A few weeks ago my friends and I went on a trip to Lisbon and I thought I would share some fun things that we did while we were there! I am by no means a travel blogger, but after being on my first trip out of the country since COVID, I could definitely consider it, if I had the time and the money lol.
On our first full day in Lisbon, we decided to take a boat tour. It was with Rent a Boat and my friend Jasmine had booked it for us. We weren’t really sure what to expect but it turned out to be an instant crowd-pleaser for all of us.
When we were getting onto the boat we saw a lot of people choosing to sit in the designated seating area at the back of the boat, but when the tour guide said we could sit at the front we decided to head up there immediately. And honestly, if you are going to pay for a boat tour why wouldn’t you sit at the very front? This was great because there was enough room for all four of us and also it gave us some privacy away from the other people on the tour so it was like we were on our own private boat tour.
The tour itself was really chill, and there was music playing and the tour guide offered us some ‘green wine’, which we had never heard of but we were instant fans. To quote the tour guide when he offered us the wine “you are Irish, I don’t even have to ask”. The only thing he was asking was “do you want more?”. Now I don’t know if it was because we were special or if the tour guide was offering everyone wine a second (and third/fourth) time but I will not complain.
In terms of a guided tour though, we did not get much which was fine by us because we just enjoyed being on the water in the sunshine and enjoying the views. Our tour guide did come down and give us some ideas of what to do while we were in Lisbon as we hadn’t planned much for the trip yet. And he was really friendly and enjoyable, I think if we had been with the rest of the main group we might have gotten more of a guided tour.
And that was our first boat tour of the trip! Yep, we went on another one lol. That night after the tour, we all kept talking about how much we enjoyed it and so we decided to also book a nighttime tour. We did look at sunset ones but they are hella pricey because that is an obvious peak time.
So the next night we once again arrived at Belem marina for our second boat trip. This one was with Get Your Guide – we did originally want to book with Rent a Boat again, but they were not available. Though I think this was actually a good thing because we had a different experience with this company.
We got lucky with our night tour that we were actually the only ones on the boat, there was supposed to be a second group joining but they didn’t show. So it really was a private boat tour this time.
Like before, we opted to sit in the front, because again you gotta have good views. That being said, at night the tour was much colder, thankfully though the company provided blankets for us which kept us warm during the trip. Also because we were the only ones on the boat we got more of a guided tour, so the tour guide was able to tell us about all the attractions we could see along the river banks. I appreciated this because we didn’t get that the first time so it was nice to learn a bit more about what we were seeing. And it wasn’t repetitive which is good.
Unlike the last tour I found this one more chill and relaxing, I guess because it had been a long day and also there’s something about being away from all the noise of the nightlife and sailing along the water. Also in terms of wine, we did get one glass which was included in the package, which was more what we expected from the tour anyway.
And that concludes all our boat tours in Portgual lol. Honestly, I would recommend doing more than one, maybe not in the same trip if that’s not your vibe but they are definitely worth it because it gives you a different view of the city. And also the different times of day were nice because the contrast between both of them was nice to see.
And Portugal offers a lot of different boat tours, we saw plenty of them on the water as we were sailing though I would highly recommend the sailboat ones. We saw a lot of tour boats that were filled with a lot more people and that didn’t seem as enjoyable but might be for you if you prefer hop-on and hop-off kind of tours. There are also tours that include snorkelling and lots of other things so it’s definitely worth checking out!
In terms of pricing, the tours weren’t super expensive either which was nice. Both were around £30 per person and if you book private ones, then the more people you have the less you pay as the price is split between people. So 100% would recommend it to everyone.
I am not sure if this place is for everyone but it’s definitely a pretty photo op during the day. Pink Street is a street in Lisbon that is lined with bars/clubs on both sides and is party central at night.
My friends and I decided to go for drinks after we had been on our daytime boat tour and it was Friday night and packed to the brim with people. Usually not my scene, especially because we have just come out of a pandemic but we decided to be optimistic about it.
We walked up and down the street a couple of times, trying to find a bar with seating which was almost impossible, but we finally found a table outside a bar called Liverpool, named after the football team. Not exactly Portuguese culture but the only place with space and we took advantage.
I’m not going to say it was a glamorous night because in reality, you were sitting in a very crowded area in the heat of the night and the noise of the goings-on around you but we still had a great time. It worked out well we had this table, and there was a waitress who was taking drink orders for the bar so she would come by every so often to take our order. I honestly felt bad for her because she must’ve been getting all kinds of abuse and such throughout the night but we did our best to be polite and non-disruptive. We’re not that kind of people lol.
So we sat and we enjoyed our drinks, enjoyed seeing the parades of bar crawls and hen/stag do’s that passed us by.
Eventually, we did have to use the bathroom and the inside of the Liverpool bar is tiny, definitely wouldn’t like to be crammed in there with a lot of people. And also the female toilets only had one toilet which isn’t great for a bar but thankfully there weren’t many people inside, and so not many people in the bathrooms either.
And then around 3:30 a.m the staff were packing up the tables so it was time for us to move and probably go home because we didn’t realise it had gotten so late so quickly. The drinks were strong and we were enjoying our time so we had no idea it was going by so fast. The bar wasn’t closing at 3:30 though, they were just putting the tables away we could have still gone into the bar as they were open till SIX AM. Yeah, SIX IN THE MORNING. Crazy.
We did not feel like going inside so we decided to find a spot to stand and finish our drinks before heading home. Even at 3:30 in the morning, there were people everywhere. It was crazy, especially when in Northern Ireland clubs close at 2 and everyone is in Mcdonald’s by 3.
And so yeah our Pink Street adventures were pretty tame compared to most going on around us but I’d still say pretty wild for us lol. Like I said I wouldn’t say it was a vibe for everyone and I feel like if we hadn’t gotten sat at a place with a table it would have been a bit miserable. So I’d say it could be hit or miss if you decide to take a trip.
We did walk through the next day while trying to get somewhere and like I said, I think it’s nice for photos but otherwise not worth a trip, unless you’re looking to get smashed.
I feel like Time Out Market is one of those things that everyone mentions on their list of things to do in Lisbon. It is a big food market located close to Pink Street in the middle of Lisbon.
We decided to take a visit the afternoon after our Pink Street adventures and it was packed to the brim with people. I don’t think it would ever not be busy, to be honest, but it’s definitely a fun vibe. The market is set up in long cafeteria-style tables, and then the outside of the room is lined with various food vendors. So if you are ever undecided in the friend group about what to eat, this is the place because everyone can go to different places, or you can all share little things from various places.
I will say it’s not ideal if you are looking for anything private or intimate as you are sharing a huge table sandwiched between groups of people but it’s nice for lunch or something light.
The waiting lines for each vendor vary greatly as my friends and I scattered to our selected restaurant and came back to the table with our buzzers. Though I’d say waiting in line to order actually takes the longest. Once you get your order in then the food is prepared quite quickly.
Needless to say the food was delicious and everyone enjoyed it. Lauren and Jasmine even went to get dessert from one of the vendors.
So yeah a bright and fun place to go if you aren’t sure where to eat. I also think that if you enjoy the food from a vendor there that they have full restaurants you can go to if you want more of the food so definitely worth checking out. Though I’d say if you aren’t a fan of the crowds to not stay longer than needed, I found it quite draining to be there for a long time. But that could’ve been the late-night out before, who knows?
We saw so many people zooming about on electric scooters while we were away and we decided to take them for a spin ourselves after Time Out Market. To use them you just need to download an app corresponding to the branding on the scooter, scan the QR code, and off you go! There is no shortage of scooters or electric bikes in the centre of Lisbon, we saw so many of them around and it’s such a handy mode of transportation.
Something to note about the scooters though is they are heavy. Like heavier than your average Razor scooter as a kid and definitely more painful to the ankles. So basically, doing a lot of pedalling on them is a lot of work, as I soon found out because it took me a while to get to grips with the scooters. Like you’d think you can just step on and go but no lol.
You basically pedal a little bit and get your balance and then SLOWLY press on the accelerator until you feel comfortable to zoom off. Unfortunately for me, the balance did not come quickly lol we first took the scooters out in a busy area and trying to navigate through people and also get your balance was not the easiest.
So, later on, we were in a quieter area and took out some scooters again where I got to practice my balance and it was much easier to figure out when you weren’t worried about hitting anything or anyone. Plus, the scooters can get up to some speeds so you really need to spend time adjusting and figuring out what works for you.
Once we got the hang of the scooters they were super fun. We wanted to use them at every opportunity, especially because we were along the river and it was a long straight path towards where we were staying. It was so fun zooming down the street at night with the girls. Definitely, something we’ll remember for a long time.
So if you want something fun and easy to try out, get some scooters! I will now be sad if I go elsewhere on holiday and they don’t have scooters.
Sintra is not actually in Lisbon as it’s a separate town but I wanted to include this in the post anway because this is something the girls and I did.
Sintra is a town about an hour by train from Lisbon, and it contains four castles that you can visit and is perfect for sightseeing and pictures…unless you go in the rain which we ended up doing. So you go on holiday expecting sunshine and warmth and then the next thing you know it’s cold and rainy. Not fun, but something you can handle especially if you’re from Northern Ireland.
Even though the weather wasn’t great it was still a good day. We went to the Pena Palace and Moorish Castle. First was Pena Palace as it was at the highest up the mountain. It definitely would have been better if it was sunny, as the views from the palace were obscured by the mist, but it did clear up a bit by the time we had finished the palace interiors and had some lunch at the cafeteria.
I am thankful the weather cleared up a bit so we had some views, it would have been disappointing to continue to see nothing from such a great vantage point. But still would recommend a clear day to visit. It was also very busy waiting to get into the palace, we were waiting for an hour in line, I think if it was sunny it wouldn’t have been bad but I assume everyone was wanting to get inside to escape the rain.
The rain wasn’t actually too bad, it was a light mist at most but I think the altitude and wind made it a lot worse. So if you do see rain in the forecast, bring a rain jacket!
After Pena Palace we made it to Moorish Castle, again there would have been great views if the weather hadn’t taken a turn again. Moorish Castle was stunning and while climbing up all the stairs was a journey it was one I’m glad we took, even if we couldn’t see anything from the top I am proud we made it all the way to the top. Plus the views that we could see were stunning.
I would love the opportunity to go back with better weather to see the full thing and also explore the gardens of Pena Palace, as we decided to skip those due to the weather.
So those are all the things I would recommend doing in Lisbon! There were a couple other things the girls and I did like go to a flea market and also the beach but I feel like those you can kind of do anywhere. And in terms of where to eat and restaurants, my friends and I basically just walked along wherever we were until we found a menu with a vegetarian option for my friend Lauren and also something everyone else could eat. Unfortunately for us, Portugal is seafood heaven and none of us actually eat seafood lol.
But yeah, I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and if you are interested in seeing more of our Lisbon adventures I did manage to vlog a little of each day so you can check that out below!
Now for me, it’s time to return to regular life and start planning my next holiday…