Looking for top things to see in Lisbon, Portugal? – Look no further, you´re in the right place. During only one weekend in Lisbon, I took more than 2000 pics. It was my first time in the city, although I´ve already been to Oporto years ago. I can´t stress enough how much this trip has overcome my expectations. If you haven´t been to Lisbon yet, this is why you probably should!
Lisbon was one of those few European cities still left on my travel bucket list. I would always think of visiting it, but at the same time I would always end up flying somewhere overseas – Hawaii, New Zealand, Iceland … Cause Lisbon is just so close to my homeland Spain – I´ll eventually get there anyway. Therefore, I had the prettiest of the prettiest in front of my nose for all this time.
How do I describe Lisbon?
Lisbon´s unique atmosphere
Lisbon is a bit shabby on the charming side, if that makes sense to you, like Cinque Terre. During my visit, a lot of touristic sights and complete streets were under reconstruction. Yet, this old charm is what brings up the romantic and artsy vibe of the city.
I´ve literally chopped off my hair a few days before this trip. So you won´t see my typical windy hair shots in my Lisbon travel gallery. But I have to say that this new haircut felt like a match for such an artistic place. I don´t know whether it was just my feeling or Lisbon is really the coolest city for art lovers.
Take those mosaic floors, Portuguese tiles, endless museums, beautiful windows, and colorful doors, then add to them the sparkle of the abstract art pieces and vibrant modern buildings. After all, spice it up with an ocean breeze from the Atlantic, spirit of discoveries, and local delicatessen. Now you´re getting closer to understanding the Atmosphere in Lisbon.
Unexpectedly, Lisbon has made it to my list of the top European capitals. As I´ve already told you in my San Franciso post – you feel the energy of a place and it´s either hit or miss, either you are disappointed or you become a part of its heartbeat. Lisbon is definitely one of those love-at-first-sight cities.
Therefore, if you haven´t managed to visit Lisbon yet – you must go! Lisbon didn´t make it to my list of the most romantic travel experiences around the world, simply because my inner art lover was so into this city that at times I forgot my husband was also there.
With its dazzling street art and fascinating ceramics, Lisbon is a place to return for more explorings every once in a while. Plus, the nearby Sintra is also a wow kind of place. There are so many things to see in Lisbon, that you´ll have no choice but to return anyway.
Top 10 things to see in Lisbon
1. São Jorge Castle
The best thing about São Jorge Castle is the views. There is not much to do inside but to enjoy the panorama of the city from behind the medieval walls. You could also see the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara on the other side, which is also a nice spot for views (plus it is free). However, personally, I loved the views of São Jorge Castle more.
2. Santa Justa Lift
Located in the heart of the city, this Neo-Gothic lift immediately drags your attention. It is also hard to miss due to huge waiting lines. I loved the architecture, but the views from São Jorge Castle were definitely better.
3. Jerónimos Monastery
Another example of a beautiful Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture – the Jeronimos Monastery. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Lisbon, also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. The building was designed by Portuguese architect Diogo da Boitaca to commemorate the return of Vasco da Gama from India. The Jeronimos Monastery was finished in the 17th century. It was actually built on the site of the former chapel where Vasco da Gama and his sailors prayed before setting sails towards India.
4. Alfama District
The oldest district of Lisbon. Unfortunately, during my visit, lots of its streets were under reconstruction and had restricted access. Nevertheless, you still could see some really ancient buildings and Portuguese tiles while exploring this neighborhood.
One of my favorite things to see in Lisbon and a must stop for all creative innovative souls – LX Factory. This place is a mix of traditional and modern. It used to be a factory/warehouse district, but recently it was turned into the ultimate creative hub full of trendy places. Vibrant street art, design boutiques & concept stores, stylish dining, peculiar Ler Devagar Library – you can find it all at LX Factory.
6. Belem Tower
Belem tower is one of the most popular things to see in Lisbon. It is located close to the Jeronimos Monastery and Monumento a Los Descubrimientos (which also was under reconstruction during my visit). The tower formed part of the city´s defense system. Built in the early 16th century, it played an important role in Portuguese maritime discoveries. This is where I thought of Columbus and the discovery of the Americas. Although he actually sailed towards the new world from Cadiz in Southern Spain. Check these top places in Spain to channel your inner Cristopher Columbus.
7. Time Out Market
Love fresh local specialties?! – This is your place. Time Out Market is a perfect location to try different foods straight from the market. Gourmets could enjoy oysters at a really reasonable price. However, it tends to get really crowded. The best thing you could do is to visit it before/after the regular lunch hours.
8. Praça do Comércio
You can´t leave Lisbon without a walk through one of its central squares – Praca do Comercio. I felt like the city´s relentless life literally rolls around this place. Back when it was first built, the ships would unload their goods directly into the square. Therefore, this place was called the door to Lisbon. Must-see sights here are Rua Augusta Arch and the Statue of Joseph I.
9. Lisbon Oceanarium
Lisbon Oceanarium is one of the coolest SeaWorld places I´ve been to, besides Valencia and Mallorca. It should be one of your first things to see in Lisbon if traveling with kids.
Aside from its permanent exposition, this Oceanarium often hosts really interesting temporary exhibitions. It is located close to Lisbon Expo and Estacion de Oriente, which makes the whole area really cutting-edge, full of art and design objects.
10. Bairro Alto & The Pink Street
Bairro Alto is the central district of Lisbon. Honestly, the name alto should have warned me: it´s all about steps. The neighborhood is full of tourists, restaurants, cafes and yet has the most local architecture and atmosphere. Wear comfortable shoes or start from the highest point and head downwards.
It seems like not a big deal, but after a morning of ups&downs in Bairro Alto – my feet hurt for the rest of the week. The same thing has recently happened to me in one of the most colorful villages in Spain – Cudillero in Asturias, I was lost in the moment, exploring and taking pictures. I normally walk fast – but when it´s all about the stairs it´s good to slow down at times. So basically, the next day it felt like I´ve spent that whole day in a gym (without previously working our for years).
One of the most instagrammable locations in Lisbon is its Pink Street. Many criticize it: dirty, overrated, etc. I mean, the whole city is a bit shabby, you can´t expect this particular street being different, right? So I admit – I did photoshop some dirty spots on my pictures. Anyway, pink flooring gives a random street completely unique vibe, don´t you think so?
Have you ever been to Lisbon yourself? Did you like it?
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