Lisbon – and why I love it

There are very few places in the world that I connect with – apart from NYC (obviously). Anyone who knows me well knows about my love for Madrid. I spent some time there years ago and got to know the city fairly well. That – coupled with an amazing study abroad experience – led Madrid to be one of my top three favorite places in the world. Rio follows a close second – offering amazing culture, food and an overall vibe I really love.

I thought I would be hard pressed to find another city that I love as much as Madrid and Rio – until I went to Lisbon.

    Lisbon View (1) Almontes Abroad

Last month, Andy and I traveled to Lisbon. It was his first time there and my second. I had previously been for a weekend as part of the study abroad experience I mentioned above however I barely remembered it – so it might as well been my first time too.

If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know I’m not about seeing all of the touristy sights or visiting every single castle. I travel for culture and for food  – and Lisbon offers both (along with some amazing wine).

Everyone is going to have an opinion about where to stay in Lisbon but we chose a hotel in the Barrio Alto district. It was within walking distance to lots of restaurants and wine bars so there was never a shortage of where to go for a drink or a bite. The area is also well connected – to both the blue and green lines, and the number 28 tram – and, being known for its nightlife, also offers lots to do after the sun sets.

Barrio Alto (4) Almontes Abroad

Tram 28 Lisbon Almontes Abroad

Our hotel was within a 10 minute walk to the Time Out Mercado da Ribeira – which offers a proper food market on one side, and a “foodie hangout” on the other.

Mercado da Ribeira Almontes Abroad

The food in Lisbon has a strong emphasis on seafood (which they do really well). One of the most memorable seafood meals was at a place called Sea Me where Andy got this amazing octopus dish.

SeaMe Octopus Almontes Abroad

(I had an equally amazing shrimp risotto in case anyone was wondering while drooling :-p )

But if you’re not really into seafood, that’s okay because we saw lots of land-food options on the menus as well – our most favorite being the pasteis de nata which is an egg tart pastry. We found amazing ones at Manteigaria which were served warm (like straight out the oven warm) and with either confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon or both. I couldn’t quite figure out if they were meant to be a breakfast pastry or a dessert, so I just them any time of the day.

Pasteis de Nata Almontes Abroad

Portugal is well known for producing great wines so Andy and I took advantage of our trip to Lisbon and took a day-long adventure to the nearby town of Evora. While in Evora, we took a taxi to the nearby Cartuxa winery where we joined a group tour and got to sample some of their delicious wines and olive oils.

Cartuxa Winery (3) Almontes Abroad

Cartuxa Winery (5) Almontes Abroad

Cartuxa Winery Almontes Abroad

But wine tasting wasn’t all we did in Evora, we also visited what is arguable its most famous attraction – the chapel of bones. The chapel is called so because its walls are covered in approximately 5,000 skeletons – all belonging to monks.

Bone Chapel Almontes Abroad

“Our bones that are here await yours”

Bone Chapel (2) Almontes Abroad

Bone Chapel (3) Almontes Abroad

While very cool to see, I must admit it became a bit creepy once I remembered that those skulls and bones actually belonged to people…

And although I’m not a big fan of castles, we couldn’t resist going up to the Castelo de São Jorge to take in the amazing views from the top of the viewpoint

Castelo de S. Jorge Almontes Abroad

Ivonne Murillo Almonte Almontes Abroad

The highlight of the trip though, aside from the winery, was the aquarium. Andy has a fascination with sea creatures and really, really wanted to see the aquarium in Lisbon so we went to check it out. Although I’m not as big a fan of aquariums as Andy, even I must admit the Lisbon aquarium was probably one of the best I’ve been to so far – well worth the price and definitely worth a visit.

Lisbon Aquarium (4) Almontes Abroad

Lisbon Aqaurium (3) Almontes Abroad

Lisbon Aquarium (2) Almontes Abroad

Lisbon Aquarium (1) Almontes Abroad

And that’s just a bit of what we did on that trip and parts of what made me fall in love with Lisbon! It’s a clean, safe and inexpensive city where most people speak English and are happy to help. I strongly suggest anyone visiting Europe should make Lisbon a stop in the itinerary and I, for sure, plan to go back again and again.

So now that I’ve rounded out my top three favorite places in the world, I’m curious, what are yours? Let me know if the comments section below! 

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