Living in Lisbon – an Airbnb City Break in Portugal
Lisbon has been on my list of destinations for a while. I’m not sure why, I had little knowledge of the top sights and no particular agenda, but I’d heard great things from everyone who visited. Now I’m one of those people, recommending Lisbon whenever vacation planning is mentioned. I’ve never felt more welcome or taken care of in any city! The proximity to the ocean, seafood, wine country, weather and architecture make it even better!
- Perfect Airbnb experience! This apartment is centrally located, definitely as nice as a hotel, minimally and tastefully decorated and only $90 a night!!
Day 1 | Exploring our Neighborhood
The airbnb we stayed in was perfectly located for a low key first day in Lisbon – lunch at a historic bakery, exploring the center of town, wine tasting and dinner.
- Praça da Figueira and Baixa / Chiado – the area around our Airbnb apartment is quite organized and flat, unlike the geography of the rest of Lisbon! This is the part of the city which was rebuilt, under the direction of German architects after the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. It is laid out on a grid, and the building style, pombaline, is an example of the first earthquake resistant structure.
- Wine Tasting at ViniPortugal in Praca do Comercio – ViniPortugal is a wine tasting room sponsored by the Interprofessional Association of the Portuguese Wine Industry. It’s pretty great. You can either sign up for themed sessions, or just pay a min of €3 and taste as many wines as you want for €0.50 to €1.50 each. We actually went back later in the week to try more wines!
- Alfama – this is the twisty, hilly, oldest section of Lisbon. There are tons of restaurants, vendors and literally dancing in the streets in this part of town. We visited during Saint Anthony’s Day, when people typically flock to this old heart of the city, so there was even more excitement than usual. It is quite easy to get lost but the Tagus River keeps you on track and oriented.
Day 2 | Sao Jorg Castle & a food tour
- Mercado da Figueira – we started the day with local yogurt, coffee, cherries, strawberries and pastries from this nice grocery store in Praca da Figueira – and bought wine, cheese and meats for later!
- Sao Jorg Castle – a Moorish castle in the hilly Alfama section of central Lisbon. This major tourist sight is a lot of fun to explore (and get lost in) and offers beautiful panoramas of Lisbon
- Your Friend in Lisbon Food Tour – this 4+ hour tour was a highlight of our Lisbon trip! Our tour guide, one of the founders, was informative and fun. She introduced us to so many Portuguese delights. Among my favorites were: tremoco beans (a fun bar snack), snails (actually very tasty – although sad to eat their cute little snail faces), port, wine, cheese and jams at Grapes and Bites, Pastel de Nata, and Portugese fried dough! We tried many other tasty treats – too many to name!
Day 3 | Sintra
- Sintra – is an adorable town about an hour train ride from Rossi in Lisbon. This UNESCO World Heritage site was occupied by the Moors from the 5th century until 1147, when it was conquered by King Afonzo Henriques. More recently, in the 19th century, Sintra was a summer retreat for Portuguese aristocracy. The town has many cute restaurants, shops, etc. and of course Sintra Palace, the Moorish Castle ruins and Pena Palace.
- Pena Palace – Pena Palace is located at the top of a very tall hill, overlooking Sintra. Walking up is possible, but be warned the road is very curvy and the journey takes a bit longer than google maps estimates! Pena Palace was built by Ferdinand II from 1842 – 1854 and was intended to be a beautiful, decorative retreat. Buying a ticket to explore both the interior and exterior of the castle is a must!
Day 4 | So much to see!
- Belem Tower – an iconic Lisbon site, the Belem Tower looks just like the pictures. Take the overground tram out to the tower for another quintessential Lisbon experience.
- Lisbon Zoo – lions, tigers, bears, peacocks …oh my :)
- Da Prata 52 – a tiny, casual Portugese tapas restaurant in central Lisbon. The staff were amazingly nice and passionate about their food. All of the dishes are quite small so you can try a lot of different things, even with only two people!
- Banca de Pau – Northern Portugese food and wine, served and cooked by the owners in a small, bright space in Alfama. Banca de Pau’s menu is made for sharing, with more large appetizers, charcuterie, cheese, etc than true main courses. They also serve a selection of wines made by the owner’s family!
- The Corkscrew Wine Bar – this restaurant / wine bar in Alfama was opened by former manager of Grapes and Bites (mentioned above). Great wine and small plates – we came here after a day of eating on the food tour, so didn’t try as much as I would have liked!
Read more about Portuguese food here