Passing through Lisbon and want to make the most of it? Keep reading below for my guide to the best of the city’s attractions.
So Lisbon basically is like a huge historical theme park with a dash modern magic here and there so it can be pretty overwhelming to decide just what to see before you have to head off to your final destination but don’t you worry, I am here to help! Having been a resident here for several months now (Don’t you worry, the foreigners always see more of the city compared to the actual lifelong residents so keep reading).
Before i begin, i must tell you that Lisbon is a very hilly city (it’s built on seven hills and is a lot like Istanbul when it comes to walking around) so you should definitely bring some comfortable shoes with you. Secondly, the great thing about this city is the public transport; it’s certainly the best I have ever seen, if the metro doesn’t get you where you need to go then the buses or trams sure will. If the weather is good while you are here i would just highly recommend that you walk everywhere because that way you will get to explore the city to the max.
Starting off in Belém would be quite ideal because you can grab the famous little custard tarts called pastel de nata from Pastéis de Belém as soon as they come out of the oven – they certainly taste unique and are worth the wait and the visit. The lines usually aren’t too long in the morning so you won’t have to waste a lot of time there. Ideally, you should spend less than half an hour at the bakery before heading off to your next destination; Mosteiro de Jeronimos (which is apparently where these tarts were originally made).
The Jeronimos Monastery, built in the 15th Century, is a must see attraction for anyone visiting Lisbon – it’s more like a cathedral really and it’s an architectural marvel. The tombs of Vasco da Gama and Luiz Camoes are also found in there. It certainly deserves its UNESCO world heritage status, just trust me on this and visit it while you are here!
Next up;the Torre de Belém. It is a historic guard tower and the spot from where the Portuguese explorers set sail to discover the world centuries ago. You can visit the inside of the tower but it would be a waste of money in my opinion; it’s impressive enough from the outside in my opinion.
After the Torre de Belém, you can visit one of the many museums located in the area such as MAAT and Museu Berardo. I’d suggest the Berardo because they host art pieces by Warhol and Picasso and i find their work quite intriguing.
However, if you are not a big fan of museums, you can head to the famous Baixa-Chiado instead. This area is in the heart of Lisbon and there are a lot of things to see here. You can start off with the Praça de Comércio in Baixa, which is one of the grandest plaza’s in Portugal, then walk up the street all the way to the other plaza in Rossio, which is the central plaza of Lisbon. On this street you will find the Elevador de Santa Justa, which is a charming iron elevator whose architecture is similar to that of the Eiffel Tower. It takes you up a steep hill and lets you marvel at the gorgeous 360 degree view of Lisbon from above. If you choose not to go up the elevator (perhaps due to the ridiculously long line) you can continue walking up the street and head to the Café A Brasielira, which is one of the oldest and most famous cafés in Portugal.
Next up i would recommend you head to Alfama, which is a wonderful old neighborhood worth getting lost in. I’d advise you basically wander around the Area and discover everything that it has to offer, you will get absolutely tired of taking pictures in this area, and once you get to a Miradouro (such as the Miradouro das Portas do Sol) , you won’t want to leave, especially if it’s during sunset. I’d also suggest that you visit one of the many venues in Alfama for a Fado performance – a live Fado performance will certainly make your trip here more memorable.
There you have it, there are certainly more things worth visiting in Lisbon but in my opinion, the best ones are mentionned above. Ideally, i would recommend you stay here for 3-4 days in order to be able to see everything, and visit Sintra and Cascais for example, but if you are only here for a day or a couple of hours, these are the places i would highly reccomend that you visit in order to make the most of your trip here.
Have any of you already been to Lisbon? What did you love most about it? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy travels my fellow wanderlusters!