Last weekend I took a trip to Lisbon to celebrate a friend’s Hen party, between celebrating that and sightseeing, I crammed so much in but the glimpse I caught of this city was a good one.
On arrival we discovered it was Portugal Day (Dia de Camões) on Friday 10 June so the whole city was celebrating a long weekend.
The first activity on our agenda was a day of surfing, I was a little apprehensive about this but embraced it regardless, 18 girls attempting to surf is a sight to be seen! Our surf guides picked us up from our apartment and took us to Praia Do Castelo beach which was about 30 minutes out of the city but completely worth it. The beach wasn’t busy, it was spotless and the waves were wild, ready for some serious surf.
The guys from Lisbon Surf Tours were brilliant, from helping us with our wetsuits to a warm up on the sand before we all headed into the water, they were adamant they’d get us all standing up – it wasn’t through not trying but I think I made it up for a second!
Afterwards we headed to a newly opened beach bar for cocktails and food, followed by wine on the beach with our guides – the perfect end to a fun packed day.
The next day my friend Lanie and I were off to do some sightseeing. One of our surf guides had told me to head to Miradouro do Monte Agudo – a small viewing point a short stroll from our apartment. Negotiating the slippery cobbled paths up (and down!) the steep hills were worth the climb. The view overlooked the whole city and it was nice to take a moment to take it all in.
From here we slowly strolled through the streets towards the castle. Everyone was preparing for the festa! People were lighting BBQs outside their houses, music was blaring from speakers from various bars and cafes, and brightly coloured decorations were strung across the streets – you knew that later this energetic vibe would carry on to the early hours as they celebrated.
Next we stumbled across the viewing point of Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen where you could see the castle, Castelo de São Jorge, from the viewpoint. There’s a little bar here if you want to get a drink and people selling paintings – great for a time out as you soak up the city.
If you can hold out for a refreshing drink and are willing to pay a little extra head up Pátio de Dom Fradique 8 leading to the castle and you’ll discover a courtyard heaven perfect for people watching as they pass through the red door.
Take your time as you explore the streets around the castle; full of trinket shops, people selling fresh strawberries and other fruit, street art and musicians. If you want to take a trip to the castle itself you pay for entry as you go in, adult entry is €8, 50.
As we were short on time we decided a trip to Lisbon wouldn’t be complete without catching the famous Tram 28. So we queued at the first stop at Martim Moniz to ensure we got a seat to take in the winding roads and steep hills – I would recommend not doing what we did and riding it to the end as you end up quite a way of of the centre and you’ve seen all the best bits by then! It’s probably worth jumping off at Baixa-Chiado. However, it was entertaining to watch as the driver rings his bell to get cars parked up on the side of the road with their hazards on to move as they can’t get past, and in one Basil Fawlty moment our ticket inspector had to jump off to direct a car as it was sandwiched between trams and the tram coming down the hill couldn’t get past.
We wrapped up our day of sightseeing with a visit to BonJardim, recommended by TripAdvisor! Close to the Restauradores metro stop and tucked down a quiet side street it is famous for it’s version of piri-piri chicken and they know it. As soon as we sat down the waiter greeted us with menus, bread and cheese and then asked us if we were ready to order and before we did he said “quarter chicken, chips” – he had Lanie sussed! However I had food envy from the girls who had enjoyed amazing prawns on the beach the day before so ordered these as well (although I felt it was frowned upon!), I didn’t regret my decision. Everything served up was so simple, and so delicious. Lanie’s chicken fell off the bone, you dressed it in the spicy oil on the table (the piri-piri) my prawns were huge and dressed in oil and lemon. He also recommended us a bottle of wine, Decisão which had minerality and clean and crisp apple notes, it felt well deserved after a day of sightseeing.
Finally we wrapped up our trip with the other hens at the stunning rooftop Sky Bar of Hotel Tivoli – we’d reserved an area with an hours bar but we stayed on later as the sunset view and chilled out tunes made this the perfect end to a long weekend.