I never thought I could fall in love with something as quickly as I did with Lisbon Portugal. And it certainly didn’t start out that way. Our experience with Portugal was less than ideal to begin with or end with, but the middle was so, so sweet.
How to spend an amazing afternoon in
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Written by: Stephanie
8 hour Lisbon Itinerary
Pete and I found ourselves in Lisbon with about 8 hours of daylight to kill and wanted to make the most of the unexpected “set back.” On the way to our hotel we got on Google and began searching “cool things to do in Lisbon” and ended up with a good starting list. We figured we’d head out and see what happened.
Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa
I will start here at the hotel. We were put up by American Airlines at the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa and were not disappointed. It is about 15 minutes by car from the airport, very central, and within walking distance to many things. I shockingly did not take any photos of the room, but it, the bathroom, and view was incredible. The wall between the sleeping area and bathroom was glass, there was an enormous bathtub, beautiful modern finishes, and a separate area with a frosted glass slider door that housed the toilet.
The hotel lacks that beauty on the outside, however. It is about 25 floors with a rooftop restaurant. The outside is concrete with a large Sheraton sign – the bonus to this is it is very easy to spot from afar. We didn’t venture too much off of the main drag with the expensive shops (Avenida da Liberdade), but we still used our hotel as a landmark to know that we were headed home in the right direction.
I want to say it was about 3:00 when we were ready to leave the hotel and head out exploring. Like I said, Lisbon was an unexpected trip so we did not have the slightest idea as to what to do in town. On the ride over we were rapidly searching Trip Advisor, Google, and Yelp for options. We picked up a map from the hotel and glanced at the highlighted images of “must-dos” and then headed out in the direction of the water (Tagus River.)
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Walking through Lisbon
Walking around the city is simply wonderful. There are beautiful tree-lined streets, so many statues, benches, adorable homes and storefronts, and cafe galore.
From the hotel, walk down Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo towards Parque Eduardo VII. Parque Eduardo VII is a 26-hectare park that heads the high-end shopping area. Fancy stores like Cartier, Burberry, and Armani line the exclusive street.
On the opposite side, you’ll find beautiful places like this. If those are houses, I want one.
Stop at any number of the adorable cafes along the way for a snack. This ham sandwich might be one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten in my life. I don’t know if the meat is parma ham or prosciutto or something totally different? It is so thin it literally melts in your mouth.
After a little sandwich (like my mother in law says “Lemme make you just a little sandwich”), keep heading towards the river.
Eventually, you’ll run into Praca Do Commercio which is Lisbon’s largest plaza. There was a running event going on so the place was uber busy. One of the first things you’ll see is a cool statue of King Jose I. And really pretty trolly cars.
Find a place to sit and enjoy the waterfront. One of my favorite hobbies is people watching and this area did not disappoint.
Afterward, make your way to the neighborhood called Alfama.
Sigh. I was pretty much begging Pete to just let me stand here all night. I mean for real.
Lisbon, you prettyyyy.
Lovely little windows and doors tucked away in the corner.
Spend some time or a lot of time up here gazing off into the distance contemplating how great life is. The air is lovely and refreshing and it’s a wonderful place to relax. Maybe have another tea or coffee at a cafe?
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Lisbon Cathedral & Panteao Nacional
Alfama is very close to both the Lisbon Cathedral and the Panteao Nacional. The Lisbon Cathedral is a beautiful Catholic church that is the Archdiocese of Lisbon and the oldest church in town. Construction on the Cathedral began in the 1140s! Every time I travel I am always amazed at the number of monuments and buildings that have remained solid for so many years.
The Panteao Nacional used to be a church but was fairly recently converted over to the national pantheon. It was closed when we were there, but during the day it is open for tours. Also, there is a street side flea market that sets up in the area, but they were tearing down when we passed through.
We sat around for a long time on the steps talking and taking photos and videos of each other. It was starting to get a bit late and we were tired (we’d been up since 3 AM for our flight from Morocco) so we made our way back through the town.
My Lisbon love affair
I think what we loved most about Lisbon was how comfortable and familiar it felt. Pete even said he would have to learn Portuguese, but he’d move to Lisbon!
We’d just spent a week in Morocco being taken completely out of our comfort zones and Lisbon was the opposite. It felt like home. I remember walking down the street right after we left the hotel and taking a deep breath and instantaneously feeling myself relax.
We were constantly comparing Lisbon to other cities we’ve been to. We both felt that it was the perfect mash of San Francisco with the trolleys, waterfront, and the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge which looks like a mini Golden Gate.
It also felt so European, mainly Italian. Much of the historic part of Lisbon were old winding cobblestone streets, beautiful grand cathedrals, adorable street cafes with their incredible scents of coffee and pastries. The atmosphere was comfortable, people were out sitting on the benches or at the fountains just enjoying themselves and each other.
Lisbon certainly ranks highly on my list of places I’ve been and I cannot wait to get back soon! I don’t know that I would give the airport another chance, but I would plan to fly into another city and commute over to Lisbon.
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Founder of Packing for Plenty in July 2017. Along with her husband, Pete, she is on a mission to visit most countries. And wants to take y’all along as well! On PFP Steff provides travel itineraries ranging from a weekend trip nearby to 2 weeks living abroad like a local…detailed destination specific travel tips that aren’t readily available elsewhere…and unique and interesting bucket list worthy experiences.