Visiting Lisbon

Martine, from France visited Lisbon in September. Here are her impressions.

Lisbon is the capital city of Portugal. It’s a captivating city full of activities and tourist attractions. Located at the mouth of the Tagus, Lisbon is turned towards the ocean. It was the starting point for the ships of the great discoveries.

Now I know why Lisbon is called the “city of seven hills”.

The city is very hilly, hard on the legs but this relief has the advantage of giving many panoramas on the city. In Lisbon, everything can be visited on foot, or with public transport (metro, tramway, train , elevators).

Which districts to visit in Lisbon?

BAIRRO ALTO: Stroll through the cobbled streets, splendid view from the “Miradouro (point of view) de Sao Pedro de Alcantara. Bairro Alto, which was the old naughty neighborhood where sailors loved to relax after a long day of work. Today, the houses of joy have been replaced by boutiques of creations. Bairro Alto is the center of Lisbon’s nightlife, with an infinite number of small bars and restaurants from which the sound of Fado(traditional song of Portugal) will carry you away.

  • CHIADO: The popular shopping and theatrical district.

The “Café a Brasielira” is one of the most symbolic cafes: it served as a meeting point for academics, intellectuals, writers, journalists and artists. It is located in the heart of the district. It has kept its charm and décor of the 20s.

BAIXA: This area is very popular with tourist, as there are many of Lisbon’s major tourist attractions, a wide variety of restaurants and hotels.  Discover the famous “Praça do Comercio and the Arc de Triomphe”. Stroll along “Rua Augusta» before reaching “Praça Rossio” where my hotel was. At mid term, the Santa Justa Elevator is a major attraction. It offers on it’s roof a splendid view of Lisbon.

BELEM: Itis located in the extreme west of the Portuguese capital.

 3 must-sees in Belem:

1) The Jeronimus Monastery. A real gem of architecture, the finesse of the stonework is impressive. It was spared during the terrible earthquake that struck Lisbon in 1755.

2) The famous Tower of Belem, a fortress that served as a light, then a prison and departure point for the sailors.

It was built between 1514 and 1519 to guard the entrance of the port of Lisbon. It’s a World Heritage Site, one of Lisbon’s emblematic monuments.

The Belem Tower

3) The National Museum of coaches where you can take a trip to the 16th century and see the vehicles they transported the princes and princesses. This absolutely museum exhibits 70 beautiful coaches who belonged to the royal family, but also to the church and some individuals.

Staying in Lisbon? Do not forget to go to “Pastéis de Belém”, the best pastry shop in the city.

This address is indeed very popular with locals and tourists. The shop produces more than 22000 each day.         

The Portuguese always eat them in pair. Why? Simply because when you have eaten one, you must necessarily want to take a second

If you want a beautiful view of Belem and the Tagus, it is imperative to visit The Padro dos Descobrimentos(the first picture). Apart from the belvedere, this monument has a beautiful facade with great navigators as Vasco de Gama

and a Rose of Winds marble in front of the monument.

ALFAMA: it is the oldest and one of the most typical neighbourhoods of the city with old houses with coloUrful facades. It is a sloping area and the winding streets, the endless stairs leading to the castle of Sao Jorge. There is a magnificent donjon, immense ramparts and excellent views of the centre of Lisbon. Alfama contains some of important historical buildings of the capital, including Sé Cathedral . The tram line 28 allows you to ride in Alfama by public transport, but it is incredibly popular with tourists and locals. The legendary tram 28 goes around the old neighbourhoods of Lisbon.

ALMADA: It is on the other side of the Tagus in front of Lisbon. Take the ferry, once arrived, after 10 minutes. The statue of Cristo Rei is located on a mount in Almada. You will take bus 101 to the terminus which will be Cristo Rei. The tower on which is placed the figure of Christ-King is about 80 meters and visible for miles around. It was made in the likeness of the Christ of Corcovado, in Brazil. This monument offers a breathtaking view of Lisbon. It also overlooks the 25th of April Bridge.

There are people who say that the two statues are facing each other, as if they were opening their arms towards each other.

CAIS DO SODRE: It was once a fishing port. A memory of this era: the Mercado da Ribeira Time Out, which was once a fish market, today an elegant market, a meeting place for the people of the country and a hotspot for the tourists.

The Time Out Market is not really a restaurant but a covered market where stands of restorations are located. The place is also superb since it is the old covered market of the city. Inside, there are almost 30 stands of restaurants and there is something for everyone: burgers, pizzas, regional and national specialities, traditional dishes and also drinks with many bars (wine, coffee).
What I like about this concept is that large tables are located in the centre of the market. The place is friendly and allows meeting.

Impossible to escape during your visit to Portugal:

– The Azulejos are part of the landscape. Those are a set of decorated earthenware tiles. They can be found inside buildings as well as outside facade cladding.

-Tasting a glass of Ginjia, a sweet liqueur with cherries to drink at the bar “A Ginjinha”, the traditional home of this drink.

At every street corner or after every slope you climb in the neighborhoods, you’ll find beautiful squares, chic cafes and panoramic viewpoints. Each neighborhood has its own or rather its churches, its public square and its theater.

You would have understood it: One thing is certain, Lisbon, always surprising, is an unforgettable city!

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