Lisbon, Portugal is a city that will capture your heart from the moment you arrive. From the winding cobblestone streets to the leafy plazas overlooking the Atlantic; Lisbon has something for everyone. You can enjoy a glass of world-class local wine, take in the vibrant colours of the city and wander through the narrow alleyways. No matter what brings you to Lisbon, you’re sure to find something that will make you never want to leave.
A few of the RHJ Group team recently spent a week in the beautiful city, exploring it’s history, culture, cuisine, and activities, so the team thought they’d share their hidden gems with you in this travel blog.
Heading through passport control, it was immediately obvious how friendly the locals were. While the team already know this is the case in Porto where we have our HQ, many of the team had never been to Lisbon and experienced life in the capital.
The team started to feel the excitement building as they headed for the exit.
The taxi line was never ending, but it didn’t take long to get a cab. It was a stress-free and easy experience; police and staff patrolled the area; assisted with traffic flow, and kept the area in order, so you won’t struggle to find a ride!
After hopping in the cab, the team headed straight into the city to explore.
The picturesque scenery, friendly people, and immediate signs of culture immediately captivated the team after they arrived in the city. A perfect way to describe Lisbon is that it combines the romance of Paris, the charm and culture of Venice, and the hilly charm of San Francisco.
Where to stay
The team stayed for the week at the 4-star Jupiter Lisboa Hotel, where they were greeted by the friendliest staff. An ideal location in the centre of Lisbon, with an outdoor rooftop swimming pool (suitable for both adults and children), free WiFi, gym, stylish and convenient spa facilities (extra charges apply), and a restaurant serving local Portuguese food.
Doing the obligatory starfish on the hotel bed it was clear how comfortable they were – so they were looking forward to a good night’s sleep! The furnishings were modern and offered a range of amenities to make your stay as perfect as possible. These included a smart TV, a free electronic safe, toiletries, plus an iron and ironing board available upon request.
Wasting no time the team unpacked and headed to the rooftop pool, which is open seasonally depending on the weather and time of year. It offers splendid views and provides comfy sun loungers above the rooftops of Lisbon. At the beginning of February, the weather surprised the team- they happily sat beside the pool, dipping their feet in, with clear blue skies in just a t-shirt and thin trousers. The team enjoyed snacks, beer and sangria from the pool bar and enjoyed the sun’s rays poolside.
Walking through the city
Walking through the streets of Lisbon it’s lovely to watch the hustle and bustle of the locals but not feel the normal stress and anxiety of a normal city – everything is so relaxed! The cultural architecture is apparent with it’s vibrant colours and historic azulejo – it’s certainly beautiful to look at! But this history and culture are surrounded by contemporary structures; making Lisbon the perfect blend.
The team immediately observed how the locals are intrinsically involved in ensuring the well-being of their city. Not a single piece of rubbish can be found in the streets, and buildings are either up to date, renovated, or receiving continuous improvements. These details lead to street art not being considered just a pebble in your shoe but instead the pieces of modern-day culture, for which anyone living in a vibrant city should be thankful.
Lisbon has the prettiest little street pubs and food vans decorated beautifully with fairy lights – creating that homey, cosy atmosphere! People finishing work would go to the bars to enjoy a drink or two. But the team were surprised to find how quiet the streets were – no large rowdy group of drunks to be seen.
Feeling safe in a big city is important and Lisbon made the RHJ Group team feel safe. With police continuously patrolling the streets and just the overall amiable nature of the Portuguese it’s easy to feel at peace in the city.
The beautiful streets of Lisbon
Colourful and historic azulejo flood the city
Lisbon’s excellent public transportation, one of the highlights of a tourist’s visit to the city, is famed for its vintage tram and funicular rides. The team walked many places during their time in Lisbon as they really enjoyed the scenery and idilic walks – but after a while their feet did start to ache. Anyone looking for alternative, Portugal has you covered!
With many options to choose from; the metro, train, tram, electric scooter and bikes and tuk-tuks; you’ll never be lost for choice
The beautiful city tram
A new one for some of us – Double decker train
Things to do
There are probably no better places to see in the city than this elegant area. Located at the point where the Tagus meets the Atlantic, Belém was the starting point for the caravels on their voyage of discovery, and it was the hub of life here in the 16th century. It has become an area of leisure and recreation where historical monuments are nestled alongside modern museums, art exhibitions, and cafes.
It’s a little farther away from the centre of town so it’s not within walking distance. On the teams travels around town, they used the metro and trams with their pop-up ticket cards. Not only are trams charming to ride, but they’re very convenient and a pretty low cost.
When the team got there they stopped by a lovely little outdoor market and walked past the famous Belem Tower. Street performers entertained the crowd and there were all sorts of sweet treats to try, especially little custard-filled egg tarts.
The famous Belem Tower
A must try Pasteis de Nata
Cute little souvenir markets
Without ever leaving Lisbon, you can travel all over the world at Jardim Zoológico. Experience Sumatran Tigers in the rainforest, lions, giraffes, and elephants in the arid African Savannah, and the majestic flights of South American birds.
The enclosures the animals lived in were not only spacious but also creations of beauty and attraction themselves. The Zoo strives to develop and promote a zoological and botanical park. As a centre for the conservation, reproduction, and reintroduction of endangered species.
Whilst the team were there they went to watch the dolphin show – which they all agreed was worth the admission fee alone. With incredible flips, underwater acrobatics and other tricks from the mammals the team were stunned! The experience clearly showed the love and passion the trainers had with their dolphins.
A fun filled day trip with fun for all ages!
* After the team had booked their tickets they discovered that the hotel supplied vouchers for 15% off entry fee! So make sure to check your place of accommodation for any deals you can get your hands on.
Parque Eduardo VII
Further down the park is an open field where the team saw children running, friends picnicking and dogs playing. The area was open to the sun with areas of shade dotted around, perfect for those hot sunny days. Around the grassed area the team noticed a ‘Life Trail’, a chain of fitness activities locals could take part in for free. The line consisted off different workouts, each focusing on different parts of the body, with simple instructions to follow.
Lisbon’s restaurant scene is high-quality. Whether you want to try traditional Portuguese food or go for something trendier, it can be found in Lisbon. The Portuguese food could be described as having similar characteristics to Spanish food, but having it’s own unique flair of course!
The food is excellent because it’s right on the water, so it’s of seafood is available. But those who aren’t fond of seafood will also enjoy it. They are also known for their cured meats and cheeses, as well as their delicious wine.
That being said, here are some hidden gems the team found to eat/drink whilst in Lisbon!
Confeitaria Marquês de Pombal
The Confeitaria Marquês de Pombal is just a stone’s throw away from the Marques de Pombal monument on Avenida da Liberdade, this spot was a great choice for coffee, snacks, lunch, or tea. The team decided to opt for tea, and the dishes were incredibly high-quality with a variety of choices. The service was top–notch, the value for money unbeatable, and the options were scrumptious. Our team was truly impressed, and we all took back some treats to our hotel rooms!
Flor dos Jeronimos
It was a delightful surprise when the team stumbled across the Flor dos Jeronimos cafe. They opted to eat al fresco and savour the flavours of our meal and drinks, with the lively backdrop of Lisbon. The cafe was cosy, with great prices for food and drinks. Before departing, the team went inside to utilise the restrooms (which were up a flight of stairs) and were mesmerised. The interior decoration stunned them – it was all based around a beautiful nautical theme!
Italy Caffe Ristorante
The team stumbled across Italy Caffe Ristorante during an evening stroll and decided to stopped off for tea. The staff are truly wonderful, the food exquisite and the prices are more than reasonable – what more could you want! It’s no surprise that people flock here for meals all day long.
The éclairs L’eclair are a marvel to behold – and even more delightful to eat. They come in an ever-changing selection of flavours that changes every 6 months. The RHJ team had the pleasure of enjoying them and commented that these were the best éclairs they’d ever had!
Don’t miss out on the expresso coffee and the meia-de-leite – two of Portugal’s most celebrated beverages.
*A word of caution – this cafe only accepts Portuguese credit cards, something I hadn’t seen before in Lisbon.