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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Valenti

Lisbon and Sintra: Portogallo on the road pt. 2

Here we are at the second part of our Portugal on the Road tour. In this post we will travel to discover Lisbon and Sintra, the third and fourth stages of our itinerary. Lisbon is the capital and main city of Portugal, located on the western end of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Tagus River. Sintra is a Portuguese municipality located in the district of Lisbon, since1995 it has been part of the World Heritage List. An Arab settlement, it was resumed in the first phase of the Reconquista promoted by the kings of Asturias, finding itself at the beginning of the 11th century on the edge of the reign of the Portucale.

Alfama, Lisbona, Portogallo

To find out the other stages of our journey and how to organize your tour of Portugal click here. As already mentioned in previous articles, we moved by public transport, to avoid traffic, difficulties in the streets and in finding parking. So, choosing as a base for Lisbon, we visited it on Tuesday, then on Wednesday by train we reached Sintra in the day, going back to the capital for dinner and then completing with a few strolls on Thursday morning before leaving for the Algarve with a rental car.


Tuesday 29th June

Lisbon

On Tuesday morning we left early from Coimbra B station, and after two hours of travel we arrived in Lisboa Apolonia ('intercity' ticket, to understand, 24 € each). From here, given the proximity to our apartment, we moved on foot in less than 10 minutes. We had already agreed with the owner to leave our luggage and freshen up despite arriving very early in the morning. To sleep we chose Alfama as a neighborhood, a very lively area of ​​Lisbon, full of colorful alleys and full of restaurants and bars where you can spend the evening. Very convenient for reaching every area of ​​the capital without too much difficulty, both on foot and by public transport. To see where we stayed, take a look at the post on vacation planning.


Museo Antoniao, Murales di Fiori, Lisbona, Portogallo
Museo Antoniao

From here, in a few minutes, we reached the Cathedral de Lisboa and then the Iglesia di Santo Antonio, next to which you will find the museum, characterized by its mural of wonderful colorful flowers. Continuing towards the bank of the Tagus river we arrived at Praca do Comercio, still known as Terreiro do Paço (Palace Square), as the Ribeira Royal Palace stood here, destroyed by the great earthquake of 1755, after which the square was completely remodeled in an imposing and very wide space. On the river, I point out Cais das Colunas, the old pier. From here we moved towards the center, making a small stop at A Brasileira cafè, one of the oldest and most famous cafes in Lisbon. It is located in rua Garrett, in the historic Chiado district. A little expensive, and not as wonderful as I had seen on the photos, but in any case if you are in the area it is worth a trip, it is one of the most famous places in the city, and is located in the center.


PRACA DOM PEDRO IV, LISBONA, PORTOGALLO

To go back to the apartment and finally arrange the luggage, we walked the Rua Augusta, the main street of the Baixa which connects, through a large arch, the Praça do Comércio with the Rossio. Rua Augusta is the nerve center of the city with many shops from various international chains; it's closed to traffic and you will often find street artists, artisans and street vendors. Along Rua Augusta we passed the Elevador de Santa Justa (the ticket office is located behind the tower, down the Rua do Carmo) but we didn't stop, I had read some reviews in which they said it was not worth it. In fact, from the outside it did not inspire us much: you go up and down with the elevator, inside two cabins of wood and brass, to then reach a spiral staircase that leads to the esplanade of a room with a view over the Rossio, the Baixa and the Castle of São Jorge. We then found ourselves in Praca Dom Pedro IV or even Rossio Square or simply Rossio, it has literally been the center of Lisbon for centuries and is located on the border with the Baixa district; here there are many souvenir shops, jewelers and bars.

Torre di Belem, Lisbona, Portogallo

After getting settled, shortly after lunch, we went back to Praca do Comercio to take the tram to Belem. With the E15 Tram for € 3 each, in 25 minutes we reached the other side of the city practically in front of the Belem Tower, on the river, from where Vasco de Gama set out to conquer the empire. Here we enjoyed a very fresh Pina Colada, made on the spot by a girl with a walking cart: a little expensive, € 10, but served inside a fresh pineapple, really delicious. From the Belem Tower we walked to the Padrao dos Descobrimientos, or Monument to the Discoveries, also located on the banks of the Tagus River: it was built in 1960 to celebrate the era of discoveries made by Portuguese navigators.


Monastero dos Jeronimos, Lisbona, Portogallo

The next stop was the Jeronimos Monastery, a bit far to reach on foot and we were already tired, having already been waling for 2 days of 23km on foot each, and already at least 15km in the morning. So we tried the rental electric scooter for the first time: you will find lots of them everywhere in the city, parked more or less every 100m. By downloading the app via the QR code on the scooter you can use it at 5cent / min. We took one in two and we had a lot of fun, it was wonderful to ride the river and the park in front of the Monastery on two wheels, and in a few minutes we reached our destination.

Pasteis de Nata, Pasteis de Belem, Lisbona, Portogallo

The Jeronimos Monastery is an extraordinary complex of Manueline architecture and houses the Museum of Archeology and the church. The single ticket for all these attractions costs 12 € each, well deserved, while you can also enter the church for free. The Jerónimos Monastery houses the memories of illustrious Portuguese, such as Vasco da Gama and Luis Vaz de Camoes (the Portuguese Dante Alighieri). The church is also splendid, the archaeological museum, on the other hand, is not as good as the one in London, but it is still worth a stroll while you are there. After the tour we stopped at Pasteis de Belem, the most famous Pasteis de Nata pastry shop in Lisbon, and it is absolutely worth it. The place is huge, very typical, and they have a selection of sweet and savory snacks to blow your mind. All delicious and at super affordable prices (click here to read more about Pasteis de Nata and where to find them in Portugal).



LX Factory, Lisbona, Portogallo

From here we resumed the scooter and in a few minutes we reached the LX Factory, right under the Ponte 25 de Abril, from which you can admire the Cristo Rei, (on the other side of the bridge), a smaller reproduction of the Christ the Redeemer located in Rio de Janeiro. But let's go back to the LX Factory! To make you understand the place a little, think of Camden Town with a bit of Christiania. It's a former industrial area, recently renovated and which now houses super special, very alternative restaurants, bookshops, shops, bars and clubs, all while maintaining the beauty of the previous structures but now redecorated with urban art. LX is the abbreviation for Lisbon: entering the gate you will feel like you are entering a city within the city; I literally loved it, and I would have gladly stayed there for a drink in the evening too! Absolutely not to be missed!


Casa do Alentejo, Lisbona, Portogallo
Casa do Alentejo

We finally went back to the center, and on board the E15 Tram we reached Praca de Figueira and walked towards the Rossio district, stopping at the Hard Rock Shop and then at Casa do Alentejo, a splendid restaurant with an internal courtyard. which absolutely deserves a visit. The Rossio is a very lively and youthful neighborhood, from 6pm it comes alive totally and is filled with young people who have an aperitif in the streets in colorful bars.

Here you will find bars and pubs at every inch with the most diverse offers for happy hour, so if you want to drink a lot and spend little, this is absolutely the place for you.



After a great tour, we found ourselves having dinner at the Timeout Market, a food hall located at the Mercado da Ribeira and which I highly recommend! Inside this "covered market" you will find many niches offering typical Portuguese food, based on meat or fish, and then desserts, and also many other delicious dishes from other cultures. You order what you want and then you sit at one of the many tables in the center of the Hall: the beauty of these places is that you can take a little from everyone, without having to choose. Click here to read more about what to eat when in Portugal.

After dinner, to finish off another day of 25km on foot, we headed towards Pink Street (Rua Nova do Carvalho), in the evening one of the liveliest places in Lisbon, full of young locals and tourists who indulge in some drinks in company. Here the prices are a bit higher than the Rossio, we took 4 drinks and 2 shots for € 30 in total.

I definitely recommend a stop in the evening to have a drink, but if you are passing by, drop by even during the day, the road will be clear and you will be able to better enjoy the buildings and colors without the typical crowd of the place at night.





Wednesday 30th June

Sintra & Lisbon

Wake up early on Wednesday morning and head to Rossio on foot, to the train station, to reach Sintra. The ticket can be bought on the spot for € 5 each round trip. Tip: leave early, like 7.30 am, to avoid both the crowds of commuters at the station in Lisbon and on the train, and the crowds of tourists in Sintra. Once in Sintra, take bus 434: the ticket can be bought directly on the vehicle and for € 6.9 you can use it all day whenever you want; consider that the route is circular and stops at the station, in the center, and at every point of interest, making it very convenient.


We started with Palacio de Pena, which is generally the most popular and where you can find more and more people. The Palácio da Pena was originally a monastery inhabited by monks, then abandoned in 1775 due to the extensive damage suffered by an earthquake; it was rebuilt in 1840-50 to become the summer residence of the Portuguese rulers. In its parts all styles are mixed: Arabic, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Baroque; characteristic is the color that varies from a bright yellow to an orange red to finish with a blue given by the azulejos. Arrived by bus (the road is long and tough as it is all uphill) we bought the ticket: € 12 per person which includes the park, exterior and interior of the building. If you want, with € 5 you can only access the park and the exterior of the building. After all, perhaps I would have chosen the second option: the interior of the castle is a bit boring, full of period furniture and little else; even the exterior was below expectations for us, we had the impression that it was a fake castle made of cardboard.


Given the short distance, we then headed on foot to Castel Dos Mouros (by bus it is at the previous stop of the Palacio de Pena, so you have to do the whole tour to reach it). The Castelo dos Mouros stands high above the city among the rocks and oaks of the Sierra. It was built in the 7th century by the Arabs as its name suggests, but has since been remodeled several times. The price to access is € 8 each, and honestly it is worth it all. The forest that you cross to reach the ruins is splendid, and the walk on the walls is breathtaking: from which you will see the valley and the Palacio de Pena.


From here, we took bus 434 back to the historic center, from which we walked to the Quinta da Regaleira. It is a large estate with a palace, gardens, fountains and caves from the beginning of the 20th century, built by a wealthy local family. It is an extreme display of wealth, no doubt about it, but everything is wonderful. Admission it's € 10 and consider approximately 2-3 hours for the visit. The estate is huge, with many interesting places scattered throughout the vast park, including the most beautiful, in my opinion: the very famous Initiatic Well, consisting of a spiral staircase of nine floors, from which you go down to a depth of 30 meters and inspired by the circles of the Divine Comedy.


Centro Storico, Sintra, Portogallo
Sintra, Centro Storico

Back in the center on foot, we allowed ourselves a snack and a stroll in the alleys. Here you will find many typical restaurants, small shops with handicrafts, ceramics, souvenirs and exquisite liqueurs: we have tasted and bought both Ginja (typical Portuguese liqueur based on Amarene, served in a glass of chocolate) and a liqueur with Pasteis de Nata.

At this point, at 6p.m. we left to go back to Lisbon. Even if we didn't make to visit, I would like to point you out the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, a complex of various buildings, in the center of the village with two huge conical fireplaces.

Lisbon

Lisboa Tu & Eo, Alfama, Portogallo

In the evening, once in Lisbon, after resting a few hours, we headed for dinner in a little place that we had spotted the night before walking back home, the Lisboa Tu e Eo, just behind our apartment, in the Alfama. It's a place run by a husband and wife, very nice, easygoing and very small, but we ate divinely (click here to discover more about Portuguese cuisine: what and where to eat). By now, sunset time came, we headed towards the Miradouro de Santa Lucia, which is also very close. It is a viewpoint with a broad view of the Alfama and the Tagus River. The Santa Luzia wall has two azulejo panels which make it all very distinctive. Absolutely recommended, if you can manage at sunset time.

Tramonto e Azulejos al Miradouro de Santa Luzia, Lisbona, Portogallo

Thursday 1st July

Murales del Fado, Alfama, Lisbona, Portogallo

Here we are on our last day in Lisbon: with only the morning available, as around lunchtime we had an appointment to collect the rental car at the airport. Packed our suitcases, we walked into the heart of Alfama, passing through the Murales del Fado (one of the peculiarities of Lisbon is the music of fado, which can still be heard live in the old city). From here we reached the center of Lisbon again, we had breakfast in the Panaderia Portoguesa.

Murales del Fado, Alfama, Lisbona, Portogallo

We were unable to go, but in any case I would like to point out the National Azulejo Museum, located in rua Madre de Deus, between Avenida Infante Dom Henrique and Avenida Alfonso III, housed in the former Madre de Deus convent. I have heard a lot of it and very well, if you are passionate about Azulejos include a stop here before leaving the capital


Here is our itinerary of Lisbon and Sintra, third and fourth stops of our tour of Portugal. To find out more about our trip and understand how to best organize it, I refer you to the dedicated article.

Click here to read more about what and where to eat when in Portugal. In case you missed the first stages, here are the links for the other stages: - Porto and Coimbra - Algarve In case I forgot something or you need more information commented below, I will be happy to help you!

Have a nice trip (:




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