Portugal is fast becoming one of my favourite countries. I had my first taste of Portugal when I went to Lagos, now I’ve returned to the capital of the country to get an authentic taste of the real Portuguese culture.
I went for a weekend away with a friend and we made it our mission to see and eat as much as we can. Alas, there was too much to see and do, and unfortunately I didn’t get to see a few things I wanted, but most of it were other castles and I guess seeing one was enough to get the picture of the Portuguese history.
We started our day 1 with making our way to Sintra, which is 1 hour away up North of Lisbon by train. It is worth the journey there as it’s in the mountains and the town itself is very humble. You can easily spend the entire day there exploring the three main castles. We only had time to see the main Pena Castle as the entry lines for the castles started growing rapidly throughout the day.
From Sintra station we ubered our way to the castle which only cost €7. Uber is great in Portugal by the way, it was our main mode of transport and it’s very reasonably priced, and in some group sizes it can be cheaper than public transport!
After purchasing a ticket to enter the castle, it will set you back around €13, you are free to roam around the castle, taking in all of its views and history.
Pena castle was built in the 13th century, after Our Lady of Pena, it was used as a monastery by the monks before it turned into a summer palace for the royal family. Pena castle is now part of the UNESCO world heritage list and it is one of the most popular attractions in Portugal.
You can not take a bad photo of Pena Castle, it’s impossible.
The architecture of the castle is said to be romanticism with its bright colours and fine detailing both exterior and interior, but when you look closer you can also see that it was sea inspired. Like something out of a Disney movie!
You can see the Moorish Castle from the viewing deck of Pena Castle.
Interiors of the castle.
Pena is situated on the top of the mountain, but the walk up isn’t so bad when you have views like this parkland!
After our Pena visit we decided to tick another city off our list – Cascais, which is a little coastal town 15mins drive from Sintra.
It would be the last time I would feel the sand and be near the sea for a long time!
Cascais also has a wonderful farmers’ market, including a fresh seafood restaurant.
The BEST grilled octopus I’ve ever had in my life!
After our long day we caught the train back to Lisbon and explored more of our local area.
For dinner we headed out to the famous Time Out food Market. Which in my opinion was overrated – especially having tasted the best grilled octopus which was one of Portugal’s national dishes. The food hall was mainly aimed at tourists, you won’t find locals eating here – which is a clear sign you will most likely find better food elsewhere.
But we tried to eat as much local Portuguese dishes as possible.
Portuguese tarts also known as Pastel de Nata, are sold everywhere and are delicious, I can eat these all day!
We headed back to our airbnb to get ready for our night out in Lisbon, which has a great atmosphere! We stayed local in Bairro Alto where there are lots of trendy bars and clubs.
View from our airbnb the next morning.
We went exploring the main town of Lisbon the next day and took a tram ride around the city. We quickly discovered how walkable everything was and how easy it was to get around.
We didn’t get a chance to check out the ruin church as it was closed on Sundays, but I would recommend it for anyone else who is going there!
A tea break at a rooftop bar – Terraco Ba, view of the Golden gate bridge (copy of it) and also a smaller version of the Christ Redeemer.
You can’t go to Lisbon without experiencing their famous tram rides around the city.
Portugal is known for their pastries, make sure you leave room for dessert!
And of course the famous Rua Augusta Arch, from the back.
View from the front.
We thoroughly enjoyed our Lisbon experience and no doubt will return one day! I came home weighing a little bit more than I should, but at least my belly was happy.