What would you do If you had 24 hours in your favorite city in the world? Is it a gift or is it a curse?
You arrive there, and everything remains as the last time you have been there. The streets are crowded by curious tourists that want to discover every part of this beautiful city. The smell of the river and the grilled sardiness, the vibrant colors of the old buildings and the old ladies waving from the balconies. Walking up and down in the narrow disorientating streets of Alfama, this time as a “tourist”. I have 24 hours, how do I use my time wisely?
I haven’t actually planned anything in advance, I am really bad at planning anything. No expectations and no real plans. Going with the flow was the initial plan so I don’t get my hopes up. I thought that when I arrive there, I will know what I really want to do and see. Did I really know?
And the next minute, you are thinking “Damn, that four euro sushi in the street I worked in, was amazing”. You try it, but it’s terrible. What was I eating this summer? Your colleagues have finished their internship, a while ago. And lunch time is no longer the same, a bit lonely. Memories turn into ghosts of the past, what you have built is long gone. Your flatmates are no longer there to say Good Morning to you and complain about the dirty dishes. There are no longer annoying 7am work group chats . I no longer have my balcony and what is laundry? The crazy land lord does no longer show up at the early hours of the weekend.
But hey, I can still taste my pastel de natas, something is actually still there. And then you get to experience the real meaning of the word “saudade”.
There is not a translation for the Portuguese word saudade. “Saudade brings sad and happy feelings all at once ; sadness for missing something loved and happiness for having experienced the love”
And that’s exactly the feeling you get, nothing can actually make things like they were before. But nothing stops me for enjoying 24 hours in Lisbon.
Lisbon is a magical city you see. Many would complain about walking up and down the steep streets of Bairro, Mouraria and Graca but I learned that at the end of every road and every corner there is always a reward. Whether it is a miradouro , a beautiful square or a park there is always something to keep me going.
When life gives you 24 hours in Lisbon, make the best of it! I couldn’t have been any more happier than actually getting the opportunity to experience Lisbon again, even for a day!
If you want to spend 24 hours in Lisbon wisely
Start your day gracefully. See the sunrise at the Miradouro das Portas do Sol in Alfama
If anyone told you that there is a better miradouro for sunrise, they’re lying. That’s the perfect spot to witness sunrise and at the same time bird singing make it the perfect synergy for a beautiful morning. A really hopeful day starts in Alfama. Alfama is one of the oldest districts in Lisbon. If you haven’t been there, you haven’t been to Lisbon.
Walk around the streets of Alfama and get lost
Alfama is a really disorientating area. It’s fairly easy to get lost without even trying. In every corner, there is something awaiting for you. Listen to this beautiful melody of the birds singing, sit at the stairs and admire the beauty of this humble city.
Enjoy a coffee with a pastel de nata.. or two!
Life is too short to settle for pastel de nata, because it’s not enough! Always go for two or three. The tourists that have lots of time ahead of them, go to Belem. But the locals always go to Manteigaria ( that’s a secret!). Some would argue, but I wouldn’t go to the other side of Lisbon If I had one day. But If you have more, you should definitely go!
Get on the historic tram 28 and explore the city
Ride the historic tram 28 that takes you around the centre and don’t have an actual plan on where to hop off. Usually, it is packed in the summer and I have only used it at nights when it’s not busy. But hey, If you are spending 24 hours in Lisbon, it’s something you can’t miss! Cliche as it sounds, get on the cutest tram and explore the city from every hill!
Explore Mouraria, the birthplace of Fado
Anyone is Lisbon knows that Fado was born in Mouraria. Mouraria is the most culturally diversed neighborhood in Lisbon and used to be a Moorish Ghetto. Perhaps it is not as beautiful and picturesque as Alfama, but there you can find rich culture and history. Walking through the narrow cobbled streets , you will see some little corner restaurants and bars. Don’t hesitate to try the local ginjinha (cherry liquor) and porto tonic, a really refreshing cocktail.
Get cultural – meet the locals
The most genuine local life could be seen in Alfama and mostly older people live in the historic neighborhood. They are as much people of a big city as they are people of a humble village. Their lack of English will not stop them from drawing a smile at their face and even try to say a thing or two in English to make you feel welcome. That’s the real beauty in Lisbon. Lisbonese are really proud of their city and could be seen in every corner.
Best Sunset views at the Miradouro de Santa Catarina
If there is one thing I know really well about Lisbon are the Miradouros and everything sun related. Miradouro de Santa Catarina is the most popular during the sunset hours and it deserves that title. Hundreds of locals and not gather together with a bottle of Super Bock to witness this beautiful miracle. But just a friendly warning – some get high by the sunset, some get really “HIGH”. Spending 24 hours in Lisbon, it is a must to take advantage of the sunset time!
Dining at my favorite restaurant in the city
Sorry to disappoint you, it’s not a Portuguese restaurant. It’s just the shady Illegal Restaurant in Martim Moniz. I love asian cuisine and I like the homely feeling when visiting this place. It also brought back some memories, as I have visited this place a couple of times with special people. Saudade..
A drink and some views
There are people that love PARK and there are people that love TOPO. Either way, there is nothing more relaxing than getting these breath taking views while enjoying a drink and listening to some music. Both are really amazing If you like rooftop bars! Feel free to read more about my Lisbon’s favorites!
And when the stars come out, head to Bairro!
The most popular street for partying in Lisbon is Bairro. Cheap drinks, people from every country gather together and this becomes the busiest street in Lisbon. Also Cais do Sodre also known as the Pink Street gets really crowded and has some more “posh” bars. I wish I knew before paying 12 euros for a gin&tonic! So depending on your taste, you choose the street that fits you (or your pockets) and go with the flow!
24 hours in Lisbon – Final Thoughts
If I could take back time,
I would probably do the same things, over and over again and maybe meet the same people. Life is funny sometimes. I never believed that I would visit Lisbon that soon! I would be eternally grateful for the experience, the people I met and the great memories made in my favorite city in Europe. Already missing the views from my miradouros and my pastel de natas and some special friends. This is not a goodbye, it never is. I will always find my way back. Até já Lisboa!
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