Take Me Back To Lisbon

At the top of the Alfama; Portugal’s oldest neighborhood. 

It’s not unusual for me to long for a place after I leave. Yet there are so many incredible destinations in the world, I seldom re-visit places. Lisbon is an exception. I’m going back. My whole family fell in love with the country of Portugal. We adored the friendly people, hearty food, temperate climate, mysterious castles and lush gardens. From the romantic beaches in the south, to the soaring mountains in the north, the whole country is magical.

Portugal is known for its tiles and it’s soulful Fado folk music. 

And the crown jewel is the capital city, Lisbon. As an intergenerational traveler–with family members as old as 80 and as young as 16–we have challenges finding a vacation destination that everyone enjoys. Well, Lisbon has it all–stellar restaurants, gorgeous scenery, distinct culture, important historical sites, spectacular weather–it really hits every mark.

We loved staying at The Hotel Portugal; strategic location, incredible service, lovely furnishings.

Here are two of the several reasons I especially enjoyed my visit to Lisbon. The first was staying in Lisbon’s new boutique property, Hotel Portugal, and the second, was finding exceptional tour guide to show us the town–Lisbon Secrets.

Portugal pics-32
The Belem Tower is one of Lisbon’s important historical monuments. It squats in the shallows near the mouth of the River Tagus as a symbol of Portugal’s extraordinary Age of Discovery. It was built in 1515-21 as a fortress and originally sited in the middle of the river.
A blend of history and contemporary lifestyle is what makes Lisbon so special

Hotel Portugal is simply lovely in every way, but especially because of the extraordinary staff here. The front desk, restaurant, housekeeping and bell staff are just so professional. They work hard to make the guests feel comfortable and are willing to do anything to meet your needs. They made reservations for us, cancelled reservations, called cabs, answered dozens of questions, gave us directions, advice and just generally make you feel like they enjoy helping you! Has that ever happened?

The color scheme at Hotel Portugal is tied to the blue of Portuguese tiles.

And the breakfast service, which is really delicious and fresh by the way, includes endless refills of your coffee cup! The design of the hotel is fresh and new, and the guest room decor was inspired by the blue and white Portuguese tiles found in buildings throughout the city. Hotel Portugal’s location is excellent, near Rossio Square, but on a quiet side street, steps from several high energy neighborhoods like Chiado, with great restaurants, the metro and shopping.

The orange roofs of Lisbon
Portugal pics-25
Pedro from Lisbon’s Secrets Tour took us to the Age of Discovery park near the 16th-century Jerónimos monastery, a stunning monument of immense historic and cultural significance deserving of its UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lisbon Secrets Tour Guides

We took two different tours through Lisbon Secrets with our guide Pedro. First he took us on the Walking Lisbon tour for 3.5 hours, and then the “Chill Out” Tour which means you tour for eight hours (with a vehicle), but at a relaxed pace so you can take it all in. Pedro has a deep knowledge of Portuguese history and culture. He knows everyone and is able to customize your tour with restaurants and sights, shops and museums.

Sampling the strangely wonderful Portuguese liquor called Ginjinha,
Dont miss the incredible pastries in Lisbon and Sintra


The Intro tour focuses on the Alfama, includes sipping the strangely wonderful Ginjinha, and a visit to a tile making shop. The Chill Tour includes the waterfront monuments, the amazing Expo–a modern part of the city, important churches, bakeries and stylish neighborhoods. With both tours, you will do a lot of walking. So wear comfortable shoes for the cobblestones and tile streets. The tours provide significant understanding of this beautiful city, and by the end, with the help of Pedro, you’ll feel like a native.

It’s easy to get around Lisbon with the streetcar system. 

IMG_2190Lisbon, I miss you.

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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.

10 Comments Leave a comment

    • I know, I thought I might keep it a secret, but I love the people there so much that I want them to benefit from my adoration! I also fell in love with the countryside of Portugal and the romantic city of Porto which I will cover in a future post. Thanks for your feedback! I’ll check out your site too!


  1. Nice to know you enjoyed Portugal : Do you know that the tile featured above is actually of one of the most famous work by a Portuguese artist? His name’s José Malhoa and the title is, as the tile says, O Fado. This work is exhibited in the Fado museum very close to Alfama. There is more to explore in the country for your next visit! I have some ideas you may want to check out.


    • Hey 1000Journeys.wordpress.com Thanks for the insights! Fascinating to know about the artist and the meaning of the tile. I didn’t make it to the Fado Museum but now I know what to do next time I’m in Lisbon. Would love to get some recommendations. We are still working on our travel plans for this summer. I will take a look at your site to get some ideas! Thank you for taking time to write! Happy Travels!


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