was so much work and detail put into the design and tiles. There are two routes you can take, the inner palace or the terrace walk. Going inside the palace was cool to see how the kings and queens lived. I could have probably gone without seeing the inside, but it was still interesting. The terrace walk was really pretty because you can see an even higher view of the city. The terrace was extremely narrow at some parts that didn't allow for two way traffic, so there were some awkward moments trying to squeeze past people and backpacks. After only visiting two spots, we were beat. We decided to take the bus back to the train station and grab some Pizza Hut. It was a great decision and perfect timing to catch the train back to Lisbon at about 4pm.
Lisbon and Sintra were both equally stunning in different ways. Lisbon was old architecture and churches. Sintra was where the kings and queens vacationed so it was very lavish and medieval. Both cities had lot of history and beauty. If possible, I would recommend visiting both locations to make your rounds, but a lot of people easily can stay at one or the other and find plenty to do. We wanted to see it all so our days were packed, but there's no other way we'd rather have it!