If you have still not visited the capital of Portugal, the summer of 2017 may be the perfect time to do so. Snug among the hills above the River Tagus, it has everything to offer for both those seeking an adventure-packed holiday, those looking to kick back and relax, and for the foodies and history buffs among you as well. Lisbon, which has once waved goodbye to many an intrepid explorer heading for the unknown, is today glad to welcome visitors from across the globe with open arms.
If these few words have made you consider Lisbon as a possible destination, or if you have been contemplating Portugal for a while, here are my six suggestions for places to visit, while you bask in the glorious sun, and take in the wonderful smell of the freshly caught fish.
Climb to the Castelo de São Jorge
St. George’s Castle is one of Lisbon’s most recognizable landmarks, and while it is something on every tourist’s list, you should also not miss out to hike up to it. The location itself has been a stronghold ever since the Iron Age, and the first castle on the site was built by the Moors, and defended against an invading Alfonso Henriques. He came out of the battle victorious, and built what was later known as the Aláçova Palace, the future home of the Portuguese royals.
While at the castle, you should make sure to take a stroll along the battlements, and visit the museum on location. Don’t miss out on snapping a pic with a magnificent view of Lisbon in the background, and take a peak through the Camera Obscura periscope from one of the towers.
Stop by the National Museum of Ancient Art
If you are a fan of art, history, or both, you should certainly visit the National Museum of Ancient Art. Today, it is home to Portugal’s finest collection of 15th- and 16th-century art, as well as some notable pieces of African and Oriental art.
If you are planning to explore the permanent collection, you will need to devote an entire afternoon to the endeavor, in order to fully enjoy everything on display. On the first level of the museum, make sure to see the St. Albert Chapel, a remainder of the church which once sat where the museum now stands, and was destroyed in the great fire of Lisbon in 1755. The second level is home to artwork, ceramics and jewelry from the Portuguese Discoveries, while the third is where you can check out Portuguese sculptures and paintings.
Dive into the Lisbon Oceanarium
If you are a fan of underwater life, Lisbon’s aquarium is the place to be. Especially if you are visiting Lisbon as a family, the Oceanarium will provide countless hours of fun and exploration. You will be able to see species from the Pacific, Antarctic, Atlantic and Indian oceans, and marvel at the diversity of nature. You will certainly be awed by some of the glorious sharks and graceful rays swimming around you. Don’t forget to check out the smaller aquariums as well, as this is where some of the more rare fish are housed.
Take a ride on Tram 28
If you wish to explore the city like a local, you should catch a ride on one of the city’s iconic trams. Line 28 is popular among tourists, as it touches many of the more famous landmarks, like St. George’s Castle and the Alfama. The trams themselves date back to WWII, and run through all the most beautiful parts of Lisbon, so taking your time to catch a good seat will be worth your while. Bear in mind that the locals also use the trams to get around town, so you might experience a bit of a crowd. It also might be worth your while to climb the hill on the tram, and descend on foot, to enjoy more of the scenery.
Eat at the Feitoria
If you are in search of an exquisite meal, then chef João Rodrigues’ restaurant should be your destination. The Michelin-starred fare offers three distinct tasting menus, all demonstrating the rich cuisine that is Portugal’s pride and joy. You will enjoy meat and fish alike, and have a unique opportunity to experience all of Portugal on an amazing plate. Your palatte will never forget the country, and you will be able to taste the sea and the sun years later, remembering your remarkable evening at the Feitoria.
A Tower to Tower over your Lisbon Experience
Finally, if you have ever seen a postcard of Lisbon, it was more than likely one depicting the glorious Belém Tower – Lisbon’s tourist gem, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located at the mouth of the River Tagus, and stands as testimony to Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Built in the fist decade of the 1500s, it was originally raised in the middle of the river itself, the course of which has since shifted. The tower is a representation of Manueline architecture, and adorned with maritime motifs.
Hopefully, you are by now well on your way to booking your flight out to Lisbon. The city will welcome you with open arms, the sunshine will brighten up your smile, and the taste of the seafood will charm your palette. There is so much to experience in Lisbon – from the architecture to the nightlife and beyond, don’t let this list restrict your movements in any way. Head out and explore on your own, and you will certainly find many a hidden gem in Portugal’s capital.
Rebecca is an avid traveler with an ever growing wishlist. Her favorite place in the world is Taormina, and she is currently planning a trip in the Balkans.