I absolutely adore a city break, don’t you?! I can’t think of any better way to spend a long weekend than hopping on a plane and exploring the sights, sounds and flavours of some fabulous European city (well whilst I’m still this side of the pond that is)!
I think I mentioned before, I have a *slight* infatuation with Portugal but despite spending many years holidaying on the Algarve and more recently getting to know Porto, somehow I had never quite made it to the capital city – Lisbon. I definitely wanted to remedy that before leaving for NYC so last month, I decided to take my lovely Mum and two brothers, A + J, with me to check it out!
We booked the most fabulous Air Bnb apartment which was situated in the heart of the Alfama district in Lisbon. Nestled in a charming little square, the apartment block (wholly owned by the Air Bnb hosts, with one huge apartment on each of the five floors) was just a few short meters from Sé Cathedral (the oldest church in the capital) and at the foot of Sao Jorge Castle.
The apartment was so rustic and full of beautiful original details (from the very Portuguese blue and white tiles to the heavy wooden double doors and even the art work that had been chosen) yet filled with lots of brilliant bright light. It was clear the hosts, Estelle and Alex, had put in a huge amount of effort to restore the flat to its former glory. As I found and booked this little gem, I treated myself to this gorgeous bedroom…!
Which also had a very cute teeny, tiny balcony – I spent every single night sitting out on it gazing at the stars and listening to the sounds of the streets below us, often with a glass of wine or a delicious ice cream cone from the shop across the road!
The main square in Lisbon, Praça do Comércio, was just a short walk from our apartment and to be honest we found ourselves headed there most evenings after dinner as you can walk along the riverfront for miles and there are lots of bars with outside terraces to stop for a glass of wine or a coffee.
On the Saturday night, we walked into Praça do Comércio and amazingly found ourselves right in the middle of Lisbon Pride! Music pumping, lights streaming, the sun setting and everyone in awesome spirits – it was magical and such an unexpected surprise!
Lisbon is a beautiful city. Eye catching architecture everywhere you look and the people are so friendly. It seems to have it all – a vibrant city bustling with restaurants, shops and nightlife, the river Tagus which hugs the city and gently winds its way towards the Atlantic Ocean and lush green parks dotted around, like this one…
Unique to Portugal is also the hauntingly, exquisite fado music that you can hear out on the street at anytime of the day or night. I love this about Portugal, some of the most beautiful, live music you’ll ever hear in a park or in one of the squares. Check out my Insta account (@thenewnewyorkerblog) for some videos.
I don’t know if you can relate but food is a huge part of our family holidays! Most of our holiday snaps are of the amazing food we’ve eaten and I tend to remember holiday destinations by the restaurants we visited or the dishes we tried! I always do some research before I go anywhere to find a couple of recommended places that I like the look of and want to book in advance. But if I’ve learnt anything, it’s to make sure I leave time to explore – some of the best meals I’ve eaten are when I’ve literally followed my nose and come across a tiny little gem of a restaurant serving the freshest local dishes to the locals themselves!
One of the places I did stumble upon during my research was A Cevicheria and as soon as I saw the menu, I knew I had to hunt it down! I love ceviche and this looked like an exciting, new addition to the Lisbon food scene. A Cevicheria is a good 30 minute, uphill walk from the main square and you can’t reserve a table unfortunately but it is absolutely worth the walk and the wait! Look how beautiful it is….
We got there 10 minutes before the doors opened at 12 noon and there were already a couple of people queuing. By the time we left an hour or so later the pavement outside was crammed full of people hoping for a table – but don’t worry the bar is ingeniously positioned next to a window so you can enjoy a drink outside whilst you wait! The place is tiny, just a few tables along one side and then some bar seating – where you can watch all the ceviche action right in front of you!
The food is hands down, out of this world! We all agreed, even my brother A, who doesn’t much like fish! The seafood was unbelievably fresh, the dishes were interesting and creative, lots of flavours perfectly balanced for an incredible taste topped off with gorgeous presentation.
On one of our days, we decided to visit Cascais, a cute seaside resort 30 km west of Lisbon and about 45 minutes on a train. It was a lovely day trip and well worth it to be by the sea and climb some of the amazing rocks (or try at least – I wasn’t quite dressed for the occasion)….
Mum had read about a seafood restaurant in Cascais, Mar do Inferno, perched high above the beach, that she wanted to go to. I’m so glad we did, take a look at this lovely lot! A seafood platter fit for a couple of queens! And washed down with glasses of cold, crisp Portuguese white wine overlooking the sea and waves below us.
I don’t know why but I fell in love with this statue of a sea captain watching over the bay….
If you get time, I’d also recommend jumping on one of the famous trams and visiting Belém, the most south-westernly province of Lisbon and original home to perhaps Lisbon’s most well known delicacy, the ‘pastel de nata’ or egg custard pastry. So yummy!
There are lots of beautiful sights to see in Belem if you’re so inclined – it makes for a perfect way to spend a morning or afternoon in Lisbon.
Other places we visited on our trip:
I didn’t manage to get there on this trip but I really wanted to try the rooftop bar at the Memmo Alfama boutique hotel – let me know if you’ve been! Look at these views, heavenly!
I loved Lisbon, it was a perfect four night city break destination and even though the weather wasn’t boiling hot, as I like it to be, there was still so much to do and see. Lisbon definitely reinforced my love of Portugal, but if I’m totally honest, Porto is still my number one Portuguese city! Watch out for a Porto blog soon!
Tell me, what’s your favourite city break destination?!