Lisbon & Cascais

I last visited Lisbon in my mid twenties travelling there by motorbike and it was somewhere I always wanted to go back to. So I decided to take a city break to the city though we have had travel chaos this year, maybe it would go ok if I was lucky.

My journey there was difficult. Though getting to Manchester Airport went smoothly, my Ryanair flight was delayed 5 hours, and I spent a weary 8 hours in the airport not knowing if I was even going to get out of the UK. Finally though at 11pm the plane arrived and we took off. The passengers were not happy.

The next morning though, waking in my lovely apartment by the Museu de Marioneta on the west side of the city and heading out into the beautiful Lisbon streets around there, it all seemed worth it.

Lisbon is a city of hills but you can walk along the Tejo river side if you don’t want to tackle them initially. The center of town is around the Praca do Comercio with its beautiful yellow buildings surrounding the square. The river bank on the southern side of the square was busy with tourists enjoying the sunshine.

To the north of the river the hills begin, and on my second day I would walk up to the Bairro Alto area. Known for its nightlife, in the day it is quiet and the streets are enjoyable to walk around. If you don’t want to walk up there, there are trams, funiculars or escalators to get to the top. You can then walk back down.

To the east of Bairro Alto in the valley between Bairro Alto and the hill of the St Jorge Castle is the shopping area of Chiado where there are many department stores and restaurants.

The castle hill is to the north east of the Praca do Comercio next to the famous Alfama district. The Alfama is one the oldest parts of town with its streets having a maze like arabic feel. There are many interesting buildings to find there.

Up on the hills there are many viewpoints that give panoramic views across the city. In the Bairro Alto there is Miradouro de Santa Catarina looking south, and looking east the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. Each hilly area will have its own viewpoints to search out.

Many Lisbonites take their exercise along the banks of the Tejo. With lots of runners and cyclists in the morning before the sun gets too hot, then in the early evening. The views from the river path are spectacular with views across to the other bank, the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge to the west and Monument to Christ the King on the far side modelled on the famous hilltop statue in Rio.

Around Lisbon there are various places to make day trips to. I chose to visit Cascais at the end of the train line west along the coast. The journey is about 40 minutes and you pass the Belem Tower and go under the bridge before passing Estoril, another potential stop off point.

Cascais is a beautiful sea side town and rivals the towns of the Algarve. It has several great beaches, lots of restaurants, a small castle, beautiful old streets and a marina. Walking to the west of the town take you to the Boco do Inferno, a large cave in the cliffs which in high seas the waves rush through creating a ferment of water smashing against the rocks. It was quieter when I visited but still worth a look and there were some good small restaurants to get lunch at nearby.

Also worth a mention is the lighthouse of Santa Marta. Set next to an sea inlet it is a pleasant place to stop off at and you can swim in the inlet and swim under the road bridge by the Mirador Casa de Santa María.

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