24 hours: Lisbon
Lisbon is small enough that you can easily cram in a lot of the city in two days, so my perfect weekend guide of the Portuguese capital consists of tasty food and beautiful history in one.
On your first day, head straight out to Belém by getting the 7-minute train for only €1.75 to get in the queue for the famous pastéis de natas at Pastéis de Belém. Coming with sugar and cinnamon, grab a couple and sit in the park for a peaceful moment to yourself.
As you brush off the sugar from your lips, saunter across to Belém Castle. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a beauty to look out from, as well as just take in from the outside as it sits on the calm, mirrored water. For only €6 you can get into the castle.
For a taste of quirkiness and Brick Lane essence, on your way back to the centre of the city pop into LX Factory. From delicious coffee and waffles at Wish, markets on a Sunday with music and gluten free granolas or stunning Beauty-and-the-Beast-esque bookshops, it's a fun stop off that is otherwise hidden in the external districts.
There are many, many beautiful places to overlook the terracotta-roofed city. For a great way to watch the sunset for free, make a start on the trek to Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. You'll need your walking shoes as it is really, really steep, but the view of the city Ina place without tourists and noise is worth it.
Fancy a late night snack? An evening ice-cream is always the best idea, as the queues are smaller and it's not so warm. Try the famous Gelados Santini for cute retro interior decorated in white and red alongside a wide choice of flavours.
Get an early start to beat the tourists and wander the roads of the city and take in all of the authentic brickwork and tile ornaments.
Head up from the main train station to the Parque Eduardo VII. The tree-lined walkway leading up is the grandest part of the walk, and if you time it right, can be quiet enough to walk through the middle. It's a tough walk but power through to the top and join the other tourists for a beautiful view of the city atop the maze-like gardens.
For a gourmet dinner, head back down to the famous Timeout Market has a range of the best cuisines and cooks in the city (so well known that it's opening in London this year). From delicious mains and snacks to intricate cakes and sweet treats, you can easily lose an hour trying a bit of everything. It gets busy but they give you a beeper for you to take a seat with and wait for it to be ready.
For an alternative, late night ice-cream (because why on earth not), head to Gelato Davvero for authentic Roman ice cream.
If you're looking for a cheap, central and fun place to stay then Lisbon Destination Hotel is the one. Hammocks, pianos, ping pong, pool, air hockey and banging tunes in reception. A cinema room. Free breakfast. Tours of bikes, booze and beats. It's crazy but it's all too easy to crash on a bean bag and feel alive again. It also helps that it's above the beautiful Rossoe train station which isn't just central, but gorgeously historical.
EasyJet: fares start at £27 return
Approx money: £17 a night at Lisbon Destination hotel, £30 spending a day
TOP TRAVEL TIPS
- The Belém Castle is free on the first Sunday of every month before 2pm.
- If you can't make it out to Belém, the best pastéis de natas are at Manteigaria Fábrica in town for the same price.