The month of March is usually the dreariest of all months in Belgium. In my head, I can almost reach spring whereas, in reality, it’s a long time away. It takes forever to arrive in Belgium and my patience usually runs out during March. So when my friend loved my suggestion of visiting Portugal together, I was excited about running away to warmer places. Our trip began in Porto and had a quick stop in Aveiro before finally arriving in the Portuguese capital. From there, we simply had to dedicate one day to the enchanting Sintra. Four days in Lisbon might seem long to some but to me, they were just right. In truth, prolonging that stay would’ve made me even happier.

After the indecisive sunny and foggy and rainy weather in Porto, Lisbon’s constant sunshine was a welcome change. The temperatures were perfect for climbing up and down the hilly streets of Lisbon without any discomfort. My friend was up for anything that came to my mind so we averaged 27,000 steps every day. Pretty buildings, your usual tourist sights, endless viewpoints, cute cafés, there was so much to see. For a recap of the most beautiful places in Lisbon, head on over to this blog post.

Our first introduction to Lisbon included delicious ice cream and golden sunsets. What more could one need on a March afternoon, it was amazing! After a delicious dinner at Farol de Santa Luzia, we wandered through the city some more. We never came back to our Airbnb early, staying out until 11 PM every single night. Even in March, the city felt so alive. I think the image of those steep stairs under the streetlights ignited my love for Lisbon. It was as if a scene from a book set in Lisbon came to life in front of my eyes. I’ve always found Portuguese literature intriguing and it was one of the main reasons why I was curious about Lisbon.

Another reason why I felt a strong pull towards Lisbon was knowing how much Art Nouveau this city is hiding. I think the majority of my Lisbon itinerary included a long list of gorgeous facades. I’ll probably turn that into a proper Art Nouveau guide one day since I photographed them all!

Aside from my beloved Art Nouveau, I was drawn to every unique facade covered in azulejos. The renowned Portuguese ceramic tiles grace many of the city’s buildings. What’s more, I found examples of Art Nouveau azulejos, where the motifs clearly stem from this unique style!

What to see in Lisbon

Starting off with one of the most popular attractions, it wouldn’t be a visit to Lisbon without Elevador da Bica. Most photos depicting Lisbon will feature the famous cable car climbing up the street for only 5 minutes. We opted for watching and photographing it rather than taking the short journey.

Back in 1755, the greatest earthquake Lisbon ever experienced destroyed 85% of the city. Almost everything was rebuilt, with a handful of exceptions. Not long after the earthquake, Romanticism made its appearance in the world of art. First and foremost, ruins were a romanticized staple of this movement. Therefore, the collapsed buildings from the earthquake now didn’t require any restoration. After all, a caved-in roof was the latest fashion and it was right there at Carmo Convent!

Inside the Carmo Convent, you’ll also find a small archeological museum with many interesting exhibits. The church itself is impressive as you look up at the gothic arches against the blue sky. Apparently, in the summer the ruins host open-air concerts and other events, which sounds amazing!

carmo convent square in lisbon

One of the things my friend looked forward to the most was doing the famous Tram 28 ride. Following one delicious ice cream outing, we boarded the little yellow tram. Honestly, taking a ride inside a tram that should be inside a museum was brilliant. The wooden interior and brass details and the clunky noises in the corners of the streets were just delightful. I felt as giddy as a little kid!

We visited the majority of the popular spots, such as Rua Nova do Carvalho, or as it’s better known, Pink Street. Furthermore, the Santa Justa Lift was only 100 m from our accommodation, meaning we walked past it day and night. I also ventured out much farther from the city center, in search of unique facades which Lisbon has aplenty!

When it comes to viewpoints in Lisbon, there are so many to choose from. The most popular one is Miradouro de Santa Luiza and for a good reason. It offers a spectacular view of Lisbon, even more so in spring when the flowers cover the pergola. We were a bit too early for that in March but the sunrise was still beautiful. However, picking any other viewpoint will result in a magical sunrise or sunset over Lisbon!

We spent many a night people-watching at the wonderful Praça do Comércio. It was a stone’s throw away from our Airbnb so we often ended up here without even planning on it. Facing the harbor, it’s one of the largest squares in all of Portugal.

Jeronimos Monastery & Belem Tower

We reserved an entire morning for the Belem neighborhood for the two most popular places in Lisbon. First up, we went to the renowned Belem Tower a bit before opening time. After purchasing tickets on the spot, they actually let us in before 9 AM. It was less crowded than expected and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. I especially loved the unique viewpoint of Lisbon’s famous bridge from Belem Tower.

Following that delightful visit, we bought tickets for the Jeronimos Monastery and waited in line for our turn. It was 20 minutes past opening time and the line was anything but short. But it was more than worth it because this magical complex is breathtaking. Something straight out of dreams, something out of the Harry Potter world; every superlative and romantic comparison fits this place.

jeronimos monastery in lisbon
jeronimos monastery cloister in lisbon

Both the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery are exquisite examples of the Manueline architectural style. This short-lived but highly influential style combines maritime elements with lavish ornamentation. Various influences in the 16th century turned the Manueline style into something completely unique. The details are so intricate which makes the execution all the more admirable. In short, it is a feast for one’s eyes!

Pasteis de nata in Lisbon

Upon arriving from Porto by train, our first stop inevitably concerned pasteis de nata. Also known as pastel de nata, these cream pastries are Portugal’s most famous dessert. I have yet to meet someone who dislikes them and if anyone was supposed to, it was me. In general, I hate cream in pastries and carefully avoid them. However, this rule didn’t apply when in Portugal and these little pastries were my preferred choice of breakfast.

The very first pasteis de nata originated in the famous Jeronimos Monastery, which I already mentioned earlier. Created by the monks, the recipe was sold after the monastery closure and this is how it all began. In 1837, the famous pastry shop Pasteis de Belem situated across from the monastery started selling this unique pastry. For a long time, it had the reputation of being the best pasteis in Lisbon. Nowadays, you can find a handful of other pastry shops with equally amazing pasteis de nata. Be that as it may, the ones from Pasteis de Belem stand out. The pastry shell is noticeably crispier, which for me personally, works better. It achieves the perfect balance between the creamy and crispy parts. That being said, the pasteis de nata overflowing with cream were also good. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference!

As can be seen, the four days we spent in Lisbon were spectacular. Resplendent architecture, delicious food, cinematic streets, and ridiculously sunny days; it was beyond perfect. We even had some pleasant surprises, such as seeing the musical Cinderella for free at Teatro Politeama, in Portuguese! That was a result of my friend randomly befriending people at the theater when buying a ticket for another play. Overall, it was such a fun and interesting experience that we both loved!

The famous Rua Augusta, always thronging with life, came alive at night too. Street musicians on every corner with various instruments brought a cinematic quality to the city. Oddly enough, La Vie en Rose played on accordion sooner recalls Lisbon for me than any French city! I don’t think I went one night without hearing it under the Rua Augusta arch. Venturing out to the 25 de Abril Bridge for sunset was also a brilliant idea. Modeled after two bridges in San Francisco, in a way it does transport you over there!

augusta arch detail in lisbon

That and many other cinematic moments made my stay in Lisbon unforgettable. I found myself longing to revisit it during November, to walk down those streets with an umbrella in my hand. I know that’s just me romanticizing everything once again but these thoughts rarely come to me when discovering new places abroad. Only a handful of cities make me wonder what it would be like to live there.

All things considered, I think it’s safe to say Lisbon has become one of my favorite European cities. It’s a city that already intrigued me through books by my favorite Portuguese writers. And after four wonderful days in Lisbon, I find myself wishing for another lifetime just to spend it in this enchanting city.

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