Lisbon is magical, like no other. From their architecture to their yummy Pasteis or Pastries of nata and everything in between. I assure you, you will fall in love with this city and its people.
An excellent way to get a taste of a city is to take advantage of the FREE layover programs some airlines offer. TAP Air Portugal is one of those airlines offering this amazing opportunity. It is like vacationing in two different destinations, paying for the price of one. TAP allows customers booking certain flights from the USA to stop in Lisbon or Porto, at no additional charge. Not only is the stopover free, but it also includes amazing benefits, such as special hotel rates, should you want to stay overnight, or up to 5 nights! This stopover program allows you to stay in either Porto or Lisbon, for up to 5 nights. Also includes wonderful perks such as a free bottle of wine at participating restaurants and many other discounts.
We arrived in Lisbon at 6 AM, after our 7- hour overnight flight from Newark, NJ. It was the end of November and the weather was gorgeous, chilly but so manageable, not the freezing temperatures we left back in New Jersey. Arrival and immigration were easy to navigate, and the immigration officers were very pleasant, as was everyone we encountered in Lisbon.
We dropped our carryon luggage at the left luggage facility located near P2 Car Garage, for 3 bags we paid about €5. Once we were hands free, we walked to Terminal 1 Arrival Hall. We exited and looked for the Aerobus bus stop. We used the automated machine to purchase round trip tickets for €3.50, and took the Aerobus to Praca do Commercio stop. The bus driver was very pleasant and provided us with information and answered every question we had, he even gave us a map to help guide us.
The bus ride was very pleasant, you can enjoy seeing the streets of Lisbon, and in about 25 minutes we were in Praca do Commercio. Praca is a waterfront square in Baixa (downtown), where the Lisbon Royal Palace stood for over two centuries, until it was destroyed by the Great earthquake Lisbon suffered in 1755. Since it was so early in the morning, the plaza was empty, just a few tourists walking around. The sun was coming out and the sunrise was breathtaking. So beautiful. All cafes were closed since it was so early, but we were still able to enjoy the beautiful architecture all around the square. After walking around and taking pictures by the water, we took Tram 15 W to Belem-Jeronimos stop.
The tram was awesome to ride, it is one of the main tourist attractions in Lisbon. It is not only one the most useful means of transportation, but the vintage streetcars are an emblematic symbol of Lisbon. Tickets were only €2.90 and was quite a nice experience.
It took about 10 minutes to reach Belem, from the bus stop, we walked a block to Pasteis de Belem, operating since 1837, Pasteis de Belem is a bakery/factory/café, and an amazing one indeed. As we walked in, we were captured by the beautiful azulejos architecture, and the smell of freshly baked pastries pulled us in. This bakery has a very special history. I read that in the nineteenth century, the monks from the Jeronimos monastery, just down the block from the bakery, used egg whites to iron their robes, not wanting to waste the yolk of the eggs, they came up with this wonderful recipe of egg custard pastries, pasteis de Belem. Eventually their recipe was sold to this bakery and has been used in the shop since 1837. And thank you monks! Because those pastries are just flaky, warm, sweet, and divine.
We stayed in Belem until it was time to return to the airport. We walked around and visited the Jeronimos monastery, walked to tower of Belem, Discoveries Monument, walked around the Tagus river, and enjoyed the beautiful afternoon in Belem. There are so many places to eat around Belem. Have some wine, enjoy the bacalau pastries, and appreciate all the beautiful Manueline style architecture, which also incorporates Moorish and Venetian elements, just amazing.
Lisbon has so much to offer, if you have time, take a trip to Alfama district, and enjoy the narrow-cobbled street and ancient houses, take a trip to Sao Jorge Castle, and take a ride in the Santa Justa lift. Whatever you do in Lisbon, I am sure you will have a wonderful time. 10 hours were enough to fall in love with Lisbon and decide that we must come back to this beautiful city. It is a plus that in addition to its beauty, Lisbon is considered one of the most affordable cities in Europe. Go! Have Fun! And happy travels! Thanks to TAP for having this amazing program!