One of Europe’s most spectacular cities, the Portuguese capital is filled with charming hilly streets and beautifully facaded buildings, tumbling down to the sea from the city’s seven hills. With a wealth of historical monuments and tempting cafes with sea views, grab a map and set out to discover the city’s treasures.
1. Street Walking
One of Lisbon’s main charms is the cafes filled cobbled streets that wind down the hill sides, affording breathtaking views of the lower city and the sea. With friendly locals and great selections of cakes, the first thing to do in Lisbon is wonder through the streets, enjoying the architecture and stopping to sample some of the local treats. Work your way from the top (Bairro Alto) to the bottom (Baixa).
2. Party in the Bairro Alto
This quarter is famous for its nightlife, with the lively streets filled after dark, it feels like a constant street party here. At the weekends it’s particularly buzzing and a very cool place to hang out and get to know the locals. Try the famous Portas Largas or Maria Caxuxa.
3. Enjoy the Views
There are lots of miradouros in Lisbon (view points) where you can enjoy the vistas out to sea and have a sunset drink. Our favourites are the Mirador de San Pedro de Alcantara, just a short walk from the hostel, and Portas do Sol in Alfama and of course the Castle.
4. Take a Ride on the Tram
The trams in Lisbon are super cool! A little like the San Fransisco street cars, these yellow cars are a great way to wind up the steep streets and rattle around the hillsides. Make sure you take a ride in one – the preferred route is the no. 28 to the Castle.
5. Alfama – the home of Fado
This village-like neighbourhood is the home of soulful Fado and dates back to Medieval times. Fado is the traditional sound of Portugal – a melancholic song from the heart which is sung still in the bars in this barrio. Try the famous O Faia or Cafe Luso.
6. Visit the Castle of St George
This impressive 6th C castle at the top of a hill is visible from most of Lisbon, but from here you can stand among the peacocks in the garden and enjoy the view of Lisbon overlooking Alfama below. Much of the castle was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake but you can still walk along the 18 towers.
7. Eat Custard Tarts
The famous Pastel de Nata or Pastel de Belém is delicious and you can find them all over town. There are several places famous for them, try Pasteis de Belem next to the monastery (they make 16,000 a day) and the Confiteria Nacional.
At the bottom (Baixa) is the Comercio Square, also known as Terreiro do Paço or “the palace’s square,” is where the former palace stood before the Great Earthquake in 1755 destroyed it, along with much of Lisbon. This beautiful square is now a port of entry for Lisbon and hosts the triumphant arch and a load of cafes to relax in, including the famous 18th C Café Martinho da Arcada.
The Tower of Belém is a 16th C watchtower is now a UNESCO site and emblematic of Lisbon, symbolising the Age of Discovery. It’s a great place to stroll around and see the city from the sea.
This is another UNESCO site and grandiose building in Belem showcasing Portugal’s wealth during the 16th century. An ornate and very beautiful monastery and adjoining church – the monastery is worth seeing as an insight to Portugal’s Age of Discovery. It’s closed Mondays.
A collection of modern art that includes impressive works from Picasso, Miró, Warhol and Dali, this is one of Europe’s best collections of modern art and the museum has free entrance. The space is inside the Belem Cultural Center. Find out about exhibitions here.
Equity Point hostel is located in the heart of Lisbon in a charming palace from the 1800’s, just a short walk from the Mirador de San Pedro de Alcantara, one of the best views of the city. Book your bed in Equity Point Lisbon here