When deciding where to escape first for the summer, as it often happens in our household, we started making a list. But as soon as we added Lisbon to our list, we stopped… This. Was. It!
With a flight that is only marginally longer than the Melbourne to Brisbane route, we were suddenly transported to a whole other world, much of it resembling a gone-by era of Arabian opulence mixed with Roman courtyards and sun-drenched streets. And those tiles!!! All I wanted to do was bring home a bunch of them to line the outside of our house back in Melbourne. What an upgrade that would be from its current grey and beige facade!
Of course our little man had other ideas. It was his first flight since we moved to Paris and then as we arrived into the city, he saw trams and naturally put two and two together. “We’re home, Mummy?”. Oh no Sahil… we’re definitely not in Melbourne anymore!
We left an almost empty Paris and arrived in a city that seemed to be on a perpetual night out. People everywhere including babies and kids (clearly bedtime routines had been thrown out the window), trams jam-packed even late into the night and a general hustle and bustle that hummed well into the early hours. And we could see why… such a gorgeous city with so much to do, you really wouldn’t want to waste a minute inside.
From exploring the ruins from the 1755 earthquake (Carmo Convent and the Roman Amphitheatre) to losing ourselves in the tiny streets of the Alfama district or just staring out from the banks of the Tagus River at Praça do Comércio, Lisbon was a treat for the eyes and pure joy for the soul. Every corner delights, even those that are up a steep hill and people were by far one of the friendliest we’ve come across. Even our little man who fell ill a couple of days before our vacation and was hopped up on antibiotics during our stay there, was such a trooper and made the most of the opportunity, taking everything in from the sights to the smells to the sounds.
Where we loved to stay: We booked an AirBnB apartment in the city centre near Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathederal). We were walking distance to most places and had a tram stop literally at our doorstep!
How we loved to get around: Tuk Tuks! Super fun and convenient in getting us up hills and narrow streets. While you can only book a Tuk Tuk for a private tour, it was well worth it to have a local show you around for a couple of hours at your own pace in your very own Tuk Tuk!
Our must-have app in Lisbon: My Taxi! Taxis are super affordable in Lisbon but hailing one randomly can be a challenge and you just never know whether you’re actually getting a legit taxi. We booked all our taxi rides via the app and each time we were greeted by drivers who were friendly and wonderfully helpful, plus no matter where we were, we never had to wait for more than 6-7 mins for a taxi to arrive. The app works similar to Uber but no one’s judging anyone and you can pay the taxi driver directly (no need to link your credit card details).
Little man’s favourite experience: HIPPOtrip – the bus that becomes a boat! It’s so touristy but we had such a great time exploring other parts of the city (including the penthouse of Cristiano Ronaldo) and then taking a mini cruise on the river. Thanks to this amphibious vehicle, Sahil’s distress of travelling on water is now a thing of the past.
Where we loved to shop: While Rua Augusta is a great place to get all your shopping done all at once, it mainly houses your usual international brands. But if you keep walking up towards Sé de Lisboa, tucked away in beautiful old buildings, you’ll find little galleries and boutiques. My favourite find was Bird on a Wire where I managed to nab a vintage cream tiered linen skirt at a fab price!
Where we loved to eat: Food in Lisbon is AMAZING and you really can eat anywhere! Totally spoilt for choice, we loved the vegetarian cafe Graça 77 in the Graça neighbourhood and Gelato Therapy on Rua da Madalena to get flavour hits like Vanilla with Basil and Lemon with Rosemary! Yum! And of course egg tarts from any of the bakeries, any time!!