Lisbon

Lisbon yellow tram portugal

A city rich with history, culture and narrow streets, home to 2.8 million people. In the ‘Age of Discovery’ many ships departed from Portugal’s capitol, including Vasco da Gama’s India expedition in 1498. One who’s visited Lisbon will easily fall in love with the city, as it’s one of the most beautiful in Europe.

Lisbon is a really nice city to walk through, as you will be rewarded for your efforts. When travelling by car, you can park your car at Marques de Pombal. It’s quite cheap and only 2km from the heart of the city. If you travel by public transport you should take the metro to Restauradores or Rossio. From there you can follow the route as per the below highlights.

view over lisbon portugal

Things to see in Lisbon:

Avenida da Liberdade & Praça Dom Pedro IV **

If you decided to park your car at Marques de Pombal you will walk towards the center over the ‘Avenida da Liberdade’, although locals just call it ‘Avenida’. This 90 meter-wide street is one of the most important streets in Lisbon. After some walking you will reach ‘Praça Dom Pedro IV’, one of the main squares since the Middle Ages. You will notice that this part of the city is very ‘alive’ with its many restaurants and cafés, of which some were build in the 18th century. Throughout this whole walk you will get to know Lisbon a little bit better. Keep your eyes out for Fabrica de Nata and the Confeitaria Nacional.

Praça do Comércio ***

You have reached the heart of the city, the huge square right next to the Rio Tejo. Commonly it’s still known as Terreiro do Paço (Palace Yard) because the Royal palace of Reibeira was there, until the great Lisbon earthquake destroyed it in 1755. In the center of the square you will find the statue of King José I, the first statue dedicated to a King in Lisbon. In 1908 King Carlos I and his family were assassinated on this square by members of the Republican Party, who overthrew the Portuguese Monarchy a few years later. There is a lot of history in this square, so take your time to walk around here and take it all in. Some of the other things you’ll find on this square are ‘Arco da Rua Augusta’ and ‘Cais das Colunas’.

Sé de Lisboa **

You will experience that Lisbon is built on 7 hills, and nothing is flat. While walking to the cathedral you will walk pas other, smaller, cathedrals as well. It’s worth stepping in because all have their unique little features. The Sé itself is a National Monument and was built in 1147, although many moderations have been made overtime. It’s not the most beautiful cathedral you’ll ever see, but it’s an important landmark in Lisbon.

Lisbon Cathedral

Miradouro das Portas do Sol *

When you’re walking from the Sé de Lisboa to Castelo de São Jorge you will pass this tiny little square. It’s a nice place for a drink and you have some spots that have a nice view over the east side of the city.

Castelo de São Jorge ***

The Moorish castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lisbon, so prepare to see a lot of people here. The castle dates from the medieval period but the fist fortifications were already made 48 BC! The Romans, Celtic tribes, Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Seubic, Bisigothic and Moorish people have all used this hill as a defensive point. It were the Berber Muslim forces who build the fortifications in the 10th century as we know them today. Unfortunately the castle was largely destroyed during the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and renovations didn’t start until 1938. In 1940 the Castle was restored and doors were opened again for the public. Take a few hours to discover the whole area and learn about the rich history of the castle.

Castelo de Sao Jorge lisbon

Mosteiros dos Jeronimos ***

During the Age of Discovery many sailors were at sea looking for new lands. In 1497 Vasco da Gama and his men spent the night here to pray, before departing. Their wives, however, stayed behind and prayed here for their husbands’ safe return. Further development started in 1501 and was finished in 1601. The unique architecture, called Manueline, is the real eye catcher here.

Mosteiros dos Jeronimos Lisbon

Padrão dos Descobrimentos *

This is a monument that was built to celebrate the Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. You can choose to enter the building and climb to the top, but I would only do it if you have enough time on your hands. Walk through the area here as well, as there are some nice gardens here.

Torre de Belém ***

A lot of postcards will show you the image of this place, as it’s iconic to the city. The fortified tower is located close to ‘Mosteiros dos Jeronimos’ and it’s quite easy to walk here, parking is quite hard. The tower was built on a small island in the river but after the earthquake the river redirected and is now on the shore. From the outside you can take excellent photographs, and it’s nice to go in as well. The tower was built as a defence system for the mouth of the river.

Torre de Belem Lisbon

Where to eat :

Pasteis de Belem ***

Don’t be scared of the queue! This place is recommended in all the travel guides, so naturally all tourists must go here. You probably won’t spend more than 10-15 minutes waiting here though, because the people behind the counter are working incredibly fast! To be honest, the Pasteis de Nata here are unbelievably delicious! Take some with you, because they stay nice until the next day (it’s best to heat them up in an oven).

Type: Snack
Food quality: ***
Serving time: **
Staff friendliness: **
Price: ***

Confeitaria Nacional **

If you are craving for some baked goods, drop by the Confeitaria Nacional! An old bakery inside the city center of Lisbon with many treats! Bolo do Arroz, Pastei de Nata, or whatever you’re craving for, it’s all good.

Type: Snack and lunch
Food quality: ***
Serving time: **
Staff friendliness: ***
Price: **

Restaurante Taberna Ibérica ***

This place was recommended to me by a local, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. The place offers traditional Iberian small dishes, so order a few and share among each other. The filled mushrooms come straight from heaven.

Type: Dinner
Food quality: ***
Serving time: **
Staff friendliness: ***
Price: **

Figu’s **

When in Portugal follow the rule ‘never eat at a restaurant that’s on the main street’. I broke the rule and therefore had to suffer the consequences. It sounds dramatic but what it really means is that the price was way too high for the quality of food that I got. In conclusion the mushroom risotto was good, but nothing special.

Type: Dinner
Food quality: **
Serving time: *
Staff friendliness: ***
Price: *

*     = poor
**   = okay
*** = great

Places to sleep

Hotel ibis Lisboa Alfragide

To be honest I was surprised by the room. Although it’s definitely not large, the space is being used in a smart way! The bed was great, the bathroom was small but spacious at the same time. They also have free and payed parking spaces, so ideal for car drivers. It’s a bit ‘far’ outside of the city, but within 15 minutes you can be in the city center.

Type: Hotel
Beds: ***
Bathroom: ***
Restaurant: **
Staff friendliness: ***

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