In return for enduring many weeks of my Lisbon travel posts, I am pleased to present you with a " Lisbon travel guide " containing all the information, tips and tricks to enable you to plan your own trip to this amazing travel destination.
I hope that you will found this little guide useful in planning your upcoming (or "bucket-list") trip to Lisbon, Portugal!
Where to stay
Famously built on "seven hills" Lisbon is a large and sprawling city filled with modern twists but also still enchanted with its ancient history and old-style architecture.
As such, accommodation in this city caters to both those looking for the old ( B&Bs and Boutique hotels perched in historical neighbourhoods) and the new (super-modern high-rise hotels complete with rooftop bars and swanky restaurants).
Although our accommodation was already pre-assigned (we were visiting the city on the back of a business conference at the Intercontinental Lisbon Hotel) I did do some research and found some great hotels and lovely neighbourhoods to stay in:
Avenida da Liberdade
Located right across from our hotel, this expansive park (central Lisbon's largest) is famous for its leafy gardens, exotic greenhouses (known as the Estufa Fria and the Estufa Quente) and sweeping views of the city. As a calm oasis in the bustling city center , I found the park to be particularly useful while I waited for various sightseeing tours to begin (most of the major bus tours have ticketing offices located at this park).
Just below the park you will find the Marquis de Pombal Square - the statue and monument dedicated to Lisbon's beloved prime minister who was responsible for rebuilding the city after the great earthquake of 1755.
Leading directly down from the Park and Square is a super-long and leafy avenue known as the Avenida da Liberdade ( meaning " Avenue of Liberty" ) - lined with pretty squares and some of the city's best shops, hotels and dining areas. This leads to the city's main shopping and dining hub and is a n ideal starting point for exploring downtown Lisbon .
Getting around: Walk or explore the city via a colourful tuk-tuk ride!
Conveniently located the centre of the city. Besides its ideal location, the hotel also boasts spacious rooms (with great city views!), good service levels and a gorgeous hotel lobby (which doesn't hurt!).
Other Suggestions: my second choice
Hotel NH Collection Lisboa Liberdade
As one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon, Alfama is full of charming cobbled streets and narrow pathways. Perched high on a hill, this neighbourhood offers some of the best views in the city. Given its colourful street-art, lively squares and the occasional resident hanging washing up on the line, it also has as a grit or " realness " about it. so hilly -trams!
Memmo Alfama Hotel Lisboa
Baixa & Chiado
Outside the City
On our second day in Lisbon we decided to explore the quieter atmosphere of the quaint coastal towns located a short drive from the city. After purchasing a day-trip ticket on a hop-on-hop off tour bus, our first stop was the beautiful town of Cascais, which for decades, has been a popular holiday resort for Lisboeta's wishing to escape the hectic city life.
Suggestions: Hotel Baia (above pic) Which looked amazing and very close to the sea front as we drove past.
What to Do
Stroll along avenida da Liberdade : Eyeshopping
Hop-on Hop-Off Bus
People-watch at Rossio Square and Praça do Commercio
The most popular city square where people come to eat, relax and meet-up is Rossio Square. Located in the heart of the city (at the lower end of the Avenida da Liberdade) it has garnered popularity for its wave-patterned mosaic pavements, flowing water fountains and forever bustling activity.
Once the site of the royal Palace, this huge square is located at the end of the city's bustling avenue of shops and entertainment. With brightly coloured buildings (painted a "royal" yellow) lining the square, the Praça do Comercio is certainly one of the most recognizable attractions in Lisbon. Across the road you can catch some amazing views of the waterfront overlooking the Tagus River.
TAKE IN CITY VIEWS
- A Miradouro
Being that Lisbon is famously built on " seven hills ", the views in this city are nothing short of spectacular! The best views can be taken in from one of the many "miradouro's" (viewing platforms) dotted around the city which buzz with life come sunset! Amongst many others in the charming neighbourhood of Alfama, views from the Miradouro de Santa Luzia are particularly breathtaking.
- CASTELO DE SÃO JORGE:
This hilltop castle perched on steep slopes overlooking Alfama and the waterfront area, was once the medieval residence of Portuguese kings. Today it is an icon of the city featuring lush gardens, a beautiful observation terrace and a museum.
TOP TIP: Enjoy a take-away glass of wine (or three!) from the wine bar located at the observation terrace, while you soak up the magical views of the city.
TAKE A TRIP TO THE COAST
Enjoy gorgeous views and (some local seafood) from one of the many breezy seaside restaurant terraces located on the seafront. Afterwards you can stroll along the charming town streets dotted with various shops and squares.
See the full post on our visit to Cascais, here
- Boca do Inferno
Located a mile away from the town of Cascais is the spectacular rocky cliff-edge and cave known as the Boca do Inferno ("mouth of hell" ). Named after the crashing sound of the waves as they hit the sharp rocks, (sending gushes of water spraying through the air) the viewing platform at this rocky cliff offers magnificent views of the Atlantic ocean below.
Top Tip: Spend the day hopping around from different towns along the coast, such as Estoril and Cascais, by using your hop-on-hop-off day ticket. Buses arrive every hour, making it easy to explore many places along this charming Atlantic coastline.
Get a dose of History and Culture
The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
This spectacular 16th century monastery is the gem of the of Belém, an old neighbourhood located along Lisbon's waterfront and overlooking the Tagus river. Once you arrive in Belém, there is no way you can miss this beautiful monastery - due to its sheer size and opulence.
Top Tip: To get to Belém, take the " red line " on the hop-on-hop-off bus. If you purchased a day ticket to Cascais, the same ticket will still be valid for another day to explore any attractions on the red line (also known as the Belém line).
Inside the monastery, sits a church which houses the tomb of Vasco de Gama (Portugal's most famous explorer) and King Sebastiao (a young King who never returned from battle in 1578). Other attractions include richly carved cloisters and a refectory tiled with colourful azulejos.
Top Tip: The monastery is closed on a monday, so be sure to plan your visit there accordingly. However, if you do go on a monday (as I did) you can still access the beautiful monastery gardens and take loads of pictures of the outside of the monastery, without having to compete with the crowds.
See a full post on my visit to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, here
Exploring the hills of Sintra
The Town of Sintra
A UNESCO cultural landscape since 1995, the picturesque town of Sintra (located thirty minutes outside of Lisbon) looks like it comes straight from a book of fairytales. Not only are the beautiful, green slopes of this town enchanting, but they also hold a lot of history dating back for centuries. The town is made up of a collection of quaint shops and villages scattered along winding hills, that make you want to never leave!
Top Tip: From the metro station at Rossio square in Lisbon, take a train to Sintra ( there is one every thirty minutes) and you will arrive at the train station which is a short walk from the town centre.
See a full post on my visit to Sintra, here
Gracing the beautiful green hills of Sintra ,is the brightly coloured and striking facade of the Palácio da Pena. This exotic palace is truly a sight to behold with its elaborate Moorish designs which stand boldly, overlooking the rolling hills of Sintra. With bustling crowds weaving through this magical palace (and its expansive gardens) from morning to dusk, this is by far one of the most popular sights around Lisbon.
Top Tip: There are various ways to get up to the winding roads leading to Pena Palace. You can either take a colourful yellow taxi, a bus or (if you're fit) a long uphill walk!
See a full post on my visit to Pena Palace, here
Where to Eat
Time Out Mercado do Ribeira - good for a night out
TimeOut Market at Ribeira
Of all the attractions in Lisbon, I was most excited whenever they involved food! On our last night in Lisbon I dragged my husband (who was exhausted from a week full of conference meetings in the city) to what I believe is one of the most hippest food and hangout spots in Lisbon - the TimeOut Market. With no less than 23 restaurants, countless food stalls, bars, shops (and an art gallery!) this massive and buzzing market was definitely the right way to end off our stay in Lisbon.
Foodies like myself will be delighted at the sheer number of dining options available at this place - since the market uses open-plan seating you can basically mix and match a variety of dishes ranging from traditional Portuguese fare (such as bacalhau) and international cuisine such as sushi or stir fries. Finish the night off with a glass of wine from the various wine (and cocktail) bars in the market, and you are good to go!
Top Tip: If you are a keen photographer, you may want to head to the (hidden) second floor of the market, where you will find some large windows which offer panoramic views of this expansive market.
Pasteis de Belém
As a dessert aficionado, I must admit that what initially drew me to Belém was the knowledge that the most famous pastry tart in Lisbon was born here! At the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém , otherwise known as the Pasteis de Belém coffee shop (a 1 minute walk from the monastery), you will find the most heavenly custard tarts that you will ever taste.
Top Tip: Despite initial impressions when first entering the cafe, this place has ample seating space. Weave your way through the crowds at the front of the cafe and head towards the back where you will find another large seating area and a small courtyard. On your way there, take a peek through the windows of the kitchen where you will see bakers preparing hundreds of little pastry tarts (apparently the 18th century recipe for the custard tarts is still top secret!).
See a full post on my visit to Pasteis de Belém, here
Where to Eat in Sintra
Other things to do