Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, one of my favourite place to be, to live and to travel to. From the low-cost food, drinks, apartments you can rent out and public transport, to friendly people and so much to see, it’s the perfect summer, as well as the winter destination. The only thing I’m thinking of atm is how I’m wearing hundreds of layers of clothes because it’s around 0° C, while in Lisbon just this week it’s going to be around 20° C.
Last time I visited Lisbon was 2 years ago, and I’m still thinking of the amazing time I had, opening the window of my apartment in Alfama in the evening and listening to fado music coming from small picturesque seafood restaurants just below my window, taking walks through small streets of Alfama covered in white stone that just reminded me of Croatian island cities or having drinks with friends in Bairro Alto. I just now that next summer I’ll be going there once again.
This post is all about Lisbon and all of the must-see locations that you have to check out. If these 15 reasons aren’t enough to wake up the travel bug that’s sleeping inside most of you, I don’t know what is.
One of Lisbon’s oldest districts, today is known for the busy streets in the evenings and nights when most of the restaurants are full of people. But these aren’t just ordinary restaurants, most of them include a show, being fado singers who sing while you wine and dine. You should also be ready to get lost a couple of times while taking walks in a labyrinth of stone-covered streets, but keep in mind Lisbon is a friendly and safe city where anyone can always help out if you find yourself lost.
2. Praça do Comércio
Probably the biggest and most known square in Lisbon, once a location where a grand palace stood outside of the city walls, which was destroyed in the great Lisbon earthquake in 1755. Take a walk down the Rua Augusta, through the magnificent Arco de Rua Augusta, and you’re there, next to the Tagus river.
3. Time Out Market
Time Out Market is perfect for backpackers, travellers in general, a place where you can try 100 different dishes if not more. From different versions of snacks, to traditional Portuguese dishes prepared in a new, creative and modern way. Take a break, grab a beer and a bite before continuing exploring the city.
4. Bairro Alto
Have to admit while going out for a beer I wasn’t taking any pictures, but here’s a photo of The Pink Street known for its young and fun nightlife, a street you want to check out if you’re up for a wild night. Bairro Alto is a neighbourhood known for its busy streets at night, a big number of cafes, bars, and clubs where you can meet new people, drink and party.
5. Tram 28
Lisbon is located on a series of hills and all the streets are either going up, or going down, depending on perspective. The one thing you have to do, and actually comes as a bit of a break from walking, is to take a ride on the iconic yellow Tram 28. Even though there is a subway in Lisbon, a ride on a tram 28 is always the best option, and a great way to take a tour around the old part of the city.
6. Castelo de São Jorge
The best view of the city, if not on the Santa Justa lift, is from the Castelo de São Jorge, a medieval Moorish castle on the hills of Alfama. You can take a walk around the castle and see Lisbon from each side, there is a small cafe where you can grab a bit or a drink, and a History museum showing excavated pieces of everyday things dating back as far as hundred years BC.
7. Electricity Museum
Even though it’s not as famous, it is a great stop before or after visiting Torre de Belem. It’s a great place for kids since it has showcased simple and fun examples of how everyday things work.
8. National Coach Museum
For me, since Croatian museums don’t have coaches, and I’ve never been in a Coach museum before, this was a hidden gem. These coaches are real life pieces of art and you don’t know what you’re missing out on, until you visit. Each coach comes with a story, and you can see how they transformed over the years, but kept the artistic elements covered in gold and gems that defined them.
9. Padrão dos Descobrimentos
A monument celebrating the Portuguese Age of Discovery, situated on the bank of Tagus river from where the Portuguese ships departed to explore and trade with Orient and India. You can take a lift to the top of the monument where the view takes your breath away.
10. Torre de Belem
A tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a sight to see. Prepare to stand in line to get in, but also to get your mind blown by the stunning look inside the tower. It’s said that the tower was built and positioned in the middle of the river, and as the river redirected, the tower now is situated at the shore of Tagus river.
11. Pastéis de Belém
Probably the most famous pastry in Lisbon is the Pastéis de Belém or Pastéis de nata. It’s an egg tart pastry first prepared in 1837. You can still try an original one in a small pastry shop in Belem where they still use the original secret recipe. This pastry just got me addicted and I’m still craving some every now and then when I remember the flavour. Come to think of it, I could make some myself if I find the right recipe!
12. Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Situated in Belem, a former monastery is a perfect example of Late Gothic Manueline style and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
13. Oceanário de Lisboa
Since the first time I read about it online, Oceanário de Lisboa was a must-see and I couldn’t wait to visit. All of my expectations were exceeded from the moment I got there. Situated on water, it’s a house for 80000 sea creatures and it really leaves you speechless. After visiting the one in Monaco, I wasn’t disappointed at all at what I got to see there and I would gladly go again. Being one of those people who want to swim with sharks, this was the closest I could get to one so far, and that blew my mind!
Sintra is a small city next to Lisbon which you have to visit if staying in Lisbon for a couple of days. There is a low-cost train going probably each hour from the Lisbon train station that takes you to Sintra. Sintra is a must-visit since there are about more than 4, if I’m correct, incredible castles, palaces and ruins around it. From Sintra you can take a small bas that circles around the city and drives you to each castle. My favourite was the colorful Pena Palace, probably the first castle I’ve been to that was more stunning from the outside than on the inside, not undermining the fascinating decoration on the inside.
15. Cabo da Roca
To finish off this list I save the most impressive for the last. Even though both Sintra and Cabo da Roca aren’t in Lisbon, they’re next to it and every-day public transportation gives you a chance to visit. Cabo da Roca is the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal, continental Europe and the Eurasian land mass. Let the photos speak for themself.
Hope you enjoyed my list and that maybe at least some of you go to AirBNB now and check out vacation rentals or surf SkyScanner to see if there are any cheap flights to Lisbon – I know I will!
You can also get a €32 discount on AirBNB registering through this link – AirBNB Travel
Stay tuned, there’s a delicious recipe coming up tomorrow!