Last weekend I headed to Lisbon for a 4 day trip as part of a Christmas surprise for my boyfriend. We'd both been to Portugal many times before, but neither of us had been to the capital, so were excited for a city break.
Lisbon is a beautiful city steeped in history and known for its lively culture and soulful music. It's a hilly capital meaning if you climb high enough you'll see breathtaking views of the city's pastel-coloured buildings and famous landmarks.
We stayed in a charming Airbnb in a wonderful setting round the corner from Barrio Alto an area known for it's bars and buzzing atmosphere, although we were far enough away for our evenings to be uninterrupted and peaceful. Once we'd arrived and settled into our new home, we headed out for the afternoon to explore Lisbon by foot. One of the first places we went was up to the Sao Jorge Castle which we'd actually been advised by a Lisbon local to go to for the view, and not inside the castle itself. It was a great tip as it was our first glimpse of the city in one unobstructed view and it really was magical. We found a cafe up there and sat in the sunshine for the afternoon with a drink.
Speaking of the weather we were incredibly lucky as most of our days were basked in sunshine and blue skies. It wasn't summer weather, but it was warm enough to wear a light jacket which was a real treat in contrast to England's weather.
On our second day, we woke up bright and early to explore more of the city and to do a bit of shopping (I literally can't help myself wherever I go). One of my favourite things about Lisbon were all the elaborately painted tiles (called azulejos) dotted around the city - they were so beautiful and really helped add to the city's charm.
One of my favourite areas in Lisbon was Alfama, the oldest neighbourhood in the city. It's a picturesque neighbourhood composed of a maze of narrow streets, winding alleys and steep steps. It's medina-like layout is deliberate - this is the city's ancient Arab district and the tightly packed lanes, small archways and cobbled terraces are full of atmosphere.
A stones throw from our apartment was the River Tagus which was such a lovely area to stroll along. It was gave us the perfect view of Lisbon's famous Golden Gate replica, otherwise known as the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge.
That evening, we decided to get the train to an area called Caiscas, which we'd heard offered the best seafood around. It was a 40 minute train ride, but a really easy trip as the station was round the corner from our apartment and Lisbon's transport system is incredibly easy to use. We ate at a restaurant called Maria Pia which was exceptional - the most delicious fresh fish (basically all I ate in Portugal) and was well worth the trip out of the city.
On our third day we headed to LX Factory, a modern, hip art centre that has become a home to various start-up businesses, ranging from workspaces for designers and artists to quirky restaurants. On Sunday's it hosts a flea market along the main street where vendors are able to present vintage and local designer clothes, handmade jewellery and vinyl. I really enjoyed strolling along the stalls and even managed to pick up some gluten-free, raw cookies which were much more delicious than they looked. Best of all, was all the amazing street art that adorned the walls around the factory - it was a theme that was common across the city but the best pieces were definitely to be found here.
On our last day, we woke up late and spent the morning packing up as we were heading home that evening. We decided to head to the largest market in Lisbon, the Mercardo da Ribeira (or TimeOut Market) which was another jewel close to our apartment. Once a famous fish market, the Mercardo de Ribeira has opened it's doors to accommodate a large food pavilion where some of the city's top chefs are ready to satisfy the needs of hungry customers. The food court offers a variety of snacks and full meals and is a must visit in the city.
We had a wonderful time in Lisbon and I'd highly recommend a trip. Both the flights and accommodation were really inexpensive, and the food and drink was also on the cheap side too so it's an ideal city break destination. I'd definitely like to go back and explore a little more as there were many areas we didn't get the chance to see.
Have you been to Lisbon? What's your favourite place for a city break?