The thing is I’m not even joking.
For years I’ve been told that my great, great grandfather was Portuguese. Information relayed through oral history – as my cousin Tanya would call it, stories passed down from generation to generation.
So how did I come to the Portugal conclusion?
- Well for starters there’s a sepia-toned oval-framed portrait of a white man with a beautiful young black lady that hangs on the wall of my mother’s childhood home.
- Whenever she can my cousin Tanya puts in some painstaking work gathering documents; government records, marriage certificates and death certificates. She managed to trace our family tree right to the sepia-toned oval framed portrait.
- Based on the timeline of the Slave Triangle – ships that sailed from Portugal to Africa, to the Carribean and back to Portugal. Since, my parents are from Barbados – which is not only the most beautiful island in the Carribean, it was also controlled by Portugal for awhile.
I started working on a short web series for my YouTube channel called Becoming Rudderless in hopes of tracking this journey.
For now, its what to see in Lisbon in 2 days!
- Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in western Europe, with a history that stretches back to its original settlement by the indigenous Iberians.
- Lisbon flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries as the centre of a vast empire during the period of the Portuguese discoveries, This was a time of intensive maritime exploration, when the Kingdom of Portugal accumulated great wealth and power through its colonization of Asia, South America, Africa and the Atlantic islands.
- Evidence of the city’s wealth can still be seen today in the magnificent structures built then, including the Jerónimos Monastery and the nearby Tower of Belém, each classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Getting to Lisbon
In spring and summer several airline companies offer direct flights from various cities in the U.S. to Lisbon:
American Airlines: flights from Philadelphia.
Tap Portugal: flights from Boston, Miami and New York JFK
United Airlines: direct flights from New York JFK and Newark.
Various carriers offer non-stop flights between Toronto and Montreal and Lisbon:
From spring 2017, Tap Portugal offers nonstop flights between Toronto and Lisbon.
Air Canada and Air Transat also offer direct flights during the warmest months of the year.
If you are living in the United Kingdom and are organizing a trip to Lisbon, there are numerous low-cost carriers from various parts of the country to Portugal’s capital. A flight from London to Lisbon takes two hours and a half.
Easyjet: flies to Lisbon from Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London Gatwick and London Luton. Return flights can cost £70 or less.
British Airways: flies from London Heathrow and in just two and a half hours, you’re in Lisbon. Flights cost a minimum of £50.
Ryanair: flies from London STN, Manchester, Glasgow. Return flights can cost £60 or less.
If you plan to travel around Portugal, you might want to think of travelling by train. A journey between Porto and Lisbon takes 3 hours. If you are travelling from Spain to Lisbon, you can take a night train that leaves every day from Madrid. The journey takes 10 hours and costs a minimum of 60€. This means of transportation is the slowest and most expensive, but you might prefer it to a plane.
If you are exploring the Iberian Peninsula by car, we recommend you use Google Maps. Both Portugal and Spain have good highways, making it easy to get around.
Perfectly located on the Praҁa dos Restauradores, this hotel faces the Avenida da Liberdade on one side and the neo-Manueline, horseshoe-arched Rossio station on the other. It was built in Lisbon’s 1940s heyday and became a hotel in 2011, offering 70 elegantly designed rooms and a rooftop restaurant.
In the narrow streets of lower Lisbon which run down to the wide Tagus River, this 18th-century building, with its pistachio green façade, offers 84 rooms and a buzzy bar and brasserie. Frequent art exhibitions, live performances, talks and pop-ups make this as popular with locals as with visitors.
In ‘downtown’ Baixa on a pedestrian-only street and within walking distance of the city’s main sights such as Praҁa do Comércio on the waterfront. This is a lively, buzzy district with new shops and cafés opening all the time. Lisbon Airport is 30 minutes away by Aerobus shuttle and Santa Apolónia Railway Station is a 20-minute walk.
Santa Justa Lift
The perfect way to get connected to a city is to establish your bearings. The best way to establish your bearings is from the air or a high point in the city. The Santa Justa Lift does that while it connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square). As you’ll discover rather quickly the hills of Lisbon can get steep – for those looking the strengthen their glutes no problem but for the rest of us it’s a problem.
Commerce Square | Arco da Rua Augusta
This square is also called Terreiro do Paco, which was made in place of Ribeira Palace that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755. Many festivals, concerts, processions and executions took place over the last centuries.
Although it is still early in the morning, I figure now is a good a time as any to enjoy a beer. Aura Lisboa is in the heart of Lisbon overlooking the Tagus River and surrounded by the Terreiro do Paco Square. In addition to festivals, concerts, processions and executions its also a central meeting place for the locals.
I was told by friends, colleagues and fellow travel bloggers, that when planning what to see in Lisbon riding tram 28 to climb the steep hill from Baixa to the castle and Alfama is an absolute must1. These trams are a huge part of the Lisbon public transport network.
A Padaria Portuguesa
It’s a popular spot so it can get hectic.
However, all that time waiting, mouth-watering will convert into a soothing feeling when you finally have that ‘Pao de Deus’ (Heavenly bread) in front of you…
It is incredible.
Portuguese pastries are incredible.
The fish and seafood are incredible and the way they do chicken with that peri-peri sauce is also incredibly, incredible.
My good friend Zara Quiroga from Backpack ME sent me the 2nd edition of her ultimate Lisbon food guide – Lisbon In 100 Bites. The pictures are simply stunning and along with the descriptions, it’s guaranteed to get your tummy rumbling.
Lisbon Cathedral is an ancient cathedral that was made by the first king of Portugal in 1150 for the city’s first bishop. It has two tower bells and a beautiful rose window which resembles a medieval fortress while inside it looks Romanesque.
If you take 28 Tram, it will take you past the cathedral.
While walking around our Airbnb accommodations we discovered this church. The church of Graca was built in the 16th century. Four Atlas style figures are placed at four corners which symbolize the four rivers.
Rossio Square is another one of those typical European squares that made me fall in love with Europe. This beautiful place is always occupied by people who want to sit and relax. In the center of the square, there is a monument and two fountains on either side of it. Perfect for two of my favourite pastimes – drinking beer, drinking coffee and people watching.
Castle of St George
This beautiful castle can be seen from every part of the city. However, trekking up to the castle will cut into your Lisbon itinerary – Well maybe just mine. It once served as a Moorish royal residence in the 6th century. The main gate of the castle has a statue of King Afonso Henriques and a series of cannons on display.
I have to admit, I was not expecting this. I only ever saw Christ The Redeemer in Brazil but then again there is a connection between Brazil and Portugal so it does make sense.
This 90ft structure of Christ that welcomes you to Lisbon is a must be seen. You have to take the commuter ferry from Cais do Sodre station to reach here.
As you plan what to see in Lisbon in 2 days consider taking a trip out to the Belem District and starting here at Jerónimos Monastery. It was made by King Manuel in1502 on the site of a hermitage where Vaco DA Gama and his crew spent last night before leaving
The Age of discoveries started in 1415 when Vasco De Gama discovered a shorter way to India. This monument was built for the 1940 World Exhibition.
This tower was built in the early 16th century, which dominates the architecture style of Manueline. This is made up of
Getting to Lisbon from Sintra is not difficult but once there you will find the best example of 19th-century architecture. This is a must-visit destination for tourists. That said, if you want to spend more time in Sintra, Laura Robinson from The Life of Lady L wrote an awesome post called A Sweet Sojourn to Sintra.
Lastly, on one of your evenings please take in a Fado Show. Otherwise known as the Portuguese Blues. It’s the one thing I didn’t get to do but I did see a Fado show in Toronto when I returned from Lisbon and I highly recommend the emotional rollercoaster ride.
The local beer of Portugal is Sagres so I wrote a little something about it called Sagres in Lisbon. For more on beer and travel visit our infamous The Local Beer Movement
Find out more about some famous Lisbon festivals: Lisbon’s Most Exciting Festivals
What To See In Lisbon In 2 Days
Personally, I think Lisbon is underrated. 2 Days in Lisbon will definitely give you a new appreciation of what a great city it is. Need I remind you Portugal is connected solely by Spain on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. This means fresh seafood. So please do not come here and not have seafood or at least try fish.
They got catching fish and preparing fish locked and mastered. However, they also know how to prepare chicken.
They use this delicious secret spice sauce called Peri-Peri on the chicken and the fish and the meat…it’s incredible. The Portuguese also make incredible pastries as I mentioned earlier. Speaking of food, for the true foodie pick up Lisbon In 100 Bites the ultimate Lisbon food guide by Zara Quiroga. Awesome and delicious stuff!
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you purchase a product, I may earn a commission. This commission comes at no extra cost to you. Please remember that I never recommend a product just for the commission — I only recommend something I genuinely believe in, trust and/or use personally. The small income I make here will help in maintaining this blog. Thanks for your support!