6 hours in Lisbon without a guidebook…

The good thing about having a boyfriend whose parents live in Portugal, is that you get to go visit the aforementioned parents in Portugal! I recently had the pleasure of popping over to mainland Europe with Boyfriend to see the lovely Boyfriend’s parents who live in a little village called Maçãs de Dona Maria near Tomar, around an hour and a half inland from Porto and Lisbon. As if this wasn’t good enough, we flew into Lisbon and had a bit of time to waste as Bboyfriend’s parents weren’t picking us up ’til the evening, meaning we got to explore a little bit… here’s what we got up to when we had 6 hours in Lisbon!

10am: arrive at the airport and wander through arrivals to the main entrance….

We had been reliably told that a taxi to the train station from the airport will cost about 7€- 10€- brilliant, we thought as we ignored the €3.50 pp bus from the airport to the city center and hopped into a nice air conditioned taxi which would supposedly only cost us a few Euros extra for the pleasure. Big mistake! What we hadn’t been told is that this was the price to Oriente Station, which is not where we were going. 25€ later, we parked up outside the very beautiful and centrally located Rossio Station in the heart of centre. Top tip- if there’s only a couple of you, get the Aerobus for 3.50€ each!

One advantage of taking a taxi is that we got some pretty good views of the roadside graffiti in Lisbon. Graffiti artists are turning the derelict buildings in Portugal’s city center into some pretty stunning pieces of art which are great to look at (the Guardian has some great photos of this HERE).

Another beautiful thing to watch out for is the tile art decorating buildings in the city, known as Azulejos. These special types of tiles line the facades of buildings creating some gorgeous patterns and images. If you’re interested in learning about these tiles, a good place to start would be the Museu Nacional do Azulejo which will teach you all about this Portugese art form.

11am: Have a wander through the main square and stop off for a coffee…

After a 5am start and our little taxi disaster we decided, it was definitely time for a coffee and some breakfast. Just around the corner from the Rossio train station is the Rossio square, where you can find a statue of Dom Pedro IV and a fountain that my thoughtful boyfriend tried to push me into. This square is surrounded by little street side cafes, so we grabbed a coffee and people watched for half an hour. Plenty of  street dealers will try to sell you sunglasses while you’re having a drink, and these vendors can be incredible pushy. Don’t show any interest whatsoever or you’ll get hounded throughout your meal- try to avoid eye contact and say ‘nao’ for as long as it takes. You’ll also get offered drugs several times throughout your time in Lisbon, but again, just say no and they should leave you alone. On a more positive note, we loved watching a shoe shiner doing his work in the middle of the street- very old skool!

12pm: Hit the harbour via H&M for some nautical fun…

Branching off from the Rossio square is the picturesque Rua Augusta where you’ll find the well known Rua Augusta Arch. This tall monument was built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the 1655 earthquake, and is visible right from the opposite end of the long street. On this road you’ll find loads of boutiques, shops and restaurants. We pushed the boat out and went to H&M for a new hat and sunglasses (for him) and some nautical-themed pumps (for me), which were very apt as just after the end of this road you’ll find the harbour.

From what I saw of it, Lisbon’s harbour, if I’m completely honest, isn’t full of exciting things to do (correct me if I’m wrong please!), but we did enjoy taking a few snaps of cruise ships and even managed a little portrait of the two of  us- can you tell that it was a bit windy!? Unfortunately at this point the weather was looking a little cloudy and we decided to move on to somewhere indoors to avoid the rain, and started trekking off in search of a cathedral that Boyfriend told me had been destroyed by earthquakes but built again and again.

1pm: In search of things to do…
Leaving the harbour, we felt like doing a little exploring and so walked up some quite steep hills and by accident, managed to stumble upon the cathedral. Ace! It was built in around 1150 and has been damaged by two major earthquakes since- however it has since been rebuilt and fixed a couple of times, and is now a real mixture of different architectural styles. One thing that is quite prominent in this church is the Rose Window which can be seen from the outside of the building but looks much prettier from the inside!


2pm: Fancy a beer?

After we’d seen the Cathedral we decided to head back towards the train station as this is where the Boyfriend’s parents were picking us up later on. On the way downhill  there are quite a few Port shops with some very delicious and very expensive looking bottles of Port inside. We managed to avoid stocking up on this and made our way back to Rossio square for a few beers. This place is a bit of a tourist trap and beer will be expensive but it’s in a nice location so we went ahead and got a few Sagres anyway. Mid- drink, some gypsies came over waving a piece of paper under our noses and stole Boyfriend’s phone in the process. Nightmare! Luckily he noticed this and starting shouting whilst the café owner chucked our unwelcome visitors out, and magically his phone was back on the other side of the table when we left. Disaster averted, but definitely a reminded that you need to be careful with your personal belongings when you travel- don’t leave phones, cameras or wallets out on the table or they’ll be snatched faster than you can say ‘duas cervejas, por favor’.


3pm: Go to the train station via everywhere else!

Time to meet Boyfriend’s parents, so we headed over to the train station to wait for them. Remember the earlier confusion with Oriente station and Rossio station? This was about to happen all over again… We had been told to wait at the entrance to the station by a taxi and bus rank. Fine, we said, as we waited by the taxis (having another beer!) for a while before a phone call asked us where we were. “Erm, we’re here, where are you!?” We were told to walk around the station as apparently there are quite a few entrances and we might be at the wrong one. So we began to walk around the station, only to discover we couldn’t work out how to get to part of it. We ended up on a little trek around the area, attempting to find this taxi rank. Up some hills, no not here, maybe the other side is at the other end of the station? No, not there either. Wait, where are we!?

Another phone call and Boyfriend’s dad discovers we’re actually at the wrong station and it’d take him 40 minutes to reach us. Woops! We decided to head back towards the main road, and en route bumped into the Museu Arqueologico do Carmo, which is an old church turned archeological museum.  This church is on a hill with some fantastic views, which we had the pleasure of finding by accident- from up there, you can really tell why the city of Lisbon’s nickname is the White City.

4pm: Have some more beer…

Eventually we made our way back to the station and decided that after all of our walking, we deserved another beer. Why not, we were on our jollies after all!?

We had a great day exploring Lisbon but it’s a shame we only had a few hours there- this is an amazing cultural city with plenty interesting things to see and do. I’d love to go back and see and see more of the city- Boyfriend, if you’re reading this… will you take me back please?

Sarah x



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