Portugal Under a Time Crunch

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Hi There,

Hope you all are doing great and enjoying the summer. Today I wanted to post about one of my favorite countries – Portugal and how to spend 2 days there. I had clubbed my Portugal trip along with Spain and since I was traveling to Europe from the US, the number of vacation days I had were limited. Nevertheless, I tried to make the best out of it and I was able to see some of the most beautiful and mesmerizing places I’ve ever seen here. Read my travel guide below for more information.

Tips for visiting Lisbon:

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  1. Lisboa Card – Do purchase the Lisboa card. It turned out to be very economical for us to get a 24 hour card in order to visit the main city attractions as it also includes tram rides.
  2. Eat the Pastries – The food in Portugal was very bland for my taste, but the pastries were delicious.
  3. Travel by the Trams – They’re so much fun and you can view the city in a fun way.
  4. Listen to Fado Music – Lisbon is popular for its Fado artists and music. Much recommended during your visit.
  5. Try the Ginja shots – These are some sort of alcohol shots sold on the streets. We loved it so much we bought a couple of bottles home.

Day 1: Lisbon (Lisboa)

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I flew into Lisbon in the morning and after dropping off my luggage at the my Air B and B host’s place I was all set to explore this majestic city. One thing you will notice about Lisbon is that the streets have some pretty cool graffiti. Every alley I walked into had something unique. Also, the city has some gorgeous buildings. They me feel like I am in some other era. Full of charm and elegance, I had a lovely time here.

1.Rossio and Comercio Square

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The very heart of Lisbon. A beautiful square full of cafe’s and restaurants with outdoor seating. You can start your day here by getting coffee at the Starbucks and then just walk around and click some pictures before the city snaps into action. This square is also the central connecting hub for the trains to Sintra and the trams to Alfama.

2. Rua Augusta

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This is basically an Arch like historical building and is adorned with statues of various historical figures. One of Lisbon”s main attractions, it’s right on the Comercio Square.

3. Jeronimos Monastery

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Cost: 10

This is a beautiful monastery located in the Belem district near the Tagus river. You can take the tram (15 E) from Comercio Square towards Alges to get here and get off at Belem.

4. Discoveries Monument

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Cost: Free or 3 (if you use the elevator)

A fun monument in the Belem district. It has a  historical map of the world at it entrance and has views of Lisbon from the top. The stairs are free but you will have to pay for the elevator. Personally, I din’t find this super appealing as the bridge I could see from the top of the tower resembled the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco and din’t entice me as such. I would suggest take pictures by the world map and enjoy walking around in this area.

5. Belem Tower/ Torre De Belem

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Cost: 6

This is about a 10 minutes walk from the monument. This tower was a fun visit. It was originally a fortress to guard the entrance to the Lisbon harbor.  You can climb the tower and look into the dungeons from when it was a military prison.

5. Pastels De Belem

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The yummiest pastries I’ve ever tried in my life. There was a  long line here to get in at any point but totally worth it 🙂

6. Alfama

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This is the oldest district of Lisbon and comes from the Arabic name “Al-hamma” meaning “hot fountains”. It was very unique full of historical attractions, Fado bars and restaurants. I absolutely loved walking around the hilly slopes and getting lost in the alleys. The hike up to St.George had some gorgeous cobbled streets, views of the city and small bars where you could hear Fado music.

7. Castle of St. George

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I highly recommend visiting this when you’re in Lisbon. It’s a Moorish castle on a hilltop in the Alfama district of the city. It was previously a military fortress and the citadel dates back to the Medieval period of Portuguese history. Make sure you get here on time (before sundown) as it has some gorgeous views of sunset. They give you a map at the entrance which you can follow to walk around.

8. Alcantara-Mar’s Docas

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You can stay for drinks at one of it’s bars or clubs or if you want to listen to Fado, go back to Alfama and check out one of it’s Fado houses. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even head to the Lapa’s “Senhor Vinho” considered by many to be one of the city’s best Fado venue. Keep in mind you will have to take the tram to get here and this place is in a residential neighborhood and is a “local favorite”.

Day 2: Sintra

You can take the train from Rossio Square which directly gets to Sintra. This is a city full of castle’s and palaces and made me feel like I had stepped into a fairy-tale. I could only image what it would’ve felt like living here back in the day.

How to get here:

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The train stop is in the same building as Starbucks and there is a service every 20 minutes with the first train at 7 AM and the last one at 11 PM. The journey takes about 40 minutes and a return (round-trip) ticket is €4.30 (tariff 2016). Visit this website for train schedules. Once in Sintra, a one day ticket for €7.00 can be brought at the Sintra station which allows you to get on and off at all the main attractions. Bus #434 takes a circular route from the Sintra station to the various attractions. The bus runs daily every 40 minutes between 10:20 AM and 5:15 PM. If you have time, you can even visit the city of Cascais while coming back to Lisbon. Since I live in California, this fishing village did not interest me as such, so I skipped it.

1.The National Palace (Palacio Nacional De Sintra)

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This is a Moorish Palace which is more than thousand years old and was a property of the Portuguese crown after the conquest of the city by the first king of Portugal. The tapestry has influences from various cultures over the centuries and the walls have some intricate carvings which speaks about the history of the place.

Cost: €9.00 (Buy Online)

2. Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros Moors)

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This is a hilltop medieval castle located in Sintra. It has some hike to reach up to the castle and to explore the premises, so I strongly recommend you wear comfortable shoes for this visit. This was again a military fort overlooking the city. I believe they were constructed on hilltops so that the soldiers could guard the city against invasions back in the day. But man, they had some gorgeous views from up there. Also, if you go up the stairs on one side, you have some beautiful views of the Pena Palace from here. It can even serve as a great rest area after all that hike.

Cost: €7.00 (Buy Online)

3. Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena)

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The last but not the least – this was the highlight of my trip to Sintra. This castle is again located on a hilltop but it has a very unique architecture and style. It represents 19th century romanticism. This was mainly a summer residence for the Portugese royal family (talk about being spoilt ;)).

Cost: €13.50 (Buy Online)

So this is how I spent my 2 days in Portugal and tried to make the most out of it. I would love to hear your comments and see if there was something else that you liked or disliked on your visit to this wonderful city.

Here are some more pictures from my visit 🙂

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Fun graffiti in one of the alleys in Lisbon
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Posing in front of one of the many charming and colorful buildings in Lisbon
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Such colorful and fun rides in the city
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Enjoying the fun tram ride at night
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Another shot of the Jeranimos Monastery
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Another view of the city from the Discoveries Momument
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Me at the Pena Palace
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Pretty mansion spotted from one of the castles


Thank you for stopping by and hope you liked my post. Let me know if you visited something fun that I missed out here 🙂




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