An Extravagant Girls Weekend in Lisbon – Day 1
Covid-19 has left many stranded in their hometowns. So, I consider myself lucky to experience Lisbon at a time like this. And I think I picked the perfect destination for a girls’ trip with my daughter Paulina.
Portugal is typically known for its seafood, port wine and architecture. But one of the most underrated things there is the unparalleled sunset.
“To travel is to live.” Hans Christian Anderson
I have followed this mantra and travelled far and wide. The sheer joy and happiness it has brought me is something I cannot put into words. The moments it has made me experience, in short, have been overwhelming and ones that I will continue to cherish for as long as I live.
My trip to Lisbon, Portugal, was no different. And to make your experience just as enriching and exciting, let me share the highlights of the trip so you can enjoy the common as well as the roads not taken.
Where Should I Stay, Dear?
I have travelled all over the world multiple times, and my accommodation is vital for me. It has to appeal to my aesthetic and have excellent service too. Depending on how you approach it, the location you plan to stay can contribute tremendously to your moments of joy or misery. So, picking the perfect hotel is often a dilemma for me.
After much thought and meticulous research, I chose the newly opened
Epic Sana Marques Hotel, and I don’t have any regrets. The hotel is an excellent blend of luxury and authenticity. It is just the place to make your stay truly memorable.
The hotel exceeded our expectations in every regard and gave us an experience we will cherish forever. Situated in the heart of Lisbon, the indulgent views are guaranteed to take your breath away.
The Epic Sana Marques Hotel has 379 elegant rooms and suites with stunning views of Lisbon’s most significant landmarks. It is equipped with a state-of-the-art conference and event centre with two floors of 18 outstandingly versatile rooms and a capacity of up to 1,500 attendees, enabling you to organize and manage your events. It just felt like a very dreamy place to have a wedding.
But what we looked forward to every day was the breakfast at the beautiful tropical flair restaurant. I especially love how they made the omelette precisely as I like. The pancakes were mouthwatering, and the great selection of fresh fruits was the perfect start to our days.
There was a time when an exquisite Bacalhau à Brás would be the only thing on your list when you visit Portugal. However, now Portugal offers a diverse selection of dishes paired with delicious and incomparable taste, a true culinary experience.
For other meals, the hotel has ALLORA, an Italian Restaurant. And for those looking for a more exotic and exciting feast, KOJI, a Japanese Bar-Restaurant, captures the spirit of Japanese Culinary heritage while exuding a stylish contemporary vibe.
Spend the afternoon in the Sky Pool Lounge on top of the charming capital Lisbon.
Lisbon Favorite Sites & Activities
Portugal drips of history and splendid panoramic views. But if I had to pick my favourites while I was in Lisbon, I’d have to say the following 7 things made the trip worth it.
When in Lisbon, you have to take the Tram 28, and you’ll forget all about the vintage tram in San Francisco that people pine for. The city of Lisbon is renowned for its tram lines.
For decades, the iconic Tram 28 has been working its way up the steep, cobbled roads and into the old Alfama district. The journey starts below the palm-spotted hills of Graça and weaves into the hairpin alleys of Escolas Gerais before pulling up to a halt beneath the gorgeous domes of the Estrela Basilica. It feels like you are on a roller coaster ride through the city as decades-old history unfolds in front of your eyes along the route.
You also have to visit the glorious town of Sintra, one of the main tourist attractions in Portugal. More than half an hour of drive away from Lisbon, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit. Situated high up amidst the mythical Mountains of the Moon, displaying elegant Baroque churches, colourful mansions and the grand palaces of former Portuguese monarchs, it represents Portugal’s heritage in all its grandeur.
Another site adding to the unending splendour of the Portuguese legacy is St George’s Castle, proudly holding the status of the most visible landmark of Lisbon’s historic centre without a doubt. The great citadel, first built more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans, stands tall and firm above the streets of the old Alfama district.
Today it has solid palisades and crenulated towers that leave you in awe, along with an encircling dry moat and other anti-siege spectacles. Pass beneath the large gate here and notice the Portuguese royal seal, marking the country’s monarchic strength.
A mere glance at the ornate spires and magnificent carvings of the great Monastery of Jerónimos is sure to make you look twice. The raison d’être for this enormous landmark nestles close to the pristine banks of the Tagus River, poetically hallmarking Portugal’s most glorious age, the Age of Exploration. The exquisite fusion of architectural designs, known as the Manueline style, is testimony to the cultures encountered by Lisbon’s explorers that sailed worldwide. The structure was financed with Portugal’s international trade in cloves, cumin and exotic spices. It is another one of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
If you fancy time-travelling to the past, there is another enticing proposition waiting with its hands ready to embrace you. Standing at the outskirts of Lisbon, on its far north-western boundary, is the Grand Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira. Dating back to 1681, it is one of the more off-the-beaten-track remnants of the city’s former glory. Yet, despite its remote location, it is still easy to get to and offers a glimpse of the majestic architecture that came to the fore in the 1600s and 1700s in Portugal.
The home once belonged to the Marquis of Fronteira, who was rewarded for loyalty to the Portuguese royal name during the Restoration War of the mid-17th century.
But echoes of a rich royal past aren’t the only thing that Lisbon has to offer. At any point, if you feel like coming back to modern times and fancy strolling a street or trying the local food, Lisbon has a famous food market, where you can do both.
The Time Out Market has two distinct sides. The downstairs part throngs with local fruit and vegetable sellers touting succulent legumes and Mediterranean fruits every morning, so make sure to get there early if you want to get the best deals. Then there is the upstairs section which comes loaded with more modern, often quirky food stalls and cutting-edge eateries.
It is there that you will be able to taste the local speciality of custard tarts, sip fine Portuguese wines, and even attempt to conquer a massive France Sinha sandwich which is one of the treats to come out of Porto in the north.
Now to throw a bit of classic European flavour to the whole travel experience, I sure have to mention the compact little Alfama District, which is hands down Lisbon’s finest answer to the old town centres of Europe’s other ancient capitals. As the Forum of Rome, it’s hailed as the oldest part of the city, although this one dates back to the Moors of Africa instead of the kings of Latium. Delving into the warren of winding streets and alleys that forms the district is one of the top activities for visitors to Portugal’s capital. As you stroll, great cathedrals like the Lisbon Cathedral and tile-fronted chapels reveal themselves on the corners. There are also the remains of old city walls and hidden squares with alfresco cafes aplenty.
Lisbon Museum and Art
Lisbon has long been a city brimming with art and history, and it has cultural institutions and a rich history to prove it. However, standing out among Europe’s cultural giants and historical heavyweights are by no means an easy task and are a testament to the notion that Lisbon has always been a place where art and culture have thrived.
You’ll find museums showcasing everything from Medieval paintings and classical sculptures to traditional Portuguese tiles and antique horse-drawn carriages. Art lovers are equally well-catered for, with a mix of galleries exhibiting work by proficient Portuguese artists, big international names and exciting up-and-comers in the street art scene.
History fanatics can quench their thirst by visiting these precious spots and storing invaluable historical importance and cultural assets. There’s something for everyone in our pick of Lisbon’s best galleries and museums showcasing its cultural riches.
A word of advice from my side, Belém district, is where you will find the best museums and monuments.
- Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
- Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology
- Museu Coleção Berardo
However, just to give you a plethora of options so that you plan a wholesome cultural retreat into the city, there are other places at your disposal too. From a museum dedicated to the Portuguese azulejo tile to a gallery celebrating Lisbon’s vibrant street art scene, these are our pick of the Portuguese capital’s cultural must-sees, bookable with Culture Trip.
Portugal was a unique and fascinating experience for my daughter and me. I was utterly blown away by the sheer beauty and charm of the country. Lisbon, which was the focal point of our trip, especially captivated us.
There were so many enjoyable things to do and a great many places and spots to visit and witness that a lifetime seems too short for it, let alone a single trip. It feels like I have left a part of me behind, or maybe it has become one of mine.
I’m excited to tell you about our second day in Lisbon in my next article.
Astrid Obert – Co Founder Emporium-Collection
Images by: Bernhard Huber, Sana Hotels, SUD Lisboa, unsplash,Astrid Obert