We loved our 4 weeks in Lisbon and we thought the city was a great place to be in the week and on the weekends. We spent weekend afternoons wandering around the city, checking out the cute streets of Alfama, watching music in the plazas of Graça and drinking beers near Cais do Sodre.
We also managed to get out of the city on a few of the weekends to try and explore what the areas around Lisbon had to offer. We hardly scratched the surface as there are plenty of amazing places to visit outside of Lisbon. However, thought we would share a few of the things we got up to …
1. The first full weekend in Lisbon we took the train from the train stop just down the road in Alcantara along the River Tejo to Cascais.
The train line runs parallel along the River Tejo and links all the settlements along the route until you get to Cascais. After only a few minutes on the train heading west you start seeing beaches from the train windows. You can choose any of them and not go far wrong. They are popular for people like us just wanting to get out of the city for the day, for holidaymakers and the people living in these towns. We got off after a few stops at Paço de Arcos and then decided to walk along the river to see what we could find.
We walked past beautiful rock pools, small beaches, forts and little beach bars. We stopped first at the beach Praia do Saisa which had lovely fine sand and got busier throughout the afternoon. We then continued walking around the coast paths to the Marina at Oeiras and then on towards the big popular beach at Carcavelos. After a beer in a beach bar we wandered back to Oeiras where we caught the twenty minute train back to Lisbon.
This train works off the Lisboa Viva system like most of Lisbon’s public transport. You can get a rechargeable card for €0.50 and add credit to it. This gives you access to buses, trams, trains, boats and the metro.This is a really useful card to get if spending time in and around Lisbon.
2. The second weekend in Lisbon we decided to go camping. So after breakfast on the Saturday morning we packed some over night bags and drove out of the city. We headed out over the Ponte 25 de Abril and into to the area of Setebul. We started off with a trip into Almada and up to the Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei, which is a huge statue of Christ overlooking Lisbon. Cristo Rei is one of Lisbon’s most iconic monuments. The building began in 1949 and completed in 1959 and has many similarities to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio.
The inital drive out of the city and into Setebul was quite congested with what we can only assume was the Lisboetas (people of Lisbon) heading out of the city. Once past Almada we decided to head towards the west coast below Costa Caparica, which is a really popular beach with Lisbon residents. Where we were aiming for was only 23 miles from our Airbnb in Lisbon.
We headed for a campsite at Praia das Bicas called Campimeco that we had found online. It had a really local feel about it with lots of long term residents on site. The camping part of the site was fantastically perched on the headland with great views and a very casual feel. The plots weren’t marked and there was plenty of room to camp away from others.
We had a great lunch at the onsite restaurant, they had Portuguese specials of the day including the traditional Bacalhau (cod) Gratin. They also had great sandwiches and burgers and really well priced. After lunch we wandered down to the fantastic and vast beach below for an afternoon.
Early evening we wandered from Praia de Bicas to Praia do Meco where we knew there to be a few beach restaurants and bars. We underestimated the walk a little and a few miles of beach walking was quite tiring. Just to warn everyone between these two beaches we walked through Praia da Tramagueira which turned out to be a naturist beach so pretty much the whole stretch of this beach was nudist, including naked fishermen!
At the new beach there were some great little restaurants and we managed to find a table at one of them where we watched the sunset and ate great seafood.
The following morning we packed up early as we wanted to have a morning in Sesimbra on the south part of Setebul. We got down there nice and early for Tosta Mistas (ham and cheese toasties) and people watching on the promenade. It was very busy with big groups of people on motorbikes and plenty of Portuguese holiday makers. We then drove up behind Sesimbra to the amazing Castelo de Sesimbra that overlooks it. This was a real spectacular and peaceful place with amazing views all the way back to Lisbon. Definitely a must visit!
3. Our third weekend in Lisbon we hired bikes from a container bike rental shop called Fun Track just on the docks near our apartment. They rent out a large range of different wheeled transport. We thought we would head along the river to Cascais. The initial bike path alongside the River Tejo takes you past the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and along to Belém. There are plenty of parks and pedestrian pathways alongside the bike path and it’s a great open air space if you fancy getting out of the busy city. We passed by the Torre de Belém (The Tower OF Belém) and the huge Jerónimos Monastery.
From what we saw of Belém during our time in Lisbon is it is a vibrant suburb area, with lots to see, busy with tourists and locals. It’s famously known for the Pastéis de Belém which is a popular version of the popular Portuguese pastry Pastéis de Nata. Everyone including our school teachers raved about these!
The cycle route takes you alongside the train line for a little while, with the river on your left. It’s wide and perfect for cycling. When you reach the beach Praia da Cruz Quebrada you cross the river and follow the path further. When we reached the beach of Caxias the path finished and we then went further by cycling along road and pavement. Later on at Paço de Arcos Beach the boardwalk begins and we cycled on that all the way past Praia de Carcavelos. After this again you have the choice of riding the pavement or worming your way along the quieter roads slightly inland.
We spotted the beach at Praia de São Pedro do Estoril and were due a little break so stopped there for an hour at the beach. After the beach we stopped for some late lunch above the cove at the viewpoint, where we could look across the bay towards Cascais. The roads and beaches were getting busier so we decided to head back along the coast to Lisbon.
We cycled over 26 miles doing this route and bar a few small hills it was a relatively flat cycle and very scenic the whole way. It wasn’t cycle pathed the whole way but in general a very achievable and safe route.
These are just a few of the amazing places you can visit and things you can do in a day (or night) from Lisbon.