I often find, when planning a trip, that deciding on a destination is my biggest challenge. There are so many incredible locations that I have yet to see, and my wish-list only seems to get longer with each passing year. So when I learned about TAP Air Portugal's Stopover Program, where you can spend up to 5 days in Lisbon or Porto on the way to a final destination (150+ to choose from), it felt as though my travel prayers had been answered. I would finally have the chance to explore Lisbon, a city that’s been on my list forever, as a complimentary stopover on my way to Paris.
Getting to Lisbon was easier than I anticipated, thanks to TAP Air Portugal. I took a non-stop overnight flight that seemed to go much faster than its 7 hours. The crew was accommodating and friendly, and dinner on board was delicious (I ordered a yummy vegetarian meal). There was also plenty of in-flight entertainment options to choose from, I decided on this year's blockbuster 'Wonder Woman’ before falling asleep for a few hours. I woke up just in time to catch a gorgeous sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean right as we began our descent into Portugal.
My Lisbon adventure began moments after checking into my hotel, the posh Pestana CR7. The hotel is a perfect blend of old & new, in a beautiful historic building that’s been renovated with every modern amenity. It’s conveniently located just around the corner from the the Praça do Comércio, where I sampled some snacks at the festive Christmas Market. Also within walking distance was the colorful Pink Street in Cais do Sodré, which was even prettier in person (so much so that I couldn’t resist taking a quick yoga photo right in middle of the street!) From there I made my way to the popular shopping boulevard Avenida da Liberdade, (I always seem to make my way to the shopping area!) and enjoyed a tasty Pastéis de Nata - a popular Portuguese pastry - at a local bakery. Afterward, I went for a stroll through the narrow, cobbled streets of Alfama. This is really where I began to fall in love with Lisbon, its charm and beauty so apparent in this historic district. A friendly local suggested I head over to Cacilhas, on the other side of the bridge, for dinner and sunset. I don't think I could have asked for a more perfect way to end my first day in Lisbon.
The next couple of days included more exploration of the city as well as a road trip out west to the delightful town of Sintra. Getting lost in Sintra's scenic roads was the ideal way to discover some of the renowned landmarks that lie in this region. Nestled among lush hills were extravagant mansions, hidden towns, and Disney-style castles; it’s no surprise that this is where Portuguese nobility would spend their summers. It would be hard to choose a favorite spot in Sintra, but some serious highlights of my visit there include the Pena Palance, the Quinta da Regalaria, the Palace of Monserrate, and the Centro Historico (just outside of the Sintra National Palace). Each place was truly more beautiful than then next, but one magical moment that will forever stay etched in my mind was watching the sunset from high above the oceanside cliffs of Cabo da Roca.
From the pastry shops of Lisbon to the Sintra mountain range, my heart is full from this incredible adventure. Many thanks to TAP Air Portugal for the opportunity to explore this beautiful part of the world before heading to Paris, my final destination. It feels as though I've only just begun to discover all that Portugal has to offer, but I know in my heart that I will be back again.
Until next time, Portugal... Xx
* In cooperation with TAP Air Portugal
All photography by Nathan Rose Photography