I had the opportunity to visit Lisbon, Portugal for a work trip last month. I like to take every opportunity I can to travel so I decided to use any free time to explore Lisbon. I flew in a day early and stayed an extra day to take time exploring the city!
I was a little sad to be in Lisbon without Ke but I always wanted to make the most of this trip. I always have to push myself past my comfort zone when traveling solo or else risk never leaving my hotel. While researching things to do in Lisbon, I read about a few food and wine walking tours and thought this was the perfect opportunity to explore the city, meet some interesting people, and avoid eating alone.
Food and Wine Walking Tour
After researching many options, I booked this tour. As soon as I dropped off my things at the hotel, I headed to the meetup spot. I knew immediately that this had been a good idea. The group was a small group of 10 and I quickly got to know the other travelers from Canada, US, and the UK.
Our tour guide was a Lisbon local and begin taking us to food and wine spots around Pedro Square. With food and wine flowing, we all quickly bonded and had such a great time! Here are some of the things we tried:
- Sardines, jams, cheeses
- Fried codfish
- Lots of wine
- A mini dinner with sausages, eggs, breads, wine and more
- Finished the tour with Portuguese cherry liquor
Sao Jorge Castle
In the evening, I continued to wander around Lisbon. I decided to check out Sao Jorge Castle after the recommendations from people on my tour. I was told the castle had one of the best views of the city. Due to the long summer days, I had plenty of time to walk up the hills and make it to the castle an hour before closing.
Lisbon really reminded me of San Francisco. The streets were hilly and the weather was absolutely amazing. From the top of the castle you could even see the 25 de Abril Bridge which has a striking resemblance to the Golden Gate Bridge. I highly recommend hiking up here to view the sunset!
On day two, I continued to wander around the city. I wanted to buy some unique souvenirs so I decided to check out Embaixada, an old Arabic palace remodeled to include a restaurant and local boutique shops.
Afterwards I headed to Praça do Comércio and grabbed pastries and ice cream. I think Lisbon is a great city to just wander around and explore the tiny streets and hills. People are very polite and many people speak English, especially in the touristy districts, so I had no trouble getting around and ordering food.
Sintra and Pena Palace Tour
I had such a great time with my first tour that I decided to do another one the next day with the same tour company, Inside Lisbon. I didn’t want to spend the whole day on a tour so I picked a half day tour to Sintra and Pena Palace. I thought I couldn’t possibly get a better tour guide than before but I was so wrong.
The tour consisted of me and 3 sisters who were on a family trip. We quickly bonded and had such a blast with our tour guide, He took us on a personal tour through Pena Palace (which was not included in the price of the tour) and then took us on a detour after Sintra to show us more of Portugal! When he found out I wouldn’t have time to see Belem tower before my flight out he even took another detour and drove me over!
When we were heading back to Lisbon, our tour guide pointed out a few things that we should do if we still had time in Lisbon. He mentioned LxFactory, a warehouse district that was filled with art, shops, and great restaurants. Instead of heading back to Lisbon, we all decided to hop off and just head straight there! We hugged our tour guide profusely and I then spent more time with these 3 great women. We explored LxFactory, grabbed dinner, and basically shared our life stories before finally parting ways.
Sunset at Belem Tower
After saying goodbye to some of the best strangers I’ve ever met, I decided to hop on a bus to see Belem tower up close. I unfortunately headed here late in the day so I didn’t have a chance to try the famed pastries at Pastéis de Belém. I did get a peak of Jerónimos Monastery on my way to Belem tower. Both of these are a must do if you have the time.
I got incredibly lucky with the weather and caught one of the most beautiful sunsets while at the same time avoiding the tourists that come during the day.
Despite sometimes feeling lonely when traveling solo, it’s always worth it in the end. When solo, I am forced out of my comfort zone and always end up meeting the nicest people I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I can’t wait to come back with Ke and explore more of beautiful Portugal 🙂
This post contains an affiliate link to a tour I took, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using the link.