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Portugal: Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais and Estoril

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

We spent 6 days in Lisbon in 2019 and loved it. Lisbon is a facinating city with uniquely different neighbourhoods. Some of that is from the tsunami and fire in 1755 - a large part of Lisbon was inundated by a tsunami, and then the resulting fire destroyed much of the city. The Alfama neighbourhood was left untouched, and it is a warren of narrow streets and alleyways that was designed to thwart invading pirates - made it difficult for the invaders to swarm the city and gave the residents time to fight back. The part of the city that is post-tsunami and fire is designed in grids in the Pombaline style - named after the emperor at the time. Again, no sense re-creating the wheel when Rick Steves has done a lot of research on Lisbon and you can read more of the history here:

We hope you will check out our short video on our trip to Lisbon here.

View from our room (Lisboa Room) at Rossio Hostel. Rossio Square was used for chariot races some 1000 years ago.

Rua Agusta - one of the main shopping streets in Lisbon. Lots of street performers and cafes in this area. The statue in the distance is in the middle of one of the largest open squares in Europe. Really cool standing in the centre of the square and looking across the Tejo River toward Cahilas and the Cristo Rei statue.

The large open square with the entrance to Rua Agusta in the centre background.

Lisbon is known for its trolleys. The historic Tram 28 is a fun ride and well worth taking.

Photo taken on Tram 28 going to the upper neighbourhoods. Some of the streets are only wide enough for the trolley.

View from Castle Sao Jorge looking down on Lisbon

The tiles you see throughout Lisbon and Portugal are called azulejos.

And, speaking of delicious vegetarian food - this restaurant is highly recommended. Os Tibetanos

We spent six days in Lisbon and could have spent more time yet. Lisbon has some great day trips and over the week we did a few. There is a train that runs along the ocean to Cascais. Cascais was the playground of nobility back in the 1700s, and you can still see some of the architecture there today, though there are many large mansions that now occupy some of the countryside. One stop before Cascais is Estoril - you can get off here and walk along the seawall to Cascais - on the seawall are a couple of beautiful cafes where you can sit and look out on the Atlantic ocean with a latte or something cool to sip on if you are there in the hot months. Estoril is also known for something else - the Casino, and more specifically, this is the Casino where Ian Fleming of James Bond fame spent his post-WWII years with the British Secret Service mingling with spys from all over Europe, Russia and the Americas. In fact, it was meeting a Russian Spy that gave him the inspiration for James Bond, and the Estoril Casino became "Casino Royale". The Casino itself was also featured in the 1968 James Bond film, 'On Her Majesty's Secrete Service'. You can read more on the Casino and Ian Fleming's life here: and here:

Casino Estoril one stop before Cascais on the train from Lisbon - about 35-40 minutes. Check out our video on Cascais/Estoril here.

The beach area at Estoril. We sauntered - not a fast walk, and were in Cascais in less than 30 minutes from Estoril. A fast walk would take about 15 minutes to Cascais. They are quite close together - just 3 kilometres, which is easy to do at a relaxed saunter.

Once in Cascais you might want to grab a bit to eat, and as mentioned we've gotten quite good at locating vegetarian restaurants. We went to Cascais twice during our six days in Lisbon and we have two favourite restaurants. The first is called "House of Wonders", which is three floors with a rooftop dining area that is spectacular. 'House of Wonders' serves up a huge platter of food - all of it vegetarian - it was all fantastic and the coffee was in the running for one of our favourite latte stops in Portugal. Check out 'House of Wonders' Facebook page here.

House of Wonders in Cascais, Portugal. 35 kilometres away from Lisbon. A 30 minute train ride.

This was after our meal - there wasn't a line-up. We were here in early June and it was smokin' hot.

Hmmm...seems the old beard is off to the side. The meal was fantastic at 'House of Wonders' - really tasty, and we had fresh squeezed juice to go with it.

Huge portions at 'House of Wonders'.

Pretty decent latte for dessert.

Dessert was a caramel pecan pie - good grief that was good.

The interior of 'House of Wonders' is pretty cool - eclectic.

House of Wonders in Cascais

The rooftop dining area at 'House of Wonders'.

The other really good vegetarian/vegan restaurant is called "Roots Cafe". It was here I first had Bacalhau à Brás - a salted cod dish mixed with crispy potato strings. This is a traditional Portuguese dish that can also be found in Spain and Italy with regional variations. I talked about it so much that the staff at Rossio Hostel decided to host a dinner at the hostel before we left and taught us to make Bacalhau à Brás. Highly recommend giving it a go when you visit Portugal - especially if you like salty foods. My blood pressure is still working with me, so I can indulge in salty dishes every so often.

'Roots Cafe' can be checked out here.

Bacalhau à Brás at 'Roots Cafe'

Bacalhau à Brás and me.

Angela ordered a really nice spinach, pecan/walnut and strawberry salad.

The outdoor seating area at 'Roots Cafe'

Madellyn, staff at Rossio Hostel, teaching us to make Bacalhau à Brás

Rossio Hostel meal night making Bacalhau à Brás

Definitely one of our highlights of the trip - Rossio Hostel staff are among the best.

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