Three years ago, my friends and I were celebrating new years in Cardiff, when we met some people who told us that every new years they travelled to a different country. Three years later and I find myself arriving in Lisbon with the girls, our fourth new year’s destination after Cardiff, Amsterdam and Cork, Ireland.
Over the years, we’ve learnt a lot…
- Don’t book the holiday at the last minute. Travelling at new years is expensive and you have to be smart about booking club nights in advance.
- Or don’t book a club night at all. This new years we planned to spend the special moment on the streets in Lisbon’s famous Comércio Square and then find somewhere to party.
- Go somewhere warm… or as warm as it can get mid-Winter. Amsterdam was freezing and this year we were looking for somewhere slightly above 0°
With all these things in mind, we had a pretty successful trip. We stayed in GSpot Party Hostel, a place that is exactly as you can imagine it is from its title. They were fully booked on New Years Eve and had a nice programme all planned out for us.
We paid 25 euros for a 12-course dinner buffet, all you can drink sangria, and our own bottle of champagne to take with us to Comércio Square to see the fireworks. And in case you were wondering, the buffet wasn’t the usual standard hostel food – it was proper buffet that did not leave us disappointed. With their free pancake breakfasts and dinner meals that included, tapas, flaming chorizo, Portuguese stew and mash, it was suffice to say I kinda fell in love with the chefs at GSpot.
The atmosphere was amazing on New Years Eve. In the hostel we met people from all over; America, South Africa, Italy, Australia… It’s one of the reasons why I love staying in hostels, because of the cultured experience and opportunity to meet new people, even if its only for the couple days they’re in Europe.
The fireworks display at Comércio Square was amazing. It was fully packed though which meant that it was very easy to lose people and our group quickly broke up. Nevertheless, I made it to Barrio Alto, a street near the Square which has apparently been published in the Guinness World Records as a place with the most concentrated number of bars.
As most clubs were closed after New Years Eve, Barrio Alto was a place we returned to on the other nights and every time we went, we found somewhere with a different vibe and different music. Lisbon is definitely a great place to party, and the drinks were very cheap as well which is always a plus.
Cristo Rei (Jesus Statue) in Almada
During the day we visited a couple sites. We were nearly swept off the ‘Jesus Statue’ in Almada due to the rain and wind on Monday.
Maritime Museum in Belem
Belem is a small town, just under an hour away from Lisbon. We didn’t have enough patience for the queues in Pastéis de Belém, a café with a 200 year-old pastry recipe that comes highly recommended. Instead we tried Portugal’s famous ‘Pastel de nata’ in a café outside the Maritime Museum after having a wonder inside, and it was still delightfully delicious.
Castle dos Mouros in Sintra
On our last day, we took the train to Sintra, a beautiful resort town that has many beautiful gems like Sintra’s National Palace. As it was our last day we spent all our time exploring Castle dos Mouros which provided us with a great view of Lisbon.
After five days the end of our trip came only too soon. The moment we stepped out into the cold English winter air outside Stansted I instantly wished I was back in Lisbon with its mild 18° weather.
What did you do this New Years Eve? Do you have any strange traditions?