When I think of Portugal, the first thing that springs to mind is the sunny Algarve and resorts – not a bustling capital city full of colour and culture.
Lisbon managed to steal my heart in less than a few hours, and continued to hold it for the remainder of my stay. We didn’t arrive until about 7 O’ clock so it was already dark but that didn’t hinder the stay at all.
Lisbon is a really hilly city. I mean, my calves were actually in so much pain after the first day of walking around! The first viewpoint we went to was Miradouro dà Graca. We found that Lisbon is not full of early risers, so going here in the morning meant there were only about 4 other people there, as opposed to the crowds we saw there later in the day. This area gives you an expansive view of Lisbon and it’s a really nice thing to do on your first day.
Castle De S. Jorge is a ten minute walk from the viewpoint (uphill, like it always seemed to be!). Once again I would advise to go as early as you can. We queued for about 5 minutes but buy the time we left it was at least a half an hour long. Tickets are €8.50 for admission and honestly I thought it was worth it for the view alone. There are stunning views from every part of the castle. You have access to walk the walls of the castle, giving stunning panoramic views of the city which get even better when you can climb on to a Bastion at each wall corner.
There are elevators a plenty in Lisbon, but the most popular is the Santa Justa Lift. This is a big metal lift which has a platform at the top, allowing views like no other in the city in the viewing platform and cafe at the top. This lift also holds a purpose as it can transport up to 29 passengers in each of the two cabins for the 45 meter journey from Baixa to the a walkway that connects to Rua do Carmo where you will find Igreja do Carmo Church. A-side from being a viewpoint and a method of transportation, it is also a brilliant place for entertainment. Every night you will find people sitting on the steps by the elevator watching singers and entertainers.
There are quite a few things to see around Lisbon – more than most cities. The biggest problem that we faced with viewing all these attractions was the fact that they are so far apart. Cais das Colunas is a beautiful historic landmark in the public square of Praça do Comércio. It’s such a nice square and is lined with bars and cafés if you want to sit and let the experience last a little longer. Personally, we walked down towards to water front and just looked back in awe at the square.
Belém Tower is a medieval tower with a rooftop terrace that gives stunning views of the surrounding areas. Don’t be fooled though, this is a 20 minute drive from the square mentioned above. We didn’t bother to go in (as we walked over a flyover that gave us similar/cheaper views!) but even from the outside it is something to marvel. Tickets for entry to this are €6.
Close to Belém Tower is the Jerónimos Monastery in all its glory. This is one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen and the fact that it is over 500 years old just adds to how impressive it all is. Unfortunately we didn’t go in, we just went passed it because we were on a tight schedule. I can only imagine the architecture inside if the outside is anything to go by! You can buy a ticket to go in for €10, or €12 if you want to do this and the Belém tower.
The Tram 28 is one of the iconic yellow trams which will take you everywhere you need to go in the city. It passes through districts such as Baixa, Graça, Alfama and Estrela, but most visitors travel on it to climb the steep hill from Baixa to the castle and Alfama. The number 28 tram is the most popular tram route, and there are daily departures every 11 minutes with a single ticket costing only €2.85 or a 24 hour pass costing €6 (which you can use on other modes of transport also). As I have mentioned, it is definitely worth pulling yourself out of bed a small bit earlier to get this as throughout the day the tram is absolutely packed! We took the Elevador De Bica which passes behind the city’s central market and through a quaint neighbourhood before reaching the popular viewpoint, Miradouro De Santa Catarina. Although it only climbs 200 metres or so, a single ride will cost you €3.70.
FOOD & DRINK:
I’m not usually one for taking note of this when I am away. I will eat cheap food and drink cheaper drink and that is the key to making me happy. In saying this there were a few things in Lisbon that really stood out to me in this department.
Biarro Alto is the main district to go for nightlife and it is nothing short of buzzing! We were especially taken a-back by the huge crowds on the streets on Saturday night. There are two places that we went within this district for drinks which really stood out to me. The first is a cocktail bar called Cinco . It seems to be a small bit out from the hustle and bustle of the centre, but it’s definitely worth the trip out! At about €10 a pop, their cocktails are really something to behold! We ordered a cocktail each and one came with whipped cream on top, while the other actually came in a tin can that you opened and drink out of. The whole atmosphere of the place was really cool. Another place we went was called ‘Food & Booze‘ and although we only had one drink there and it was really crowded, we just really loved the layout – plus we got some really nice cocktails for €5 each. Other bars we went to had live music and were brilliant, but sadly the name of the establishment wasn’t my priority at the time….😃
Time Out Market is an indoor market a short walk from Praça do Comércio. In there you will find bars tucked in the middle, food stalls all along the outer walls and seats everywhere in between. We had already eaten so we grabbed a drink at one of the bars, but I really regret not being hungry that day because the food stalls literally had everything on offer you could think of. Definitely a cool place to go to grab lunch and from the outside you have a great view of the Ponte 25 De Abril.
I was surprised to find that most restaurants offered fish or Italian food. I personally like both but my boyfriend isn’t big into fish and got bored of Italian after the second night. We found this amazing little burger place (across the road from Food & Booze!) called A Cultura Do Hamburguer. Literally all the serve is burgers or steak sandwiches but between €8-9 for a Burger and chips and €2.90 for a dessert along with god service you can’t really go wrong!
Overall, I found Lisbon to be such an amazing city and it is definitely somewhere I would like to return. Going at the end of March meant there were tourists but not so many that everything was unbearable and we still got nice weather of around 20 degrees every day.
Have you ever been to Portugal? And if so, what did you think of it? 😃