This is the second half of my post on Portugal. If you missed the first one you can find it here.
We stayed the night in Porto, but woke up early to catch the bus to Lisbon. The drive takes 3 hours, and we wanted a full day in Lisbon. The round trip cost us 36 euros. We arrived in Lisbon just before noon, and our first stop was the Belém Tower. This tower was built the in the early 1500s. You can tour inside the tower for 6 euros per person, but there was a significant wait time and we didn’t want to lose our day waiting in line. We settled for photos in front of the tower, then continued along the coast of Belém.
As we headed east, we came across the Monument to the Discoveries. This monument is 52 metres tall, and commemorates the five hundredth anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator. It overlooks the coast, alongside the 25th April Bridge (named for the date of the overturn of the dictatorship in 1974). It was designed by the same company as the Golden Gate Bridge, and for those familiar with the San Fransisco landmark, the 25th April Bridge bears quite a resemblance.
Next on our list was Pastéis de Belém, a café famous for its pastéis de nata (egg custard tart pastry). The walk was only 10 minutes from the Monument to the Discoveries. There is a pedestrian underpass that passes Avenida da India. We followed this route to the café. The café was busy, with a line outside the building. We waiting in the line until we finally got into the café. While this may not be the best choice for pastéis de nata in terms of atmosphere (the café has become a very popular tourist destination and is often very busy). The pastries themselves were absolutely delicious, though. We thought they were worth the wait.
After the café stop for lunch, we took an Uber to Estrela Basilica. We stepped into the church and found a choir performing inside. The acoustics were hauntingly beautiful, so we sat in the pews and stayed a while. After marvelling at the ethereal sound filling the church, we waited for the streetcar. However, the wait time was longer than we had hoped so we ended up taking an Uber to Lisbon’s Praça do comércio.
We walked through the square, admiring the young dance crew performing for tourists in the centre of the plaza. We walked out to the edge of the water and took photos again, this time from the opposite side of the 25th April Bridge and across from the Sanctuary of Christ the King monument on the other shore. This statue was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. Then we began to tour Baixa on foot.
The tile work and stone paths in Lisbon are a work of art. Make sure to leave time to admire the architecture in the city, especially the Portuguese tiles.
Our last stop in the city was BytheWine, a bar specializing in wines. We were here for one wine in particular, vinho verde. As someone who doesn’t know much about wine, nor is particularly fond of it, I have to say that vinho verde is by far my favourite of any wine I’ve tried.
After some snacks and the vinho verde, it was time to catch the bus back to Porto and get a few hours sleep before arriving at the airport. We caught our bus at the Oriente Train Station, which is surprisingly a sight in itself. We took the 3 hour ride home, and collapsed into bed for about 2 hours before getting back up and taking an Uber to the airport.
Overall, we found it was doable to see both cities in two days, through I would have loved to have more time in both. I loved Portugal and I am counting the days until I can go back and hopefully see some more of its beautiful cities.