Lisbon, a city that survived an earthquake, a ravaging fire and a terrible tsunami all on the same day, is bound to be special. Tucked away in a corner, this old city will charm you from the very first glimpse.
Being one of the oldest cities in the world, the list of must-see places is long. Make sure you buy the Lisboa pass that not only ensures free usage of the city’s public transport but also offers reduced fares to most sights and attractions. Hop on Tram 28 to cover all the sights.
Begin with the pride of Lisbon, the Belem Tower, one of the most photographed landmarks of the country. Right across the Discoveries Monument, built on the north bank of the Tagus River, is the Jerominos Monastery. This white structure exudes serenity.
Though there are many churches as well as palaces, do not skip the So Domingos Church and the Estrela Basilica. A dramatic structure that survived the great earthquake and fire of 1755 is Saint George’s Castle which provides a lovely view of the city.
A change in pace can be brought by visiting the Oceanarium. One of the largest in the world, it is a dry way to discover the magic of the seas. Take time to see the entertaining and camera-friendly otters. When needing a break, grab a Fado show or have a picnic at one of the many lovely parks and gardens the city enjoys.
Lisbon’s tasting buds are catered to by family-run establishments. Small and cheap, the day’s specials are what you should stick to. Traditional Portuguese food concentrates a lot on seafood and poultry making vegetarian food a rare commodity.
If craving Indian food, Calcutta is the place to go. Check out Nood, a restaurant, for yummy Japanese, and Jardim dos Sentido for some vegetarian fare.
When in Lisbon, do not forget to taste the Portuguese specialty wine called Vinho Verde. Translating into “Green Wine”, this young and low fermented wine is simply delicious and a lovely compliment to all meals. Another must-try is the local cherry liqueur found in a tiny shop opposite the So Domingos Church.
Though the usual plethora of shopping malls exist such as Colombo, Vasco da Gama, Amoreiras and El Corte Ingles, the downtown portion of the city lets one experience the more traditional way of shopping.
Sprinkled with cafes and restaurants, Baixa is a quaint section filled with streets named after the businesses they used to host. Jewelry to designer shoes can be found here along with more conventional objects such as hand-painted tiles, embroidered linen as well as lace and other knick-knacks.
Chiado is another shopping area to explore. This elegant district of theatres, bookshops, old-style cafes, art nouveau jewelry shops will keep you occupied for hours.
To find the ultimate bargain, head over to the impressive Feira da Ladra in Alfama which is the city’s flea market. If you plan to do some serious contribution to the country’s economy, buy the Lisbon Shopping Card for discounts.
Lisbon has a wide range of accommodation choices ranging from charming hotels overlooking the river, to apartments in some of the best locations in town.
However, renting out an apartment if you plan to stay more than three days is recommended. Other than obvious conveniences of living in a functioning home, it is cheaper and sometimes boasts a better view than many hotels. It also gives you a chance to get a taste of local living. Many companies offer to arrange such living conditions.
It is easy to miss this tiny fun-packed city when planning Europe. Do not make that mistake. With its eclectic mix of people, weather, and history, the narrow cobbled streets and tangerine lined lanes packed with culture and stories will only leave you fascinated and wanting to come back for more.