Portugal is fast becoming a prime destination for the travel savvy, and Lisbon is a great way to immerse yourself in all the reasons why this destination is trending. With museums, cathedrals and monuments brimming with European history, squares ideal for people-watching, sumptuous street food and exciting nightlife, what more could you ask for?
When you find yourself in Lisbon the first thing you want to do is explore. After all, this is the city of explorers! And while Lisbon is most assuredly on trend you’ll also discover evidence of a rich and storied past. From her colonialist history to her musical traditions and stunningly ornate architecture Lisbon doesn’t disappoint. Let’s find out some things you can do for a rewarding time in legendary Lisbon.
A Wondrous Walkabout
Lisbon maintains a very nice and comfortable climate nearly year-round so taking a leisurely stroll through the city is really the best way to get to know her. A great place to commence your walkabout is the Praca do Commercio, a beautiful harbor-facing square where, to the south you will see a great view of the Tagus River.
Also known as Terreir do Paco, or palace yard, the square once housed the royal palace until the earthquake of 1755 took it down. The square was rebuilt as was the Pombaline downtown as part of the reconstruction. The square now houses Lisbon’s oldest cafe as well as the Museum of Lisbon. At the water’s edge of the square you’ll see a marble stairway where once arriving dignitaries would be greeted and escorted to the castle.
Just a short stroll from the Praca do Commercio you’ll find the exciting Mercado da Ribeira, or Time Out Market. Here you’ll find cultural events and chefs preparing some wonderful food. This is a great place to wander and enjoy some local fare that’s absolutely delicious.
Next you’ll want to make your way to the top of Sao Jorge Hill and check out Sao Jorge Castle. You’ll probably want to take the Santa Justa lift, providing the lines aren’t too long. If you don’t mind a short wait to board the lift it will provide some great views along the way. The trek up the hill by lift takes all of a few minutes. Another option is to take the tram (number 28) to the top of the hill.
The area of Sao Jorge is called Largo das Portas do Sol. In addition to some truly breathtaking vistas you’ll also be treated to some very pretty and picturesque villages. Mouraria and Alfama are among the oldest neighborhoods in that area. Alfama is a fishing village where it almost seems as though time stood still. Narrow cobblestone paths beckon you to wander and discover this lovely little town.
Lisbon offers so many breathtaking views and ways to experience them. As evening approaches make your way to the areas known as Chiado and Bairo Alto. You can reach these destinations via the tram (number 28) or by ascending via the Elevador da Gloria. The Elevador, also known as the Ascension da Gloria, is a funicular railway connecting the Pombaline downtown with Bairo Alto. Taking this mode of transportation up to your destination is quite a lot of fun. Especially if you’ve never had an opportunity to ride on a funicular railway.
Once you exit the Ascensor da Gloria turn to your right and you’ll be rewarded fully by one of the singular most stunning views of the city of Lisbon.
Delightful Dining and Enchanting Entertainment
As evening draws near you’ll want to stick around Chiado and Bairo Alta. To the left of the Ascensor you’ll find an easy to navigate section full of wonderfully authentic bars and restaurants perfect for an evening of fun. This is our favorite way to spend an evening in Lisbon.
Locals and visitors alike enjoy the fantastic food and the perfect Portuguese treat, the famous Fado music. Join in the jovial atmosphere as locals and even professionals offer their take on this expressive and profoundly melancholy music that’s purely Portugal.