Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is a very interesting city! Even though one of Europe’s capital cities, you can still find many individual laid back areas. And quickly, you are in the middle of the beautiful surroundings of Lisbon.
So enjoy, and I´m always happy about comments with more tips and recommendations about what to see and do in and around Lisbon, and to make the most out of this beautiful point on the world map!
Lisbon on a glimpse:
- visit the city center of Lisbon (Bairro Alto, Baixa, Alfama)
- Belém is not less interesting than the center of Lisbon
- Wander through ancient narrow cobblestoned streets up and down (Lisbon was built on hills)
- Eat delicious “Pastel de nata” (pastry filled with cream pudding), drink portuguese coffee (e.g. Galão (espresso with foamed milk)), or enjoy the Portuguese beer Superbock with a “Pastel de Bacalhão” (codfish pastry) in the evening
- Take the tram 28 for an “inofficial” sightseeing tour though the city
- Visit one or more “Miradouros” – viewpoints
- Gaze at the house walls, that are covered with tillings in different colors and designs
- walk to the bridge “Ponte 25 de Abril” that looks like the Golden Gate bridge, and leads to the other side of the Rio Tejo
- visit the botanical garden of Lisbon
- lay back in one of Lisbon´s public parks and relaxing zones
- Enjoy the nightlife with a Super Bock or a Beirão in Bairro Alto
Surroundings of Lisbon:
- pack your swimming suits and get to Setúbal, a village close to the national park “Parque Natural da Arrábida“, with it´s fantastic, cristal clear and beautiful beaches (about 1,5 hours by local bus)
- explore ancient castles and walls in Sintra (about 1 hour by train)
Below the link to the travel guide I used! It´s divided by city parts, including maps. I found it very useful
Lisbon city center
The people of Lisbon don´t say city center or downtown or something like that, but when they speak about Bairro Alto, Baixa, or Alfama, you will know, that they mean the area, which forms the ancient center.
In Metro terms, it´s around the stations: Baixa-Chiado, Rossio, Restauradores and Martim Moniz, in the south. You can easily get there by metro, and wander without a plan around the area.
Don´t hurry up! There are many things to see, and you can make the most out of it without any rush. Just stop and stare! Get into a typical portuguese café or restaurant, and try a Pastel de nata, a Pastel de Bacalhão, or whatever pastel they offer. All of them are just tasty!
Also coffee junkies get their money´s worth – just try all the different coffee variations. Even the locals don´t know all the options, that are there.
The ancient narrow cobblestoned streets, which lead you up and down, can be best explored by foot. You will pass many houses, churches, palaces, schools, restaurants, bars, subway or railway stations with tillings (Azulejos) on the interior and exterior in every different color and design, that you can imagine. This tradition was brought in the 13th century through an Arab influence.
An alternative from exploring the city by foot is taking the tram 28. It starts at the station Martim Moniz and is a mixture of dizzling downhill and exhausting uphill rides. In every case it´s funny and one can see many things! The whole ride takes around 40 minutes and costs 3 Euros. You can hop on and off whenever you like.
Also the “Miradouros” – viewpoints, are absolutely worth a visit. There are some in the center, for example the Miradouro de Santa Catarina, accessible from the Calcada do Combro.
Alfama is the most ancient part of the old city center, and just on the eastern side of the castle. Here, you can find little angled cobblestoned streets, with typical Portuguese houses, cafés, restaurants, balconies with clothes for drying, fountains, churches, places, and so on. It´s a really cute part of the city, and perfect for hanging around.
Also the botanical garden, with it´s butterfly house, is always worth a visit. You can get there by metro, getting out at the station Avenida (blue line).
Belém is a district, located on the western side of Lisbon on the shore of the Rio Tejo. It´s nice to take a walk here as well, in order to see the huge monument “Padrão dos descobrimentos”, which was build for honorig the seamen. It´s located right on the shore of the river.
The Torre de Belém, a fort tower in the river is also worth a visit. Next to it it´s possible to sit down and to take a little sun bath.
And of course the “Mosteiro dos Jerónimos”, a big monastery, where you can find besides beautiful ornaments, seamen symbols and other architecture of the late gothic, the tomb of Vasco da Gama.
Setúbal and Parque Natural da Arrábida
You can take a local bus from Lisbon to Sebúbal. It takes around one hour to get there, and it´s really a recommendation of me to make that day trip, or to spend even longer there. The close-by natural park Parque Natural da Arrábida is just gorgeous.
We arrived at the main bus station in Sebúbal, and had to walk around 20 minutes, in order to get to the harbour and the shore. From here, busses drive to some points along the cliffs of the natural park. We didn´t want to wait, or even to walk, because the narrow street along the cliffs is very windy, and it can be dangerous to walk. So we tried our luck with hitchhiking! And after a while, it really worked A nice couple took us some 15 minutes with them, and dropped us at one point, from where we just could walk/climb some steep stone stairs down to the wonderful beach..
We didn´t need anything else! Just relax, and enjoy the water, although only the legs, because the water was still very cold.
It was a wonderful, relaxed day. On the way back, we were also very lucky, because another couple took us back to the village, from where we could take the bus to Lisbon. They were also very nice. The woman was a teacher, and told us some stories of their life.
Back in the bus, we were very tired, but happy and the sun said goodbye to us for that day.
Beautiful palaces, one that looks like from Walt Disney and the other one from 1001 night, and a huge wall (Castelo dos Mouros) like the one in China, this all is Sintra.
Sintra is a little town about 25 km in western direction of Lisbon, close to the coast. It´s famous for it´s 100 years old buildings, and since 1995 Sinatra is part of the UNESCO world heritage. You can get there easily by train from the central station in Lisbon.
After getting out of the train, we just had to orientate ourselves. We had to get up, to the palace (Palácio Nacional de Sintra) and then from there up and up to the wall (Castelo dos Mouros). For the walls and the Palácio Nacional da Pena, one have to pay a entrance. But it´s also possible, to just pay for one of the two the entrance fee. It´s a bit a pity, because it´s quite expensive and there are no student discounts.
We paid for the wall, and I think it was the right decision It was a lot of fun to explore this big area and to climb on everything possible. Also the views down were amazing.
Never forget your sun blocker here. We applied it, and even got burnt 😉
It was a nice day, and it was so much fun to explore Sintra!
Our time in Lisbon came to an end, way too fast, and it was again time to say goodbye!
I´m sure, I will return one day, because I really like and enjoy the lifestyle, the customs, the language, the people, the food, the drinks and mentality in Portugal.
Thanks Portugal and see you soon!
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