12 hours in Lisbon
You’re searching for an easy, affordable and memorable weekend escape? Well, look no further because I’ve just come back from Lisbon with a suitcase of suggestions and sunny photos for you. The city has a track record of being overflown with affection from Travelettes and we’ve written many words about its timeless seaside beauty, stunning street art and its numerous opportunities for a jolly good time while playing around with your camera.
But what if you only have one day in the Portuguese wonderland before hopping on a plane or train to another destination? Let’s assume that other destination is called Porto or Madrid and not some grey office. You’re with me? Awesome, let’s make the most of those 12 hours then.
Sorry if that’s a bit early ladies, but it’s gonna be a packed day! DeliDelux is a supermarket and outdoor cafe right next to the sea in east Lisbon. Their weekend brunch is exhaustive, brizzling with fresh flavours and super affordable. You get to enjoy a huge plate of food while dreamily staring towards the ocean (don’t worry, we’ll jump into the waves in the afternoon) and watch big ships enter and leave the harbour. DeliDelux makes a great place to come to terms with the fact that it will be a grand day. You can get your hands on local souvenirs in the supermarket, stock up on some sweets and be fully prepped to hit the road.
11am: Castelo de São Jorge
If you head back to the city centre and keep walking parallel to the ice-blue sea, your eyes will be treated to the most impressive street art. I was gonna suggest to re-locate the pieces into the MoMa but then their random authenticity and surprise factor would go so let’s keep them gracing Portuguese buildings. The São Jorge castle may or may not be the biggest tourist destination in town but for once that is for a good reason. The 360° views are more than picturesque and you can spend hours playing hide and seek in the ruins or kidding with the old statues. (If you hadn’t noticed yet, we’re ignoring public transport today because 12 hours are too short and way too sunny to be spent on underground carriages.)
1pm: A outra face da lua
This vintage shop, tea room and bistro on Rua da Assumcao is the ideal place to take a seat, sip way too much fresh lemonade and stock up on your vintage wardrobe because, let’s face it, it would be an outright sin to not bring home some souvenirs in the shape of bags or blouses. The staff is friendly, always up for a chat or a quick lesson in Portuguese and the shops’ central location (vintage shop and cafe are opposite each other) makes for some excellent people-watching.
2pm: Beach vibes in Cascais
I promised you some beach time earlier, so let’s hop on a train to Cascais and hit the waves. The train from Cais do Sodre departs every few minutes and a return ticket is only about €4. Follow the crowds to the beach (or alternatively, walk along the coast and find your own secret spot), put down your towel and play Nicki Minaj’s Starships (thank me later for that exquisite taste in music) and don’t forget the sunscreen. When I ran into the waves (and froze for a second because damn you Mr Atlantic Ocean, y u so cold in May!?), I swam towards the distant rocks, sat on one and figured that this life is ridiculous. Ridiculously beautiful. While still on that adrenaline high, some Portuguese folks tried to establish a romantic connection with “Yo snow-white” (me) because I am indeed as pale as your bedroom wall. I would have high-fived them and drowned and but that would have left me unable to try the ice cream at Santini Cascais. These guys do the genuinely best gelato in the area and deserve all love in the world for their creations.
5pm: Parque Eduardo VII
If you neither fell asleep on the beach in Cascais (with snow-white skin suddenly looking very red) for a few hours nor do your legs feel like they will fall off any second, I’d highly recommend walking up towards Parque Eduardo VII. It’s naturally quite uphill and north, so it might be worth to jump on a quick train for it. The views are great but you’ve pretty much seen the city from the castle already, so it’s not an absolute must.
8pm: Dinner at Restaurante Mesa Kreol
We literally stumbled across this place because the club we wanted to go to was too cool to accept people without reservation (!) that day. I’m glad that happened though because the food at Restaurante Mesa Kreol was to die for and I’m not sure if the owners ever welcomed anyone who wasn’t from the area which is always a good sign.
Plus: Because this place is so packed (with both locals and tourists!) and all food being genuinely home-made, service can take a tad longer. So please don’t go there if you feel like you will soon die of starvation (which of course was us, hence there’s only one picture of the entire night, ha!), but expect to spend the first hour getting tipsy on their beautiful house wine or having a flirt with the hot musician that is entertaining the crowd with smoky, traditional tunes.
Got a taste for Lisbon? The best way to spend a night (or 10) in this city is not by booking yourself into a hotel but through booking an apartment. That way you get to the full-on local experience and save some money in the process that is better invested in lovely dinners and cabrides to the beach!
All photos by Caroline Schmitt