A weekend in Lisbon is always a good idea. Sadly, I don’t go as often as I would like to or used to – but it is still one of my favourite places in the world. I recently visited Portugal’s capital (and my hometown) and enjoyed a fabulously sunny weekend.
We landed from London in perfect time for dinner, so we quickly dropped our bags at the hotel and headed.. to another hotel! One of the latest boutique hotels to open in Lisbon, I was curious to visit (as I couldn’t stay this time) for a drink and dinner. The Mercy Hotel didn’t disappoint at first glance and we absolutely loved our dinner at Umai, the latest adventure of well-known Portuguese chef Paulo Morais. Asian-fusion food is not “everyday” food in Portugal, and it was great to see how wonderfully interpreted it was.
From here, we headed to the Independente Hostel and Suites (Mrs. O in a hostel? Well, not quite!) where we enjoyed some fabulously Portuguese cocktails at Decadente, its trendy bar.
After a lazy morning and breakfast at the Sofitel Lisbon, who hosted me during this weekend, it was time to head out of the city. One of Lisbon’s advantages is obviously its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its stunning views – you can head west towards the beautiful areas of Cascais, Estoril and Sintra, or head south, crossing one of the two bridges, and also be spoilt for choice!
We headed towards Guincho, which is a beautiful area between Cascais and Sintra – quite windy, but so beautiful, we couldn’t resist a lazy walk around.
I can’t tell you how beautiful this part of the world is – and you could continue this road towards Cabo da Roca, Europe’s westernmost point and the lovely Sintra, a place that I (ashamedly admit) haven’t visited for years. Next time though! (and that is a promise!)
It is worth noting that this area is always a bit windy (surfers and windsurfers love it) – and the other good thing? When Lisbon and the other beaches get really hot, this place is guaranteed to be a few degrees cooler.
Before we realised, it was time for lunch. And this time (and as usual, who am I kidding?) we headed towards Furnas do Guincho. It is worth noting that this area has a lot of restaurants with beautiful views and most are really very good. I like Porto de Santa Maria and Faroleiro, but I love Furnas do Guincho.
And for me, it doesn’t get better than this. The thing I miss the most is Portuguese food, and seafood to be more precise. The sea comes to your plate literally – and it is all so so simple and delicious. And the views? Not bad either.
After a little walk in Cascais, which is a lovely and quite affluent town by the sea, we headed back to Lisbon for a bit of shopping and a rest before dinner, which took place at a friend’s house. I miss my friends and family a lot and I do wish I could see them more often (but here is a thing, planes also fly from Lisbon to London… a hint to all!).
After a good 11 hours sleep, it was time to check out from our hotel. And I need to be honest with you – I didn’t love it. At all. I thought although it looked nice and is well located (especially for business visitors), it was seriously below par with other Sofitels I have stayed. The service was really the weakest link (namely because staff talked to each other assuming that all guests were foreigners – and obviously I speak Portuguese). There is nothing wrong with the hotel (the decor will need a little update soon, but it is fine – and the room we had was really small, but still…) – but as you know by now, I can’t say that I would stay again (unless I had to). Lisbon has great hotel choices and I am afraid I didn’t feel the love.
And after this, and a little shopping session at Freeport (the outlet mall on the other side of the Vasco da Gama bridge – i.e. the one that does not look like the San Francisco Golden Gate bridge!), it was time for lunch again!
Alcochete is a small town the other side of the river with something very special: great fish restaurants. Our family favourite is Arrastão, which is not fancy at all – but has incredible fish. And bread. And desserts.. you get the idea!
And with this, it was time to head to the airport and come back “home”. We had a lovely weekend in Lisbon, and I can’t wait to be back.