48 hours in Lisboa. Portugal.

My sister and I had endeavoured to spend a 4-day extended weekend in Lisbon, December of 2012. We were traveling from Grenoble, where it had snowed all day and all night. In spite of the snow, the bus taking us to Lyon International Airport left on time. However 20 minutes into the journey, it took a U-turn and dropped us right back where we started. No explanations were given, the bus driver and conductor brought the bus back to the depot, exited and left all the passengers wondering if they should wait, stay or go! Apparently, they expect us to all process inherent mind reading skills.

After waiting for what seemed an eternity, a few passengers became belligerent. On heavy probing we finally found out that the roads were closed due to the snow and would not re-open till the next morning. We had very little time in hand to manipulate since we were to catch a late Friday evening flight to Lisbon and it was already close to 5 pm. We decided to take the train to Lyon and use the airport shuttle from the train station to the departure terminal. We ran over platforms, people and luggage and managed to catch the fastest train we could find to reach with less than 2 hours to spare. The airport shuttle from Lyon took ages to come, so there, sitting at the bus depot, in the rain, we changed / cancelled our bookings to Lisbon. Resigning ourselves to the fate that we were stuck in France for yet another cold and gloomy weekend, checked ourselves into a hotel in Lyon. I’m not sure what propelled us to move the next morning, perhaps the never-ending cold, but we woke up with the same plan, to try to get to Lisbon, again! We spent 4 hours at the Lyon airport waiting for the next flight and finally landed in Lisbon on very late Saturday night.



Lisbon, is a city built on 7 hills, like San Francisco, Amman, Rome, Istanbul, Edinburgh and Bergen. We had 48 hours to explore the city and we honed in on the neighbourhoods to explore –

Chiado, the shopping district perched on a hill, west of Baixa, the central business district.
Barrio Alto, meaning Upper District, can be reached on continuing upwards from Chidao. Barrio Alto, a fundamental quarter of Lisbon, resulting from the urban expansion in the 16th century, is situated outside the walls of the ancient city.
Alfama, the oldest district in Lisbon, whose name comes from the Arabic term Al-hamma. The neighbourhood contains important historical attractions including Fado bars and restaurants.
Belém whose name is derived from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem, is the southwesternmost civil parish of the municipality of Lisbon.

We rented a room in an independent, cute, tiny hotel called Casa do Pátio Lisboa (http://shiadu.com/Portugal/Lisbon/Casa-do-Patio/home#cpatio) located strategically between Barrio Alto and Chidao.

Casa do Pátio

Casa do Pátio

Our room at Casa do Pátio

Our room at Casa do Pátio

Sunday morning, we took the city train to Belém to see the Jerónimos Monastery located near the shore of the parish of Belém. The monastery is one of the most prominent monuments of the Portuguese Late Gothic (Manueline-style) architecture in Lisbon, classified in 1983 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 Jerónimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery

On our way out of Belém, we wanted to stop at Pastéis de Belém, Lisbon’s oldest bakery that started making pasteis in 1837, to pick a few up for our journey back. But the queue outside was so long we decided against it. Pasteis is a Portuguese egg tart pastry, similar to the Chinese egg tarts I am accustomed to eating in Singapore. We spent the rest of the day walking from our hotel, through Chiado and Barrio Alto, going up and down the steep hills and through narrow passage ways.

The Santa Just a Lift, also called Carmo Lift is an elevator in civil parish of Santa Justa, situated at the end of Rua de Santa Justa. It connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo.

The Santa Just a Lift, also called Carmo Lift is an elevator in the civil parish of Santa Justa, situated at the end of Rua de Santa Justa. It connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo

Christmas decorations at Rossio Square

Christmas decorations at Rossio Square

My favourite part of Lisbon has to be their ancient tram system and old tram trains. Tram 28 is a great way to see the old city including Alfama and what we took the next day to get to the Castle of São Jorge. The Moorish castle occupies a commanding hilltop stance overlooking the historic centre of Lisbon and the Tagus river and is a great spot to get a panoramic photograph with the Vasco da Gama bridge in the background.

City view from the Castle of São Jorge

City view from the Castle of São Jorge with the Vasco da Gama Bridge in the  distance

The weather was wonderful, people friendly and so kind, food amazing and after pitchers of port and sangria we did not want to leave! Lisboa, I will most definitely be back.


40 thoughts on “48 hours in Lisboa. Portugal.

  1. Splendid photos – reminds me how much I enjoyed Lisbon and Portugal in general. You mention returning to Portugal, if you didn’t go be sure to check out the Algarve and Lagos in particular – great seafood too. I appreciate your approach to travel and your commentary. I’ll look forward to enjoy more of your posts – bon voyage!

  2. Excellent photography and very interesting narrative. Two years back, I was in Spain and really wanted to go to Portugal, the neighbor, but could not due to lack of time. Your blog inspires me to visit it soon. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Chartreuse & Fondue in the Capital of the Alps. Grenoble. France. « why is a raven like a writing desk?

  4. Great pictures. We loved Lisboa , and especially walking in the winding climbing streets in Alfama. We went the end of November and were able to stay in lovely hotels at a reasonable price as it was not tourist season!

  5. Simply wonderful post! I love your photos, and you really convey the feeling of Lisboa and it’s soul… I’ll be coming back to your blog! Love, Charlotte

  6. i Love this post. So beautifully explained with beautiful pictures and descriptions attached with the same. Thank you for stopping by on my blog. Enjoy the weekend.

      • You are welcome. I saw forty countries and didn’t take enough pictures. I wish I did. Photos make the beautiful places a permanent memory in a book. We can observe at will.

      • Oh wow! 40! I’m jealous .. But yep, photographs capture a moment and a place so well.. There are many wonderful places I’ve been to, and like you, haven’t taken any photographs 😦

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