For years I had wanted to go to Lisbon and when I was finally able to make it happen this spring I fell in love with this city, that has something special to it and knew right away, that I needed to share this! So finally, after my posts about Lisbon´s different districts and Pastéis de Nata, here you got a whole guide to the city of seven hills.
How to Arrive
Most of you will probably arrive by plane – or train/ bus, if you´re rather close. From the airport it is super easy to get to the city center. Just take the red metro line that connects to all other lines later and get to your hotel without stressing over airport transfer.
The city center of Lisbon is definitely walkable and it´s super easy to get around walking between the central districts like Alfama, Baixa and Bairro Alto. But as soon, as it comes to getting to Belém or Parque do Naçoes for example you´ll probably want to take public transportation. Luckily there is the rechargable Viva Viagem card, that will only cost the little fee of 0,50 € the first time. For 6€ you get 24 hours of unlimited metro and bus rides. The typical yellow tram isn´t included though.
WHat to see & Do
Sights you shouldn´t miss seeing and things you shouldn´t miss doing, when visiting the Portuguese capital.
Wander through Alfama
Alfama is the picture perfect, charming old district of Lisbon, that´s little alleys wind up the hill to Castelo Sao Jorge. Take a few hours to get lost and wander around houses painted in pastel colours or completely tiled with the famous Azulejos.
Praça de Comercio
This huge airy square, that is surrounded by columnlined yellow buildings and open on one side towards the river is a great starting point for a visit to all the central parts of Lisbon. You can also get great views of the Tejo and the Bridge from here and sit down at the river banks nearby.
Probably the most touristy neighbourhood for its two big sights. One of them is the Torre de Belém, that is a symbol of the big explorations and the other is the impressive monastery Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. And of course you could count the Pastéis de Belém Pastry Shop as a must too.
The castle above the city
Castelo Sao Jorge is set majestically above the city in the old town of Alfama. One can walk the old fortress walls and enjoy the views over Lisbon in every direction.
Ponte 25 de Abril
Lisbon´s Golden Gate Bridge – the similarity doesn´t need to be discussed – to me is just as stunning, as its Big Sister in San Francisco. It makes for a beautiful and characteristic motive and scenery when photographing from the river banks or watching the sun set over the Tejo.
Parque do Naçoes with the Vasco da Gama Bridge
I already wrote about the old EXPO area in my Lisbon neighbourhoods post http://travellosophy.com/neighbourhoods-of-lisbon/. With its kind of futuristic architecture and the boardwalk along the river it is worth a visit and of good use for recreational purposes. Also, I´d suggest to take a ride with the cable car along the coast to marvel over the seemingly endless Vasco da Gama Bridge.
Eating and going out
Pastéis de Nata
First things first. Don´t leave Lisbon without trying Pastéis de Nata. The Portuguese pastries are really yummy and you can find my favourite places to get the delicious treat here: http://travellosophy.com/the-three-best-places-for-pasteis-de-nata-in-lisbon/
Time out market
Half normal daily market and half food stalls with typical Portugese foods, Time Out Market (Metro Cais do Sodre) is a special eating experience in Lisbon. The market hall is spacious and the different stands offer a variety of foods like Caldo Verde or Pastel de Bacalhau, making it suitable for everyone. Also check their schedule for special events, like dance shows, that contribute to the atmosphere.
Set underneath Ponte 25 de Abril these old warehouses today house a ton of interesting establishments like cafés, restaurants and shops. This place with its special character and a lot of art will make you enjoy your time.
The best viewpoints
Although most people go to Castelo Sao Jorge and pay the – in my opinion ridiculous – 8,50 € entrance fee to get that typical Lisbon view with the Tejo and Ponte 25 de Abril in the background there are other ways to get an equally great, if not better, view of Lisbon.
Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte offers the most stunning outlook over the city, river, bridge and even the castle. And all that for free!
For a view from the other side of the valley take a walk – or the popular Elevador da Gloria – up to Bairro Alto. From the little park and lookout Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcântara you´ll quite a decent view as well. And again, it won´t cost you a single penny.
Where to stay
I know, I´ve never included this point before, but as I was very happy with my accomodation in Lisbon I figured it´d be worth telling you. I stayed at Equity Point Hostel Lisboa, which is located super conveniently in a tranquil side street on the border of Bairro Alto, where you can spend the night out. All of the central neighbourhoods of Lisbon can easily be reached walking and the metro station Restauradores is close by. The room was super clean, the staff really helpful and fun and they offered various activities, like guided tours of the city. I wouldn´t bother looking for any other place to stay if I went back to Lisbon.