Last year was my second time in Lisbon and like many other places in Portugal it captivated me! Next to a travel addict and nature lover I am also a fervent city tripper. And because I love architecture, exploring small neighbourhoods and panoramic views, this city has it all for me!
Here’s a short recap with many pics of my 5 most loved features of Lisbon, which will definitely make you fall in love with this city as well:
- Did you know that Lisbon is one of oldest cities in the world and actually the oldest in Western Europe? It’s even older than London, Rome and Paris, a fun fact which makes this city even more special to me. It was founded by Caesar himself, and has a turbulent history as it was ruled by Germanic tribes in the 400’s, conquered by the Moors in the 700’s, after which it was recaptured by the Crusaders in the 1100’s.
This shows through the city’s diverse architecture, which is a mix of historic churches, monuments, many colourful houses and beautifully decorated facades with diverse tiles all around.
I fell in love with the colorful buildings and special Moorish styled ‘azulejos’ and went picture crazy, as I just adore these pretty hand painted ceramic tiles. Here’s a few pictures as a result of my tile frenzy:
Some of the most beautiful facades you will find by walking around the neighbourhoods Bairro Alto and Chiado. These have the most authentic and colourful streets up the hill with many quaint narrow alleys, diverse buildings, parks, and a multitude of small shops, bars and restaurants, which are perfect for explorers and architecture lovers.
- Lisbon is easy to explore on foot, I just loved walking around here, admiring the beautiful buildings, street views, street art and the views from up the hilly streets down upon the city.
But as many streets are steep and with cobbled stones, a more comfortable and also fun way to explore it is by traditional Lisbon tram. These colourful trams are iconic for the city and date back to the 19th century when they were imported from the USA.
But as the trams don’t cover the whole city and can be quite crowded we also did another private tour around the city by tuk tuk.
This small and flexible mobile will drive you through the historic neighbourhoods of the city up the hill for 2 hours for only €30. The driver can get through the most narrow and up the most steep streets, even better than any car can. He will bring you everywhere you want, will wait for you at the sights and will tell you some historic facts about the city along the way!
- During our city trip we went to several stunning viewpoints of the city called ‘miradouros’, Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara was one of my favourites because of the fabulous wide view over the city with its colourful buildings, the river and bridge on the right and its direct view of the medieval George castle towering over the colourful city.
This viewpoint also has a really quiet stylish city park which is almost as pretty as the views behind it.
Miradouro da Graca is another pretty park with wide views over the city from a different direction. All these views are totally free and highly recommended if you like wide city views and look out points.
Lisbon has many look out points, some better than others, but unfortunately we weren’t there long enough to explore all of them. I heard that Miradouro do Adamastor, the viewpoint on top of the Rua Augusta Arch, from the George Castle and also from the Cristo-Rei statue across the bridge should be very special as well…hard to choose between all of them, but will definitely come back for it!
- Another special feature of this city, giving it a real classy touch, are the many city squares with different statues, beautifully decorated pavements and stylish buildings around them.
My favourite and the most famous in Lisbon is Praca do Comércio. What makes this square so special are the buildings around it with their chique arches and diverse restaurants with a big offering of terraces and perfect square views.
From here you will have a direct view upon the stunning marble Rua Augusta Arch and on the other side, facing the water, you will have wide views over the Tagus river and the 25 de Abril bridge. This is the longest suspension bridge in Europe, with the iconic Christo-Rei statue next to it in the distance.
The popular shopping street Rua Augusta directly leading up to the Praca do Comércio, and Mude design and fashion museum situated in this street, makes it a must visit for every fashion loving woman.
- I mentioned a few of my favourite Lisbon neighbourhoods already, but a real special one a bit outside the city is the historic city part Belém.
Here you will find many quiet streets with diverse street views, street art and historical sights, such as the Torre de Belém by the Tagus river and the big Jerónimos Monastery on Rua de Belém.
This part of Lisbon is also well known for the ancient Pastéis de Belém bakery on the Rua de Belém after passing by the big monastery. If you are interested in history or just like pastry, you should definitely go here to buy and enjoy their famous Pastéis de Nata. The bakery already produces these egg tarts since 1837, when they were invented by Christian monks as a product of left over egg yolks, as they used to starch their clothes with the egg whites.
This traditional Portuguese pastry is a must try for everyone traveling to Portugal and a special and tasty experience because of the contrast of the somewhat salty crispy outside layers and sweet and creamy filling.
The ones from the Pastéis de Belém Bakery certainly did not disappoint and are said to be the best ones in the country!
Be prepared to get in line though and wait a long time if you also want to sit down and eat in their restaurant. But with the multitude of beautiful and diverse azulejos and decoration all around this bakery I did not mind the wait at all! And bringing the pastries along with you and eating them on the terrace of the neighboring Starbucks is of course also an option:)
This neighbourhood is definitely a must visit for anyone looking for more authenticity and wanting to learn more about the history of Lisbon! With its beautiful harbour, wide river views, several unique monuments and museums, I would certainly recommend including a (half) day visit to this outer part of the city during your city trip to Portugal’s capital.
See for yourself why Belém is worth a visit:
Did you know that the Lisbon region has many more cities and pretty little towns nearby the big city, which are well worth a visit? Many Unesco heritage sites, such as the Pena National Palace, beautiful nature areas and historical towns, such as Sintra and much more beauty can be found only a 30-45 minutes drive away from Portugal’s capital. Check out my top 5 sights in my earlier blog post about the Lisbon region.
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