Lisbon’s best viewing points: Lisbon has a lot of viewing points due to its several hills. One of my favorite things to do in the city is just sit there and enjoy the sunset. The best ones are: Nossa Senhora do Monte in Graça, Portas do Sol in Alfama and São Pedro de Alcântara close to Bairro Alto. All of them give a different perspective of the city so it’s always a new experience.
Belém: It was from Belem that Portuguese sailors departed in the hope of discovering a new world. The greatest monuments are Belem Tower and Jeronimo’s Monasterywhich date back to 16th century, both with a beautiful gothic architecture.
Belem has a lot of thigs to see and do. You can go up “Padrão dos Descobrimentos” and enjoy the view over Belém and the Tagus River or wonder around in Berardo Museum (free), a contemporary art collecion. Some out of the beaten path places are: Coach Museum, Tropical Garden and Ajuda Palace. And obviously you can’t get out there without trying the world’s best pastries, Pastéis de Belém.
Get lost in the old neighborhoods: Lisbon has a lot of old neighborhoods waiting to be discovered. Alfama is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon and one of the only places to remain intact after the earthquake of 1755. It’s a labyrinth of narrow streets, fado taverns and small squares. Mouraria, where the Moors lived after the conquest of Lisbon in 1147, is another neighborhood worth to see for its uniqueness.
Suggested route: Start in Martim Moniz, the most international square in Lisbon, recently rehabilitated, it has several food places from all over the world. Go up through Mouraria to see the street art and continue until the castle. Visit the castle neighborhood and go down through Alfama.
Take a stroll in Downtown: The city’s downtown, “Baixa” in Portuguese, is the perfect place to walk around, shop and sit in a cafe to relax. It’s a mix of an old vibe due to its buildings with a new cosmopolitan twist given by the emerging commerce.
Walk through Rua Augusta, the main street, full of movement and great pastry shops and head to “Praça do Comércio” the huge imperial square in front of the river. There, you will find “Ribeira das Naus” a great place to grab a beer and enjoy the river’s breeze.
Check also Bertrand, the oldest bookstore in the world open since 1732 is in Chiado, the most commercial part of Baixa, where you can also visit Carmo’s Convent and square, the most important place in 25th of April revolution.
Bairro Alto and Princípe Real: Principe Real is, right now, one of the coolest places in town. New concept stores and restaurants are opening and old buildings are turning into new, fashionable ones. Some of the places worth to stop by are: Pavilhão Chinês, a very well known bar mainly for its unique decoration; Embaixada a shopping gallery in a neo-Moorish building from the 1800s and Pricipe Real’s garden.
Next to Pricipe Real there’s Bairro Alto, or Bairro as we call it, where everyone goes out at night to grab some drinks and have fun. By day is just like any other neighborhood of the old city, but at night the bars open, beers start to flow and streets get full of people. Drinks are cheap and it’s a great way place to find out more about Portuguese people.
Even though Lisbon’s city center isn’t that big, it’s still a great base for doing some amazing day trips that shouldn’t be missed when visiting. From palaces to beautiful beaches or small picturesque villages, you can get them all less than an hour from Lisbon.
Sintra is a fairy tale place with its palaces, castles and forest. It deserves a whole day for itself, to wonder around in parks and relax from the city. There are four really interesting attractions to see: Pena’s Palace, Monserrate, Capucho’s Convent and Quinta da Regaleira. Sintra is a place great to explore by car because it has some less touristy spots like Peninha to discover. Make sure you also try the region’ sweets: Travesseiros and Queijadas. You can combine this trip with going to Cabo da Roca, the most western point in Europe and watch the sunset.
Arrábida and Troia are two of the most amazing beaches in Portugal. The sand is white, the water is crystal clear and the whole vibe is great due to the surronding nature. You can also pass by Setubal to try Fried Squid, a specialty of the area or go to Azeitão and try the traditional cakes. The best way to visit is by car because you can explore all the corners you want and not worry about time.
Cascais is a really nice town just at 30/40 minutes from Lisbon by train. It’s next to the sea, has nice small beaches and royal houses. There are lighthouses and historic gardens where Princes once walked. Close to Cascais there are places like Boca do Inferno and Guincho beach which are also worth to take a look at.
Street Art: is taking Lisbon by storm. New artists are spreading it all over the city and it looks awesome. Old inhabited buildings are getting a new life and the city is getting new colors. The best street art is mostly found in the old city: Santa Apolónia, Mouraria, Bairro Alto, Alcântara and Avenida Fontes Pereira de Melo.
Besides looking at the walls you should also look at the floor! Yes, in Lisbon art is at your feet. All sidewalks are made in what we call “Calçada Portuguesa”, white and black stones which usually have a pattern. Places like Chiado have incredible drawings waiting for you. Just get your camera ready.
Great post about Lisbon!