We stayed in the little coastal town of Estoril, 30 mins by train from the spectacular Lisbon.
We enjoyed staying on the coast, the beach is free entertainment and when it’s so hot there is nothing nicer than a swim in the cool waters of the Atlantic.
Estoril has plenty of beaches to choose from, the promenade, from Estoril to Cascais, is a nice 20ish min walk with lots of eateries and ice cream stops if need be.
Being July the beaches were busy, we did struggle sometimes to find a spot for our towel, on the beach there were hawkers selling jewellery, selfie sticks and doughnuts, our Lucas was very happy about the third type, in fact his choice of fav beach was based mainly on whether the doughnut vendor might be there carrying their chiller box loaded with various flavoured cream doughnuts….
Each Saturday we ventured into Lisbon, with Saturday’s being pretty much our only true full day, i.e no work the night before and no work that evening, we could fully enjoy the morning and evening life of Lisbon, I say morning, but that is pretty much getting up around 9.30 – 10am in the Rayner house and me like sergeant major hoping everyone will be out the door by 10.30, I need to invest in a whistle :).
We would get to Lisbon in time for lunch, have something light and start our adventures. I wanted to make sure during our time here we managed to see as much as we could, we invested in a map, and started planning. First of all we wanted to see the old town, you can’t beat the old parts of town, so we wandered around Alfama, through all the little streets, walking past the churches and up to the wall and entrance to St George’s Castle which dates back to the 6th century, the views of the city from the top were amazing, St George’s Castle is a must do, it takes you back in time, as we walked through the first arch into the gardens there were 2 female peacocks with a baby peacock, this was very cute and a little highlight, the male was on his own lazing in the gardens below, looking beautiful as male peacocks do.
I loved walking around the old ruins of this castle, it was well worth the 20Euros for us all to get in, even if you’re not into castles the view alone was worth it..but who doesn’t love castles?
After the castle and a little more looking around we went in search of a restaurant, sometimes it’s hard trying to please us all because we all love different food, me and Jake love our curries and spicy foods, Grant loves his fish and Lucas loves pizza, burgers or fish and chips, we were in Alfama and ended up walking past a very busy little Portuguese restaurant called Alpendre, it was mainly fish, so Grant was really keen, it was full but in the end we all decided to wait for a table, so glad we did, it was the most fun we had in a restaurant, the waiter’s were very witty, and our boys just loved it, we don’t often get them raving about a place but they did this one, Jake isn’t very adventurous with food, he is getting better but if pizza or nuggets are on the menu he normally goes for them, but this time he went for steak on a hot plate, we were impressed, as was he, once he got it and he enjoyed cooking it almost as much as he did eating it. We all really enjoyed the banter with the staff and the food was delicious.
During our trips into Lisbon, we went to the Monastery of Santa Maria de Belém, this Monastery inside is beautiful, lots of photo opportunities, we also, for an extra 4Euros, went into the museum.
I loved this whole area, the fountains were really impressive, also here you can see the Homage to Henry the Navigator.
We took a tuk tuk to a shopping centre, with Lucas dancing for joy in his seat the whole way.
We were keen to sort out our luggage situation, and with the sales on we ended up picking up 2 small roller cabin bags for the boys and a large roller bag for me, I’m throwing in my backpack of 21 years :(, we also later ended up sending 10kg of clothes to the UK and that combined with the new bags definitely made the next move easier.
Our next trip into Lisbon we went on an actual Tuk Tuk tour called Tuk Tuk Tejo, it was an hour long and well worth it, if you only had one day in Lisbon this tour pretty much takes you to most places that you should see, our guide was energetic and enthusiastic with his information and stories on Portugal and Lisbon, it was a really fun trip.
Note: Tuk Tuks in Lisbon are pretty much a Euro a minute as are cabs, the tour was 60 Euro’s for 60 minutes so the same rate as any trip in a Tuk Tuk that we did.
One evening after a trip to the movies, we realised that we had left it pretty late to get dinner and get the last train back, so thought we should at least get to the train station Cais do Sodre where we then pick up the train to Estoril, after checking the train times on the board we got out of the station and hoped we would find something open, at this stage I would have been happy with a Burger King, we asked some policemen that were walking through the station and they pointed us in the direction of a market, it was past 12.30 at this stage, but we thought we’d give it a go.
We found a little gold mine of eateries, there was a real buzz, this place was like a huge warehouse, with really awesome food places all the way around and in the centre were huge lines of bar tables and stools, it had the buzz of a night out with everyone having a beer or wine with their chosen comfort food, and the food options were amazing, we wished we’d found it when we first arrived in Lisbon as we just didn’t have enough time left to sample them all, so next trip in we went there for lunch, it was packed maybe not quite the same atmosphere as it had at 1am but we had time to look around and properly decide what to pick.
We really loved everything we saw in Lisbon, one of the best days was our last Friday, we wandered around, I love wandering 🙂 We went into some amazing churches, found beautiful little alleyways, stumbled upon some incredible views of the city, listened to some very talented street performers, really tried to make sure we took away the best memories of Lisbon with us.
Our Top 10 things to do whilst in Lisbon
1. Tuk Tuk TeJo – Excellent informative and fun hour trip showing you a lot of what Lisbon has to offer, If you only have a day or few days in Lisbon this allows you to pick a few of your favourite places to come back to later on in the day.
2. Wander around the charming Alfama, the old streets are filled with history, get lost in the little medieval alleyways.
3. Castle of St. George, go back in time in this magnificent old castle, with 360 degree views that you can’t miss of Lisbon city as well as sighting the very cute family of Peacocks.
4. Baixa district was completely renovated after the massive earthquake and tsunami in 1755. Walk through the Triumphal Arch of Rua Augusta and shop till you drop, or eat till you pop 🙂 there are eateries all through the centre, pastelaría’s (Cake Shops) to die for, you must try the famous Portuguese custard Tart. Baixa was a buzz with street entertainers, busy trams, restaurants, Tuk Tuks and tourists.
5. Belem where you will find the incredible Jerónimos Monastery. Across the road past the Princess Fountains Stands the monument built in honour of Henry the Navigator, this shows more than thirty statues of people who played an important role in the discoveries. Leading the way is Henry the Navigator who is shown standing on the bow holding a model of a caravel.
7. Praça Dom Pedro IV, this square has been known as Rossio (meaning ‘large public square’ or ‘Main Square’) since its creation in the Middle Ages. The Baroque fountains are especially beautiful and a nice way to cool down when you stand close by and get sprayed. Also the Monument Pedro in Rossio Square, it’s a twenty-three meter tall column with a statue of Dom Pedro IV, this is certainly a bustling square.
8. Eat in a traditional Portuguese restaurant, one we would recommend is Alpendre, we had such a fun evening here, even the boys loved the joker waiters, the banter and food made for a very cool evening.
9. Gelato Therapy, you must try these divine ice creams, Jacob picked lemon and it really was probably the most tangy and delicious lemon ice cream I have ever had, wish now that I had tried their Vanilla with Basil.
10. Bank of Portugal Museum and Dinis Wall, with free entry and the chance to get your hands on a huge gold bar, they allow you to try lifting it through the plastic bars, the boys loved this, as we discussed what we could do with that kind of money (worth approx six hundred thousand Euros) 🙂 you could spend at least 30 mins wandering around this former bank, and it’s going to have a second floor of exhibits added soon.
There was a lot that we didn’t get to see, I sometimes like it that way, means we have to come back one day 🙂
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We stayed in Estoril Sao Joao, the apartment was about a 10 min walk from the beach, 30 min walk from Cascais and 30 mins by train to Lisbon. It was an older style apartment that had everything you needed for a lovely beach stay, 2 bedrooms, living room with dining and a small kitchen. Supermarket right next door. (So close in fact that the sound of the checkout ping through our open balcony door will be one of the unique memories of that stay)
Cost NZ$1306.00 per Month (553.71 pounds a Month)
Day Trips (Click on the photo to read more about each trip)