Lisbon is the city where I was born and it is the city of my heart. Between 2012 and 2015 (during the economic crisis), I followed the advice of the then prime minister. I emigrated to Scotland where I worked as a teacher for 3 years. When asked what I missed most about my country, the answer was simple. I missed Lisbon! Its light, walking through its streets, reading a book in a café, the river Tagus, the beaches and the many simple (and free) things the city has to offer! On April 18, 2015 I returned to Lisbon, never to leave again. It is in Lisbon that I will stay until the end of the “trip”.
There are literally hundreds of tourist attractions and things to do in Lisbon. When writing this article the hardest thing was to choose what I would suggest. To make it easier to read, I divided the attractions into 8 parts: 1- Famous Streets and Squares in Lisbon 2- Typical Neighbourhoods, 3- Must-see Monuments, 4- “Admiradouros” (admirals) 5- Nearby Beaches, 6- Museums, 7- Parks and Gardens, 8- Other Activities.
TYPICAL LISBON STREETS AND SQUARES
The best way to explore the streets and squares of Lisbon is on foot or by bicycle. A whole morning (or afternoon) is enough to get to know the following suggestions of streets and squares. Here is a map to help you plan out your route(s) to walk.
CAIS DO SODRÉ
Cais do Sodré was a lot of things in the past! It was the place of residence of kings for 200 years, it was a square frequented by spies during World War II, it was the meeting place for prostitutes and clients, it was the stage for parades of fine and illustrious people, and it was also an area declared dangerous to public health (due to the discharge of sewage on the site). Today it is a renovated space halfway between the area of Bairro Alto of “copos” and the beautiful Ribeira da Naus (a place frequented and enjoyed by locals and tourists).
COMMERCE SQUARE (PRAÇA DO COMÉRCIO)
Praça do Comércio is nowadays an authentic “park” for tourists and one of the most emblematic squares in Lisbon. It is 36 thousand square metres that result from the post-earthquake reconstruction (1755) led by the Marquis of Pombal. A space where hotels, restaurants, cafes (among them the famous Martinho da Arcada frequented by the immortal Fernando Pessoa) and also public farm buildings proliferate.
Spend a few minutes to appreciate our Tagus River by the pier of columns (cais das colunas), a place where in the past many took their baths, a fact that raised an immense polemic
The Chiado neighborhood is an iconic place that has never gone out of fashion! It was a meeting point for great artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Fernando Pessoa, Almeida Negreiros, Mário de Sá Carneiro and many others. On August 25th, 1988 (in the Grandella warehouses of Chiado), a great fire broke out and consumed 18 buildings (an area equivalent to 8 football fields).
However, Chiado was literally reborn from the ashes and has recovered the soul of other times. Today there are restaurants, hotels, cafés (the famous “Brasileira” where Fernando Pessoa used to meet with his fellow artists), stores, museums, churches and theatres. All harmoniously integrated in a cosmopolitan environment where there is no lack of Portuguese or foreigners.
CARMO’S STREET (RUA DO CARMO)
Despite being a small street it is one of the most famous in Lisbon. It connects Rossio with the intersection between Rua Garrett and Rua Nova de Almada. After the Chiado fire, Rua do Carmo was a decadent place, but it managed to recover its aura with the rejuvenation of Chiado and the opening of the modern shopping centre we find there today. Today, those whom walk down the street of Carmo will find a street full of movement, flanked by numerous stores of national and international brands (some of them very expensive).
If you’re Portuguese and over the age of 40, you can’t help but associate Rua do Carmo with the band UHF. An iconic song from the early 1980s.
AUGUSTA STREET (RUA AUGUSTA)
Augusta Street is a street with soul and life! It starts at the Triumphal Arch in Praça do Comércio and ends at Rossio square. It is a tribute to the august memory of King Dom José I (the word augusta means “worthy of respect and veneration”). There you will find a lot of traditional commerce and also many international stores and brands. It has been closed to traffic since the late 1980s. Lively with street artists and street vendors, Augusta street is flooded with Portuguese and foreigners every day!
A few metres away from Chiado you will find Restauradores square. It is located at the south end of the great Avenida da Liberdade. Dominating the scene is a huge 30 metre high obelisk (from 1886) that symbolizes the liberation of Portugal from Spanish rule. It was once considered the starting point of Lisbon’s expansion northward. It is a large square with very old, historic and beautiful buildings. Noteworthy, are Palácio Foz (nowadays a tourist office) and the old Eden cinema that gave its space to the modern Orion Eden Hotel. It was and still is a charming square where you will always feel like taking a stroll (just like in the past the bourgeoisie and other illustrious figures used to do).
MARQUÊS DE POMBAL ROUNDABOUT
And now Mr. Prime Minister? “Now we bury the dead and take care of the living”! This is how the then Prime Minister, Marquês de Pombal, may have responded when asked about the tragedy that struck Lisbon (and beyond) in 1755 – the great earthquake (followed by a tsunami and fire). Lisbon’s largest and most famous transport section is located between Avenida da Liberdade and the no less famous Parque Eduardo VII! Since 1934, in the centre of the square, stands the statue of the Marquis of Pombal (the man who led the reconstruction of the city (and the country) after the earthquake). In the past, it was just called the rotunda, and it was there that the most important moments of the implantation of the republic took place (October 5, 1910).
The Praça do Marquês de Pombal (better known as the Marquês de Pombal roundabout) is an extension of the Avenida da Liberdade, which was once an old Pombaline public promenade. It is a very expensive noble area of the city, where the capital’s major hotels are located. The statue of the Marquis has a hand resting on a lion, a sign of the kings strength and determination to rebuild and progress the city!
TYPICAL DISTRICTS OF LISBON
Below is a map with the location of the most typical neighbourhoods in Lisbon.
It isn’t possible to truly get to know Lisbon without walking through the streets and alleys of the Alfama. The original name derives from the Arabic “Al-hama” which means “source of hot waters, good waters”. It is part of the heart of Lisbon and is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the capital. A kind of village inside the city. A neighbourhood of disorderly streets and lanes that you can meander through whilst listening to the Fado music coming from its taverns.
Today it is a neighbourhood already deeply marked by the presence of tourists who find local accommodation there. Yet, it is still possible to stroll through the Alfama and find streets, characters, and images typical of Lisbon. Small buildings with sloping roofs, neighbours talking from window to window, clothes drying on ropes from the houses, taxi drivers singing Fado, and a neighbourhood spirit that is hard to find.
If you go there, besides getting lost in the streets of the neighbourhood, don’t forget to see the Santo Estevão viewpoint, the São Vicente de Fora church, the National Pantheon and the Del Rei fountain. You should specifically make note of June 12th and 13th. On these dates the popular saints are celebrated and Alfama becomes even more beautiful and vibrant!
The neighbourhood of Mouraria is, along with Alfama, one of the most traditional neighbourhoods of the capital. Its name is related to a decision made by Dom Afonso Henriques. After the conquest of Lisbon from the Moors (1147), the first king of Portugal decided to assign this neighbourhood to the Muslims who continued to live there until the fifteenth century (when they were expelled or converted). A neighbourhood once again full of narrow streets and alleys. For 8 centuries there has been a miscellany of people and cultures living there. If you stroll through Mouraria on a summer’s day, you will find old ladies sitting on park benches chatting. But you will also find curious tourists tired of walking up and down its steep streets, groups of young people smoking “joints” and groups of Indians, Chinese and Bangladeshi people wandering around.
Mouraria was born as a ghetto for Muslims and remained so for many
centuries. After the passage of the Moors, the neighbourhood was inhabited by poor workers, and the decadence of the neighbourhood continued and became more accentuated. Prostitution, drugs, poor people and old people were its trademark for a long time. It’s curious to think that, until very recently, and just like in the 12th century, Mouraria continued to attract the poorest immigrant communities. In the 12th century they were Muslims and in the very recent past the Chinese and Bangladeshi community. It’s also interesting to think that most Lisboners still have their backs turned to the neighbourhood. Mouraria was, for 8 centuries, a ghetto for the poorest.
However, we can’t talk about Mouraria without talking about Fado. It was there that it was born and there that it continues. In every street, in every café, in every tavern and in every (Portuguese) inhabitant of the neighbourhood. It was in Mouraria that some of the great names in Fado were born: Maria Severa and Fernando Maurício are the biggest names in the neighbourhood. In the last decade, the Lisbon City Council decided to support the Mouraria associations in a project of renovation and opening the neighbourhood to tourism. Buildings and streets were renovated. Restaurants, cafés and spaces next to the paths were opened. If you go there, be sure to visit Martim Moniz square, the Nossa Senhora da Saúde church, the Fernandina wall, Achada square (where you’ll find one of the oldest houses in the city), São Cristóvão church, Severa square, Jasmin alley, the Fernando Maurício house and the Mouraria school of Fado.
MUST-SEE MONUMENTS IN LISBON
Below is a map with the attractions that are part of our list of suggestions.
SÃO JORGE CASTLE
On Lisbon’s highest hill we find the magnificent Castelo de São Jorge. The fortress that we can admire today, began as a defensive structure erected in the 2nd century B.C. Human presence at this site is confirmed by the archaeological remains found there (Phoenician, Greek, Carthaginian, Roman and Muslim remains). A closer version of today’s castle was built in the 10th and 11th centuries, when the town belonged to the Moors. In 1910, it became a national monument and underwent profound renovations, giving it its present appearance. If you go there, besides being able to visit the inside of the castle, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the city of Lisbon and the Tagus River.
Inside the castle, you can visit the museum centre where you can learn a lot about the history of the city. Also worth mentioning, is a visit to the Ulysses Tower (inside the castle) which offers the possibility to see the city in real time through a 360-degree periscope.
JERONIMOS MONASTERY (BELÉM)
This masterpiece of Manueline architecture was built in 1501 on the site of an old and small hermitage dating from 1452 (and that had been commissioned by Prince Henry the Navigator). A monastery closely related to the time of the great Portuguese discoveries (from trade with the Orient came much of the money that supported the construction of this monument). It is, in my opinion, the most impressive monastery in Portugal and it has an absolutely incredible hall-church (even when compared with other great churches in Europe). The construction took more than 100 years and was conducted by a vast number of architects. It is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Another symbol of the city of Lisbon! The Sé de Lisboa is a monument dedicated to the mother of God. It was built by Afonso Henriques in 1147 after the conquest of the city from the Moors. In its place was an old mosque that had replaced a Visigothic temple! The first version of the Cathedral had a Romanesque style.
Later, in the 13th and 14th centuries the Cathedral was renovated for the first time. This was followed by several interventions (Baroque style in the 17th and 18th centuries) and other restorations in the 20th century.
TOWER OF BELÉM
Built between 1514 and 1520 it is not only one of the symbols of Lisbon but also of Portugal. Many think of the Torre de Belém (its official name is Torre de São Vicente) only as a monument of ornamentation of the beautiful riverside area in Belém. But in fact the Tower of Belem was, in the distant past, a very important defensive structure of the city. A 5-story monument that ends in a wide terrace. Besides being a defensive structure, the Tower of Belem was also a dungeon and a lighthouse. In 1983 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
DISCOVERIES MONUMENT (BELÉM)
A few metres from the Tower of Belém, stands the imposing, controversial Padrão dos Descobrimentos (discoveries monument). A monument built by the Estado Novo during the 40’s during the organisation of the great exhibition of the Portuguese World (in the Belém area). It was designed as a monument to honour Prince Henry the Navigator and its construction took 8 months. It has the shape of a caravel and 3 sails along a central pillar. Pointing toward the entrance is a giant sword. Leading the figures of the pattern is Prince Henry the Navigator, the great figure of the Portuguese discoveries.
Nothing remains of the original church ordered to be built by the Infanta Dona Maria (in 1568). Its reconstruction began in 1663, in Baroque style, by architect João Nunes. But the works were not finished until the middle of the 20th century! In 1916 it was given the title of National Pantheon. Inside are the remains of the greatest Portuguese ever, such as Amália Rodrigues, Almeida Garrett, Sidónio Pais, Guerra Junqueiro and many other illustrious Lusitanians. As it took such a long time to be built, an interesting and funny portuguese expression was born: “they look like the works of Santa Engrácia”! This is the expression that all Portuguese use to refer to something that is taking a long time.
It was built on top of a hill in Lisbon, from where you can see Rossio and São Jorge Castle. Few Portuguese people, and also few people in Lisbon, know about the convent of Carmo. The monument built by order of Nuno Álvares Pereira was, for many centuries, the largest gothic structure in the city of Lisbon. On November 1, 1755, the earthquake that struck the capital and the south of the country inflicted indelible damage on the convent. Today, what we can visit are the ruins, which still maintain their imposing appearance.
MONASTERY OF SÃO VICENTE DE FORA
Have you ever wondered why this monastery is called “Mosteiro de São Vicente… DE FORA”? We’ll explain it all… A monastery located in Alfama. It was built on the site where a monastery already existed ordered to be built by Dom Afonso Henriques in 1147 (right after the Christian reconquest of the city of Lisbon). This original temple was created in honour of Saint Vincent, patron saint of Lisbon. The expression “from outside” is explained by the fact that the monastery was built outside the walls that protected the city. The construction of the monastery of São Vicente de Fora (as we know it today) took place between 1582 and 1627. If you go there be sure to visit the terrace (next to the towers), which offers a spectacular panoramic view.
Due to its artistic and historical importance, the monastery has its own museum with sculpture work, paintings, paramentaries (liturgical pieces) and goldsmithery. Ticket prices: Adult: €5, children (under 12): free, students and seniors: €2.50 euros
CONVENT OF NOSSA SENHORA DA GRAÇA
A temple that dates back to 1271 and is one of the most important conventual complexes in the city. The church was rebuilt between 1556 and 1565. Also in this period its magnificent cloister was built (a cloister is four large corridors that form a square structure that houses a garden in the middle). The earthquake of 1755 destroyed a large part of the church. It was rebuilt starting in 1765. With the extinction of the religious orders (1834), the convent began to be used by the army.
AJUDA NATIONAL PALACE
It is situated at the top of Ajuda and from there you have a fantastic view of the Tagus River. For its historical and cultural value, it is a must-see in Lisbon. The construction of the palace started in 1796. After the great earthquake of 1755, the royal family went to live in the Royal Palace of Ajuda (a wooden building). This part of Lisbon (where I live!) is more protected from earthquakes. In 1794 another tragedy. The Barraca Real (as the Royal Palace was also known), was consumed by a big fire. It was after this second tragedy that the Ajuda National Palace was built.
The initial project contemplated a gigantic construction with majestic gardens. But the French invasions changed the plans and the royal family had to flee to Brazil in 1807. Although the project did not come to pass, the Ajuda National Palace is a majestic monument, or it would not have been built for royalty. The royal quarters and the works of art delight those who visit. Go when you have time to absorb it all. There is a lot to enjoy!
I have to confess that I have lived in Lisbon (in Belém/Ajuda) since I was born and I had/have ( use ‘have’ if you still haven’t been and use ‘had’ + until A SPECIFIC DATE if you didn’t visit it for a long time, by then you did on the date you state) never visited this unknown gem, located in Monsanto (10 minutes away from my house). The Palácio Fronteira is a prime example of 17th century civil architecture. It was built in the 17th century by Dom João de Mascarenhas (marquis of Fronteira) as a holiday residence (great lives!). Like the royal family, Dom João de Mascarenhas’ family also moved to this part of the city after the great earthquake. At that time the palace was expanded again and the descendants of the Marquis still live there today. The palace can be visited and… rented!
LISBON, FADO and CARLOS DO CARMO
It’s impossible to get to know and understand the soul of Lisbon without listening to Fado music. And you can’t get to know Fado without talking about Carlos do Carmo. Fado is Lisbon and Lisbon is Carlos do Carmo. No other fado singer has been able to demonstrate their passion for Lisbon as well as Carlos do Carmo. Here is a small tribute to the man we already and dearly miss.
VIEWPOINTS IN LISBON
Here is the map of the viewpoints to help you plan your trips! We hope it will be useful.
AUGUSTA STREET ARCH VIEWPOINT
Few are the Portuguese (and foreigners) who climb to the top of the arch of Rua Augusta, a triumphal arch built after the earthquake of 1755. However, for those who do go up there, they do not forget the magnificent views that this viewpoint offers. The entrance to the viewpoint is at the end of Rua Augusta. At the entrance you will find the ticket office where you can also buy some souvenirs traditional to the city of Lisbon itself. After buying the ticket, you just have to take the lift up until you reach the arch clock room on Rua Augusta, where you will find the story of the arch. Once you reach the viewpoint at top, you can enjoy a view of downtown Lisbon, Praça do Comércio and the Tagus river. From this point in the city you can also see the castle of São Jorge, the 25 de Abril bridge and the Cathedral of Lisbon. Amazing!
At the top of one of the 7 hills “alfacinhas” you will find the Santa Catarina viewpoint (also called Adamastor viewpoint). It is probably the most beautiful in the city of Lisbon. In the XVI, XVII and XVIII centuries it was from there that the boats that approached the city could be seen. Nowadays, it is a meeting place for friends in the late afternoon. Especially crowded during spring and summer when street artists gather to give the place a special atmosphere. Perfect for a late afternoon with drinks and friends, while waiting for the sunset.
OUR LADY OF THE MOUNT VIEWPOINT (MIRADOURO DA NOSSA SENHORA DO MONTE)
This is one of the most beautiful and least well-known (and frequented) viewpoints in Lisbon. Set in a stage-like space, it offers a fabulous panoramic view. It is a stone’s throw away from the Miradouro da Graça. From there you can see the Graça church (left) and the majestic São Jorge castle. In the distance the shining Tagus. A scenery that is completed with the (unique) light of Lisbon that spreads among and above the houses of Lisbon. A viewpoint located where the first king of Portugal set up his tents to conquer the city of Lisbon. More than 900 years later it is the viewpoint of Senhora do Monte and its chapel that conquers all who visit!
GRAÇA VIEWPOINT (MIRADOURO DA GRAÇA)
To get there we suggest you take the famous tram 28 to Graça. Once there, sit at the Miradouro da Graça (Graça’s belvedere) and enjoy one of the most stunning views of the city. It is next to the castle hill and the shadows there are perfect for resting, reflecting and
appreciating our city of Lisbon. From there you can see the São Jorge castle, the neighbourhood of Mouraria, the Tagus river and Monsanto park. Since 2009 it has been called Miradouro de Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, a tribute to the great writer. It is a viewpoint that offers free internet to those who visit!
MUSEUMS IN LISBON
We have prepared a map for you with the following 3 museums. The Electricity Museum is right next to the MAAT. For this reason, on the map, it is difficult to see both.
A museum located in Belém, right next to the Tagus river and with innovative and beautiful architecture! This is how the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon is defined, a masterpiece of modern architecture! It opened its doors in 2016 after a 5-year
construction with a total cost of approximately 19 million euros. The building is completely clad in white tiles that reflect the wonderful light of Lisbon. The MAAT extends over an area of 38,000 square meters where you can find all the art pieces of the EDP foundation (more than 250 artists). If you do go there be sure to climb to the museum’s belvedere (on its roof). From there you can enjoy a fabulous view of the Tagus River, the 25 de Abril Bridge and the Atlantic Ocean.
MUSEUM OF ELECTRICITY
With the emergence of MAAT, the Electricity Museum (located in Belém right next to MAAT), lost some of the scenic prominence it had. The building was a thermoelectric power plant ‘that supplied the city of Lisbon from the beginning of the 20th century until 1951 (when it stopped operating).
Those who visit the museum will understand how the old thermoelectric plant worked and the way people worked there. The machinery involved in the production of energy is impressive to say the least. Even today all that paraphernalia of structures work perfectly. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions of photography, sculpture, painting and other artistic records. If you are passionate about this type of museum, book an “exclusive visit” to be able to access and see areas that are closed to regular visitors!
THE TILE MUSEUM
Make sure you go to the Tile museum, situated not far from Santa Apolónia train station. It is a great place for tile lovers who should also visit the Hotel Palácio Belmonte or the Palácio do Ramalhete, places where the interior walls are covered with tiles. You will also find many azulejos in the Alfama, Chiado and Cais do Sodré areas.
PARKS AND GARDENS IN LISBON
Here is a map with the most beautiful parks and gardens in Lisbon.
COLONIAL GARDEN OF LISBON
Of all the gardens I have visited in my life, this is without a doubt my favourite! Located in Belém, the Lisbon colonial garden was created in 1906. It covers an area of 7 hectares (each hectare is equivalent to 1 football pitch) and has more than 500 species from tropical, subtropical and temperate regions. It is visited by researchers but also by those who want to walk around, rest, and appreciate the immense natural beauty that the colonial garden has to offer. A delight for those who like wondrous natural spaces but also for those who enjoy seeing ducks and peacocks (my favourites), which roam freely around the garden. In 2019, the plan to renovate and rehabilitate the garden began.
PRAÇA DO IMPÉRIO GARDEN
This garden is located in Belém, between the Jerónimos Monastery and the Monument to the Discoveries,and next to the Belém cultural centre. When the Jerónimos Monastery was built (16th century), the Tagus River was advancing to its bank, swallowing all the area that is now occupied by the garden (and even beyond). It was in 1940 that the garden at Praça do Império was ordered built by the Estado Novo as part of the great “Exhibition of the Portuguese World” that took place in Belém. The huge fountain right in the centre of the garden is often illuminated in different colours at night.
The forest park of Monsanto is the “lung” of the city of Lisbon! It extends for over more than 1000 hectares (!) and offers a lot to those who visit it. It’s a perfect place go walking or cycling. As it has several sports facilities as well, it is also very sought after for doing physical activity. Here is a list of attractions and amenities that you will find there: viewpoints, picnic parks, camping spaces, children’s playgrounds, a tennis club, fitness circuits, and restaurants. If you want to get to know the park in depth, pay a visit to the Espaço Monsanto which is located on the northern side of the park.
CROSSING THE TAGUS RIVER BY BOAT
It’s one of those little pleasures that never tire me: crossing the Tagus by boat! You have several possibilities. I suggest two particular crossings to you. First option: Cais do Sodré – Cacilhas. A 7-minute trip in one of Transtejo’s old boats which have the great advantage of being open on the upper deck. If the day and temperature are inviting, the crossing is a delight!
Second option: Belém – Trafaria (with a stop at Porto Brandão). A 15-minute trip on board one of the new boats that have replaced the old “cacilheiros” (the ones that used to be open on the top deck). These new boats, despite being more modern, don’t have the beauty of the old “cacilheiros” and the top space IS NOT ACCESSIBLE. How is it possible that Transtejo does not allow access to the top deck depriving people (locals and tourists) from enjoying the endless beauty of the river crossing? Incomprehensible! Anyway… You can make the crossing at ground zero (open space where cars are parked), and enjoy the trip on one of the top decks of the boats.
OTHER ACTIVITIES IN LISBON
TAKING THE TRAM
When walking around Lisbon you will quickly come across two types of trams: the modern ones (longer) and the old trams from the beginning of the XX century (smaller). Our suggestion is to take a ride on board the old trams 28, which connects Martim Moniz to Campo de Ourique. Along the route of the tram 28 you will pass by several iconic places and monuments of the city. The route of the famous tram 28 passes through Bairro da Graça, São Vicente de Fora church, Alfama, the Cathedral, Santo António church and Conceição street.
It then goes through Chiado (stopping almost in front of the famous pastry shop “A Brasileira”), passes by Largo de Camões (Bairro Alto), goes along Calçada do Combro, passes by Assembleia da República and Jardim da Estrela. We suggest you do both routes so you can appreciate from different angles everything there is to see. Take your time and enjoy the Lisbon’s “casario” (houses) as well.
EAT A PASTEL DE BELÉM
Going to Lisbon and not eating a pastel de Belém is like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope. It is in the pasteis de Belém factory that, since 1837, you can eat the best pasteis de nata in the world (and around)!
What is the difference between a pastel de nata and a pastel de Belém?
A pastel de nata can be eaten in any café in Portugal. A pasteis de Belém has a secret recipe, its flavour is unique and can only be tasted at the pasteis de Belém factory. The factory produces more than 20 thousand pasteis daily and at weekends this number increases considerably. The factory extends over multiple interior rooms and the space holds hundreds of customers. Still the waiting time during the weekend can be long. But it is worth it! In my opinion, there is only one problem that must be considered! The pasteis de Belém are enemies of the line… It is impossible to eat just one!
SANTA GLÓRIA ELEVATOR
Of the 4 historical elevators in Lisbon, the Glória elevator is undoubtedly the most emblematic. Inaugurated in 1885, it is the connection between Restauradores Square and Bairro Alto and was originally powered by water. In 1915 the elevator was electrified and started to run on electricity. The 275-metre long elevator goes up the Calçada da Glória, one of the steepest streets in Lisbon with an 18% incline. Along the way, the elevator passes by an urban art gallery sponsored by the Lisbon City Hall. Once we reach the top, we are in the heart of Bairro Alto, the heart of Lisbon’s nightlife! Since 2002 the Glória elevator has held the title of national monument!
SURF IN LISBON
Lisbon is bathed by the “Tejo River” but the beaches are just around the corner. It is fast and easy to reach the beaches of Costa da Caparica by car. There you will find many surf schools and several instructors that will provide you with boards, wetsuits and advice to have the most amazing surf experience!
BEACHES IN THE SURROUNDING AREAS OF LISBON
The capital of Portugal is blessed with a large and magnificent coastline! Lisbon is the only European capital located next to large and beautiful white sandy beaches. The distance between these white beaches and Lisbon is only 15 minutes (by train or car). Some of these beaches are known as perfect places for surfing and sports that need wind like kite-surfing. Here are some suggestions and a map to help you plan your beach days.
PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA BEACH
Green and calm water. The perfect place to take a picture to show your friends. If you want to know everything about this beach and this place read our article about Portinho da Arrábida.
RIBEIRA DO CAVALO BEACH
Incredible! The access is not easy, but it is worth the effort. You will be amazed by the beauty of this beach. If you are interested in Portinho da Arrábida, be sure to read our article about this magical place.
COSTA DA CAPARICA BEACHES
A long stretch of white sand with many sandy beaches and plenty of space. Praia do Castelo is one of the many places in Costa da Caparica that you must visit no matter what. Filled with Portuguese people and only a few tourists, it is a great place to experience the true Portuguese atmosphere. If you want to know more about Costa da Caparica click HERE.
This beach is located close to Lisbon and you can take the train from the city centre and enjoy the fantastic view of the river Tejo! On this fantastic beach you can also try surfing and kitesurfing! If you want to find all there is to know about Carcavelos beach click HERE!
A bit windy but beautiful, it is perfect for kite and windsurfing. If you like surfing you will also love this place. World-renowned for its waves.
Magnificent cliffs. Great solution if you enjoy swimming or are looking for a place for a family lunch with friends and family. In addition, the coastline surrounding Sesimbra is breathtaking.
WHAT TO VISIT AROUND LISBON?
Only 20 minutes separate Lisbon from Costa da Caparica, the most famous beach destination near to the Portuguese capital. There is a lot to discover at Costa da Caparica. Some of the highlights include the beaches of Cova do Vapor, São João beach, Nova beach and Castelo beach. If you prefer a walk instead of going to the beach, go to Arriba Fóssil da Costa da Caparica, a protected landscape with forest and beautiful viewpoints!
It is only 27 kilometres from Lisbon to Sintra, a distance that can be covered in 28 minutes. The town of Sintra is also called the Magic Village. It is a special place of such extreme beauty that has become a World Heritage Site. If you do go there be sure to visit the Pena National Palace, the Moorish Castle, Quinta da Regaleira and the Sintra National Palace.
GASTRONOMY IN LISBON
If you are planning your trip to Lisbon don’t forget to try our traditional dishes and wine!
BACALHAU – The salted codfish is one of the most important ingredients for the Portuguese people. Known as “faithful friend”, this codfish is not expensive and its taste is great. The Portuguese cook it in many different ways. There are many recipes for cooking Bacalhau. We are sure you will find at least one to try that you will love! Don’t leave Lisbon without trying the famous “Pastel de Bacalhau” either.
BREAD AND CHEESE – Every region of Portugal has its own bread and cheese. Queijo da Serra is probably the most famous and comes from Serra da Estrela, which is the highest mountain in Portugal and a great place to visit during the winter. However, we also have “queijo de Azeitão”, the flavour is strong and is also one of Portuguese cuisine’s most delicious things. Most restaurants in Lisbon serve a basket of bread and most people can’t resist them as a starter.
DESSERTS – In Portugal the sweets are amazing and not expensive. It is a legacy of the Arab occupation. If you go for a walk in Lisbon or other cities in Portugal, you will see many cafés selling diverse pastries. If you go to Belém you cannot afford to miss a pastry shop called “Pasteis de Belém”. Here you will experience the best custard tarts in the world!
PORTUGUESE WINE – Portugal is also famous for its wines! The Alentejo and the Douro region are becoming two of the best regions in the world for their fantastic wines. In Portugal you will find magnificent wines: red wine, white wine, green wine (wine produced only in the north of Portugal). In the Lisbon region some great wines are also produced.
RESTAURANTS IN LISBON
Do you like to eat? Then Lisbon is the perfect place for you. In Lisbon there are different solutions at different and inviting prices. Here are some suggestions.
THE TEMPLE OF FOOD IN MOURARIA
This is a very popular restaurant in Mouraria that is very busy during the summer. The tables are really nice and the place has some vegetarian options too. You can choose tapas and then share the dish with your friends. You can also buy a big plate just for yourself. The “Menu”/menu is seasonal and the range of food served is interesting. The price is cheap and with a mere 20 euros per person you will find many options.
This is an old restaurant with many locals. It is famous for being the best place to eat seafood in the capital of Portugal. The place is gaining popularity again and it is not always easy to find to get a place there. Having lunch is a good option to avoid queues. The price is a little more expensive but it is good value for money.
HOTELS IN LISBON
In Lisbon you will see a mix of the old and the new. History and modernity coexist in this city like no other. Finding accommodation in Lisbon can be a challenge (if you decide to live in Lisbon). Yet, if your goal is just to visit the city, then you have many and varied options. For all tastes and for all budgets.