The adventure of being a Portuguese #Lisbon 1
During the time I lived in Lisbon, I was fortunate to welcome many of my friends from all over the world. And here comes the tough task of making an effective and tight program in order to fully appreciate the Portuguese capital.
So, this publication will provide you with a two-day program that will help you see the most important and popular places in the city. In addition, none of my guests was disappointed, but who knows … maybe they did not complain because of courtesy, I will leave the final word to you.
Depending on where you are staying, it is nice to plan getting up early to head to the Cais de Sodre Metro Station (the last stop of the green line). In order to do this, you must first purchase a transport card that is valid for 24 hours and the price is about 11 €.
One time you reach the mentioned metro station, get to the train stop, which is right at the exit of the subway and look for a train that leads to Belem. (The transport card also applies to the train)
From now on we start with the hourly planning.
You have to arrive at Belem station, from there you will walk 10 minutes by foot to arrive at the doors of the oldest pastry shop in Lisbon. Pasteleria de Belem, which was founded in 1837 and is the most remarkable pastry shop in Portugal. The recipe is strictly kept secret by passing it from generation to generation among the chefs.
This dessert is one of the most typical things you can try out of Portuguese cuisine. It is a dough basket stuffed with egg cream. The temptation to eat a lot of them is inevitable, but do not worry because you will walk a lot in Lisbon and burn the calories. The purpose of coming here so early is to avoid the big ques of tourists and to have breakfast in peace.
(In the patisserie, they offer a variety of sweet and savory typical food, but the Pasteur is the focus here).
After the incredible breakfast you had (you are welcome), head to the Jeronimus Monastery, which is just off the patisserie. The monastery is truly impressive in size, architecture and history! The cultural building is under the protection of UNESCO and nowadays it houses a church and several museums. During the visit, you will see the rich and interesting ornaments directly related to the times of the Great Geographical Discoveries, when Portugal was a great and rich empire.
The monastery can be accessed free of charge from the western gate leading to the altar. For the garden of the monastery, which is also the museum part, a fee of 10 € applies, offering various combined tickets with attractions that are nearby.
After that you need to go to the opposite side of the boulevard where the next attraction is located. This monument of the discoverers was built in 1940 with the idea of serving as a temporary lighthouse during an international exhibition held at that time, but it was preserved afterwards. After small improvements, the monument became famous for representing the great discoveries of the 15th and 16th centuries. It features statues of sailors, cartographers, artists, scientists, missionaries and other famous Portuguese who contributed to the rise of the Portuguese Empire. As the foremost is Prince Enrique the Crown, the man who patronizes and funds the study of Africa, and therefore the beginning of the European colonial expansion.
(Price: 5 € to get on top of the monument)
From the monument, you head west to find the jewel of the tourist attractions in Lisbon, the Belém Tower, which is under UNESCO protection. The tower had different functions over the years. Its original idea was to serve as a defense tower, following the river movement to the ocean and back. It then served as a lighthouse and eventually even as a prison in the underground floors.
The tower was built in 1521 and was built in late Gothic style typical of those times of prosperity in Portugal. The tower itself can be visited for 6 €. It provides its visitors with several galleries for viewing different floors. The most beautiful moments will stick with you once you reach the roof of the tower itself which opens a vast panorama to the ocean and the river.
After the beautiful Belem tower, you head back to the train station from where you came. There you take the train to return, but you go down to the next stop called Alcantara. From there you will get to the artistic corner of the city – LX factory, use the bridge for orientation, the place is below it.
This area is a former factory that has been transformed into a great space for artists, as well as many different and colorful offices and bars. But what can you find here, more specifically?
Here is one of the most impressive and great bookstores in Portugal, Ler Devagar, some of the most famous restaurants such as Landeau Chocolate, which claims to make the best chocolate cake or as they describe it, the devilishly delicious one and many other interesting things to find here! (Here you will also be able to dine)
After exploring the artistic location and eating, you return to the Alcantara train station and get on the Cais de Sodre train, from where you left.
Once you reach this stop, it’s time to explore the main sights in the center. The closest to Cais de Sodre is the famous Pink Street, the street that is entirely pink. In the past this street was something similar to the red lanterns of Amsterdam, but later, after the great increase in the number of tourists visiting Lisbon, it has become a tourist attraction. Currently it hosts various kind of establishments with interesting names of European cities.
(If you want to take a picture without any people, you have to go either very early or in the middle of the working day or have iron patience).
From the pink street, you can head parallel to the river to get to the main square of the city, Praça do Comércio, or the “square of trade“. You may be wondering why is it called that? Because in the past it was the place where the ships return from expeditions and carried out any trade and exchange of products in this place. The two columns at the end of the square represent the “door” to the river and the ocean. This was the port of the merchants. I advise you to come here one of the evenings you have with a bottle of Portuguese wine and enjoy the beautiful view of the April 25 Bridge in the company of some street musician.
After a pleasant stay in the square, you head to the Arc de Triumph, about which I will tell you more in one of the following publications. From here, you can head to the main street of Augusta, where you will find many shops and restaurants.
From Augusta, head straight two parallel streets uphill (west) to get to the Carmelo Monastery, where you can find an interesting archeological museum with international artifacts. The monastery is known for having no roof because of the greatest earthquake in European history, in 1755 with a magnet 9 on Richter.
(Important note that the monastery closes at 17.00 and the entrance fee is 4 €).
Listen carefully! This is a trick that is not known but will greatly ease you timely and financially. Exiting the monastery, turn left, heading for a stairway leading to a restaurant you will see. When you get on and go through the bar, (you are allowed) you will end up at the top of the oldest, functioning elevator in the world, Santa Justa. Getting there for 1.50 € you will be able to get on the panoramic balcony, which I strongly recommend.
Once you enjoy the panorama, go down the stairs and go to the elevator door, depending on the traffic, you will wait to open the doors downhill. Get on this historic lift in an attraction that is given to tourists. The elevator works every 15 minutes.
(Importantly, here you can use your transport card so you will save 5.75 €).
Here the official part of the program ends for the day. For the rest of the evening, depending on how tired you are, I can recommend the following things:
- Take advantage of the transportation card and take the popular number 28 Lisbon tram or funicular;
- Dine somewhere in Bairo Alto (the central neighborhood full of pubs);
The second day is focused on the old part of the town.
After breakfast, you can take a stroll to the oldest part of Lisbon, Alfama. This neighborhood is famous not only because it is the historical part of the capital, but also because of the distinctive architecture and buildings that are located here.
Going from the center to the neighborhood (let’s say going from the main street of Augusta), you will see the cathedral of Lisbon first. This cathedral is very different to the concepts we have for this type of buildings because it was built in the 12th century when the Portuguese returned the city from the Arabs. Then, a mosque was built at the site of today’s cathedral.
(The entrance is free (without the treasury) and works every day from 09.00 to 19.00)
Continue uphill along the cathedral, you will see two of the most popular panoramic views (the Miradauro). Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol. Most of the time, it’s full of tourists, but do not miss them, because from there you can enjoy the real charm of Lisbon.
Once you have finished taking pictures and enjoying the views, it is time to head to Castelo de S. Jorge. It is visible from every corner of the city, tactically built on the highest peak of Lisbon. The castle has a large garden, several archaeological exhibitions, cage free peacocks that are a great attraction, and the finest panorama to Lisbon. Walking around the fortress walls you will notice that some structures are missing. This is due to the strong earthquake that has caused catastrophic damage, which is still visible today in many places of the city.
(The normal ticket is 8.50 € and the opening hours are November – February 9.00 – 18.00 and March – September 09.00 – 21.00).
After the castle, head to one of the most beautiful panoramic views, Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, where you will witness the true afternoon idyll of Lisbon.
(You might like a place to dine at this part of the city)
When you finish lunch (if you decide to have one), you are heading to the Church of Sao Vicente from Forra (the patron of the city). You will notice that the style of the building is different, as the type of Roman architecture, which was later built in the Renaissance style, is observable.
(Free entrance, working hours Monday – Saturday 08:00 – 20:00, Sunday 09:00 – 12:30 and 15:00 – 17:00).
Nearby is the next landmark, Panteão Nacional. It is a great church in which prominent personalities from Portuguese history are buried. The building itself gives the opportunity to climb the floors and view the ornaments of the bold, for those times, architecture. However, for me personally, the most interesting experience was to get on the large and wide balcony where people sit down and enjoy the good weather and views.
Ending with the pantheon you can head to the small streets of Alfama to see, and feel, the atmosphere that surrounds this part of the city. I recommend that you walk down the river to the square where the Fado music museum is located. Here you will find the best ice cream in town. (proven by all the happy faces of my guests after trying this ice cream).
After the sweet temptation, I would advise you to take the metro from Santa Apolonia (the last stop of the blue line). The cost per ticket is about 1.40 €. From there, head to Marquesh de Pombal. At this station is the monument of the majestic Pombal (an important political figure in Portuguese history).
You are heading to Eduard XII Park, which is an extremely beautiful park on the uphill, but the real prize is at the far end of the park. Once crossing the whole park it will open a truly beautiful and different perspective of Lisbon, with the backdrop of the Tago River.
After taking the time to admire the panorama, head to the main boulevard of the city, Avenida de Liberdade. If you walk along its entire length, you will see the beautiful Portuguese architecture, numerous boutiques and various restaurants. The end of the boulevard leads to the beginning of the center, where our walk ends.
I give you some ideas on what to do next:
- You can visit Fabrica de Nata Café, another very favorite place for pasteis in Lisbon;
- You can visit the world’s oldest working bookstore, Bertrand;
This is the end of our two-day program in Lisbon. I hope the post was useful and interesting to you. It is structured as tight as possible but with the opportunity to visit the most important sights of the capital. Time planning is tentative in order to better organize the days you spend in the city.
Lisbon is not just a city – it is a collection of cultures and emotions!