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Have you been to Portugal’s capital city Lisbon?
I visited Portugal in 2009 on one of my last solo trips before I got married and it was marvellous. Arriving with few expectations of what to do in Lisbon, I took advantage of free tours of the city offered by the wonderful art hostel where I stayed.
So I got to know my fellow travelers over vistas of the Tagus River and Atlantic Ocean and tales of the city that launched so many expeditions.
We ate delicious custard tarts, admired the beautiful tiled buildings, and views from the castle. I fell in love with Lisbon over long lunches and even longer nights out on the town with ginjinha (Portuguese sour cherry wine).
Here are some of my favourite images and things to do in Lisbon.
Favourite views of Lisbon
1. The Tagus River
In Lisbon you’re never far from the river Tagus.
From the city you gaze across the water and notice the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge and Cristo Rei statue dominating the horizon.
2. Ramparts of the Castelo de São Jorge in Lisbon
Make sure to walk the impressive ramparts of the Castelo de São Jorge that dominates Lisbon’s city skyline.
The medieval fortress was damaged in the 1755 earthquake that destroyed much of the city but remained a military stronghold until the 20th century.
3. Views of Lisbon from the Castelo de São Jorge
Take in sweeping views of the city from the many viewpoints at the Castelo de São Jorge.
From here you can look down the hill out over the rambling Alfama district. This area is a great place to wander around after visiting the castle.
4. Praça do Comércio and Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries)
Portugal’s proud maritime past and history of exploration and discovery are on display throughout the city.
These grand monuments celebrate discoveries in the New World – Americas and East Indies.
5. Torre de Belém, Lisbon
Sitting at the mouth of the Tagus River, the beautiful Belem Tower was once an important part of the city’s maritime defence system.
Built in ornate Portuguese style called Manueline, the tower is a must visit stop on your sightseeing tour of Lisbon.
6. Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
The monastery dates from the early 16th century and took 100 years to build. Here the Hieronymite monks prayed for the King’s eternal soul and the safe passage of Portuguese sailors and explorers.
While you are in the area, don’t forget to try the famous pastéis de nata (custard tarts) from Antiga Confeitaria de Belém. They really are the best you will ever taste.
Legend has it that that tarts were invented to use leftover egg yolks as the whites of eggs were used to starch the monks’ clothing.
Why visit Lisbon
I found Lisbon to be an elegant city with a fascinating past and exciting future.
Portugal was a driving force in the age of discoveries the 15th and 16th centuries. The empire supported navigators and explorers such Vasco Da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan in their quests to circumnavigate the globe and discover new lands.
Though Portugal’s influence has waned today, evidence of this glorious and wealthy past can be experienced throughout the city.
I also enjoyed the thriving food and wine scene and the obvious passion for both traditional and modern crafts and design.
Lisbon has several fascinating neighbourhoods to explore and it is a city I’m looking forward to returning to with my family.
Further reading about Lisbon
Here you will find some great blog posts and guides from fellow travellers about this beautiful city.
☆ An alternative guide to Lisbon featuring street art, food tips, neighbourhood guides & more – via Kami’s blog
☆ Take a day trip from Lisbon – here are 3 amazing day trip ideas for short trips out of the city
☆ A wonderful collection of restaurants and cafes from Lisbon by award winning Portuguese blogger, travel writer and photo journalist Nelson Carvalheiro
☆ Link to the Living Lounge Hostel in Lisbon where I stayed
☆ Where to find great coffee in Lisbon
And onwards through Portugal
Exploring Portugal beyond Lisbon is high on my list of things to do in Europe. Here are some of the reasons why
☆ Portuguese beaches are legendary. Visit the Algarve coast and you find some of the best beaches in Europe
☆ Colourful Porto keeps popping up on my Instagram feed – I’d love to explore the home of port wine
☆ Off the coast of Africa, Madeira’s islands are calling
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