48 hours in Lisbon
In December 2019, two friends and I decided to take a short trip to Lisbon at the end of February 2020.
Why did we decide on Lisbon?
- none of us was there yet
- the journey does not take too long
- the temperatures are ok in February
- the city is supposed to be beautiful
In my short travelogue I tell you about my experiences with the capital of Portugal, what I think was worth looking at and whether the short time was enough.
The “Lisboa Card”
We bought the Lisboa Card for 48 hours at the airport in Lisbon. The tourist office for the acquisition of this one finds directly in the arrival hall of the airport.
Even if all 4 counters of the office are occupied, one must take into account some waiting time.
The card costs €34 per person for 48 hours and is available in credit card format. Even if you buy the card online in advance, you still have to pick it up on site at one of the advertised offices. Therefore, by buying it online, you only save a little bit of time when paying, the price is always the same.
With the card you get a small booklet with all included sights and a booklet with discount cards to take out.
The card must be labeled with date and time before the first use and signed on the back.
On public transport, simply hold the card up to the machines on the bus or streetcar, which signal the OK with a “beep” and a green light.
Is the Lisboa Card worth it?
Financially, the card is worth it if you plan to visit many of the included sights of the city and use public transportation.
Here is a small list of what we used the card for:
3 x bus = approx. €4.50
2 x streetcar – approx. €6,-
1 x entrance to the Jerome Monastery in Belém – €12,-.
1 x ride on the “Elevador de Santa Justa” = €5,30
Total = €27,80 / 48h card €36,-.
The card was not profitable for us, however, we have saved a lot of time by the fast-lane before the Hieronymuskloster and the included public transport.
Where did we eat?
We ate at Time-out Market on both days in the evening. It is a huge indoor market with about 35 food stalls; you sit at long tables in the middle of the hall. From sushi, to Italian cuisine, traditional Portuguese dishes, ice cream and other sweet delicacies, there is everything your heart and hungry stomach desires.
All dishes are ordered directly at the stand. After paying, you receive a small, round device that you take with you to the table. As soon as the food is ready, the device flashes and vibrates as an indication that the ordered dishes are ready to be picked up.
We ate both evenings at “Confraria – Sushi do Mercado”. The sushi is very nicely arranged and basically tasted delicious. I find it a pity that many sushi pieces are filled with something fried and/or drizzled with some kind of sauce. Some of the fish is fried briefly, which is not really the point of sushi.
Experimental is good, traditional is better.
Really delicious was the avocado salmon rice salad with edamame beans on the second night. The salmon is simply sprinkled with a bit of sesame seeds, otherwise the salad is served completely “natural” and can be marinated with a bit of soy sauce. Simply delicious and super healthy!
For dessert we had a not so healthy, but delicious ice cream at “Gelato Davvero”. It is still a mystery to me how the seller managed to pack 3 scoops of ice cream on such a small cone and then still put a cream topping on it. With €3.70 not quite cheap, but KÖSTLICH! You had to eat it pretty quickly, because the scoops immediately begin to melt. Next time I would probably rather take only one ball or a cup instead of the bag.
After we landed very late in Lisbon and were very hungry, we found not far from our accommodation, in the Rua de S. Paolo 33 at 22:15 still a small restaurant that looked very nice from the outside. We ordered a burger filled with salmon, mango and other delicacies. It came with fries in a cute little bucket and a sour cream dip. Fantastic!
Food-Tour „Treasures of Lisboa“
I found the tour via www.viator.com and found the description very appealing.
Meeting point was in the old town Alfama at 10:00. We were a small fun group of about 10 people from all over; the tour was conducted in English. During the walk through the old town we were told a lot about life in Lisbon, told funny fun-facts and shown many great sights. However, as expected, the focus of the tour was Lisbon’s cuisine, which we got to taste with 14 different dishes and drinks. The tour exclusively supports local families, which I really liked as a concept. You may forgive me that I could not remember the names of all the dishes, but there were just too many delicacies and too much delicious wine.
For breakfast we had warm, delicious “Pastel de Nata” (small custard tarts), “Pastel De Feijão” (bean tarts) and a Portuguese coffee. Then we were served sardines on bread, delicious tomato rice and ceviche with tomato. We also had “Pastéis de Bacalhau” (stockfish pies), a sausage roasted directly in the fire and delicious sheep cheese.
To drink, we were served Portuguese white and red wine and finally “Ginja” – a Portuguese cherry liqueur.
We were completely thrilled with this tour and generally with the idea of offering a “food tour”. There are many people who like to get to know the city they are visiting but don’t necessarily want to be lectured about years and boring history. What better way to get to know a country than through its food culture? Many thanks to the great guides who really gave everything and brought us closer to life in the city with a lot of wit. At the end they took a lot of time to help us with the further planning of our trip. Keep it up!
I recommend leaving a little earlier from the hotel for this tour so as not to be 10 minutes late like we were. The meeting point is in the middle of the old town Alfama and if you go there by public transport, you still have to walk a few steps.
Very important! Do not eat breakfast! Would be a pity for the appetite.
Sights we visited
The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerome Monastery).
This impressive building is located in the Belém district and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The limestone facade was artfully decorated and offers a super motif for great photos. In front of the monastery is a beautiful park with manicured gardens and an impressive fountain.
During the tour of the monastery, I was most pleased with the purchase of the “Lisboa Card”. The “Fast-lane” saves you a lot of time and you are very happy about the €12,- entrance fee that you don’t have to pay with it.
The “Torre de Belém” (Tower of Belém)
Personally, I could have done without the Lisbon landmark, but it was explained to us that it would then be as if we would do without the Eiffel Tower when we are in Paris.
So we went to the tower and took a few photos. The tower can also be visited from the inside, apparently it would not necessarily be profitable to queue for it.
The “Padrão dos Descobrimentos” (Monument to the Discoveries).
In contrast to the Torre de Belém, this is an incredibly impressive building. Built in 1960, the monument is a full 56 meters high and is meant to commemorate the Age of Discoveries. Facing the Tagus River on the structure, statues of famous navigators like Ferdinand Magellan and Pêro Escobar stand alongside famous historians, mathematicians and explorers. Wow!
The Elevador de Santa Justa
This passenger elevator is located in the center of Lisbon and connects the Baixa district with the Chiado district. This route can also be covered wonderfully and much faster on foot, the ride with the elevator you do only for the experience itself. Since only about 10 people are taken in the lift at a time, the queue is correspondingly long. We waited about 30 minutes, in the summer the wait is certainly much longer.
The ride itself I found not particularly exciting but the view from the top is well worth the wait. If you’re not afraid of heights, I would recommend climbing the spiral staircase from the observation deck to the top. The view from up there is even more breathtaking! Sometimes I had the feeling that the iron construction under my feet swayed a bit. Really not for the faint of heart!
The Alfama is the old town of Lisbon which, due to its location, did not suffer much damage in the 1755 earthquake. Over narrow cobblestone streets you walk along historic buildings and charming old houses with beautiful colorful ceramic facades. If you want to avoid the many stairs of the old town, take the streetcar line 28 up to the fortress and walk down the streets through the old town.
I booked this breakfast hotel through Booking.com and was absolutely delighted with this charming B&B. The hotel is conveniently located right in the middle between the old town of Alfama and the Belém district. 30 minutes by car from the airport and only a few minutes walk to the nearest restaurants and bus stops.
We had booked a superior family room for 3 adults. The room was more than spacious, with a dark wooden floor, large windows and a French balcony. The mattresses were a bit saggy, otherwise there were no criticisms. Everything was spotlessly clean, in the bathroom there was a hairdryer and shower gel, in the living/bedroom 2 radiators warmed the somewhat chilly nights in February. The breakfast buffet was excellent! Freshly squeezed orange juice, eggs, bread, various types of jam, yogurt, various types of milk (soy, almond, etc.), about 7 types of cereal – great! I did not expect for this price. We paid per person €70, – for 3 nights incl. local tax!
The communication before the trip with Pedro was impeccable, you always received an immediate response via WhatsApp. The pickup from the airport booked for this also worked great, despite our flight delay.
The price for the transfer per way was €17, – from the airport to the hotel and €15, – from the hotel to the airport. For a normal cab you pay about €20,-/way.
For this B&B I give it 100% recommendation!
Click here to go to the hotel: Booking.com
What I would have liked to know before our visit to Lisbon
- Lisbon is very hilly! Especially for the old town you need a lot of energy and stamina. In February everything was quite doable if you take your time but I can imagine that you master the felt 1000 steps at 35 degrees less well.
- Who books one of the many food tours, should in no case breakfast! At most a quick coffee in the morning!
- Both bus and streetcar drivers are very reluctant to ask for directions or the right line. Also, the staff in front of the sights does not exactly shine through your friendliness. On questions is usually annoyed and snotty reaction. I can understand that one is annoyed at some point by the many tourists who constantly stop you and always ask the same thing. Nevertheless, I find such a kind a pity, after all, 1. you usually pay a lot of money for admissions and 2. every person deserves a normal answer when he asks politely.
- The city is so beautiful and exudes immense atmosphere! These magnificent old buildings with the ceramic tiles but also the new buildings are so beautiful and colorful. The worse I find that apparently completely Lisbon is defaced by graffiti. This is really a shame! I understand that it is difficult to catch sprayers in the act, but I hope that the Lisbon government will find a way to stop these vandals.
- Riding a streetcar is difficult. If you want to take a ride with the great yellow traditional streetcar, you need some luck and/or a lot of patience. We tried several times to ride the “Eléctricos de Lisboa” but unfortunately they either didn’t stop at all or were completely crowded. And that in February. By the way, if you want to go by bus or streetcar, you have to raise your hand briefly to signal the driver that you want to go.
- Carnival is also celebrated in Lisbon! Unknowingly, we got into a big carnival parade where only young people danced, celebrated and sang. The costumes are very simple, most fools wear a simple headdress and some glitter on their faces. If you had wanted, you could have safely joined the carnival procession and partied a bit.
Otherwise good to know
Older ladies sell cherry schnapps to passing tourists on the street or directly from their apartments to supplement their pensions a bit. In retrospect, I’m a bit sorry that I didn’t drink at least one “Stamperl”.
Walking through the old town, I suddenly noticed that I have not seen a single cat the whole 2 days. Very unusual for a big city. After a bit of research, I found out that most of the strays have been relocated to other parts of the city and are used as “cat patrols” to catch rats and mice. Not a bad idea!
And last but not least!
Basically, I think we got the best out of 48 hours in Lisbon. Another day would have been nice, I would have liked to see the Oceanarium and the Park of Nations. But…this is just one of the reasons to return to this fantastic city!