1. Miradouro da Portas do Sol, 2. Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo, 3. Alfama district,
Hills, pastel buildings, Pastel de Natas, roosters, sardines and trams- these are the attractions, quirks and yumminess that set aside Lisbon from other European cities.
Despite Spain and Portugal sharing a few similarities, which unfortunately causes Spain to overshadow Portugal, I discovered Portugal has a strong identity of its own with their own cuisine, traditions and music.
I had a lot of time in Lisbon- 5 full days, and 2 half days. I think 3-4 days would be a perfect amount of time to spend in the city. My friend was meant to be with me for 5.5 of the days, but was tragically stuck in an airport for two of the days (painful lesson learnt- don’t fly Vueling), so I didn’t want to see everything without her which meant I spent more time than I usually would resting. In a way, this was nice as I just took the time to slowly explore the city, which was a relaxing way to see the vibrant city.
4. Bairro Alto district, 5. Belém, 6. Miradouro da Portas do Sol,
Districts to visit and what to see-
As a tourist, this was my favourite district to visit. In order to get here, you walk up some steep hills into conjoined houses that are mostly inhabited by elderly, retirees who have lived there for decades. What I liked most about the area was how quiet it was and because the streets were narrow, cars were scarce. As you wandered around, you could hear the clattering of pots and pans as people were cooking their lunch. Neighbours poked their heads out of their windows to talk to each other, and some ladies even set up businesses to sell homemade sherry out of their front windows to make a few extra euros.
I found that many houses left their front doors open, and hung their washing out the front of their houses for everyone to see. I was informed they lived in a safe neighbourhood and residents were trusting of each other. The houses were tiny, and most couldn’t fit in a washing machine inside of their home so there were communal Laundromats found around Alfama. I left the area feeling a sense of warmth and happiness that places like this still exist in big cities.
As you are high up in this district, there are a few great lookouts. My favourite was Miradouro da Portas do Sol. You can also check out Mirador da Senhora do Monte and Miradouro de Santa Luzia. Se de Lisboa is a beautiful cathedral in the area as well.
Castelo de Sao Jorge was also located around this area. It is 8,50€ entry, or 5€ if you present your student card. Personally, this was the most boring thing I saw in Lisbon. The “castle” was no longer a castle, and just the ruins of what was once a castle. However, for 5€, the views over Lisbon were great!
7. Principe Real district, 8. Mirador da Senhora do Monte lookout, 9. Bairro Alto district, 10. Tram stop at Miradouro da Portas do Sol,
Bairro Alto and Chiado districts:
Biarro Alto is known for its good nightlife, where people buy drinks then stand around on the streets mingling with each other. It also hosts many restaurants, so if you’re stuck on where to eat, head to this district.
The most photographed street, Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo, is located in this district. This street is famous for its colourful buildings, and the tram that rides up and down the steep hill overlooking the water. The famous ‘Pink Street’ is also in this area, found on Rua Nava do Carvalho.
11. Bairro Alto district, 12. Lady selling sherry in Alfama district, 13. Alfama district, 14. Bairro Alto district,
Principe Real district:
This is an area filled with trendy shops, top restaurants and cool bars. For great shopping with tons of concept stores filled with unique, beautiful but quite expensive items check out the shops on Rua da Escola Politecnica. The best sandwich I ate during my time in Lisbon was from O Prego da Peixaria, which was mouth-watering!
Also check out the viewpoint Sao Pedro de Alcantara. This does have a fence in front of it, but you can still get a nice view over the city it is just harder to get a nice picture. Around here there are also a few stalls where you can purchase drinks and quick eats.
15. Overlooking Bairro Alto district, 16. Lisbon Cathedral, 17. Alfama district, 18. Lady watching the world pass by in Alfama district,
Belém is a half-day activity. There were a few different ways to get here also, but I found the easiest route to get to Belem was to take the suburban train to Caiscais. From Cais do Sodre station, which is connected to the Metro, it is only three stops on the train, taking about 10 minutes. From the station, Belém Tower was about 20 minutes walk. On the walk you will also come across a square with a fountain and the beautiful Jeronimos monastery. You can go into the Belém Tower, but there was a huge line and I didn’t care to go inside.
After you’ve snapped the tower make sure you go into the town for lunch and a pastel de nata. Pastel de natas are everywhere in Lisbon, but the best ones are from Pasteis de Belém bakery.
19. Pink Street- Rua Nava do Carvalho, 20. Alfama district, 21. Overlooking Lisbon, 22. Chiado district,
Getting around Lisbon:
Getting around Lisbon was very simple. Having caught the bus from Lagos, I caught a train, close to the bus station, three stops which took me 5 minutes away from my hostel. To travel on public transport you pay 50 cents for a Viva Viagem card, then you just top it up every time you need to use the train. I used this for my trips to Belém and Sintra. Otherwise, I just walked everywhere and got an Uber to the airport.
A lot of tourists paid to go on one of the trams, but I was warned there are a lot of pickpockets so I just avoided that by taking pictures of the trams from the outside. The trams would have been useful when walking up those steep hills, but I needed to work off those pastel de natas somehow!
23. Jerónimos Monastery, 24. Pasteis de Belem, 25. Commerce Square, 26. Alfama district, 27. Tall tower,
Where I stayed:
I stayed in the central location of Rua de Gloria, 95 at Lisbon Loft Hostel. The hostel was good as far as hostels go. It was set up in the style of an apartment, so bathrooms were normal bathrooms and the rooms had male, female and mixed dorms with 2-4 beds to choose from. It had restaurants on the street if you were feeling lazy, but better restaurants were located a 10-minute walk away in any direction you went. The hostel workers weren’t helpful, so I would do some research about what you want to see before you go and not count on them telling you what’s good in Lisbon!