Often described by its natural light and sun, Lisbon has more to offer than the world knows. Portugal is the jewel of the Atlantic Ocean, and all the country benefits from it. In previous times it was an open door to the world and the discoveries, that had the starting point in the capital. Lisbon is the place to go if you are looking for tasty and various food, between grilled meat, sew or fresh fish, straight from the fish markets and shops.
From the finest restaurants, until the quickest snack houses or ‘tascas’, as Portuguese people call it, you better be sure you will lick your lips. Delicious food comes with quality wine. There are vineyards a bit all over the country and Portugal is proud of its wine, either white or red. Otherwise, if you prefer to drink a cocktail or something fresher, you can always try a ‘caipirinha’, a drink that takes cachaça as alcohol, mixed with lime juice and ice.
Brazil is the origin country of this drink, but the close bond of Portugal with Brazil brought the drink beyond the ocean. Whatever you feel like doing, you can do it in Lisbon. If you are already more curious about this place and drooling just by thinking of the food, check out the following suggestions to make sure you don’t miss a thing during your holidays.
Chiado – Bairro Alto
The secrets of past and present Lisbon are a bit all over the city, but if there are places you should visit and see by yourself the trace of time, is Chiado and Bairro Alto. Chiado is Lisbon’s commercial and cultural heart, a place where you can find both contemporary and old-style shopping. Since the early nineteenth century, artists of Portugal walked on this street and enjoyed the cafés of the district. Example of that is the café place, ‘A Brasileira’, where Fernando Pessoa (the statue you can take pictures with outside) and Almada Negreiros, both writers, spent their time. São Roque church is one of the monuments you can visit in this area and the sightseeing point of São Pedro de Alcântara is also mandatory, as it offers a beautiful view perspective. As you go down the Chiado, you can visit libraries and discover a bit more about Portuguese literature. Largo do Carmo is a square that still holds the traces of a past convent of the fourteenth century. Definitely a stopping point to history lovers. From this place, a walk away links to the top of the Elevator of Santa Justa, the 45-meter lift that links Chiado to the Baixa, downtown.
Bairro Alto is the trendiest district of Lisbon, also known as the bohemian one, is home to artists, designers, antique shops, bars, and esplanades. Peaceful by day, it is turned into the spotlight of the city during the night. There you have traditional fado houses and fuzzy bars. All for different kinds of tastes.
Alfama and Castelo
Alfama didn’t stop in time but the way it looks tells something else. As the city’s oldest quarter, Alfama holds the daily life of many Lisboetas (citizens of Lisbon) with its rustic charm that is unchanged for centuries. This place of Lisbon houses long staircases, tiny squares, and labyrinth alleyways down the highest hill of Lisbon, under the magnificent Castelo de São Jorge (Saint George’s Castle). Alfama’s medieval origins are still quite evident with the cramped little houses and winding alleys.
This place can lead to no other direction but the castle. Castelo de São Jorge sits on the site of a past fortress that was used by the Romans, Visigoths, and Moors. In 1147 this place was conquered by the Portuguese first king, remaining a royal residence until the 16th century. The biggest earthquake of Portugal history happened in 1755 and destroyed most part of the city, including the castle. Nowadays, the castle is a place for beautiful promenades and gardens. The city view is, of course, the best part of this majestic site.
Arch of Rua Augusta and Terreiro do Paço square
The Arch of the Rua Augusta is one of the most famous sightseeings of Lisbon. Walking down the tree-lined Avenue of Liberty, past the historic Rossio square, that leads to Terreiro do Paço, the old market, and trade square, you can climb the iconic arch and appreciate the view. Facing north you can see from downtown to the Castle and in between. If you face south, you will see the Tejo river and Terreiro do Paço square. If you want a good point to watch a sunset, this one will make your wonders.
Belém is the mesmerizing place to tribute Portugal’s Age of Discoveries. Its waterfront monuments evoke ostentatious and legendary nautical adventures lived by the Portuguese people. The open spaces of Belém are well known by the Portuguese citizens, as well as the most famous ‘pastel de nata’ shop. Antiga Confeitaria is the name of the place that sells the unique custard tarts, that can make you wait in long queues. A very worth waiting line. In Belém you can visit the Jerónimos Monastery, the Monument of Discoveries, the wind rose mosaic, the Belém Tower and art museums.
Not so far from Lisbon, you have other green parks and astonishing beaches to enjoy the sun and the sea air. If you are a nature person, you can choose between forests and sea site. If you are a person who loves history, there are plenty of monuments to visit. If you love food and wine, Lisbon will conquer your taste. If you just love to be lost and discover a city by yourself, Lisbon promises you to always find a way back to where you wish to go next.
Portugal is a country full of secret and majestic places. If you like sports, Lisbon is a city known for football – the European one, not America’s NFL! Benfica and Sporting Lisbon are the top clubs of the capital and this is probably a topic you want to avoid, since it can trigger quite some ignited debates. Nonetheless, football apart, people are welcoming and friendly, and they try their best to communicate with the tourists. The best tips ever for you to receive will always come from the locals.
Author: Ines Marinho