Imagine you are now sitting at a beach – better yet, you are lying down – on a comfortable towel placed in soft, warm sand, reading a book and drinking a fabulous wine named Something-You-Find-Hard-To-Pronounce. Go ahead, close your eyes for some seconds so you can feel like you are at this attractive and still imaginary location. I’ll go and grab a glass of wine myself and when you open your eyes, I’ll be here again.
Hey, how did it go? If you enjoyed your quick stay at that invented place, search for Lisbon, Portugal in any airline company’s website and book a flight, just to find that the place you have dreamed of is real.
The greatest thing about Lisbon is that you can replace “beach” by “mountains”, “river”, “typical café”, “rooftop with a fabulous view” or even “beautiful street”, in case you like to sit or lay down on streets, no judgement.
So, let’s start our Journey Around Lisbon.
I want to tell you so much about this place, it’s the city where I was born and raised. One of the most amazing things to notice in Lisbon is its light. It’s something I’ve never seen in any other city. It’s also the city of the 7 hills, so let’s hope you enjoy roller coasters.
Start your day in Baixa-Chiado (you can get there easily by metro) to see the downtown part of the city. Once you are there, you can’t miss the Elevador de Sta. Justa, the new shops and cafés placed in the old buildings along the historical streets and Castelo de S. Jorge.
You can take a tram all the way up to this castle, but I would advise you to walk there: on your way up you will find two belvederes and you will feel the spirit of Lisbon in every corner.
On your way down from the Castle, do get lost in Alfama. You will end up finding your way back and it’s so worth it. Tip: If you decide to visit Lisbon in June you will have a great surprise, old and young people get together to pay homage to Sto. António and celebrate throughout this whole month on the streets of Alfama by dancing to popular music, eating sardines and drinking beer or wine.
There is so much I want you to see in this city. You can also start your day (or your afternoon, if you prefer, it’s beautiful at any time) in Belém. Get here by bus or train. In this lovely location you will be able to relax while seating down in a big garden, walk or ride a bike along the river and enjoy a nice café at a Café. While you are here don’t forget to see Torre de Belém, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Centro Cultural de Belém. Oh, and you must try at least one Pastel de Belém – though I have a feeling you will want to have more than one!
Go down to Ribeira das Naus and enjoy a beautiful sunset while drinking your favourite cocktail. The great majority of the locals go to Bairro Alto (remember to check Miradouro de S. Pedro de Alcântara, a belvedere, here) and to Cais do Sodré at night. It’s where all the parties happen! If you want to go to a club, go to Lux, you won’t regret it.
Hey, where are the beaches?
Oh, the beaches, of course. The first thing I mentioned about Lisbon’s roundabouts. You can find them in Costa de Caparica and near Cascais. If you are into surfing, you’ve found your ideal destination.
Costa de Caparica
Remember seeing – or imagining, by now – the river in Belém? In its other side you will find Costa. You can reach it by train or bus, it won’t take you more than half an hour. There you will find a lot of beaches along the Coast (you got it, Costa means Coast). My favorites are Castelo, Rainha and Morena Beaches, but they are all pretty and pretty similar. Tip: When you get to Costa, you will see some beaches right away. However, I think you will prefer the ones I talked about, which are located to the left.
There’s more to see in Cascais than only the beaches. Think about spending one whole day around this charming village. You can get here by train (catch it in Cais do Sodré). I personally prefer Costa beaches to these ones around Cascais, but do try S. Pedro, Carcavelos (usually really crowded) and Tamariz beaches.
Where are the mountains?
I can’t let you go without talking about Sintra. Do spend one whole day in Cascais and one whole day here. It’s totally worth it. You have to see Palácio da Pena, Quinta da Regaleira and Castelo dos Mouros and the adorable historical centre. You can also do hiking and camping tours around this town. Tip: Shh, come closer and don’t tell anyone – it’s kind of a secret, but I’ll give you a hint – try to find an exquisite beach around here, it has an animal name.
Some more tips:
Where to shop: Baixa-Chiado, Avenida da Liberdade, Bairro Alto, Centro Comercial Colombo, Dolce Vita Tejo, Feira das Almas (once a month, usually), Feira da Ladra (get up early on a Tuesday or on a Saturday and come here)
What to eat: Sweet things – Pastéis de Belém, Queijadas de Sintra, Arroz Doce; Meals – Arroz de Pato, Cozido à Portuguesa, Feijoada, Pastéis de Bacalhau, Bacalhau à Brás, Sardines
What to drink: Ginjinha, Wine, Beer
Belvederes: S. Pedro de Alcântara, Santa Justa, Portas do Sol, Santa Luzia, Senhora do Monte, Graça, Santa Catarina/Adamastor, Torel
Other places you can’t miss: While in Chiado you must see Praça de Camões and A Brasileira, a very famous café where Fernando Pessoa is still sitting. Go down to Rua Augusta and to Praça do Comércio as well and, when you are on your way up to Alfama, stop by Sé, a beautiful church. Also look for Jardim da Estrela and Príncipe Real. While near Costa, check for Portinho da Arrábida; while in Cascais, look for Praia do Guincho (another beautiful beach).
Weather: If it’s Summer or Spring, don’t forget to pack your bikinis, swimsuits, or whatever you like to wear at the beach. If it’s Autumn or Winter, bring a coat and an umbrella and you should be fine.
Special thing: Take tram 28 and enjoy the ride! If it’s too crowded, take the 12 or the 25.
I hope this article has been helpful and I truly believe you will love your stay in Lisbon. Enjoy! Next stops in Portugal: Coimbra, Oporto and Faro. See you soon!