We deliberately coincided the break with Stanley’s fourth birthday. He’s a huge train enthusiast, so we were particularly excited to show him the trams (and, of course, ride them!).
My part-time obsession is wanderlusting different countries and people’s homes on Airbnb. In January, I chanced upon award-winning architect Pedro Matos Gameiro’s home in Alfama. It ticked every criteria on my list and then some…!
My part-time obsession is wanderlusting different countries and people’s homes on Airbnb.
The house is situated in a quaint medieval district. In fact it’s one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Europe. Situated in a small village which by and large has remained untouched, the house stands as a time capsule to the years before Lisbon was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.
The house is the result of a recent rehabilitation of a small 16th century building – only the door remains to this day. Despite the modernist facade, the building still feels completely natural in its environment.
The house is set over several elevations and has two courtyards, a private heated open air swimming pool and a roof terrace balcony along a with a hammock. Whilst it’s central, it’s very peaceful and every Saturday there is a flea market just a stone’s throw away.
We only visited for four days, but I feel we managed to get a real flavour of Lisbon.
We navigated the narrow and windy roads by tram – a must is line 28, which you can pick up just around the corner from the house. It’s the original tram from the 1930’s and passes by some of Lisbon’s finest attractions. It’s a bumpy and, at times, busy ride – you can’t beat the authenticity.
We arrived in Lisbon with a rough agenda and played it by ear, due to the changeable weather. I love form and architecture, so we took a wander around both the recently opened, ‘Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology’ (MAAT) by Amanda Levete and the Pavilhao do Conhecimento. Like everything in Lisbon, it was great value for money and very welcoming to families. Stanley’s highlight was Pavilhao do Conhecimento the Interactive Science Museum, which is the perfect antidote on an overcast day. Next door was the Oceanário de Lisboa, one of the world’s best aquariums.
One fine day, we walked around Belem and saw the Jerónimos Monastery, the tropical park and tried the world famous custard tarts from Pasteis de Belem. They were delicious. Don’t be put off by the queues because it was a well oiled machine and the wait wasn’t nearly as long as it first appeared.
Stanley’s birthday request was a beach, so we asked our host for advice and was recommended Cascais. We opted for a picturesque train ride along the coast. We actually only stayed in the harbour (rather than exploring the larger neighbouring beaches) and enjoyed a traditional Portuguese chicken lunch (with Sangria for the grown ups).
We genuinely found Lisbon to be as good as the hype.
Everyone was friendly and welcoming, the food was great and even though the sun didn’t shine for us every day (we did hedge our bets going in March) we had more than enough to keep us occupied.
We’ll definitely be going back and, next time, I’d like to visit the LX Factory. If you’re visiting without children, I’ve heard that downtown is supposed to be great for nightlife.
We’re still deliberating on our next adventure. Stockholm is a definite (to see friends) but we might just try and squeeze in one sunny break too. I’ve been looking at Santorini, Sorrento and the South of France. Any recommendations would be warmly welcomed.
Flights and accommodation
We flew from London Stansted to Lisbon Portugal with Ryan Air.
Words and photography by Fiona Burrage.