I always get so excited when I have a new city to write about because I absolutely adore these kinds of posts – writing them and reading them. Whenever we go to a new, exciting city we make it our mission to pack as much in as possible to our short time there, and Lisbon was no exception! In the last few years I have heard seemingly endless glowing reports of the Portuguese capital from travel savvy friends and, as regular holidayers in the Algarve, I was pretty ashamed it had taken us this long to get there! So, this year on our way to our regular holiday spot we decided to book a whirlwind 48hour stop-over in Lisbon. I feel like we did the city proud, so here is a run down of our itinerary as inspiration for your visit!

 

The basics
Flight: EasyJet London Gatwick -> Lisbon
Just over 2 hours and we found the price to be very reasonable even in holiday time! Lisbon airport is fairly close to the city centre and guess what?? Uber works like a dream there! And it's much cheaper than London – perfect for getting from the airport to our accommodation which only cost around 7 euros.

 

Accommodation:

As we were on a budget we booked a double room in a hostel and stayed in the lovely Hostel Graca 28 which was fantastic value and perfectly fine as a base for all of our adventures! We were located on the Rua da Graca which is a cool area with a buzzing vibe and only 20 min walk from most of the main attractions. I would really recommend staying around this area or the nearby Alfama area for a fantastic vibe and some amazing bars and restaurants which are slightly less expensive than the ones in the city centre.

 

Our Itinerary
Day One – walking, walking and more walking…

Having arrived late the night before we decided to make the most of our first full day in Lisbon and tried to get around all the main city centre attractions in one day! Lisbon is a hilly place and at 35 degrees and very little wind it was not the best conditions for trekking around the place – but we pushed on regardless! We always love to explore cities on foot, as you see much more. There are trams and buses in Lisbon but on the first day we got around by walking only, and covered 28,000 steps (not even joking)!! If you don't fancy walking we would recommend the local tram to get around as the buses don't tend to get up some of the more steep and skinny roads.

 

First: Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
We headed up here first thing to get some stunning views of the city before the crowds descended. This view point is only a few minutes for the area which we stayed in, being slightly outside the main city centre it can mean that it is slightly quieter. This viewpoint is hailed as the best place to take in the whole of Lisbon from above, and I'm inclined to agree.


Next: Exploring!

We put the map away and basically went for a long old walk! We knew we were heading in the direction of the city centre and just kind of walked to see what we could discover. Lisbon is all about the beautiful terraced building and general kind of rustic charm so exploring on foot brought us through so many gorgeous cobbled streets and just general beautiful architecture. Pretty much all the streets are like this and it's what makes the city so gorgeous! Taking photographs of the coloured houses was one of my favourite things. We wandered up to the old castle and had a coffee and cake (when in Lisbon how can you not??) but decided not to go into the castle as the queue was intense and … ya know – budget and all that. But it was still lovely to see the setting and take it in from the outside. We then wandered down towards the main square and found some other stunning viewpoints. Walking is also the best way to grab some photo opportunities of the old trams in action! I wasn't so bothered about riding the tram as getting a photograph of it!! As you are walking around you can't help but find some amazing street art too.

Lunch – Alfama

For lunch we decided to find somewhere in the old town part of Lisbon – Alfama. Alfama is a gorgeous district as I mentioned, and is amazing for totally instagrammable streets and buildings! It's also buzzing in the evening for drinks or to find some live music. For lunch, we stopped in the tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurant Tu Eu where we enjoyed gorgeous, freshly prepared in front of our eyes food. We went for a typical Mediterranean platter with seafood, cheese, meats and other tapas which was absolutely delicious. I'd really recommend this neighbourhood for food and drink.

 

Afternoon and evening – Central Lisbon and viewpoint again!

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the central part of Lisbon, the main square and the shops (and of course the ice cream parlour!) This area is obviously busy and full of tourism so it wasn't my favourite part. There are many attractions in the city centre such as the elevator which takes tourists up for a view of the city but to be honest I always find these things a bit overpriced. We prefer to just wander around see what we can see.  We also came across a street paved in pink, coined originally 'The Pink Street' which was cute! The town square is an attractive area with lots of restaurants but we decided to eat close to our hostel for a more authentic meal. By the time we made it back we were so exhausted after all the walking we had a light meal in a local café and then headed up to the same viewpoint again to see the city skyline at night! It was beautiful and there was even a jazz band busking so the atmosphere was wonderful.

 

Day Two – Belem and West of the City

 

Morning – Pasteis de Belem

Out of all the amazing things I had heard about Lisbon, this place was probably what got me the most excited! For those of you who have been to Portugal you may be familiar with the traditional pastel de nata, or egg custard tart, which is absolutely divine.  They are one of my favourite cakes in the world! Well, Pasteis de Belem is a 400 seat café in the West of Lisbon which claims to serve the best pastel de nata's in the whole of Portugal! We took a bus to Belem and it was easy to find the place – the queue was huge! Due to the sheer number of tables however we were seated quickly and served efficiently. The atmosphere was fantastic and the food was great. By the time we arrived it was nearly lunch time so we had sandwiches, coffee and of course two pastel de nata's. It was all delicious but I have to say, I can't speak for the whole of Portugal but they were definitely the best I've ever had! I'd love to get my hands on that secret recipe! An absolute must-visit.

 

Afternoon – River Walk

After lunch we headed for yet more walking along the river back towards the city. It's a long way, so we walked about an hour and then took the bus the rest of the way. The walk was so pretty and it was lovely to be on the water and see lots of sailing boats, which we adore. We also saw some lovely museums along the way and got some great pictures of the huge bridge – Golden Gate Bridge eat your heart out!

 

Dinner and drinks – Time Out Market

Another fabulous recommendation from friends, the Time Out Market is situated to the West of the city centre and is a huge covered market which sells food, produce, flowers and gifts from independent retailers. The market is amazing and has a fantastic vibe, as well as seriously stunning food! Foodies must come here! It's packed full of some of Portugal's best chefs who want to serve world food in a casual setting. We ate in the seafood restaurant Marisqueira Azul which was by far our best food of the trip. We ordered a selection of delicious seafood including their specials; crab, octopus salad and locally caught razor clams which was all seriously divine. After dinner we also enjoyed a couple of G&T's at the Time Out Bar in the market and soaked up the atmosphere. The food and drink here was on the pricier side but it was definitely worth it for the quality and atmosphere.

We had such a fabulous whirlwind two days in Lisbon and we absolutely loved it. The city lived up to it's expectations in every way! The architecture, food, drink, nightlife and history is all amazing, but the thing I love most about Lisbon is how beautiful it is. Even the residential streets which have essentially nothing to see are seriously beautiful and the houses are so pretty! It's the perfect city to grab a coffee and just city bag and people watch, the vibe is awesome there. I would recommend it for a city break without a doubt! I hope you find this useful if you are planning a trip to Lisbon.

Have you been to Lisbon before? Is it on your bucket list?

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It was a good few months ago now that we went on our sneaky Easter minibreak escape to Montenegro and I’m ashamed that I haven’t had a chance to publish a travel post about it yet! So, before we go on our summer holiday (2 weeks and counting!) I thought it only fair to give our trip a little write up and share our photographs seeing as it was so stunning.

The first question most people asked us when we mentioned where we were going was.. well.. why Montenegro? It’s a fair question. Up to this point we are the only people we know out of all of our friends and extended family that have ever been! Scores of people seem to flood to Croatia these days, so I find the lack of the same enthusiasm for it’s neighbour odd, as Montenegro shares a similar vibe, climate and even looks similar! Plus, it’s still a pretty undiscovered gem, so perfect for a quiet, secret escape!

Our holiday

As it was a quick ‘let’s get out of here’ last minute holiday affair, we decided to go inexpensive and simple. Out of season (early April) the climate in Montenegro looked good and we found a great value all inclusive deal at a five star hotel in the holiday beach resort of Budva. All inclusive is not usually something we would go for our main holiday because we like to cook for ourselves and eat out in different places, but for the type of super relaxing short break we wanted we decided to go for it.

The hotel was called the Iberostar Bellevue and it was absolutely stunning. I was blown away when we first got there. Mainly because I’ve never seen a beachfront hotel over looking the sea which is also surrounded by spectacular mountains on the other side! The landscape was just something that you would never see in your normal Spain/ Portugal holidays and I couldn’t get over it! I was super happy to take loads of gorgeous photos with the stunning backdrop. Our room was fine, perfectly comfortable and functional with a lovely big balcony and a sea view which we weren’t expecting and was a lovely surprise. We could actually hear the sound of the waves at night which was amazing.

The Iberostar Belleview hotel

The weather we had was mixed. A bit of rain on the first two days so we took the opportunity to explore the local historic town of Budva and the montain city of Kotor to get some culture and sightseeing in. Due to it being out of season, Budva was a bit dead with a lot of shops and restaurants closed, but Kotor was much more lively and seemed to have a lot of tourists visiting despite the weather. Budva would definitely be worth a day trip particularly the old town to see the historic architecture, and the harbour which had some pretty pricey looking sun seekers! There were also some nice craft shops and cute restaurants.

Budva harbour

Budva old town

The city of Kotor was about an hour bus ride away and it was a whole other level of beautiful! If I had visualised a perfect, quaint Eastern European town then this was it. You can climb up some mountains at the back towards a church and get a load of this crazy stunning view.

The holiday was perfect for what we wanted, a ‘do-nothing’, relaxing break with a bit of sunshine.

 

I would thoroughly recommend considering Montenegro for your next holiday. It’s got great summer weather, beautiful safe beaches and stunning landscapes. Kotor is a stunning historic city and well worth a visit, as it’s a pretty small country most of it is accessible with a short car or bus journey. Although it was a bit quiet when we were there, you could tell that they were gearing up for a busy summer season so there would be no shortage of things to do there.

Have you been to Montenegro? Would you consider it?

 

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Bangkok. Omg, what can I say? Where else in the world can you find a beautiful Buddhist temple down the road from a bar trying to sell you a live lady-boy sex show?! Where else can you eat the best street food of your life for 50p and then get ripped off buying a scorpion on a stick that tastes like Frazzles?! It’s crazy, it’s busy, it’s hot. It’s worth a visit in my opinion, but you need no more than 2 days here. By the morning of our third we were ready to get the hell out!

Here is my definitive guide to the best bits of Bangkok all squeezed in to short space of time.

What to see

You’ve got to join the rat race and go and see all the temples in the city centre, you just can’t not. If you go to Bangkok and don’t get a picture of the Grand Palace then you basically didn’t go. They are busy, but they are equally beautiful. The main temples; Wat Phra Kaew (the Grand Palace complex), Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) are all easily accessible by the river ferries or by foot. The most expensive entry fee is the Grand Palace which costs 500 baht (roughly £10) and the other two are around half that.

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace

Wat Pho

We also visiting the Golden Mount which is a slight walk out of town but still easily reached on foot from the city. I would thoroughly recommend this because firstly, it’s a beautiful building and really relaxed and less busy than the main temples and secondly, when you get to the top you get this jaw dropping view of the Bangkok city skyline. Trust me, Bangkok is a lot more beautiful from up here than it is up close! It is also a very small fee to get up there – literally next to nothing.

TIP: Go early, or late. Bangkok is HOT and there are several hundred stairs to get to the top of the monument. It is a fairly gentle climb though and suitable for those with moderate fitness.

What to do

Other than sightseeing there is not a huge amount to do in Bangkok that doesn’t involve shopping, drinking or sex shows (sorry to lower the tone!) We actually didn’t end up going to any of the ‘special shows’, we had heard bad things about getting scammed for huge entry fees or expensive drinks, but a lot of people will be of the opinion that when in Bangkok – you’ve got to see what it’s famous for! There is no shortage of tuk tuk drivers all too happy to take you to a ‘ping pong show’!!

Shopping and night life wise I would recommend the ‘Khao San Road’ – a street in central Bangkok which is backpackers and hostel heaven. We stayed here – more on that later – but even if you don’t it’s definitely worth a visit. The market stalls sell good quality boho/hippy style clothing and jewellery which you can barter down. Never accept their first price! It’s always a rip off. We also spent one evening in a really nice rooftop bar on this road which had an excellent live band. If you like a drink (not saying that we do but.. we do) it’s more cost effective to buy the famous Thai ‘buckets’ which are literally buckets of alcohol and mixer. Let’s just say you get a lot of spirit for your money.

Something else I would recommend in Bangkok if you’ve got a free evening and fancy a night away from the craziness is an evening river cruise with dinner. There are lots of good deals about – including excellent food and drink options. Bangkok is seriously beautiful all lit up at night. The cruises start in the modern ‘skyscraper’ hotel district and head up river to see all the temples in their illuminated glory. TIP: do your research! We had a lovely traditional boat cruise with authentic Thai food (you can view our cruise company here) but we did see some Ibiza-fantastic party boats which looked like they might be best avoided.

View from the Loy Nava River Cruise

Where to stay

If, like us, you want to get in the thick of things and experience Bangkok at it’s craziest then the Khao San Road is the place for you. It’s a road dedicated to backpackers and their drinking habits. We spent two fun evenings here but honestly, we wouldn’t stay there again. The hotel come guesthouse we stayed in was good value and did the job but it was so loud at night. The main thing that annoyed me about the Khao San Road was that you couldn’t even step out of your accommodation for a coffee without getting hounded by tuk-tuk drivers offering you a ‘best price tour of the city.’ TIP: this is not genuine and NOT best price.

Of course, there are some high-rise, modern things of beauty where you can stay for a fee.  Most of these hotels are located on the riverside in the ‘Bangrak’ district and offer their own ferry shuttles to the town centre. If you have a bit more cash to burn and are looking for something a bit more swanky you will have a variety of options in this area.

What to eat

Authentic Thai food is INCREDIBLE. My advice for Bangkok. Eat and eat lots. If, like most tourists, you are heading southwards to the islands next, I’m sorry to tell you the food only goes downhill from here! The food in Bangkok is cheap and mostly delicious. And the street food is some of the best we had in Thailand. The Pad Thai stalls on the Khao San Road sold the best Pad Thai we had during our stay. And don’t worry about hygiene when eating street food, trust me; we only got sick once during our whole stay and it was from a pizza in an upmarket restaurant! Fill up on the good stuff in Bangkok and try new things. Even bugs and scorpions if you fancy it!

What to avoid

It sounds horrible but avoid anyone who seems like they are trying to help you! Any friendly local who wants to ‘show you the city’, ‘give you directions’ or assist you in anyway, 99% of the time they are trying to get money out of you! Know where you are going in advance and NEVER take your map out in public! You will be swarmed with ‘help’. Also, anyone who tells you the Grand Palace or some other famous attraction you are heading to is closed just carry on they are LYING to try and get you to go somewhere else with them. We saw so many people falling for this one and it’s the oldest scam in the book! Also avoid; Western food (unless it’s in an extremely high end restaurant), tuk-tuks (rip you off! Take metered taxis instead and pay half the price) or any offers of ‘free drinks’.

Extra bits

It’s humid. All the time. Bear this in mind when packing.

Avoid the cats and dogs no matter how cute they are, you don’t know where they’ve been.

Always make sure you have cash when haggling for goods/transport. If you negotiate them down to 100 baht and then try to pay with a 500 note they are unlikely to give you the correct change!

When visiting the temples, make sure you wear long trousers (ladies and gents) and ladies cover your shoulders. It’s not the end of the world if you forget; but better to take your own than be forced to wear one of these sexy numbers:

Planning a whistle-stop stay in Bangkok can seem a bit daunting, so I hope some people might find this guide useful! Enjoy yourself – there’s no where else quite like it!

Until next time,