The capital city of Portugal, Lisbon, is one of everyone’s favorite cities in the world. If you had been trapped here forever, you would have been a happier guy. It’s unbelievable. It had the old, gritty feeling that gave it a lot of character. Located on the south coast of the country’s west coast, it has an impressive combination of museums, historic houses, diverse music and nightlife, squares, and cafes to watch the world go by. It’s such a beautiful place that you can’t believe people are using it to live in. And Lisbon is certainly lively. Every year there seems to be more to do more to eat and more distance to cover.
Top sights In Lisbon
1. Belém Tower
The Belém Tower, officially the Tower of Saint Vincent, is a fortification of the 16th century located in Lisbon, which served as a point of embarkation and disembarkation for Portuguese explorers and as a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. It was built at the height of the Portuguese Renaissance and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style, but it also has traces of other architectural styles.
Architect Francisco de Arruda was responsible for the design of the tower. Based in Évora and hailing from a long and illustrious line of royal surveyors and builders, de Arruda worked with his brother Diogo on the nearby Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and similarly wrapped his new work in a wealth of Manueline symbolism: highly decorative, carved stone maritime motifs, including a twisted rope and the Cross of the Order of Christ.
São Jorge Castle is an ancient castle situated in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, on the outskirts of Santa Maria Maior. Human occupation of the castle hill dates back to at least the 8th century BC, although the first fortifications were built in the 1st century BC. The hill on which São Jorge Castle stands played an important part in the history of Lisbon, having served as the site of fortifications successively occupied by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, and Moors, until being captured by the Portuguese in the Siege of Lisbon in 1147.São Jorge Castle is an ancient castle situated in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, on the outskirts of Santa Maria Maior. Human occupation of the castle hill dates back to at least the 8th century BC, although the first fortifications were built in the 1st century BC. The hill on which São Jorge Castle stands played an important part in the history of Lisbon, having served as the site of fortifications successively occupied by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, and Moors, until being captured by the Portuguese in the Siege of Lisbon in 1147.
The Jeronimos Monastery is the most remarkable emblem of the strength and riches of Portugal during the Age of Exploration. King Manuel, I built it in 1502 on the site of a hermitage founded by Prince Henry the Navigator, where Vasco da Gama and his crew spent their last night in prayer in Portugal before leaving for India. It was designed to commemorate the journey of Vasco Da Gama and to thank the Virgin Mary for her achievement.
The tomb of Vasco da Gama was placed inside the entrance, as was the tomb of the poet Luis de Camões, the author of the epic The Lusiads, in which he glorified the triumphs of Da Gama and his compatriots. Other great figures in Portuguese history have also been buried here such as King Manuel and King Sebastião, and the poets Fernando Pessoa and Alexandre Herculano
This is one of the most beautiful squares in all of Europe, opening south to the vast estuary of the Tagus.
Until the era of mass aviation, this was Lisbon’s great reception hall for tourists arriving by sea, much better able to admire its beauty from its vantage points on slowly docking vessels.
It was at the dock that the Kings and Heads of State would disembark when they visited Portugal.
The Cathedral of Lisbon, also simply called the Se, is a Roman Catholic cathedral situated in Lisbon, Portugal. The oldest church in the city is the seat of the Lisbon Patriarchate. The building of the Cathedral dates back to the twelfth century and is mainly Romanesque in architecture. His official name is Santa Maria Maior. Surprisingly, many natural disasters have survived, such as the great earthquake of 1755, which left much of the religious edifice in ruins. Throughout the centuries, the Cathedral has been renovated and rebuilt on various occasions.
Parque Eduardo VII has the most beautiful viewing point in Lisbon. With a spectacular view of the park, the majestic statue of the Marquis of Pombal and the Avenida da Liberdade, you can see the Tagus, the southern bank of the river, and on a good day the hills of Arrábida. Here you can also find the memorial of April 25, built by the sculptor João Cutileiro, and an impressive Portuguese flag. The miradouro is different because of its view and location. You can see all the surrounding hills and see the extent of Lisbon outside the historic quarters. Crafted by architect Keil do Amaral in 1945, this is a lovely place to stroll and enjoy the two paved pavements in the Portuguese Calçada, where the Lisbon Book Fair takes place every year. It’s going to make you sound a little Portuguese.
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Things to see and do in Lisbon
1. Ride the trams
To get a glimpse of what life in Lisbon was like in the twentieth century, jump on one of the yellow “Remodelado” trams. These old-fashioned trams are a nice way to explore the city and see the historic old city. While the city also has modern trams, enjoying the charm of old-fashioned trams is a cheap and easy way to add character to your visit. (They’re free to ride the Lisbon Pass, too).
2. Fado show
Fado is a local musical type that originated in Lisbon. It’s a rather haunting, mournful style that often focuses on the hardships of the poor or life at sea. The music first appeared in the 19th century and became popular with the working class (especially sailors). The word “fado” is probably derived from the Latin word for fate, which is why many songs focus on the inevitability of misfortune and suffering. The music, while melancholic, is also beautiful and poetic. To enjoy some of the traditional Fado music, head to Clube de Fado, Tasca do Chico, Parreirinha de Alfama, or Senhor Vinho.
3. Visit Batalha Monastery
Built-in 1388, Batalha is a town just 90 minutes by car from Lisbon. The town is home to the Monastery of Batalha, officially known as the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Victory. It’s one of the greatest Gothic masterpieces in Europe, making it a popular day trip from Lisbon. The monastery has taken over a century to build and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Walking through the gigantic Gothic doorway and seeing the high-rise interior (lined with 16th-century stained-glass windows) is absolutely stunning. Admission is EUR 6.00.
4. The hop-on-hop-off bus
The hop-on-hop-off bus is a convenient way to get to know Lisbon and Cascais. Several companies are taking advantage of hop-on-hop-off tours in Lisbon. Below is a list of the tours provided by Gray Line and Yellow Bus. Gray Line buses are red, and you probably have no trouble guessing the color of the buses operated by Yellow Bus, the latter of which is owned by Carris, a company that also runs trams and buses in Lisbon.
Hidden gems in Lisbon
- Some of the hidden gems in Lisbon are
- Palácio Nacional de Belém
- Parque Florestal de Monsanto
- Palace Fronteira
- Museu Nacional de Arqueologia
- Aqueduto das Águas Livres
- Miradouro das Portas do Sol
- Lisboa Story CentreThe National Museum of Contemporary Art
- Rua Augusta
- Casa dos Bicos / José Saramago Foundation
What To Eat In Lisbon?
The first one on the list is a basic sweet that has become a bit of a viral obsession. But unlike most food trends, it’s one with a long history. The humble pastel de nata dates back to the 1800s when the monasteries found them a way to use extra egg yolks. One should try if you visit Lisbon.
Another of my must-try foods in Lisbon is the humble bifana. This Lisbon sandwich puts the other sandwiches to shame. It’s incredibly plain, but that’s why it really shines. A bifana is made from thinly sliced pork that has been slowly cooked in white wine, garlic, and spices. It comes out of the pot and goes right into the hearty bread roll. Some people prefer to add mustard or spicy Piri Piri sauce to their sandwich. Either way, it’s mandatory to wash it down with a cold beer!
Get the recipe here.
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For a country with an enormous amount of fresh seafood, it seems strange that one of its national dishes, bacalhau, is dried salted codfish. There are 100 ways to cook this meaty fish, and one of the most popular ways to prepare it is Bacalhau à Braz, scrambled eggs with olives and fried potatoes. If you feel a little adventurous, try the Bacalhau Ze do Pipo, baked under a blanket of warm mayonnaise (it sounds strange, we know, but it’s nice, we promise). These dishes and much more are available at A Casa do Bacalhau. The restaurant is a little touristy, but it’s still pretty awesome!
Like Spain, Portugal is one of the best spots in the world for fish and shellfish. Variety and freshness are unreal. Clams, mussels, shrimps, lobster, and barnacles. Lisbon has it all!
Another of Lisbon’s popular sandwiches is the prego—a garlic steak sandwich you’ll find in classic locations. The prego is a must-try food in Lisbon, and it gives the delicious bifana a run for its money!
Well, we know that food is one positive thing that came out of the colonial history of Portugal! In reality, the extra-famous Piri Piri pepper originates from Portugal’s former colonies in Africa, namely Mozambique and Angola. Cantinho does Aziz is a restaurant specializing in dishes from the city. And chicken Piri Piri is perhaps the most popular of all. The place itself is special, ten tables under parasols in the Moorish part of Lisbon, and prices cannot be beaten!
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Where to Stay in Lisbon?
Hotel under $65
- Trendy value hostel with free wifi, evening entertainment and free breakfast.
- Free Wifi
Starts from $59 per night.
- Located in Baixa, Rossio & Restauradores, this tranquil business-friendly hotel with contemporary rooms offers breakfast, a concierge and free internet.
- Free Wifi
Starts from $49 per night.
- Located in Baixa, Rossio & Restauradores, this enchanting mid-priced hotel offers contemporary rooms, a breakfast buffet and a concierge.
- Free Wifi
Starts from $30 per night.
Hotel under $200
- Located in Santa Maria dos Olivais, this business-friendly hotel with chic contemporary rooms offers beach access, free breakfast, and a sauna.
- Free Wifi
Starts from $163 per night.
- Located in Baixa, Rossio & Restauradores, this intimate mid-priced hotel offers sleek rooms, a breakfast buffet and free internet.
- Free Wifi
- Room service
Starts from $190 per night.
- Intimate family-friendly hotel in Baixa, Rossio & Restauradores with city-view rooms, hiking and a restaurant.
- Free Wifi
Starts from $120 per night.
Luxury Hotels in Lisbon
- Located in Baixa, Rossio & Restauradores, this romantic business-friendly hotel offers city-view rooms, a breakfast buffet, and a fitness center.
- Free Wifi
- Free gym
- Free parking
Starts from $250 per night.
- Intimate mid-priced guest house in Baixa, Rossio & Restauradores offering comfy rooms with free internet, free breakfast, and in-room kitchenettes.
- Free Wifi
- Free gym
- Free parking
Starts from $240 per night.
To check more Hotels click here.
What Transport to use in Lisbon?
The transport network in Lisbon runs smoothly, while at times it could benefit from a higher frequency of operation, it is relatively timely. The main means of transport in Lisbon are:
Trams in Lisbon are not only one of the most useful means of transport to get around the city, but also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. The capital of Portugal currently has five separate routes and 58 trams, of which 40 are antique streetcars. Heritage trams are tiny, nostalgic, and emblematic symbols of Lisbon, make great pictures.
Since the metro network in Lisbon is very small, local buses in the city have been necessary for some journeys, such as going to Lisbon Airport, until very recently. Lisbon has a fleet of 600 buses and 146 separate routes.
The Lisbon Metro is the fastest way to get around the city and a decent choice if you’re travelling long distances. It is considered to be one of the best operated and cleanest metres in Europe, equivalent to the Madrid subway system. The Lisbon Metro is called “Metropolitano de Lisboa” in Portuguese. Currently, the Lisbon Metro has 56 stations and four lines:
The 7 Colinas
The 7 Colinas and Viva Viagem cards cost €0.50 and are good for one year, so don’t lose if you’re planning to go back to Lisbon the same year.
You can purchase this travel card at any metro station, newspaper stand, or Carris points of sale and top it up whenever you need it. You can also verify how much you left in each of the city’s buses, trams, and lifts.
The card may only be used by one person, so if you’re travelling with a group of friends or family, each person must have his or her own card.
The Lisboa Card is the city’s official tourist pass and is valid for 1, 2 or 3 days. You can use Lisbon public transport (train to Sintra and Cascais, tram, metro and bus) free of charge and have free access to numerous museums and monuments. (Some of the most popular ones are Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Torre de Belém, Elevador de Santa Justa.)
In addition, with this card, you don’t have to queue where you have free access to it. You can avoid the waiting line and you only need to display your Lisboa Card at the ticket booth. There are hundreds of locations that provide free entry and on top of that, there are several more places in and around Lisbon where you can enjoy a discount of between 10% and 50% thanks to this pass.
You will save a lot of time and money on this card when visiting Lisbon!
Public transport in Lisbon is comprehensive and runs smoothly, and you’ll get your bearings easily. Once you’ve arrived in the city center, it’s easy to get around Lisbon on foot.
For day trips, taking a train is also a great choice, but outside the city center, rental cars are often a good way to get around. They’re usually not too expensive, either. If you want to visit Cascais in the summer, it’s probably better to do this by rail, because it can be difficult to find a parking space.
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