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January 2018, Lisbon – Portugal
Lisbon is a city with incredible weather, great food, lots of wine and cheap prices, which makes it perfect for a memorable holiday. We visited it last year right before starting our sabbatical in South America, and we instantly fell in love with it.
The people! The culture! The food! 🙂
Being on the run as usual, we had a limited amount of time to explore the city. But there is so much more to see nearby as well.
Here are the top 3 day trips you must take while in Lisbon.
A picturesque town perched on the mountains near Lisbon, Sintra is one of the seven wonders of Portugal. In this UNESCO Heritage town stands the flamboyant Palacio Nacional da Pena, commonly known as the Pena Palace. Despite the uncommon mix of architectural styles and vivid colours, it looks surprisingly harmonious.
We did our best to capture it in a single picture, but all we’ve got is this. So i guess you must go check it out yourself.
Not far away from Pena Palace, another beauty stands the test of time. The Moorish Castle flaunts the best view of the Sintra town. Pop your head out of the Castle walls, and get uninterrupted views of the town, Pena Palace and the other palaces and parks in Sintra.
Don’t forget to take your best hiking shoes and a water bottle. A full day of walking in the sun, climbing stairs up and down, can take away all your energy reserves.
CABO DA ROCA
And because we just can’t stay in one single place for the whole day, we jump on the bus to the most westerly point of mainland Europe! Cabo da Roca is a wild and rugged headland that was believed to be the edge of the world up until the late 14th century.
As we get down the bus, the incredible wind takes us by surprise. Far in the distance, the raging Atlantic Ocean waves hit the base of the massive cliffs. Barely moving, we start exploring the hiking trails until we lose track of time.
On the way back, we reach a stone monument with a cross atop. The inscription on the side of the monument is a quote from the famous Portuguese poet Luis Camoes, who described the area as “Where the land ends and the sea begins”.
Seems funny that people believed there is nothing out there anymore. We take a last glimpse of the ocean with curiosity and hope, knowing that far far away, America awaits.
Rio, here we come.
It’s not really a day trip outside Lisbon, but Belém deserves leaving the center of Lisbon for at least half a day. Even more if you go walking, like we did.
If you see a bridge resembling the Golden Gate in San Francisco, that’s the 25th of April Bridge. Keep going, you’re in the right direction.
The picturesque suburb of Belém lies on the banks of the River Tagus, on the western edge of the city. You’ll find a leafy residential area blessed with wonderful parks and a Tropical Garden.
Belém is associated with the era of Discoveries, a period when Portuguese navigators embarked on long and perilous voyages to chart unknown seas and map new lands. It was from here, in 1497, that Vasco da Gama embarked on his historic expedition that led to the opening of a sea route to India.
In the early 19th century, in Belém, right next to the Jerónimos Monastery, there was a sugar cane refinery connected to a small shop. Because of the 1820 Liberal Revolution, all Portuguese convents and monasteries were closed down and all workers and clergy were expelled.
In an attempt to survive, someone from the Monastery placed sweet pastries for sale at the small shop, which quickly became known as “Pastéis de Belém“. The recipe remains exactly the same to this day.
So don’t leave without staying in a cue for a famous Pastéis de Belém!
We leave Lisbon with the feeling that our short stay was not enough. But other lands and adventures are waiting for us now.
We will surely miss the perfect sunny days, artsy colorful buildings, nostalgic yellow trams, the amazing Pasteis de Belem and Porto wine. Obrigados!
Lisbon – Sintra – Lisbon by train, 5 EUR/pers
Sintra – Pena – Moorish Castle with 434 hop-on hop-off bus, 5.5 EUR/pers
Sintra – Cabo da Roca – Sintra with 403 bus, 8.5 EUR/pers
Pena Palace 12.5 EUR/pers
Moorish Castle 7.5 EUR/pers
Tropical Gardens Belem 2 EUR/pers
*Don’t miss the free walking tour of Lisbon.
*Prices for Sintra may have changed since 2018, you can find here the updated version.
Happy travels and stay safe!