The Not-So-Dreaded Layover:
How many of you dread a long airport layover when you’re traveling? The lack of food options or overpriced snacks and drinks, overcrowded waiting areas and crying babies can drive us crazy even during a short layover if you have to spend the whole time in the airport. But layovers don’t always have to suck!
If you are traveling to a city that requires a layover and can’t find a quick 1-2 hour stop, I recommend getting a really long layover. I flew to Morocco using TAP Portugal which always has a layover in Lisbon, the coastal, hill, capital city of Portugal. I took advantage of the 24 hour layover and spent the time exploring Lisbon as much as possible! It really made the layover fun since I wasn’t stuck in the airport the whole time.
Be Aware of Immigration Regulations:
Remember to be cautious of the visa/immigration rules in that country your traveling through during your layover. With a US Passport, I had no problem leaving the airport to stay in Portugal for the day but there are some countries that even require a “transit visa” just to transfer through their airport. A simple internet search can get you the answers you need for traveling through or to foreign countries based on which passport you hold.
We arrived in Lisbon just before sunset which was perfect because we were able to catch the sun setting during our drive to the hostel. FYI – Lisbon has UBER!!!! This was probably the highlight of our arrival since catching taxis in Morocco can be stressful even for New Yorkers! Since at this port of our trip we were low on cash and tired as hell, we picked a cheap hostel that actually had rooms available as close to the coast/downtown as possible. It was actually in a perfect location because everything was in walking distance.
Late Nights in Lisbon:
The streets of Lisbon felt so safe compared to late nights in the Old Medinas of Morocco. It got pretty late by the time we settled into the hostel and were able to step out and walk around looking for cafes and grocery markets to stock up on water. While most businesses were already closed by 9PM, there were lots of small cafes and restaurants still open. Lots of people were out and about walking through the neighborhood. Here are some of the pics from our stroll through Lisbon’s streets.
Since this was our only full day in Lisbon, I wanted to make the most of it by getting my day started as early as possible. My friend, Devorah, and I did our own thing so it gave me a bit more freedom on where to go and what to see. As I mentioned earlier, our hostel was really close to all the attractions in Lisbon so all I had to do was step outside and start walking. My tip for Lisbon is to start your exploring as uphill as possible and work your way down. This means that you get to take in the most amazing views from up high and it will be harder to get lost since you’re going the right way as long as you’re going downhill towards the coast.
Lisbon is very similar to other European countries as in it has tons of history and full of cultural uniqueness. There’s so much color here from the buildings to the street art. Some buildings even had tile work on the exteriors. Walking through the city is the best way to really see all that it offers. One thing I noticed was how calm and peaceful it was walking around near the residential parts of Lisbon. I found a huge church/museum that I was able to sit in front of to write in my journal and take in the views. This made me feel like a local! Nobody bothered me or asked me to move. There were a handful of other tourists who found their way to the attraction but it still never felt crowded.
Cash is King in Lisbon:
I was actually pretty exhausted by the time I reached my little rest spot in front of the church. This was because I was wondering longer than I planned to, looking for a restaurant to have breakfast in. The problem wasn’t that there was a shortage of cute little restaurants – it was that they only accepted cash. I learned that this was actually a “thing” in Portugal where most businesses will not accept credit or debit cards – especially from foreign countries. At this point I didn’t want to bother getting cash or converting dollars to Euros, so I decided I would just eat once I got to the more touristy part of the city near the coastal attractions and higher end hotels. There was so much to see on the way further down the hills. Click on the pictures below to see a larger version!
Food & People Watching:
After all that walking, I finally settled for getting food at Starbucks since I needed my latte fix anyway (and they accepted my credit card). But the views weren’t bad here. FYI – Portuguese guys are super hott!!! Wether you’re at the airport, walking around, in a restaurant, or just people watching – there is no shortage of eye candy! haha One attraction you have to do while you’re in Lisbon is get on the funicular railway. It’s a little yellow trolly that takes you way uphill to get some amazing views of Lisbon. From there – you guessed it – make your way back down on foot to explore new parts! 🙂
On the way back up to the hostel, I found a really interesting little park with a river. After 8 miles of walking at that point, it was a great spot to relax and get free WiFi from the nearby hotels. haha
There was no shortage of buildings and streets to take pictures of in Lisbon. I really can’t wait until I have the chance to go back and spend more time in this beautiful city. Next time I will definitely be more prepared and have lots of Euros on hand. I will also prefer to stay at a hotel closer to the coast so I won’t have to walk around as much as I did on this layover. There are also a lot of castles in Portugal which is something I’m obsessed with. I’d love to see some of them on my next trip.
I hope you guys enjoyed reading about my layover in Lisbon and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it!