As the capital and the largest city of Portugal, herein lies the heart of the country, at which the political, financial, cultural and cycles of entertainment blend together to form a cracking city climbing up and beyond. One of the oldest cities in the world, its history predates the likes of London, Paris and Rome.
As the westernmost metro in Europe, its geographically advantageous position has turned it not only a significant point of interest for immigrants from all over the world but also as a breathtaking tourist seat. Its history thrives in its simplicity, of its buildings, of its beaches, of its churches and its shops and that is why you must leap into its perimeter at least once in your life, because that’s all that is going to take for you to come back over and over again.
Best Time to Visit?
As renowned it is for its Mediterranean climate, try to avoid the summer months as the crowded beaches and the warm temperatures is not going to do anyone any favours. I’d recommend the months of September-October, as the temperatures drop, a wind sets over the city and prices lower so you can maximize the value of your stay in the city.
How to Get Around?
Though buses, taxis, trams and even the most accessible sidewalks can carry you through the entire city, try buying day-valid metro passes for you and your family as the metro is the most efficient way of commuting. If you’re at central, historical district of the city, walking would be not only be simpler but also more informative.
Day 1: The Alfama, Sao Jorge Castle, Saint Anthony Church, Praca de Comercio, Rossio Square
The Alfama is the oldest neighbourhood of Lisbon, sprawled on a slope, packed with ancient, crumbling buildings that had once housed some of the poorest, exiled residents of the city but now as become the primary historical unit of the town.
The most visited tourist attraction in the area is the Lisbon Castle, also known as the Sao Jorge Castle. The castle is Moorish, medieval style structure built as a citadel or a set of fortifications above the city of Lisbon. Situated over a hill, it offers tremendous views of the precious Alfama as well as the river Tejo. Inside you will be able to learn about the history of its existence through its display of walls, towers, sculptures and other relics.
Admission Fees: 20 Euros for the whole family
How to Get There? By tram 28, which will take you to various other spots in the neighbourhood.
Next up, head to the Se Cathedral, which you can travel to by foot from the castle. The cobbled, narrow streets of Alfama are best explored by walking as wedging cards and buses can be quite harmful and disturbing to tourists and residents alike. This cathedral is the oldest church in the city and is constructed of different architectural styles that include solid walls, two clock towers, Gothic arches, statues and detailed alters. There are two section of the church: the religious seating and alter and the disused cloisters at the rear.
Admission Fees: Free for the religious section and 1 Euro/person for the cloisters at the back.
Timings: 7:00-19:00 for religious section, 10:00-17:00 for cloisters
Another church that is a delight to the eyes is the Saint Anthony Church, which is spades grander and brighter than the fortified Se Cathedral. For lunch, try out one of many classy restaurants in the Alfama such as Trigo Latino, that offers finger-licking Latin-inspired food such as Uruguayan steaks, ratatouille with bruschetta and a fine assemblage of wine.
Spend the remainder of the afternoon strolling through the hilly, narrow paths of Alfama and relishing the numerous view points, like the Saint Luzia view point. Another culturally-imperative institution is the Fado Museum, that details the origin and spread of this genre of music specific to the region, with its basic premise of a solo singer and a haunting guitar riff chanting songs of mourning and loss.
Once you finish your tour of the Alfama region, it takes six minutes to ride down to Praca de Comercio, a plaza located at the edge of the Tagus river. Here you can spend your evening by cherishing the spirited energy of the square and the people who flicker inside it. You may even wish to take a ferry that crosses the river.
There are three painted buildings and a statue in the middle. Similarly, the Rossio Square provides a similar atmosphere in which you must partake if you wish to experience the zest of the city. Perhaps you would like to conclude your wonderful first day with a fulfilling meal at Sacramento, a restaurant in the Rossio district that’s got a delicious assortment of desserts.
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Day 2: Lisbon Oceanarium, Parque Eduardo, Avenida da Liberdade, Expo Park
This area is known as a parish, or a church community, of Lisbon and has turned into a modern, commercial leisure area for the residents. Taking advantage of its location near the Tagus estuary, it has numerous buildings and exhibitions that cater to the local communities. It gained a reputation among tourists once the Expo Park was built in 1998. Travel there by the red metro line and get off the at Orient station.
The Vasco de Gama Bridge, named after the famous explorer who is said to have discovered India for the west, was once the longest bridge in Europe so be sure to catch a glimpse of its length at least once during your stay. One of the most prominent centers for entertainment is the Lisbon Oceanarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world that contain over 400 species of sea animals and fish.
Admission Fees: 13 Euros/per adult.
Have your lunch at one of the many joints inside Parque das Nacoes, like Saigon for some delectable vegetarian food. Burn off the rich food with a fresh walk at the Parque Eduardo or if you want to really feel the breeze of the river as it mingles with the tress, rent a cycle that will help you route the area much quicker. On the contrary side, if you want a languid, slow ride through the park, go for a cable car. There is also the option of the Vasco De Gama Tower if you wish to gaze over the park and the estuary.
The journey along the park will take you the Avenida da Liberdade, a boulevard that’s bracketed its pavement with gardens on either sides. Its location will bring you closer to a line of restaurants, shops, businesses in the district. Have you dinner in the wonderful Expo Park, a long strip of restaurants and bars that will surely give you a good time.
Day 3: Belem, Tower of Belem, Pasties de Belem, Jeronimos Monastery, Bairro Alto
Historically the Belem district, as opposed to Alfama, was where the elite resided and socialized. That would explain why it is lush with parks, gardens and meticulously-maintained buildings. The easiest method to travel to Belem is by the 15E Tram, which you can catch through your unlimited day-ticket.
The most visited site in the district is the Belem Tower, which has become a visual symbol associated with Lisbon and by extension, Portugal. It is considered a landmark related to the Age of Discoveries. Overlooking the estuary, it is a fascinating example of Portuguese Manueline architecture, consisting of a bastion, embrasures, battlements and such.
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Admission Fees: 6 Euros/adult
Timings: 10:00- 18:30
After your tour of the Tower, be sure to visit its companion, the Jeronimos Monastery. This is the iconic place where Vasco De Gama spent his last few days before he set off for its exploration of Southern Africa and India. It is one of the most decorative buildings of the country, with its vast, detailed portals, grand interiors and courtyards. It is sure to astound you with its gorgeous designs!
Admission Fees: 7 Euros/adult
Eat lunch at one of the many fine-dining establishments or hip cafes in the Belem district, such as Darwin’s Cafe. But look no further than Pasties de Belem for your dessert. It is perhaps the most famous, respected confectionery in all of Europe, its highlight being the traditional Portuguese tart, the pastel de nata, a sweet custard topped with cinnamon. This bakery has been operating for over 150 years and its desserts have summoned individuals from all over the world.
Spend the rest of your afternoon traversing through some classic and popular buildings and monuments set in the Belem District such as the Navy Museum, Belem Cultural Centre, Belem Palace and many other structures. At one point, you must go by the river Tejo to stare at the Ponte 25 Bridge, a long, fantastic bridge over the river.
For your last night at Lisbon, why not experience the best it has to offer in its cultural sphere and nightlife? Take the metro to Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s hospot in which all the youth are frolicking among its culture and nightlife. With its slopping roadways and quaint houses lining its streets, it is indeed a neighbourhood noted for its rich history as well as its modern elements, such as international restaurants, Fado houses, bars, clubs. The Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara is a terrace from which you can watch the dazzling city of Lisbon right below. The neighboring Chiado is the upscale companion to Bairro Alto, with its spate of theaters, bookshops, cafes, jewelry shops and fine-dining establishments.