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Welcome back to my „Exploring Lisboa“ series. If you haven’t read the first article, click here. To give you some background information, I arrived on a Sunday afternoon and left the following Wednesday in the evening. I therefore spent around 72 hours in Lisbon, which is around two complete days plus the day of arrival and departure where I was able to explore some things too.
Today I will share with you what I’ve done that Monday, I’ve tackled some of the most famous sights in Lisbon that day, which is the Elevador de Santa Justa, the Tram 28, the Castelo de São Jorge, the historic district of Alfama, the Pink Street and the Time Out Market.
Elevador de Santa Justa
My first stop that day was the Elevador de Santa Justa. It is an elevator that was originally built to connect the streets of Baixa with the district Chiado. This vertical lift is a famous tourist attraction, if you want to use the lift, you will have to wait approximately thirty minutes, since the queue is usually pretty long. Additionally, it will cost you some money to use the elevator to go up, I will link you a website with further information about the prices here.
Well, I wasn’t very keen to spend my time in Lisbon, waiting for an elevator, so I decided to look for bridge that connects the elevator with the upper streets. If you walk past the actual elevator and walk up the street, there will be stairs to your right at some point that will lead you up to the Chiado district from where you can access the bridge that is connected to the first platform of the elevator. It is definitely worth to walk up there and enjoy the view, even though there are better viewpoints in Lisbon, as you will read later in this post.
The Tram 28 disaster
Lisbon is known for its little trams that connect the different districts of the city. The most popular one is the wooden Tram 28 which goes from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique, passing many historic districts, including Graça, Baixa, Alfama and the Bairro Alto. It will take you to many beautiful places in Lisbon but be prepared to stand in line for a long time.
When I arrived at Martim Moniz, I was pretty happy to see that there were only two girls in front of me waiting for the tram. When they were about to enter, a man got in their way and pointed towards an at least 150m long queue of people, all waiting to enter the historic tram. No way was I gonna wait for so long to stand in a tram full of people and likely being pick pocketed. I therefore decided to walk to my next destination, which was the Castelo de São Jorge. Right behind the Tram 28 station I found escalators, surrounded by beautiful residential buildings covered with gorgeous tiles. These escalators will take you uphill and you can give your legs some rest, while enjoying the view! Of course you can take a tram to the Castelo, but I really enjoyed my walk, since I found many nice photo spots, and little shops selling unique Portuguese souvenirs.
On my way to the Castelo I haven’t met many people but when I spotted more tourists, I knew I was getting close. In front of the Castelo were some artists, selling their art work like the man in the picture who created unique art using coffee as colour. However, most impressive to me where the two guys who played music with their instruments, called Hand Pans. I really enjoyed listening to their music and bought their CDs to support them. They met in Lisbon, one of them is Spanish, the other one from Berlin. I just love the idea of two individual artists meeting and uniting, creating new pieces of music together, supporting each other and enjoying themselves, which is quite good to see in the picture I guess.
Castelo de São Jorge
I stood in line for around ten minutes maximum, but depending on when your planning to visit the Castelo, you might have to wait longer. However, it is definitely worth it! If you are between thirteen and twenty-five years old, you will pay only 5€ for the entry, if you are older you will pay 10€.
The castle complex, surrounded by a garden, provides you with castle walls to walk on, and old towers to climb. You will be exposed to one- or maybe THE most beautiful view in Lisbon. You can see the whole city from different viewpoints in that area, it is simply amazing! However, I would recommend wearing closed shoes with a good profile, since the steps up the castle are quite steep and might be slippery.
The streets of beautiful Alfama
After having visited the Castelo de São Jorge, I decided to explore the historic district Alfama, which is recommended in every travel guide. On my way I found this greek looking spot with a man playing the guitar and singing. I sat down for a while and just enjoyed the fact that I was travelling by myself, that I could do whatever I wanted and I was extremely grateful and extremely happy. It was a wonderful feeling!
However, I think my expectations for Alfama where a little too high. I don’t even know what exactly I expected but it is still a gorgeous district of the city. I adore the tiles of the buildings, and just the atmosphere, there are many small and sometimes hidden restaurants. I haven’t even seen many tourists but instead some locals who always smiled back when I smiled at them. To my mind, it just felt so different, so relaxed, so kind.
An encounter that’s typical for solo travel
My next destination was the Pink Street, but on my way I discovered a cute little place that was very appealing, called Basilio Café. I ordered a green juice and just came back from the bathroom when I saw a young woman sitting on my place, next to my backpack which I had left there, hoping the Portuguese would say something if someone wanted to take it. I mean, it was a small café full of locals and the waitress even talked to me in Portuguese. Anyways, I told the girl that I was sitting there and she apologized and was about to leave when I asked her if she was on her own. She agreed and I asked her if she wanted to sit with me. That is how I met Sarah. She grew up in London and spent some days in Lisbon, and we chatted for at least an hour in that café. I was really happy that I had asked her to stay, since we had a great conversation and she is such an engaged and inspiring young woman. This is what I love about travelling by myself, I think we wouldn’t have met if I had been travelling with someone else.
„You just need a street and a couple of buckets with pink paint to create a tourist attraction.“
Sarah and I decided to go to the Pink Street together, it is near the Cais do Sodré station and pretty easy to find, even though it isn’t too long. It is really funny how „easy“ it is, to create a tourist attraction, just paint the street pink! Okay this isn’t quite true in this case. The street used to be Lisbon’s red light district and was originally called Rua Nova do Carvalho. Today you will find many bars and restaurants there, it is one of the places to go to if you want to go on a night out.
Time Out Market
It was time for Sarah to leave to catch her flight home and I decided to grab a drink at the Time Out Market, a huge food court with many different food options available. International food, typical Portuguese food, Wine, a Bar and next to the food court there is a big grocery market where the locals buy their greens, meat, fish and more. Good thing about this place: If you travel in a large group, everyone will find something to eat!
Have you ever heard of Pastéis de Nata? It is a Portuguese speciality made of egg yolks and topped with cinnamon. At first, I thought it was something with cheese, until I tasted it. It was super weird, as I was expecting something salty and it turned out to taste sweet, actually reminded me of cheesecake or something with pudding. It wasn’t really my thing but I’m glad I gave it a try!
I finished my day with a pizza at Jamie’s Pizza. I mean, I had pizza at a Jamie Oliver restaurant, to me, that’s pretty amazing!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my second day in Lisbon. I’d love to hear your feedback and Lisbon travel tips!