Lisbon isn't like other major cities where all you can feel around you is, well, city. I remember when I lived in Santiago, it felt like an entire world. It felt like Chile was just Santiago (I think it was something to do with the towering Andes surrounding the city! Thankfully I did discover that Chile has an abundance of culture far beyond its capital 😃)!
The Portuguese capital city has so many incredible sites at its fingertips (many accessible by public transport). Places where we can immerse ourselves in the beauty of nature. To start with, within the city we have Monsanto Park and the gardens of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, where I for one frequently disconnect from my city life - in the city! And then just over the wondrous 25 de Abril and Vasco da Gama bridges, we have an abundance of amazing places!
The Caribbean of Europe
Close to Sesimbra, and just 40 minutes by car from Lisbon, the beaches at Arrábida are pure paradise! Known to be one of Portugal's best-kept secrets (so keep it between us, ok), the bright turquoise waters are stunning! The beach itself is surrounded by the Arrábida Natural Park.
A further 15 minutes west, plus a rocky scrabble down to the beach (I would not do this alone with Sienna - we had a friend who helped! The walk is approx. 25 minutes to the beach in the heat!) there are also crystal waters at Praia Ribeira do Cavalo.
WINE TOURISM AT BACALHÔA PALACE
When I first fell pregnant with Sienna but hadn't found out yet, I was living in Chile on a tourist visa with her dad, and had to leave to Mendoza, Argentina every three months by coach to renew it. We went in April out of season, hired a cheap car and drove through all of the vineyards with the dusty Andes as a backdrop. I had nausea for most of the way but it was such a beautiful trip - one of our best.
Mendoza is renowned for Malbec wine, and it is my personal favourite. So although my alcohol-drinking-days are almost entirely over now, I wanted to visit Bacalhôa to learn about the Portuguese wine culture, escape to the countryside with Sienna, and find out whether Portuguese wine trumps my current go-to 😝. We joined the Portuguese tour so as to get a language lesson too but I, euh, didn't understand very much!
Did you know that 5p.m. teatime wasn't invented by a British person? Well I didn't! Catherine of Braganza (from Portugal), queen of England married to King Charles II, suspected her husband of adultery so in order to monitor where all the women of the court were, she started 5 o'clock teatime.
The grounds are beautiful and we loved our moments here! Despite having been woken up from her nap to come here, Sienna got to connect with nature too, albeit only for minutes!
Whether you drink wine or not, I completely recommend this day trip for a complete cultural and bonding experience for the entire family. If you're going to try the wine, don't miss out on the chance to taste ten-year-old Muscatel Roxo.