A Portugal experience – the city & castles part
And with city I mean Lisbon. I’ve read somewhere there are two kinds of people, those who never have been to Lisbon and those who are in love with it, I totally agree, and in love we are. With its charming cobbled streets we wandered, the amazing light, friendly people, beautiful tiles, trams and colored houses. We started our Portugal trip here and spend five days in the city and stayed in a lovely Airbnb city apartment with little garden. Before we were heading for Sintra, the fairytale town with its castles close to Lisbon. I admit I was a bit prejudiced I might not like it, as it’s a major tourist attraction and possibly too crowded, but oh how wrong I was. - Marissa
Our first morning in Lisbon we arranged a charming local tuk tuk driver to give us a private early morning tour showing us all the highlights, and amazing views from a city that is still waking up, you can find him through Airbnb experiences here. He drove us through small alleys and up and down the hills, along the river towards Belem, to X factory for lunch, and we all had a blast! Vico also took us to ‘Manteigaria’ on Rue do Loreto to eat the best pastel del nata from Lisbon, I know some prefer Belem, but we trusted his opinion, and the small thin crispy pastry with creamy custard filling was so good! We had our espresso’s while the kids watched the bakers do their thing.
The good thing about having enough time in a city is you can just spend a few hours in a park, for example after having breakfast, playing, chasing birds, we loved Jardim da Estrala for this.
The absolute best lunch we had in Lisbon was at PSI – one of Lisbon’s oldest vegetarian restaurants (even visited by the Dalai Lama a few years ago) located in a small park with lovely garden. The menu has so many delicious options we could hardly choose and ended up ordering many different dishes, which in the end we could even finish all (and relaxed too) partly due to the little playground in front.
A great tip from @ yoli_and_otis and a reason Boubou’s is also still on the to do list ;)
Sintra truly is like a little fairytale town, an Unesco World Heritage site, with its palaces, castles, and magical views of hills, forest and villas. Most itineraries recommend Sintra as a day trip from Lisbon, but I’m glad we took things slow and decided up front we would stay for two nights. Because I expected some days with a lot of walking, sightseeing and warm temperatures an important search criteria were a pool, for some relaxed cool down time for the squad in between. I ended up booking a vintage B&B. A little outdated, but with charme. The house was built during the roaring 20’s and it has been in the same family since the mid 70’s.
To avoid crowds (there are a lot of day trippers from Lisbon in summer) and because we were ‘team no stroller’ we decided to visit Palacio de Monserrate, and Quinta da Regaleira above the main attractions as Pena Palace and The Moorish Castle. We loved Monserrate, with its pink and nude soft shades, and a mix of Romantic architecture with Arabic influences, we walked around in the gardens, had a picnic and rolled down the sloping lawn.
But the highlight and ultimate fave of our 5 year old was: Quinta da Regaleira, a mystical palace, but most important with amazing grounds you can explore, with underground tunnels, waterfalls, little grottoes. The boys played hide and seek in the towers, went down a spiral staircase into a wishing well. While I wandered around with my own little ‘napqueen’ and felt like being on a set of Lord of the Rings. This place is a must see.
We’ve had more favorites in Lisbon and still a lot to discover, so we will go back for sure. If you want to see more glimpses of our stay you can also check the story highlight on my IG profile.