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Solo in Lisbon, Portugal—My Trip Report

PHOTOS: I’ve posted some of my photos on google photos. I knew Portugal would be a very photogenic country and it did not disappoint! For this trip, I upgraded my iphone 13 mini to the 15 pro. Much improved zoom on the new phone. Love it!!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/aenGeKS7vzdAdcCZ6

EXPERIENCE WITH TAP AIR PORTUGAL: I flew nonstop on TAP Air Portugal and found TAP to be comparable with other airlines (Swiss, Austrian, KLM, and United) I have recently flown to Europe. My one complaint though is lack of communication. We had a 41-minute (I checked the flight data) taxi before departing O’Hare. It would have been nice to hear from the pilot. Hey, we’re 73rd in line for take-off or something. I was starting to wonder what was going on. I was already nervous about the flights with all recent airplane trouble. And when we landed in Lisbon, it would have been nice to know that we weren’t parking at a gate. That way we could use the restroom if needed before leaving the plane to be bused to the terminal building.

A final note on TAP: They were doing some spot checks on the carry-on luggage—both size and weight. Be sure to check that you are within limits.

https://www.flytap.com/en-us/baggage

LISBON AIRPORT AND METRO TO CITY CENTER: Upon arrival, as mentioned above, we did not arrive at a gate. We had to be bused to the terminal. Not a big deal, expect we were behind many other buses and had to wait some time before exiting the bus. And the bus was mostly standing room only. They let us in at some side door to terminal 1 and it was a little confusing on where to go for passport control. Just keep following the signs for exit and eventually you’ll find it.

Passport control was a bit of a disaster. US passport holders can use the electronic gates, but no one knew how to use them. There were only 3 gates open with no airport personal to help. It’s not difficult, but if you haven’t used them before, it can take some time to figure out. So, here’s what you do: Place your passport, picture side down, on the glass and hold it there so it’s flat. And don’t move it (this is where most people got goofed up). Keep it pressed on the glass as the little dots show up letting you know it’s being scanned. Then the first gate will open. Take your passport and proceed to the next machine where you will have your face scanned and then that gate will open. Proceed to the person in the little box to get your passport stamped.

From there it was easy to find baggage claim (yes, I’m a suitcase checker). :)

Ok, so you are out of airport, now where do you go? This is a good video explaining your options for getting from the airport to the city center, including easy to follow instructions for buying the transportation card (the yellow navegante card).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-3owFj8xpk&t=616s

I chose the metro and added the €30 to the transport card. I wasn’t sure how much I would use the card and did not want to deal with adding more later. I’m big on convenience over saving a few bucks.

I did not love the metro. I guess I’m more of a train girl. It was easy to find the metro at the airport (as shown in the video linked above). I found the signage to transfer metro lines not as clear as I would have liked. But it’s easy to double check if you are on the correct metro and headed in the correct direction. On the metro, there are electronic boards telling you what the next stop is. So, carry a metro map (or check the one on the metro) and you can follow along. Be prepared for some of the elevators and escalators in the metro stations to not be working.

I did not take the metro back to the airport. I ended up taking the private car service offered through my hotel. And boy, was that a lot quicker and easier. I highly recommend a taxi or ride share service to and from the airport. Make things easy for yourself.

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Departing Lisbon airport was an unusual experience. I arrived at my gate (41A) and they had the seats at the gate roped off with police officers making sure no one tried to sit down. I couldn’t find anywhere else to sit nearby as the only other seats I saw were marked handicapped, also roped off. So, be prepared to stand. Eventually, they started checking passports and boarding passes and letting people into the gate area. There were only about 20 seats for hundreds of people. So, you just had to stand in line for boarding. Except you’re not boarding the plane at the gate. You are being bussed out to the plane. And once you go through the gate check they will not let you leave and reenter without waiting in the line again. So, make sure you time your bathroom stop appropriately.

LISBON, PORTUGAL—8 NIGHTS I stayed at the Hotel Santa Justa from March 14 – March 22. Friendly staff and great location (with one exception noted below).

https://www.hotelsantajustalisboa.com/en/

My flight arrived in the morning, so I ended up booking a 9th night so I could get in the room immediately upon arrival. This is a convenience I’m happy to pay for.

My hotel was located in the Baixa District, which was super convenient as I was able to walk everywhere. But, the location came with one negative—the restaurant workers!! The workers are out in the middle of the streets, trying to get everyone who walks by to look at their menu and come inside. You can get stopped by 10 different people in the span of 2 minutes. Don’t even try to say, “Sorry, not hungry” because that’s just the opening they are looking for. “Oh that’s ok, come inside, have a coffee.” I found it best to not make eye contact and just ignore them. Every once in a while, I’d say “no thanks.” The key is to keep walking, do not stop.

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WALKING TOUR AND DAY TOURS

A note on the tours, none of my guides arrived early. So, if you get to the tour meeting place early, do not be alarmed if you do not see the guide.

For my first full day, I took the Revelation Tour by Lisbon Walkers.

https://lisbonwalker.com/packages/revelation-tour/

I debated taking this tour for months and it was a last-minute decision. I was disappointed with a walking tour I took last year in Edinburgh, so I was really hesitant to try another walking tour. But, I have to say, what a really great tour!!! It was just over 3 hours, and it held my interest the entire time. Unlike my Edinburgh tour, this walking tour actually involved walking. My guide was Jose, one of the founders of the company, and it was him + 9 others. I highly recommend this tour.

Another tour I took was Sintra and Cascais small group van tour with Lisbon Riders.

https://lisbonriders.com/group-tours/sintra-cascais/

This is another tour I debated taking. Do I take the tour? Do I see Sintra and Cascais on my own? The more I read about some of the issues with the buses in Sintra, I thought it would be easier to just take the tour. Plus, the stop at Cabo da Roca looked like a nice photo stop. What a great decision, because this tour was just fantastic!!!! Tania was the tour guide, and it’s too bad they can’t clone her and have her do all tours. She was warm, engaging, and informative. Plus, the tour members (8 total including me) were just a great group to spend the day with. This tour was part guided, with free time in both Sintra and Cascais.

My third and final tour, also with Lisbon Riders, was the Fatima, Nazare and Obidos Tour.

https://lisbonriders.com/group-tours/fatima-nazare-obidos/

Here’s what I have in my notes for this tour: “A big dud!!” What a difference people can make on a tour. The guide was Diogo, and he was not interested in being a guide. I learned more about him and his girlfriend than I did about Portugal. And none of the other tour members were interested in talking. You know the tour is in trouble when I’m the most talkative one. So, we pretty much just drove around in silence the whole day. Not fun. I did really enjoy Obidos though.

DAY TRIP TO SINTRA

I ended up going back to Sintra on my own to see Quinta da Regaleira.

https://www.regaleira.pt/pt/

Buy your tickets ahead of time. They are good for 120 days after purchase. So, no need to pick a day/time.

If you find yourself in Sintra, be sure to check out the bakery Piriquita. You can’t miss the yellow sign out front. Sintra is known for two pastries—cheesecake and the almond pillow. Be sure to try them both. Free WCs in front of the National Palace, but be nice and leave a small tip for the lady sitting there doing her crossword puzzles. There is also what looked like a portable-type WC at the Sintra train station.

The train to Sintra is easy, leaving from the Rossio train station, but it was crowded. I got there 15 minutes early and got one of the last seats. Also, make things easy on yourself and take the train without a train change. You can check the train app or website to see which trains do not involve a change.

https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en/train-times

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DAY TRIP TO BELEM

I really enjoyed Belem, until I tried to get back to the city center. I took the train from Cais do Sodre train station. It was a quick 7-minute ride. When I tried to return by train, the trains were not running even though they were still on the schedule. I guess the train app does not show real time info. like in some other countries. On the train app, there is a section for “alerts and information” but this info. is also not updated in real time. I found out a few days later, there was an incident at the Cais do Sodre train station electrical substation, which caused the suspension of train traffic. To make a long story short, I ended up taking the standing room only bus back to the city center. The Lisbon Citymapper app came in handy as it let me know which bus # I needed to take.

https://citymapper.com/lisboa?lang=en

I arrived in Belem early, a little after 7am, to get some pictures before the crowds arrived. From the train station, I walked to the war memorial, the Monument to Overseas Combatants, passing by the Monument of the Discoveries and Belem Tower on my way. Then I made my way to Pasteis de Belem to try the famous egg tarts. No line when I was there. After my snack, I headed over to the Monastery of Jeronimos. It opens at 9:30 and I was first in line at 8:55. I had purchased the Lisbon card ahead of time, which included free entry into the monastery. After my visit, I walked 4 minutes to the botanical garden. This was a great place to escape the sun and the people and hang out with the 40-50 peacocks that live in the garden. Next, I walked back to the Monument of the Discoveries, which was now open, and took the elevator to the top. Nice views!! I then headed back to Belem tower (note if you have the Lisbon card, you still need to get a free ticket). I much preferred the views from the Monument of the Discoveries. So, if there’s a long line for the Tower, my opinion is you are missing nothing by not going inside. There are several WCs in Belem, but they are not open early in the morning. I had planned a second day in Belem to visit the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology and the National Coach Museum, but with the train issues and nice weather, I decided to skip a second day here for more time at St. George Castle.

ST. GEORGE CASTLE What a pleasant surprise this turned out to be. I went 3 separate times!!! Save yourself some time and buy tickets ahead of time. They are good for 90 days so no need to pick a day/time. Also, save yourself some steps uphill and take the 2 elevators (Free) to the castle. The first lift (Elevador Castelo; open 8am) departs from a building in Rua dos Fanqueiros (170/178) and drops people off in Rua da Madalena. A mere 100 meters further there is another lift (Baixa lift), that transports passengers to the level of Costa do Castelo street. Here’s s a short video showing the elevators:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGe3lzh9Ovg

I fell in love with the peacocks here. They were everywhere. It was such a great place to walk around for a few hours. After each visit, I walked around the Alfama district. Before heading to the castle, you can walk to the Miradouro de Santa Luzia to get some pictures. Go early before the crowds. While in the Alfama district, be sure to check out the Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls. Well worth the entry fee.

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SANTA JUSTA LIFT With the navegante card, you can ride up for just €1.60 or whatever it was. Without the card, it is €6 cash only. Are there other ways to get up to see the views? Sure, but I liked the elevator. I never had to wait more than 10 minutes. Once at the top, you are right near the Carmo Convent, well worth paying to see the inside.

WHY JUST LISBON: I had originally planned to visit both Lisbon and Porto. But, after all the train strikes seemingly everywhere last year, I decided to make this a one city trip. That way, I could fly into Lisbon and just stay there and not have to worry about getting to Porto if there was a train strike. I have to say, it was pretty nice staying in one location the entire trip. I wasn’t sure if 8 nights would seem too quick for a trip, considering the long flight, but I felt it was a good amount of time. I don’t have jet lag issues, so that wasn’t an issue.

WEATHER: My streak of near perfect travel weather continues, with only 1 day of drizzle on the day of my walking tour. The other days, it was cool in the morning and then it warmed up. The sun felt very warm. Even when it was partly cloudy, you could still feel the sun. I texted my sister from one my day tours and told her I was melting. She asked what the temp was, and I checked the weather app and it said 64 degrees. How can that be, it felt like 94!!

CASH OR CREDIT: I used cash here multiple times. For some places, purchases under €5 are cash only. But then a few places were card only, even for purchases under €5. So, not a bad idea to have a little cash.

FOOD: I’m a picky eater and prefer not to spend too much time on sit down meals. That was not an issue on this trip. There were so many places to grab a quick bite to eat. I loved the Time Out Market. Touristy? Sure, but super convenient. Lots of options for a quick meal. If it’s crowded, you can get the food to go and eat by the river.

WC TIP: If the lights go out when you are in a WC, just wave your arm in the air and the lights will come back on.

SOLO TRAVEL: I never felt unsafe when out and about. I’m never out at night. There were police offers on the metro from the airport and I was happy to see them. Usually, on public transportation, I look to enter a car that is not crowded. But honestly, on the metro, as a solo traveler, I would look for a car with plenty of other people.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I didn’t fall in love with Lisbon, as I have with some other places I have visited. But, it is a great Spring destination and I haven’t ruled out a future trip to see more of the country.

NEXT UP: A solo trip to Switzerland in June. London with my sister and her husband in Sept./Oct.

Posted by
4292 posts

Thanks for the report, we head to Lisbon in September. Interesting about your airport experience, I wonder if all arrivals/departures are like that?

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Carrie
Nice report. thanks for reaching out.
the airport part of traveling is pretty rough lately. the plane to bus thing is the worst.
the last several trips were up and down stairs and on buses at the airports. I guess it's part of the adventure now.
thanks

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2589 posts

We will be in Portugal, also flying TAP Portugal, in October. So especially enjoyed this.

I did wonder if the electronic passport checkers are different than other European airports or if this crowd was uninitiated. I have used the ones in Paris and London for example. I do remember though not doing it right the first time at Heathrow and having to wait for a person while my more talented husband whizzed through.

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Hi Allan, I’m not sure if that’s the norm or not. If it is, some extra info. in the RS guidebook would be helpful. I’m a big planner and like to know as many details as possible ahead of time. Had I known they weren’t going to open up the gate area prior to checking passports/boarding passes, I would have ventured further from the gate to see if I could find a seat to eat my sandwich. Also, I couldn’t help but wonder, how do the people in wheelchairs handle the stairs up and down from the plane. Have a great trip in Sept.

Hi Greg, you are exactly right, the traveling to and from is not pleasant. And it always seems worse in the moment. Now that I’ve been home a few days, I’m like, it really wasn’t so bad. I hope you have a great time this May/June.

Hi Beth, I’m trying to remember if the Lisbon electronic gates are the same as the ones I used at the Edinburgh airport. I want to say in Edinburgh, the machine takes your passport in and spits it back out, but I’m probably remembering wrong. I was sympathetic to the people in line ahead of me. It was an older group. I was thinking if this was my parents, there’s no way they’d be able to quickly figure it out. And my dad would be yelling for someone to come help. :) It's hard to think clearly after a long flight when you're exhausted. I always watch the people ahead of me so I can see what works and doesn’t work. Enjoy your Oct. trip.

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464 posts

Carrie, thanks for that trip report. I was solo in Lisbon in February and enjoyed reading your experiences.
I flew United to LIS and we went right to the gate, no bussing. I also don't remember a long walk once we deplaned, either. When I went through the passport e-gates, there was a person there to help, but having used them before, I figured out what to do. Our flight landed about 2.5 hours late because we had to make an unplanned stop in the Azores to offload someone who was having a medical emergency. So there was no line at the gates and we went right through.

Because I was staying in the Alfama and the walk to my Air BnB was all uphill from the Santa Appolonia train station, I opted for an Uber from the airport and am glad I did. The Uber pickup spot is apparently new, but the way there is signposted in the terminal and there are large signs at the spot so you can't miss it. I took the Metro back to the airport on departure day. I too found it a little bit confusing as far as signage goes and I feel like I'm a pretty experienced subway/Metro/whatever rider.

I too paid for an extra night so that I could check in as soon as I arrived. Isn't that so nice, not to have to kill several hours waiting to check in?? Even if I can drop my bags, I'm so tired and ready to nap that I'm miserable. I buy that extra night all the time now, unless I arrive after check in time.

I didn't make it to Belem - I planned to, but there was so much street noise during much of the night that kept me up for hours. I overslept and got up too late to beat the crowds. After reading your description, I am sorry I missed it!

I didn't fall in love with Lisbon either, but your pictures are so gorgeous they do make me want to visit again!

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3985 posts

Thanks for taking the time to write your trip report. We too will be in Lisbon beginning Oct. 1 for 6 nights. We’ll be arriving from Tomar. I have Rick’s book and will start my final plans in June.
Have a nice time in Switzerland.

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2589 posts

Carrie-another question. How did the amount of money you put on the transport card work out? Did you need more? Have a lot left?

Trying to figure this out. We will return the rental car to the airport (flying to Porto through Lisbon and then driving). I do think we will take your advice and use Uber or Bolt. The owner of air bnb we are renting told us not to take a taxi at the airport as the drivers rip off tourists.

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Thanks Carrie, another great TR! Can you maybe elaborate on what it was about Lisbon you didn’t fall in love with? How crowded was it?

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Hi kayla, I’m happy to hear it’s not just me that felt that way about the metro. There was actually a United plane at my gate in Lisbon and a I had a moment of panic thinking, “oh no, they switched planes and I have to go on a united boeing.” :) But we went down some escalators to wait for the bus to take us to the TAP plane. I’ve got an extra night booked for my London trip. I’ll just start adding this into my travel budget for early morning arrivals. Way more convenient than having to drop your bags at reception.

Hi Barbara, It sounds like everyone is going to Portugal this year. :) The RS books are always my favorite. For this trip, I also liked Rough Guide. I’ve been looking forward to Switzerland since the day I returned from my June 2022 trip!! Have a great time in Oct.

Hi Beth, The amount I put on the card worked great. I estimate I probably used slightly more than half of it, which I’m completely fine with. I had planned to get more than I needed. I had heard the same thing about the taxis—avoid them. I’m happy to try and answer any more questions if you have any.

Hi Tammy, I’m happy to elaborate, but I don’t want any comments on my weird personality quirks. :) I’m learning that I do not do as well in countries where people bother you. And by that I mean, people coming up to you trying to sell you stuff, trying to give you stuff and then wanting money, etc. Things like that really bother me. I just want to be left alone when I’m out walking. I also did not love Italy for this same reason. I realize this is not an issue for most people. Also, the gold standard for me is Switzerland. That was my first trip for Europe and everything there was just so easy and worked the way it should. And on one bothered me. :)

As far as crowds, March was a great time to go. It was a little crowded when I arrived, because it was the weekend of a half marathon and I have always found weekends to be more crowded in general everywhere. But even then, I didn’t find it to be unbearably crowded. I’m always up super early to visit the popular sights then find less popular things to do later in the day.

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1970 posts

Hi Carrie,

I really loved your report because it was so real and down to earth.

I was in Lisbon last October at the end of a nine day cruise. Maybe because I do not travel much, I did fall in love with Lisbon.

I stayed four nights, also in the Baxia neighborhood. I chose this neighborhood because it was flat and I have problems with my arthritic knee.

I was there late October and it rained every day. Sometimes it poured and other times, we only had drizzle. And now and then it was dry but raincoats and umbrellas were a must. You were lucky with weather.

Reading your report, I realize how much I missed. I feel poignant.

I take one cruise a year and will be sailing the Mediterranean leaving from Barcelona next October.

Will look forward to your upcoming travel reports.

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2488 posts

Great trip report and photos! There were peacocks walking around the gardens at The Royal Alcazar in Seville if/when you go.

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465 posts

Love the peacock photo that looks like it is on a rooftop or patio? I too do not like aggressive vendors/sellers. Really unnerves/panics me and actually makes me not want to shop or walk through a market vs wanting to buy something. We are going to Vietnam in April and I have read that the sellers in the markets there are really aggressive so not looking forward to that. Thank you for a great Lisbon report! It has been on my husband's travel wish list for years now so it is a trip for us in the coming few years.

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Carrie,
I'm happy I found your Trip Report. I applaud all you solo travelers out there! Sometimes when I feel my husband's stomach is our trip guide, I fantasize about solo traveling. ( wink emoji)

And your great weather fortune continues! Were the gardens in bloom?

Another well-written and practical report. I will definitely bookmark for my future travels!
Thanks again

PS Your pix are great and those peacocks!!!

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3350 posts

Carrie, I’m sure your not the only person on the forum who likes to be left alone when out walking!

Don’t go to Egypt though. They would make the vendors in Portugal and Italy seem tame!

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That's so funny Tammy as I was literally getting ready to post Carrie's phrase

I just want to be left alone when I’m out walking.

To which my response is AMEN !!!

thanks for the trip report Carrie. I totally get how you can enjoy someplace but not fall in love.

Smart thinking reserving the hotel the night before, so the room is yours when you arrive. Easier to do in cheaper places like Portugal though - although I see you do plan on doing it in London this fall !! And traveling with your sister and brother-in-law this fall ??! Don't think I didn't notice that !!!! Good luck !!!

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1693 posts

Great report.

Lisbon is one of my favourite cities. We stayed within the castle walls and frequently had peacocks on the roof outside our kitchen window.

A question: Does the Lisboa card no longer include transportation on the metro, trains, etc?

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2852 posts

Hi Bostonphil, I appreciate your kind words. I missed some things I had planned to see too. But I also saw a lot just walking around that wasn’t on my list. I hope you have a great time on your next cruise.

Hi Mary, Peacocks in Seville!?!?!? Say no more, I am moving Spain up my list. :)

Hi Pete, That was at the castle. I probably have about 300 more peacock pics, but I figured I’d better just select a few to share. They really were one of the highlights of my trip.

Hi Gail, Peacocks in trees, who knew?? It was so weird to see them fly.

Hi Pat, I was a little too early for most things to be in bloom. A lot of my pictures just have empty branches. I was thinking, these would look so much better with flowers. You’ll have to see enough flowers for the both of us in the Netherlands. You will be on flower overload!

Hi Tammy, Thanks for the heads-up on Egypt. It’s not on my list at the moment. I may need a class on dealing with people before I tackle a country like that. :)

Hi Kim, You caught that, huh??? :) We are all determined to do better in London. We travelled so well together in Switzerland, so I know it’s possible. I am going to make sure the brother-in-law is well fed. And if anyone wants to sleep in or watch youtube in the morning, I will happily go out on my own.

Hi BB, It sounds like you had the perfect location. I did see a couple of peacocks on someone’s balcony eating some food. Yes, the Lisbon card does include transportation for the days (1-3) you have the card.

For anyone in the planning stages, here is some info. on the Lisbon card:

https://www.visitlisboa.com/en/p/lisboa-card

https://lisboa-card.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Lisboa_Card_IncludedAttractions.pdf

And on the navegante card. I opted for the “zapping” option as that seemed the easiest.

https://www.metrolisboa.pt/en/buy/viva-viagem-card/

Posted by
564 posts

Loved your trip report. I really liked the use of bold headings and paragraphs. Makes for an easier read. I think i’m going to emulate your style in my future trip reports.

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2852 posts

Thanks Kim. I took over 2600 pictures this trip! I’m in the process now of narrowing down. I like to end up with no more than 200 pics per trip.

Thanks Derek. I work for a legal publisher, which has helped me refine my writing style over the years.

Posted by
5126 posts

Carrie, when you write your Trip Reports do you use an outside program and paste them in, or do you write directly on the RS site? I have trouble with formatting when I write directly on the RS site. Thanks

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1368 posts

Carrie, thanks for the great TR of your time in Lisbon. Some of your comments brought to mind my own experience on the trips I took to Portugal (2015 and 2023). Agree that TAP airlines staff are not great with communication or giving status updates. The flight I had booked with them Porto>Lisbon>Frankfurt was delayed, passengers didn’t see a plane at the gate for the longest time until the staff finally announced the flight would be delayed again. They did, however, see that I would miss my connecting flight and booked me on Lufthansa direct to Frankfurt without the stop in Lisbon. So, I guess it worked out. But yeah, communication is lacking. Oh, and agree that having to take a bus to the gate was irritating and also having to deplane using the stairs was weird. Brought me back to flying in the 1970’s.

TAP carryon limits: funny thing, I guessed my bag would not be accepted so when I booked the inbound flight (Frankfurt > Lisbon) I paid for the bag to be checked. Well, guess I’m so not used to checking a bag that I totally forgot to and boarded the plane with the bag. For some reason, the gate agent didn’t bat an eye at the size (the bag is just over their limits). Anyway, I felt kind of dumb when I realized I forgot to check the bag.
Money NOT well spent!

Aggressive restaurant staff experienced near Rossio square. I just looked away when they approached me. Also glad you enjoyed a meal at TimeOut. I did that on the 2015 trip - still remember the duck confit from a French restaurant and the avocado toast with huge plate of salad greens washed down with an ice cold Super Bock beer. Delicious!

Citymapper was great in Lisbon but not available in Coimbra. I used Google Maps when CityMapper wasn’t available and it worked out good.

Carrie, I also enjoyed the Lisbon Riders guide, Tanya, on the Nazare, Fatima, Obidos tour I took. Tanya is just such a spitfire - so engaging and excited about her country. She made our tour very enjoyable.

Again, I really enjoyed your report - so easy to read with appropriate paragraphs and such. Happy travels to Switzerland

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2852 posts

Hi Pat, I write the trip reports in another document first—Word or a draft email—and then paste into the forum. I still have to do some formatting after pasting, like extra returns for paragraphs and add the bold text.

Hi Linda, It’s so great that you also had Tanya as a guide. She really was fantastic! I’m sure my Fatima tour would have been 500% better if she was the guide. I’d like to think a return trip would be more enjoyable as I’d be better prepared for some of the annoyances—the airport and the restaurant workers. It was my least expensive trip so far. So, that’s another reason to consider a return and include some more cities like Porto.

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82 posts

Thanks so much for this write up!

I plan on going to Sintra for the day but need to pick only a few places. I’d like to see Peña palace but only the outside not interior. Not sure if this is possible? The lines look crowded.

Monserrat is on my list - not sure it’s easy to get to by bus… seems far.

also like to see Regaleira.

I’m a bit so so about the Moorish castle and National Palace. Was it worth seeing more than other areas?

A bit of time in the city sounds nice.

Thoughts?
Did you find that a tour helped save time?

Thank you

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2852 posts

Hi kathryndesign, you can purchase a ticket for Pena palace gardens/exterior only. You can find that info. here:

https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/pt/parques-monumentos/parque-e-palacio-nacional-da-pena/

Sintra is pretty spread out. I would probably just pick two sights there if doing a day trip from Lisbon.

A tour can be a great option if you find one that matches our interests. It’s nice not to have to worry about the logistics sometimes.

Have a great trip!

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175 posts

Thank you for a wonderfully detailed trip report and some stunning photos, Carrie! Those blue-greens of the water and the peacocks...sigh.

I've been dreaming about future destinations lately, Portugal among them. If I make my way to Lisbon any time soon, I will come back to your TR for guidance on the particulars.

Posted by
6073 posts

What a great, detailed and succinct trip report!

I'm sorry your arrival was such a hassle. Certainly not pleasant after a long flight. I wonder if some of the issues were unique to TAP? We flew Delta and our arrival at Lisbon airport was a breeze. We arrived at about late morning (about an hour early), boarded the metro then train to Sintra, checked into our BnB and was able to see Quinta da Regaleira that afternoon.

Our departure was also quite a breeze which was good because we arrived to the airport 1.5 hours prior to our flight no thanks to Uber.

We got to Portugal a few days after Easter 2023, on April 11. It was crowded, but I heard that actually a fair amount less crowded than Easter week. We were only affected by train strikes.

I'm thinking perhaps a "sweet spot" for visiting Portugal is just prior to Easter.

We typically get to Europe in the am. We stay at smaller hotels and BnBs. We have never not be able to check in early. It is worth asking for an early check in.

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Hi Jules. Thanks! It might be the luck of the draw on airport hassles. I had issues in Zurich last month too, which is unusual for that airport. I think part of my problem is that I’m such a big planner, that when something doesn’t go as planned, it sort of throws me for a loop. That is definitely something I have to work on.

As far as hotels, they usually can’t guarantee an early check-in. So, if I arrive at 9 am and someone is still in my room and not checking out until noon and then the room has to be cleaned, I would be out of luck on the early check-in. For me, the extra expense is worth it if I’ll be arriving early. I have a flight into Dublin next year at 5 am. I’m not even sure the hotel will be open that early. :-) I did pay for an extra night. I just figure it as part of my budget now. Along with the $100 for my Verizon plan.

I agree with you on the “sweet spot” for Portugal. If I go again (and I think I will to see Porto), I think it will be in March again before Easter.