Lisbon is Portugal‘s hilly capital and largest city, located at the mouth of the Tagus River (where it opens into the Atlantic Ocean). It is a beautiful and vibrant city, where modern life thrives along lots of history and charm. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, having gone through different invasions, empires, settlements, and waves of immigration. Currently, many of those influences can still be recognized in monuments and architecture, and the living result is a very interesting mix of people, cultures, music, and cuisine.
There is a lot to see and do in Lisbon, with a variety of museums, beautiful churches and squares, endless restaurants, bars, cafés and bakeries, lively nightlife, plenty of live music and cultural events, and so much more. You can spend a lot of time there and always have something new to discover. Check out the Lisboa Card, for access to transit, entry to attractions, deals and discounts.
The city is said to have been built on “seven hills”, but walking up and down the steep terrain, I came to believe there are way more than seven! 😉 The geography has the advantage of offering breathtaking views from its several lookouts/viewpoints (miradouros), which are great locations to appreciate and photograph the scenery from different perspectives.
Lisbon has an excellent and affordable public transportation network, with metro (subway), buses, and trams (don’t miss a ride on the nostalgic 28 Tram – it’s an attraction in itself!). A car is not needed to explore the city itself (and may be a hassle due to heavy traffic and limited parking), but it is nice to have a car available for day trips to Sintra and Cascais (also easily reachable by train), to Sesimbra and Setubal, to the beaches in the Arrábida region, to Mafra and Obidos, etc.
- Sao Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge)
- Praça do Comércio, beautiful main square in the historical centre overlooking the Tagus River, and surrounded by shops and restaurants, and Rua Augusta Arch, a majestic sculptural arch facing the square connecting the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court buildings. From the gateway under the arch, follow Rua Augusta up towards the Rua de Santa Justa and the famous elevator (Santa Justa Lift). Along the way, enjoy the many traditional buildings, cafés, shops and restaurants, with a special mention to the Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau, serving a unique version of the country’s famous cod fritters/cakes, filled with creamy Serra da Estrela cheese! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!
- Fado, shopping and nightlife at Bairro Alto
- Shopping and cultural hub at Chiado
- The Belem District, including:
- 25 de Abril Bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril) and Christ the King monument (Cristo Rei)
- Aguas Livres Aqueduct (Aqueduto Águas Livres)
- Gare do Oriente / Parque das Nações
- Baixa District – Restauradores Square, Rossio Square, Martim Moniz Square and surrounding streets – plenty of beautiful architecture, local shops, bakeries, bars and restaurants.
- Time-Out Market – historic “Ribeira” (Riverside) area market turned into a hip food hall and cultural hub. Next to Cais Do Sodre station. Food stalls offer a variety of options by some of the best chefs/restaurants in Lisbon. Busy and bustling, a great spot for eating, having a drink, and people-watching during the day and evening. At the front of the market, don’t miss a stop at Manteigaria for another version of the Portuguese custard tarts (pastéis de nata) – make sure to ask for them warm!
- Smaller markets full of local flavour, like the Campo de Ourique, and the rotating offerings at Mercado da Baixa, Rossio, etc.
Find your own favourites in Lisbon (or you may already have some) and let us know in the comments!