A Tale of Two Cities

Overview

A short break after a very stressful exam period, I can say was much needed for me, though it wasn’t a relaxing-on-the-beach kind of break but as per usual, more a exploring-the-city kind of break which I thoroughly enjoy doing. This time round I decided on Lisbon, Portugal mainly because I’ve been meaning to go since about last year when me and my friends had a last minute change of destination to Valencia instead. Being in Lisbon felt like I had been transported years into the past but was somehow still in the present and I can honestly say I’ve never traveled anywhere feeling like that (yet). Lisbon is great mix of the past and the present with its age old trams bustling about the city and its downtown urban vibes, I mean sometimes it felt like I was in two completely different cities!

Attractions

Compared to other cities I’ve been to, Lisbon has lesser monuments and landmarks to visit but that needn’t be a worry because being a city built on seven hills (apparently!), Lisbon definitely makes up for it with its numerous wonderful viewpoints (which they call miraduoro) dotted around the city. These are the best places to just sit – there’s normally food and drink establishments nearby – and bask in the beauty that is Lisbon, whilst sipping on a cold ice tea in the summer breeze and from experience, I highly recommend doing so! If you can, take a trip to the Fado museum to listen and learn about the history of Fado music – the traditional music of the Portuguese.

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View from the Castelo de São Jorge (São Jorge Castle)

The great thing about the attractions in Lisbon is that the majority of them are very affordable so this city can very easily be done on a budget. Here are a few more places I managed to visit and a couple of general tips below to make your trip even better!

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Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge

Tips:

  • You can ride the Santa Justa Lift if you already have a 24 hour transport ticket otherwise it’s €5 per person
  • To get to the very top of the Santa Justa Lift with which you have to climb a few stairs to get to costs an extra €1.50 regardless of whether you have a transport ticket or not
  • During the summer months when crowds are heavy, it’s best to get to places you’re really keen on seeing right when it opens or shortly before
  • Learn basic Portuguese before going! I went right after my exams and didn’t have time to learn even a little bit of Portuguese so outside the central areas it was a slight struggle communicating with the fellow Portuguese

Place to stay

During my trip to Lisbon, I stayed at Al-Ushbuna Hostel & Residence which is a hostel located in Belém. It is definitely hard to fault this hostel as there were so many positives about it. The staff were extremely friendly and spoke adequate English though the main guy at the reception spoke very good English so there was no problems there. The general design of the hostel was really beautiful, as the name tells, it was all Moroccan themed! There were tram stops right outside the hostel that were well connected with central Lisbon and various other tourist attractions. I was awake early every morning and always saw the cleaners giving the communal areas like the showers and the lounge a good clean which is always nice to see, I mean who doesn’t like a clean environment. The hostel itself is very affordable – I paid €40 for a 3-night stay which I think is pretty darn good, especially for one of that quality! The only downside I would say is that the room size itself was a little small, though that didn’t bother me as I was practically first up most of the time so I didn’t really get into any run-ins with other people.

Transport

If there is one thing I love about Lisbon, it has to be their transport links. Lisbon is so well connected by their bus and tram services that I didn’t even have to use the metro once! Though on the other hand, their transport system was definitely not the easiest to understand off the bat, however I will speak for myself on that one. Any troubles can always be directed to the offices inside some of the metro stations, they were a massive help to me and my confusion regarding their Viva Viagem transport cards. If, like me, you’re planning on exploring the city of Lisbon then your best bet would be to invest in one of the Viva Viagem cards which costs €0.50 in addition to the money you’re putting on it or like me, get a 3 day ticket (roughly €24). This gives you unlimited access to their buses, trams and metros during the time you wish to buy.

All in all, I would say that my trip to Lisbon was cut short way too early for me! No worries though, I’ll find my way back in the future, hopefully! I would highly recommend Lisbon to anyone and everyone, be it solo travelers, families, couples etc. It’s such a lovely city that caters to the likes of everyone so if you’re reading this and haven’t been to Lisbon, I hope you’re already planning your next trip here and jotting down some of the tips I’ve mentioned and if you have already been to Lisbon…well there’s no harm visiting again is there?

Deborah x

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