Lisbon Old and New

With our stay in Lisbon lasting little over 48 hours, Mum and I decided to make the most of our only full day of exploring. We managed to get our bearings on Day 1 (read about that here), so after a swift coffee and slice of toast in our Air Bnb apartment – below was the view from our terrace – we headed out the door, backpacks on and cameras fully charged.

We made a beeline for the Alfama district. Its the city’s oldest neighbourhood and consists of countless winding streets up from the estuary to the castle. Before the 13th century, Alfama lay outside the city walls, and was home to the capital’s poorest residents. Its history is one of squalor and deprivation, but today it has been injected with a sense of rejuvenation and there’s plenty of culture to absorb.

Slowly but surely, we climbed our way to the top of the hill – only later did we realise that a public lift would have whizzed us up in seconds – taking in the scenery. The walk is worth it for the beautiful colours, street art and real character.

At the top you’re rewarded with possibly the best views Lisbon has to offer. Terracotta rooftops stretch as far as the eye can see and we got our first view of the 25 de Abril bridge spanning the Tagus estuary.

You have to go into the castle grounds (€8.50 for an adult ticket) to see this, and besides from the views, the castle itself is pretty unremarkable; walking around the grounds makes for a nice stroll but there’s a lack of information available and it’s quite bare.

With our feet back down on firm ground, our stomachs told us it was time for food. And how to you get from up in the hills to the seafront? Why, you take the tram of course!

Very jolty but an absolute must, the trams are the most picturesque way to travel around the city. They’ve been modernised slightly but by and large remain rickety. They get absolutely jam packed on the pinch points on the route and sometimes you’ll have to wait for a couple to go past before you can jump on.

Our destination was the Time Out Food Market, a favourite among tourists and Lisboans alike. Twin cast iron structures near the Cais do Sobre train station are home to fresh fruit/veg/fish in one, and vibrant food stalls in the other.

There is any type of food you could want – burgers, tapas, fish, croquetas… The stalls are strangely uniform in their signage and colour schemes but all the more reason for you to get up close and inspect them yourself.

The beauty of it is you can opt for a whole array of the offerings and come back to the communal tables in the middle with your selection. Everyone’s a winner!

The ‘pregos’ – Portuguese beef sandwiches – from here, were a real highlight but there are so many others I would try when I go back (Marisqueira Azul, Balcão da Esquina and Trincas to name but a few). There are lots of seafood stalls and some more fine dining options too; the city’s best chefs come here to showcase their food to an audience who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to try it. Have a look at the full range of options here – great pictures of exciting new food which will make you want to go as soon as you step foot off the plane.

We popped in the next day for a quick snack and both had sardines on toast (delicious).

You just can’t beat these place for exciting new food in Lisbon. It’s a must – go!

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