Guest post: Weekend guide to Lisbon

Lisbon is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and underrated cities European capitals. We have enjoyed Lisbon immensely during each of our three visits, the most recent of which was just this past March when we spent a few days prepping for the extraordinary coastal scenery of our 10-day Rota Vicentina trek. Lisbon is perfect for a good value European weekend getaway. Here are some ideas for where to stay, eat and the very best things to see and do in Lisbon.



Viewpoints in Lisbon

Terrific photo ops lurk around every corner of historic Lisbon, from expansive city views to historic trams to street art to the cramped, winding streets of the Alfama district. Also, in my opinion, every Lisbon photo tour needs to include the Tower of Belém. This iconic medieval fortress is always impressive but is at its very best at sunset. Set up your famous tram shots at any of the steep hills or sharp corners where they awkwardly manoeuver throughout the day. The Miradouro das Portas do Sol provides incredible Alfama views, while the Miradouro da Graça offers the best angle of awe-inspiring Castelo de São Jorge. Don’t forget to watch where you’re walking, either, as throughout the city you’ll find Lisbon’s traditional black and white patterned street tiles.

Attractions in Lisbon

While practically everything is Lisbon looks good on in a photo, many of its sites are also worthy of more in-depth exploration. Definitely take a ride on classic Tram 28 through some of the most remarkable areas of the city. It is best to pick it up at the starting point as it can get very full along the way. Almost every square features captivating sculptures and photogenic fountains that warrant some extra time, although Praça do Comercio and its famous Arco da Rua Augusta is even more interesting than most. You could spend hours people-watching in pretty Praça Dom Pedro IV and, for something a little more off the beaten path, make your way up to cute little Jardim do Torel. Enormous Parque Eduardo VII has great walking paths, awesome city views and is easily combined with a visit to the city’s renowned Aqueduto das Aguas Livres, an extraordinary feat of ancient engineering that still looms over the streets to this day. Finally, people who love intricate religious architecture need to set aside time for the massive and graceful Jerónimos Monastery.



Eating out in Lisbon

There are literally hundreds of outstanding culinary opportunities to be had in Lisbon – just ask any Lisboeta and you’ll get a different “best of” list. But for an exceptionally unique social and dining experience head west to the Alcántara area and check out the intriguing LxFactory – a quirky collection of shops, galleries and restaurants, sometimes all three in one. In addition to excellent meals and a superb range of drink options, Rio Maravilha features an eclectic art collection and the city’s best views of picturesque April 25 bridge from its funky rooftop terrace. And, of course, no visit to Lisbon would be complete without a classic “pasteís de nata”, a world-famous Portuguese custard tart. Pasteís de Belém has been the original purveyor of these irresistible desserts since 1837.


Where to stay in Lisbon

You can’t really go wrong with any of Lisbon’s historic central districts, although our personal favourites are the maze-like alleys of the Alfama or among the bars, restaurants and exciting social areas of Bairro Alto. Chiado is a worthy option for those inclined more towards shopping than partying, and Baixa attracts history buffs and those who want to be as central as possible.

Why you should visit Lisbon

Elegant, old Lisbon offers visitors a combination of diversity, convenience and affordability that most other major capitals can only imagine. Its compact, walkable center is filled to the brim with compelling attractions and phenomenal scenery and, having explored the vast majority of Europe over the years, we can say with some certainty that Lisbon deserves to be on every vacation shortlist.

This travel guide to Lisbon is written by Dean Johnston, blogger at Routinely Nomadic

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