Lisbon, colourful beauty built on 7 hills

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, located at the mouth of the Tagus river is Europe’s westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. The city is built on seven hills and despite its steep, uphill streets I fell in love with it from the first afternoon walk. I was impressed to find out there is not a single corner that is ugly in the city, the tiled façades of the buildings took me by surprise and when wondering around I felt as if I were in a romantic place of the past.

As I was instructed by my Portuguese friend I headed to a Miradouro right before the sunset and the view was indeed amazing. Miradouros are terraces on tops of Lisbon hills with breathtaking panoramas to the city and its surroundings, you should visit a couple of them while visiting the city, my 2 favourite were Miradouro of Sao Pedro de Alcantara and the one at Portas do Sol.

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Sao Pedro de Alcantara Miradouro

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Vespas in Bairro Alto district

An attraction that takes you a trip in the past are the vintage yellow trams. Try taking tram 28 from Martim Moniz metro in order to see some of the purest and untouched by the time neighbourhoods in Alfama. Buildings with tiled façades, narrow streets and laundry hanging on the balconies will make you forget you are in a European capital.

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Old tram in Rossio Square

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Building with tiled facade in Chiado district

Tip for a free sightseeing: Casa do Alentejo, close to Restauradores metro, an old Palace that was later transformed into the first casino in Lisbon is open to visitors.

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Casa do Alentejo

Are you interested in visiting a huge statue of Jesus similar to the one in Rio de Janeiro overlooking Tagus and enjoying the view to Lisbon from the opposite side of the river, in Almada area? Then take a boat from Cais de Sodre to Cacilhas (just 15 minutes trip) and then the local bus to Cristo Rei (Christ the King) monument. The view to 25 de Abril bridge is really worth it from this side of Tagus river.

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Cristo Rei Statue

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25 de Abril bridge

Back to Lisbon, do not forget to visit the famous Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square), the largest plaza in the city, that was constructed in 1755, after the great earthquake that destroyed the whole Baixa district. Here you can relax at Cais das Colunas where the square meets the Tagus river or walk under the triumphal Arch, Arco da Rua Augusta and go shopping in Rua Augusta.

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To experience the medieval side of Lisbon a visit to Saint George’s castle is highly recommended. To do so you can take the tram 28 and get off at Portas do Sol square where you can enjoy the magnificent view to Sao Vicente da fora church and to the National Pantheon of Santa Engracia and then head to the castle.

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Portas do Sol Miradouro

Entering the castle area will offer you a panorama view to the city from the viewpoint right in the entrance as well as from the walls. The entrance will cost you 8.5 EUR and you can have a free guided tour in the Tower of Ulysses allowing you a 360-degree view to the city through a camera obscura. The neighbourhoods of Alfama around the castle are really lovely and picturesque.

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The most modern part of the city is Parco das Nacoes (Park of the Nations) where you can get from metro Oriente. The famous Oceanarium of Lisbon is located here and you can take a cable car round trip for just 5,9 EUR in order to see the Vasco da Gama tower and bridge, the bridge is 17km long, so long that it is almost lost in the horizon.

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Parque das Nacoes

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Vasco da Gama tower and bridge

BELEM DISTRICT

Belem distrct has a lot to offer to the tourists and you can get there with tram 15, which you can take from Cais de Sodre metro. Do pay a visit to Jeronimos Monastery, a 500 years old monastery, built in a richly ornate architecture style. The entrance fee will cost you 10 EUR (there is a special offer if you would also like to enter Belem Tower, 12 EUR for both). The decorations of the cloister and the church are really beautiful. Then head to the Discoveries Monument, built on the bank of the Tagus river in 1960. The monument depicts important historical figures of Portugal on a ship’s bow ready to depart. From that point, you can already see the Belem Tower on your right, one of the most well-known landmarks of Lisbon that was used as a lighthouse. Before leaving the area pay a visit to Pasteis de Belem, the traditional house of Pastel e Nata, a delicious custard tart. You can find those tarts in every single bakery of Lisbon but Pasteis de Belem is the one using the original secret recipe and you can also visit its factory. I was told there will be long queues but  I arrived there around 11 am and did not have to wait at all.

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There are many interesting churches in Lisbon, except from the Cathedral I would suggest also visiting Sao Vicente da Fora.

Santa Justa Elevator is, in my opinion, a tourist trap as you can access the level it takes you to just by walking, from Largo do Carmo. Do try other Elevadors that are vintage trams used for uphill streets and the tickets for those are included in the 24-hour pass that will only cost you 6,15 EUR.

I did not book a hotel but a Pensao that means a family-run business that is much cheaper than a hotel. Pensao Nova Goa was pretty good, breakfast was included in the price and it was right in the centre, between 3 metro stations, so I already had a lot of sightseeings in walking distance.

Most of the clubs and bars are in Cais de Sodre district, in Rua Nova do Carvalho, my favourite one was Pensao Amor bar in Rua do Alecrim, a 19th-century burlesque club. Principe Real district is also a good choice if you want to have a drink and some tapas, too.

Two streets where you will for sure find any kind of food you like are Rua dos Correeiros in Rossio and Rua das Portas de Santo Antao in Restauradores area. Both seem touristic but the quality of the food is really good and you should try any kind of seafood and cod fish. Do try Ginginha, a Portuguese cherry drink and green sparkling wine.

Some very interesting areas in the centre are Baixa, Chiado, Bairo Alto, Alfama and the neighbourhoods Between Martim Moniz and Intedente metro stations, all of them with colourful, tiled buildings, narrow streets and balconies and originality that will warm your heart.

Have you ever been to Lisbon? Which is your favourite neighbourhood?

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