Last year I went on a trip to Lisbon for 3 days. That city had been very high on my bucketlist for quite a while and when my mum offered to take me on a trip to a city of my own choice, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. 3 Days might sound like a short time to you, but I was actually able to do a lot in those few days. It surprised me a little too. In this post, I am going to tell you all about what you should and shouldn’t do in Lisbon.
What not to do:
1. Torre de Belem
Next to the river (The Tanges), that divides the old and new part of Lisbon, stands a tower called ‘Torre de Belem’. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go see this tower. It’s a beautiful tower after all. It’s more that going inside isn’t worth it. I haven’t been inside the tower but my cycle tour guide gave me that advice. She told me that the inside of the tower wasn’t very spectacular because there was barely anything to see inside and it just wasn’t worth the money. What you can’t see on this picture is that there was also quite a long queue on the bridge in front of the tower.
2. Cycling tour
I kind of already gave it away, but I went on a cycling tour with a guide. As someone who is from The Netherlands, I should be a professional at cycling, right? I mean, I cycle every day. But cycling in Lisbon is a whole different thing than cycling in The Netherlands. Lisbon was built on several hills and The Netherlands is just the complete opposite of that. With the cycling tour, we started on a very high point in Lisbon. The first meters down were very steep. I constantly only had to brake and keeping that under control was sometimes hard and even a little scary. When we were all the way down the hill, we cycled next to the riverside. We did see some beautiful things there; the 25 de Abril bridge, a harbor and the monument ‘Padrão dos Descobrimentos’. If you would like to explore the riverside of Lisbon by bicycle, I would recommend this tour to you but if you’re not interested in that, don’t go for a bicycle tour.
3. Walking everywhere
Lisbon is very hilly and some parts of the city can be very steep, so don’t walk everywhere because that will be very tiring. In Lisbon, there actually is an amazing metro system with very good connections. The metro actually is my favorite way of transport in cities. You don’t have to wait long, you can get anywhere in such a short amount of time and the temperature under the ground is so refreshing.
4. Bringing heels
This tip is very simple, but let me be very clear here. You don’t bring heels with you to Lisbon. Not even wedges. One night I tried walking on wedges when we were going out for dinner and it was the biggest mistake. Please promise me you won’t make the same mistake. Lisbon is just very hilly and steep, and it’s just not a city for heels.
What to do:
1. Padrão dos Descobrimentos
This is a monument next to the river and it stands for the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. On the monument, you can see 33 different Portuguese people that have had something to do with the Portuguese discoveries. If you look at the ground on the square in front of the monument, you can see a world map that shows the Portuguese discoveries. You can also enter this monument because inside there are several expositions inside. And not to forget, you can also get to the top of the monument, which provides you a beautiful view over the Belem district.
2. Pasteis de Belem/Pastel de Nata
Now that we’re talking about Belem, I also highly want to recommend you to try a Pasteis de Belem. This is the delicacy of Lisbon and it’s almost 300 years old. I’m not good at describing food but it is some kind of pastry and I can tell from my own experience that it is absolutely delicious. If you’re in Lisbon, trying this is a must.
3. Mosteiro dos Jeronimos
The Mosteiro dos Jeronimos is a big monastery also located in the Belem district. Only the garden in front of the monastery is already worth visiting this place. There are even benches there, so it’s a very nice place to get some rest and relax. The monastery itself also is a very beautiful building. I just love the architecture of it!
4. Jardim Botanico Tropical
Very close to the monastery is a botanical garden. This park is full of tropical and subtropical plants and trees. It’s a lovely park to walk through and the perfect place to escape the bustle of the city. This place is not only the home to many different plants but also to animals like geese and peacocks. I would like to give you another tip if you’re planning on visiting this beautiful park. In the park, you have wide and narrow paths. Choose the narrow paths! Then you’ll be walking in between all the plants and trees. That way you’ll see and experience much more that you wouldn’t if you would take the wide paths.
5. Tram 28
A lot of trams cross the streets of Lisbon but tram 28 is a special one. First of all it’s one of the longest tram rides in Lisbon with a total duration of 50 minutes. This tram will show you some very astonishing and beautiful parts of Lisbon. It also rides for a part through Alfama which definitely is the most beautiful district of Lisbon. Let me give you one tip though. Be sure you have a seat because standing in that tram can be very tiring and you will barely be able to see anything outside of the tram.
6. LX Factory & Livraria ‘Ler Devagar’
LX Factory is an art and culture center. It is a place that is full of creativity. It’s basically a long street with art galleries, cute shops, restaurants and walls with graffiti art on them. In the LX Factory, there is a beautiful bookshop called ‘Livraria Ler Devagar’. Inside the building also is a little cafe. As a booklover, I couldn’t resist buying some books there. Two of the books I bought are even from Portuguese writers.
7. Castelo de São Jorge
This beautiful castle is located on the highest hill of Lisbon and gives you a beautiful over the city. Walking around the castle itself and climbing it is an amazing thing to do. Getting to the castle can be quite a journey though. But with the use of two elevators you will be there before you know it. The first elevator will take you to the Alfama district and it’s called ‘Elevador Castelo’. The elevator is located inside a building at Rua dos Fanqueiros 170/178. After having taken the first elevator, you need to cross the street, where you’ll find the supermarket Pingo Doce. Inside that supermarket is the second elevator located. After having taken that lift you only have to walk for around 10 more minutes and then you will arrive at the castle.
8. Alfama & Feira da Ladra
It is a well-known fact that Alfama is the most beautiful district in Lisbon. It is full of narrow streets, beautiful buildings and colorful walls. I find the true beauty of Alfama hard to explain in words, so if you really want to know what it looks like, you should just look up some pictures of it. Every Tuesday and Saturday a flea market known as ‘Feira da Ladra’ takes place in Alfama. It’s very nice to stroll past the sellers with all their goods. You might even find some treasures.😉
9. Carmo Convent
The Carmo Convent used to be a monastery, but because of a big earthquake in 1755, a part of the monastery was destroyed. But even though a part of the monastery was destroyed, it still looks absolutely beautiful. Nowadays it’s also an archaelogical museum. Visiting that place was definitely very interesting!
This blogpost is almost finished. I just have one more tip. Or it might actually more be an advice. I think the best time of the year to go to Lisbon is in May. That is because then the Jacarandas, the trees that are basically everywhere in Lisbon, are blooming, which means purple trees, many purple trees. And I have to tell you that those blooming purple trees make Lisbon look even more magical. And the weather in May is also perfect with temperatures from around 20 degrees Celcius.
Thank you for reading this blogpost! Writing it took me a lot of time so if you would want to let me know what you thought of it, that would be amazing.
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