“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”Anonymous
We visited Lisbon in April 2019.
Lisbon is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and there is plenty to do and see here in this beautiful city.
If you’ve never visited Lisbon, or Portugal for that matter, you’re in for a treat.
Budget airlines fly there from all over Europe, and you can even find very affordable flights from the US. We traveled via TAP Air Portugal.
Some Facts about Lisbon:
Lisbon is home to more than 500,000 (as of 2016) people and is the capital of Portugal.
Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe
Lisbon was built on seven hills ,so be prepared for lots of uphill walking!.
Lisbon sits at the mouth of the Tagus River.
The city is one of the sunniest in all of Europe.
Day 1, we went for a day trip to Sintra.
This place is gorgeous. Around 30 minutes from the city, it’s an incredible area to see the historic palaces and castles that sit elegantly on the hills.
If you take the rail from Rossio Railway Station, you can easily reach to Sintra.
I have tried to cover my Sintra experience in a separate blog
Day 2 – Hop on Hop Off
Day 2, we took a Hop on Hop Off city tour to cover the places.
Following places were covered in that trip
1) Torre de Belem / Belem Tower
This tower was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
The Belém Tower is situated on the northern bank of the Tagus River.
It was built to protect the port and was the point where lots of explorers started their journey to the new world. It would have been the last part of Portugal which many sailors and navigators saw, as they set out on their voyages of discovery.
NOTE: You will always see a lot of queue in from of the Belem tower, waiting for their entry to the tower. There is nothing much to see inside the tower. Personal recommendation would be to see it from outside.
2) Monument to the Discoveries, with Henry the Navigator at the front
Make sure to plan your trip early (and if you’re not keen on crowds, maybe avoid weekends), it’s a very popular site and can be a good place to visit first thing in the morning (just to avoid crowds)
The Portuguese were excellent navigators and ship builders (Christopher Columbus came to study navigation here in Lisbon), and reached many parts of the world first.
This stunning monument was designed to commemorate the Age of Discoveries in Portugal and was inaugurated in 1960.
Monument to the Discoveries and Belem tower are very close to each other.
3) Hieronymites Monastery
Its also known as Jeronimos Monastery.
It’s a symbol of wealth and power during the Age of Discovery.
This is near to the Monument to the Discoveries and the Belem tower.
This tower was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 (along with Belem tower)
4) Santa Justa Elevator
This is one of my favourite places to see in Lisbon. Although not iconic as, say, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it really is integral to the identity of Lisbon and a truly beautiful lift.
We normally attribute the word ‘Beautiful’ to passenger lifts, but this can be an exception.
It was inaugurated as one of the city’s public transport systems on 10 July 1902 and was called Elevador do Carmo (Carmo Lift). Lisbon’s inhabitants were so excited to try this novelty that on the first day, 3,000 tickets were sold.
The Lift has a stunning observation deck at the top and offers magnificent views over Baixa. This is one of the popular spots and entry queues starts to pile up very early in the morning and will continue almost throughout the day.
There is an access bridge, behind the elevator, that you can use to skip the line completely. Just buy a ticket for €1.50(Don’t recollect fully) so that you can climb to the top, and snag a spectacular panoramic view without waiting in line for more than two minutes.
Ticket Pricing and operation hours here : https://www.lisbon.net/santa-justa-lift
5) Local Street Art:
You will see the local street arts in almost all places in this city. If you want to explore more art works, it will be better to do a walking tour so that you can quickly and easily see as much Lisbon street art as possible.
6) Rossio Square and Praça do Comércio, or Commerce Square.
This square is always lively and you can see various street performers, shop from local vendors, or grab a bite from a local restaurant.
7) Elevador do Gloria (Funicular)
Lisbon is known for its hills and steep streets – meaning that its historic funiculars are not only highly-photographed, but also regularly used for getting from Point A to Point B. You can easily visit two of the most famous funiculars in the city this afternoon.
Head back up past Rossio Square (either walk, or hop on the metro to Restauradores station), where you’ll find the lower station of the Ascensor da Glória at the corner of the Avenida da Liberdade and Calçada da Glória.
This funicular (also sometimes called Elevador do Gloria) connects Restauradores Square with the Bairro Alto, another of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods. It dates back to 1885 and is used by both tourists and locals.
8) Jardin Botanico:
This is one of the best public gardens in Lisbon. In the heart of the city (but hidden away from the surrounding streets) this 10-acre garden is a heaven from the hustle and bustle. Do a picnic or simply wander through and enjoy the exotic plants. It’s open everyday from 9am until 6pm (in the winter) or 8pm (in the summer).
The starting point of Hop on Hop off bus is near to this garden/park.
9) Pink Street:
Pink Street is mostly a regular nightlife area. Many bars and clubs along Pink Street stay open until early morning.
I have seen many people talking about pink street in their vlogs /blogs and we were expecting some thing more than what we saw there,it was just a very small area on road painted in pink and is said to have a great nightlife 🙂
10) Park of Nations (Area created for the Lisbon World Expo 1998):
Constructed for the 1998 Lisbon World Exposition(Expo), this is a space dedicated to leisure, and located in the northeastern part of the city. This modern part of Lisbon has numerous restaurants, bars, theatres, parks, pedestrian areas and a large shopping mall.
One of the most surprising sights in this district is the Oriente train station, designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. This modernist station has a bright glass and steel structure in the form of a tree. This ambitious project includes a metro station, a national and international bus terminal and a high-speed and regional train hub.
You can also take a cable car that travels past the Water Gardens, above the river..
11) National Pantheon
Originally a church, in the 20th century it was converted into the National Pantheon, in which important Portuguese personalities are buried.
aIf you have time, It would be good to have 3 days (including Sintra) for the Lisbon Itinerary.
Please find below some of the places that you can include in your list:
1) Alfama district
This is the oldest part of Lisbon, where tiled buildings are perched along steep cobbled streets that stretch from the Sao Jorge castle to the Tagus River.
2) Ride Tram 28:
The most famous of all Lisbon Portugal trams is number 28. People will wait hours just to board this tram. I suggest riding the tram either early in the morning or late at night when most people are asleep. This way, you’ll avoid the long wait that is associated with huge crowds.
You can also try to board the tram at a less popular stop (like the one near Lisbon Cathedral).
(Note: Be careful of pickpockets on this tram!)
Try purchasing your tickets before boarding the tram since tickets are much more expensive on board.
There are other Tram tour options available in Lisbon aswell.
3) Explore the Monastery of St Jerome
Cascais is about 30 minutes by train (or you can drive over) from the city itself and is a great place to chill out and relax in the town or on the sandy beaches.
A fishing town turned beautiful resort in the summer, Cascais is a dream destination for families and young people.
Another coastal town, Peniche is a known destination for Wave Surfing.
6) Pasteis de Belem:
Pastéis de Belém is a bakery that is another beloved staple of Lisbon. Famed for their pastel de nata, this bakery’s delicious custard tarts topped with cinnamon powder have captured the hearts of thousands of tourists.
If you’re a wine lover, you’d be doing yourself a serious disservice if you skip out on a trip to Porto and the Douro Valley – the most important wine region in Portugal
8) Time Out Market:
Time Out Market is one of the most famous places to go to eat in Lisbon and for good reason. There are tons of different options, so if you’re looking for famous Portuguese bacalhau (cod fish), nuts, or a pizza.
This food hall is packed with a variety of restaurants serving fresh local cuisine. Try taking your friends as well, so that you can try a few different dishes. Also, don’t forget to grab some freshly baked Pastel de Nata pastries on your way out!
9) Lisbon Oceanarium:
It is worth visiting the Oceanarium, one of the largest in Europe, where you can appreciate the flora and fauna of the various oceans of our planet.
10) National Coach museum / Tile Museum:
These two museums are unequalled anywhere in the world. One tells the story of the tile in Portugal from its first uses on 16th century walls to the present day; the other has an unrivalled collection of carriages, with fine examples from the 18th century, exuberantly decorated with paintings and gild work.
There are some beaches around. I have not personally visited any of them and hence don’t have much clue about these beaches. If you have time, certainly try exploring them.
Portinho Da Arrabida
Praia da Adgara
Praia da mata
Praia do Meco
Praia da comporta
Best time to visit:
Lisbon is a popular tourist destination between Easter holidays (March/April) and late September. Fall and winter (from October to mid-March) are not very cold, so it’s the perfect season for tourists who don’t mind a little rain and the temperature drop (hardly ever below 10°C/50°F).
June is the most crowded month, especially around the St. Anthony festivities (June 12 and 13). January is the quieter month with far fewer special events than any other time of year.
1) Take a Cruise in the Tagus River
The Tagus River is the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula, and a cruise is the best way to see Lisbon from a different perspective.
2) Tuk Tuk’s:
The best way to see Lisbon is to walk.
You will see a lot of Tuk Tuk’s around. Mostly targeting the tourists and are expensive.
3) Taxi Bus/Trains/Metro:
Most of our travel were in Buses, but trains/metros are some other available options
Ensure that you always have a valid travel ticket while travelling in public transport. In most of my trips, I have seen officials checking tickets either in the platform or within the bus or train.
If you want to include Sintra or Alfama in your Lisbon trip, my personal recommendation will be to keep a minimum of 3 days in the itinerary.
Also don’t forget to taste the Portuguese Egg Tarts. its crisp, flaky crust holding a creamy custard center, blistered on top from the high heat of an oven.