Student Travel in Lisboa, Portugal: Inspiring and Sustainable

Updated: Jan 10, 2021

Lisboa in Haiku

Da Vinci once said, "Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen." We did what we were told ;)

A few notes on traveling to Lisbon:

Traveling & Commuting:

  • Flight time London --> Lisbon: just shy of 3 hours.

  • No visa was required (though this may change in 2021, so stay tuned)

  • There are plenty of options for transit:

  1. buses

  2. metro

  3. trolley

  4. tuktuks

  5. bikes

  6. electric scooters (most fun)

  7. and best of all, if you are able: your two lovely feet

We "urban hiked" Lisbon's hilly labyrinth and got lost in the magic of the city. I can't name a favorite place, because I loved them all, so I wrote some Haikus about each neighborhood:

Bairro Alto

Our home for the week

bold graffiti paradise

hills for sexy calves;)

Highlights from Bairro Alto:

  • the air bnb (it is important to have a "home" wherever you go).

  • the graffiti~ it's everywhere and it's COOL <3

  • the old yellow trolley (which is made by the same company as SF trolleys, fun fact).

  • a shared bottle of green wine

  • fresh pineapple juice in old-timey glassware and transported to your face via METAL STRAWS:) <3 These juices, and the accompanying delightful breakfasts are served up at a place called Break. Loved it and would visit again in a heartbeat. They won me with their straws alone.


romance, history

cobblestone, stained glass, castle

ponto de vista

Highlights from the Alfama:

  • Postcards and playing cards

  • Sao Jorge castle

  • Ponto de vistas (the views are incredible)

  • Lisbon Cathedral Little urban gardens

  • Stopping to do some painting :)

We spotted an awesome mustard yellow house with a beautiful urban garden and plaque for the best neighborhood garden. I stopped to snap some photos and noticed some pretty cool reuse ideas!I love urban gardens, and I love that the owners of this one took such good care of it. 


trails, trees, hike, castle,

palace, greenhouse, valley lakes

flora, rain, amore

Highlights from Sintra:

  • Moorish castle

  • Palace de Pena & the grounds

  • Hiking on real trails!!

  • Roughing it through a rainstorm

I was pleased to see recycling at palace de pena:)The castle and grounds were exceptionally clean~ I didn't spot a piece of litter the entire time I was there. 

Santos Neighborhood


brunch so we don't get hangry

getting our goof on

Highlights from Santos:

  • Cherie Paloma!

  • Fresh flowers

  • Cherie Paloma is the world's cutest cafe, and I highly recommend a visit, especially for brunch. The smoothies are a dream!

LX factory

art, art, art, art, art

food, murals, lights, coffee, art

sustainable shoes

Highlights from LX factory

  • well, the art

  • new sustainable shoes I spent probably too much on but I love them. We noticed a lot of cork products sold in Lisbon, yet cork is an endangered tree. When I saw cork shoes in the window of a store called rutz, I was skeptical. We asked the woman in the store how the cork was sourced, and her answer was pleasantly surprising. The cork trees are grown sustainably and only the outside of the tree is harvested, allowing it to replenish for nine years before the next harvest.

On the way to LX factory, I got a nice shot of one more way the locals save energy and live simply: Laundry is dried on clotheslines from the balcony. The typical household in the US spends over $100 a year in utility bills for an electric dryer. A good drier may last 15 years, and then require replacement, so those costs must be considered too. On top of that, even if you try to "do the right thing" and start purchasing energy efficient appliances, your old dryer (which may still have some life in it) could consume more energy than an energy efficient fridge, washing machine, and dishwasher combined (NRDC, 2014). On top of that, add in the financial costs of the one time use dryer sheets (which contain loud fragrances and VOCs) and your drying routine really starts to feel "above and beyond". The locals in Lisbon not only save money and energy by drying their clothes on lines, they get the benefit of a free "fresh air scent" :) 


Monastery walks

Explorers & the ocean

Tired feet, Lime scooters

Highlights from Belém:

  • Jerónimos Monastery

  • Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the discoveries)

  • Belém tower

We got to (and around) Belém using our new non-tourist maps given to us at a surf shop in LX factory :) Belém is beautiful; the monastery architecture takes your breath away, and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos is a work of art. It really puts you at the center of Portugal's history, and highlights ideas of cultural importance. 

Last Day

Last Day in Lisbon

Botanical garden sun

Scooters, bon voyage

Our trip to Lisbon was amazing, and I didn't want to ever leave, but in order to "come back to our work with surer judgment" we had to actually come back to our work ;) 

The last day in Lisbon included time at the botanical garden (I LOVE GARDENS) and a spin on the lime scooters we'd been eyeing all week! 

Travel tip:

If you want to rent a lime scooter instead of taking a car, ensure that your phone is charged enough to snap a photo of your parking place ;) Otherwise wait for another day. We had a blast riding them. I felt like a kid and it was an awesome way to finish our trip. 

Final Notes

I don't often have the opportunity or funds to travel much these days as a student, so this trip meant a lot. While I am aware that travel (especially plane travel) adds to global emissions, I try to make daily sustainable choices both in London and away to offset my footprint (vegetarianism, minimal plastic consumption, no car, walking places). I have opted for train transportation from London to Paris and Barcelona when my family comes to see me later this year. Train transportation limits your impact on GHGs, and although the commute will be longer this time, I think it will be a great experience through some beautiful countryside. I'll report back :)Thanks for reading, and I hope that if you've been thinking about a trip, you'll consider Lisbon!

Visit the original post via Ellie's personal blog here.