Lisbon was my first introduction to Portugal. I liked it so much I returned after six months. Lisbon is a cosy city with many stunning quarters and many colossal monuments to see.
Castelo de Sao Jorge
Let’s start with one of the seven hills of Lisbon. One of these hills you can find the Castelo de Sao Jorge. The castle offers an unforgettable view of Alfama, the lower city and the Tagus. This is already a reason to go there. In addition to the view, you’ll learn a lot about the city and its history. The first thing you see as you walk into the park is the panoramic viewpoint. Go for a picture while you’re here.
As you walk further, you can enter the castle. Go up the stairs to walk on the walls. But watch out where you walk because the stairs are pretty slippy. Search for the Torre de Ulisses while you’re on the walls. In this tower, you can find de only periscope of the whole country. With this, you can look around the entire city.
The Moorish quarter Alfama is the soul of the fado. Fado is traditional Portuguese music. Some locals will tell you it’s more than just music. They’ll tell you it’s a sense of life. Alfama consists of a colourful maze of alleys. Go for dinner in one of the many fado restaurants. Or listen to how the fado music fills the night. Who rather wanders around in the neighbourhood will encounter some monuments. Alfama has some beautiful churches that are a bit hidden. I call them sacred secrets. Pun intended.
Bairro Alto is best described as the rhythm of the night. The partying continues here till the sun rises again. The many restaurants and bars have a lively but relaxed atmosphere. In the evening, they close the area for cars. Therefore people often hang out outside on warm summer nights. From Wednesdays to Saturdays there is the most to experience in Bairro Alto. And the evening starts only after midnight.
Tram 28 is iconic in Lisbon. The old eléctrico rattles slowly through the historic districts of the city. I know that this tram is very touristy. But without this highlight, your trip to Lisbon wouldn’t be complete. Go as early as possible so you can sit by a window. This attraction attracts a lot of tourists which catches the eye of pickpocketers. The only advice I can give you is: be careful and use your common sense. Don’t let this stop you because the ride is a lot of fun.
Baixa & Chiado
The Praça do Comércio is an ideal starting point for a walk through the Baixa. The square has an amazing view of the Tagus. Thanks to this view it’s one of the most beautiful squares in Europe.
On the north side is a triumphal arch. For 2,5 euros a lift takes you to the viewing platform. If you walk through the arch you’ve reached the shopping streets.
After the necessary shopping walk to the Elevador de Santa Justa. Go to the top and take a look at the busy centre of Lisbon beneath you. But only if you have no fear of heights. If you don’t want to wait in line or pay for the rooftop view, there’s a little ‘hack’. You can enter the second floor for free via the exit. The views are just as magnificent.
Next to the exit of the Elevador is the Carmo church situated. This church doesn’t have a roof. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 1755 and was never built again.
You’re now in the Chiado quarter. This area has lots of delicious restaurants. And you’ll find the best Pastéis de Nada here at Manteigaria.
Belém was one of my favourite areas. Belém is found a little outside of Lisbon, but it’s easily accessible. Just hop on the train to Belém in Cais de Sodre. The journey takes just under 10 minutes. As you leave the station walk towards the water. You can walk towards all the different monuments via the dyke which is much more pleasant than along the busy road.
The first monument you’ll see is Padrão dos Descobrimentos. This monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery. Take a quick look at the ground you’ll find a huge mosaic of a world map.
On the other side, you can spot Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. This monastery is breathtaking. It’s absolutely worth a visit.
If you walk a bit further, you’ll get to Torre de Belém. The tower has some amazing viewpoints on the Tagus and the Ponte 25 de Abril.
In addition to the monuments, Belém has a few awesome museums. My favourite is the Berardo Collection Museum as I’m a fan of modern and contemporary art.