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Exploring Lisbon: From Pastéis de Nata to Castelo de São Jorge

The following blog post was written with the assistance of ChatGPT

A walking tour through Lisbon’s streets and squares offers a unique and intimate look at the city, allowing oneto soak up its history, culture, and atmosphere. In this post, I’ll take you through a walking tour of downtown Lisbon, highlighting some of the city’s sights.

Praça do Comércio

Praça do Comércio is one of the largest city squares., and is a popular destination for visitors. The square is surrounded by beautiful buildings, including the elegant Arco da Rua Augusta and the magnificent Palácio dos Condes de Calheta. There are also a variety of bustling cafes and restaurants that line the square

The Praça do Comércio also faces the Tagus river. The river is a key feature of the city’s landscape and has played a significant role in the city’s history and development. The 25 de Abril Bridge spans the river and is painted in the same orange colour as the Golden Gate Bridge, and has a similar design to the Bay Bridge in San Francisco.

Seafood culture

Portugal is proud of its seafood culture, with a long history of fishing and coastal communities that have helped shape the country’s culinary traditions. It is an integral part of daily life for many Portuguese people. Restaurants everywhere serve a variety of seafood dishes.

We were able to go to a nice seafood buffet at the Praça do Comércio at a placed called Baía do Peixe. One of the items on the seafood platter was a gooseneck barnacle (left hand side in the picture). We’d never seen that before and had to ask the owner how to peel them – the shell is soft enough to be separated from the meat with just the fingernails. The owner himself was super nice and chatted with us about how he used to work at a Cantonese restaurant and showed off a few phrases to us too.

A far far less spectacular meal, at a place I absolutely do not recommend is at Cervejaria Ramiro. We had a bout of food poisoning with a fever too. Two of our friends recommended this place to us too. While the place had a lot of good reviews, we found out later that a lot of recent reviews also talked about food poisoning. The oysters tasted salty as if from added salt as opposed to the natural ocean, and the shrimps were rubbery from being overcooked and only had very simple seasonings of butter and salt.

Despite the seafood culture, it’s too bad we had this experience. It’s been pretty rare for me to *not* like the food of a place I travel to. There’s a stereotype that British people have bad food, but maybe they’ve got competition now.

Castelo de São Jorge

Castelo de São Jorge (St. George’s Castle), is a castle situated on a hilltop overlooking the city. The castle dates back to the Moorish period and has played a key role in the city’s history, serving as a royal palace, a military stronghold, and a prison over the centuries.

The castle’s ramparts offer a perfect place to take in the panoramic views of Lisbon and its surroundings, including the River Tejo and the old city center. At the time, it looked like a fire was happening. We saw puffs of smoke coming out and heard sirens down below

We got to tour its museums and exhibitions, explore its ramparts and gardens, and admire its architecture. The gardens are also a habitant for peacocks, and can be seen around the premises. What I didn’t know is that they can fly a bit, and we saw several of them high up in the trees

Alfama District

One of the first things that visitors to Lisbon will notice is its hilly terrain, with narrow cobblestone streets and historic buildings that seem to spill down the hillsides, especially in the Alfama District. The district is also where the Castelo de Sao Jorge is located. Another neighbourhood to visit is also the Bairro Alto.

Time Out Market

The Time Out Market is where we went after waking up super late after a late night of New Year’s festivities. The Time Out Market is a bustling food hall featuring a diverse selection of local and international cuisine, from traditional Portuguese dishes including some fusion creations. Time Out Market offers visitors a taste of Lisbon’s food scene.

Like much of Lisbon, it’s pretty easy to find Pastéis de Natas. It’s a sweet, flaky pastry is filled with a creamy, egg-based custard that is lightly dusted with cinnamon and powered sugar. The one at the Time Out Market was pretty good, but the best one is still the one from Fábrica da Nata. We also tried a tasting of several different kinds of small plates, but they tasted OK and weren’t too memorable

LX Factory

LX Factory is kind of a hipster market. It offers a diverse range of Portuguese and international cuisine, and has a lively atmosphere, and has a range of stalls selling artisanal products, such as jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs. It’s a place to wander and soak up the atmosphere, as well as grab a bite to eat, though a lot of it is catered to tourists. In particular, there was a really good chocolate place there called Landeau Chocolate, and a health food chain called Oakberry that sold really delicious acai bowls/smoothies (they even have a presence in North America)

Rossio Square

Rossio Square is one of the city squares that are hard to miss when walking around Lisbon. It’s a historic square, that is surrounded by cafes, historic buildings, and tourist shops. The square is also home to the national theatre.


Portuguese sardines are an iconic dish. These small, oily fish are usually grilled or fried and served as a snack, main course, or as part of a larger dish. They’re a staple at outdoor barbecues and markets. We got to try some of these in various foods while we were here, but I didn’t think they were that out of the ordinary. I actually really like sardines – especially the ones from Costco that are seasoned and canned in olive oil and I thought those were better than the ones I got to try here. It’s too bad they couldn’t even get sardines right…

Wonderland Lisboa

Wonderland Lisboa is the local Christmas market. We didn’t plan on going here, but rather we just stumbled upon it in our walk around town. Vendors set up stalls selling handcrafted gifts, seasonal foods, and hot spiced wine.

They even set up a skating rink, but since it’s Portugal, people didn’t really know how to skate and it was funny watching them struggle.

The worst thing about Lisbon

Petty theft, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, is unfortunately an issue in tourist areas of Lisbon, like any other major city. We happened to stay near the neighbourhood of Martim Moniz and in the city square we a lot of people just hanging out on the side of the street not really doing much, which didn’t give us a good feeling. It’s too bad that the story of Martim Moniz is that he’s legendary knight, who is said to have defended the city during the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. I feel like what it looks like today ruins that legacy.

The streets in Lisbon unfortunately are also not well maintained, with cobblestones frequently falling out of the sidewalk. Ina lot places, the streets in general look grungy. Probably years ago when Lisbon was less popular as a tourist city, it wasn’t like that, but now it’s also attracted a lot of foreigners who are here pushing their gimmicky trinkets or fake designer bags. A guy even tried to sell me marijuana *while* I was at the ATM. First of all, it’s super not cool to talk to anybody while they’re actively using the ATM. I was totally on edge expecting a thief or something. And then when I finished and starting walking away, he tried to hassle me again.

This and getting sick from the food definitely made Lisbon a worse experience than it should have been. But still between that and the things we did, we still got to experience it.

See more photos of Lisbon here

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