As a holiday destination, Lisbon is a historical city full of stories to tell, has a lively nightlife, it is a city where old customs and ancient history intermix with cultural entertainment and hi-tech innovation. The best part – the sun shines 290 days a year and the temperature rarely drops below 15°C.
Lisbon is one of the oldest city in Western Europe, even predating capitals such as Rome, Paris and London. Like Rome, Lisbon was built on seven hills, and is known as “cidade das sete colinas” – the city of seven hills.
I hope that by reading this post I will inspire you to visit this amazing city.
The view from the platform on the top is one of the best views over Lisbon. If you are in a hurry, and don’t want to stay in line for the elevator for many minutes (the elevator ride is less than a minute), you should walk on the streets to Largo do Carmo square and go directly on the platform.
The monastery was populated by monks of the Order of Saint Jerome (Hieronymites), whose spiritual job was to give guidance to sailors and pray for the king’s soul. It is one of the great triumphs of European Gothic (UNESCO has classified it a World Heritage monument), with much of the design characterized by elaborate sculptural details and maritime motifs. This style of architecture became known as Manueline, a style of art that served to glorify the great discoveries of the age. The cloisters are magnificent, each column differently carved with coils of rope, sea monsters, coral, and other sea motifs evocative of that time of world exploration at sea.
Quinta da Regaleira grounds feature an extensive and enigmatic system of tunnels that connect to two spiraling wells. The two inverted towers are known as initiation wells, which were used for ceremonial purposes, as well as mysterious initiation rites for practitioners of the tarot. Other sources also mention a masonic connection. The initiation wells are at once eerie and compelling. The largest of the two reaches 27 metres below ground and is accessed by a spiral staircase. Penetrating deep into the bedrock, the stone steps serve several small landings, spaced apart at a distance understood to correspond to tarot mysticism. In the smaller, ‘Unfinished Well’, a straight stone staircase provides access to the landings, while subterranean passageways connect the two structures.
Not to miss.
Alfama is the prettiest, the oldest and the most charming neighbourhood in Lisbon. You could easily spend your whole day walking around the little cobblestone streets. It is also the place where you can have a dinner with traditional food and where you can listen the Portugal’s soulful national music: Fado music – its historical roots are from the district of Alfama.
2. Castle of São Jorge;
Located on the summit of São Jorge hill, the highest in Lisbon. The emblematic castle was originally built in the 5th century as a fortress by the Visigoths, it later became the fortification of the Moors. The battlements of the Castle provide fantastic views over Lisbon and Rio Tejo (River Tagus)
3. Jeronimos Monastery & Belem Tower;
A highly ornate monastery located in the Belem district of western Lisbon and Belem Tower are definitely 2 of the most visited sites, for good reasons. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The sites are pretty close one from another (10 minutes walk). You can buy a combo ticket to visit both.
4. Cristo Rei Statue;
Another iconic monument of Lisbon, the 110m statue of Christ stands high above the southern banks of the Tejo Estuary, and depicts Christ with arms raised, blessing the city. Inspired by Rio de Janeiro’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue, the statue dates from 1959 and its construction was in reverence for Portugal avoiding the horrors of WW2.
5. Riding tram 28;
Tram 28 is the most famous tram in Lisbon. It is a vintage yellow tram, passing by many of Lisbon’s main attractions, taking you up and down Lisbon hills to the historic parts of the city.You should be aware that during full season the trams are always full so if you want to enjoy the ride, you should start it earlier in the day or go in the evening.
6. In a list of things to do in Lisbon, a day trip to Sintra is a must;
To reach Sintra take the train from Lisbon Rossio station, that runs every 15 minutes. It will take you to Sintra in less than 45 minutes. My recommendation is to go also as early in the day there, because in one day you will have a lot to see. 9 a.m is a good hour to be there. Not to miss in Sintra: Pena Palace, Moors Castle, Quinta da Regaleira and Monseratte Palace. You should know that the distance between this sites is not small, and the transportation in Sintra is made by local buses. When you make your plan for the time to spend on every site, you should take into consideration the time for waiting the bus and the time between the sites.
How to get there.
Lisbon is serviced by the largest and most crowded airport in the whole of Portugal. The airport is located only 7 kilometers from the center of the city. Served by the main international airlines and just 3 hours away from the main European capitals, it is very easy to reach.
In terms of railway transport, Lisbon is serviced by four main train stations: Santa Apolonia, Rossio, Barreiro and Cais do Sodre. The Santa Apolonia Train Station is the largest of all, being located in the vicinity of the Alfama district. It is the main terminal for trains which ensure the connection between Lisbon and north and east Portugal, as well as between Lisbon and international destinations like Madrid and Paris.
If you are exploring the Iberian Peninsula by car, I recommend you to use Google Maps or ViaMichelin. Both Portugal and Spain have good highways, making it easy to get around. The best ways to enter Lisbon are via the A1 and A2, which both have national and international connections along their course.