Lisbon: cold seas, hot beaches, and Pasteis de Belém

One of our more recent adventures; we went to Lisbon in May of last year. With 6 days to explore the city, we managed to fit in a few day trips to explore the Atlantic coast too. Please note that the Atlantic Ocean is a lot colder than the Mediterranean Sea! I was surprised how much colder it was, compared to the temperature on land. Also the city itself is quite hilly, so you will have amazing legs by the time you go home from all the walking up and down.

This picture was taken from the top of the Miradouro do Parque Eduardo VII, one of my favourite parks of the ones we visited in Lisbon. It was a long, up hill walk from our apartment, but to be honest, that is exactly what I want out of a holiday; a long walk in beautiful weather and a beautiful location.

We stayed in a neighbourhood called Alfama – a beautiful suburb heavily laden with restaurants and fado bars. Fado is a traditional style of singing, usually accompanied by guitar, which is very popular in Lisbon especially. If you are prepared to pay a cover, and for above average price drinks in one of these establishments, then I would recommend it, but we were happy to take a stroll around the streets and listen to each as we passed.

Of the day trips we attempted, two stand out. The first was a train ride to Cascais, and from Cascais, we hired bikes and cycled along the new cycle lane which follows the coastal road. It may sound odd, but on the way out, the strong winds coming off the Atlantic made it almost impossible to cycle forward, or at least quite difficult. A seasoned cyclist would probably have no problems though. We went as far as Guincho, and after exploring down a dirt track, found a small tiki bar, and windsurfing rental place. It was definitely a locals place, as opposed to being for tourists, and it was very relaxed and friendly. We sat and watched the windsurfers for a while, and we did venture down onto the beach, but the wind was so strong, the sand blasted our legs and it hurt! We were relieved to find the cycle home was incredibly easy – it was like cycling downhill the whole way – and we stopped off a lot more to take in all the sites on the way home. There is the Boca do Inferno, or hell’s mouth, which is a large cave you can walk down to, and also many beautiful rock pools along the way – I would say though, be very careful if you want to swim, the sea is so powerful here and you could easily be swept away, or hurled into the rocks.


The second day trip we took was along the same train line as to Cascais; a local we spoke to advised us that Carcavelos was a really beautiful beach, and good for swimming, which we had missed out on on the first trip. We took the 15 minute train ride and we were not disappointed! The beach is beautiful – there were more tourists and holidaymakers here, but you have to expect this at such a beautiful place. The ocean was clear, crisp, and dazzling in the bright summer sun. If you are visiting Lisbon, but also need some beach time in your holiday, I would recommend this place.

On our last day in Lisbon, we also visited the timeout food market on the west side of the city – my advice here would be: arrive early! We got there in the very early afternoon, but many of the traders were already closing up – there were still loads of options though and we had some delicious pizza and bought lots of port – there is an amazing port shop in the market, with bottles of port so old the labels have worn off – some of them are 4/500 years old! I would recommend coming here towards the beginning of your stay, because if you come early in the morning you can get lots of nice fruit and vegetables, and eat for breakfast or lunch too.


If you are going to Lisbon, I hope you have a lovely time! There are lots of other beautiful things to see in Lisbon, like the castle, and the Jeronimos monastery, and the Torre de Belem (which we visited, but decided not to pay the entry for, it was just nice to look at from the outside!) and I would recommend these too – but I thought these tips would be more useful because they are a little off the beaten track.

Do you have any tips for things to do/see in Lisbon?

1 Comment

  1. Such a beautiful city, I lived in Lisbon 2 years 🙂
    If you ever go back make sure to visit Belém. And another nice day trip to do is Sintra 👍


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