Lisbon: Wonderland with Hills
Has it ever happened to you that you plan a trip, and then you find out that three of your friends just came back from that place... and later that month you see on Instagram that four other people you know went as well, and then everyone in your network ends up visiting a city/country within the span of 6 months?!
Well, in the first half of 2019 I know for a fact that at least 20 people I know visited Portugal, and most of them included Lisbon as a part of the trip. So when time presented itself, I decided to jump on the same ship (plane) and fly to Lisbon for a few days. Following my usual research as well as the amazing recommendations by Joao, the trip was delightful.
Before reading on and looking at the different things to do, just make sure that you pack a good rain jacket and a few pairs of tennis shoes. Going up and down these hills is something you might not be used to unless you come from a city like San Francisco. And now that we're on the topic, I would want you to ask yourself:
Why did people decide that making cities in the middle of the most uneven patches of land was a good idea?
But going back to the post on Lisbon, here some things you should check out:
Places to visit:
Lisbon Cathedral: This Cathedral has been renovated and restored plenty of times, which makes sense given that it is the oldest in the city, having been built in 1147. It's a beautiful structure that you can stop by on your way up the hill in Alfama.
Castelo de S. Jorge: Located at the top of the hill in Alfama, this famous castle has great views of the city - but you must pay to go inside. The castle itself, I am sorry to say is not that impressive, but the views are great. So if you pay, know that you're paying to go take an instagram-like photo and not for the Castle (sorry S. Jorge). Also note that there are many locations nearby that offer the same or similar views, and are free - so I suggest you try that first.
Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Monte: The highest point of the neighborhood and close to the Castelo de S. Jorge, this is also a great place for a scenic view.
Elevador de Santa Justa: Also known as the Carmo Lift, this elevator connects the Baixa with the Carmo Plaza above. Built in 1900, the elevator is actually still active and receives many tourists daily. On top you can also have great views of Lisbon, but I recommend you come early to avoid the lines.
Jeronimos Monastery: A UNESCO World Heritage Site near the Belem Tower which is one of the best representations of Manueline architecture. I would talk about how beautiful it is, but I decided to go on a Monday... without checking if it was open. Just so you keep it in mind: It's closed on Mondays.
Livraria Bertrand: The oldest bookstore in the world opened its doors in 1732, is located in Lisbon and it's still selling books. Pretty cool for a world that has gone digital and now reads on Kindles, iPads and phones.
Time Out Market Lisbon: This food court is a great place if you want to try the food from all the famous&popular chefs and restaurants in Lisbon without having to pay for an expensive dinner. The many food stands offer a wide variety of food and drinks, and you'll always find a good atmosphere.
Mercado de Campo de Ourique: A more under-the-radar version of Time Out Market, this place offers local products and also has a good selection. A bit further away from downtown, it is worth a trip if you have a bit extra time.
LX Factory: An industrial complex... that as any unused industrial complex has transformed into a wide collection of restaurants, bars and retailers. Definitely a place you should come by on a late afternoon.
MAAT: The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology is one that you cannot miss. Encompassing a very modern building with the old Tejo Power Station. A great museum with interesting, techie art pieces.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos: Possibly offering the best view of Belem, this tower stands to celebrate Portuguese explorers from the 15th century. Not many people visit, compared to other nearby places of interest so take advantage and enjoy the view.
Belem Tower: Built in the 16th century, this tower shows another example of Manueline architectural style. This building also celebrates Europe's Age of Discovery and is a very symbolic symbol for the city of Lisbon.
Baixa: This touristy neighborhood was rebuilt in the 18th century after a huge earthquake hit the city. You can find the Praça de Comercio, many restaurants and coffeeshops and most of the hostels in this area. Also, a good amount of the places to see are in this area, so just bear with the crowds.
Alfama: The oldest hood in the city, Alfama offers many charming sites like Lisbon Cathedral and Castelo de S. Jorge as well as wonderful painting-like views of the city. A very charming neighborhood to visit during the day to see the sites.
Bairro Alto: The cool, bohemian neighborhood of Bairro Alto is a hilly area close to the Baixa. Great for its nightlife, you should definitely hit the neighborhood up for a drink or two (I had three, but don't want to set a bad example). Don't forget to listen to Fado in one of the many famous establishments in this neighborhood, which often also includes dinner so be hungry.
Alcântara: The area that lies between any of the three above neighborhoods and Belém. Here you will find that it's nice to walk or bike by the river on one direction or another and enjoy not only the views of the other side, but also the many restaurants and bars that you can stop for a bite as you head to the MAAT or to the Jeronimos Monastery.
If you're planning a trip to Portugal, don't forget to visit Porto! And to look at my post about it of course.