Mummy says…Lisbon in Portugal is best known for its tradition of Fado music, ornate architecture and colonialist history. I visited in 2011 whilst on a cruise for my 40th birthday and fell in love with the place. There is so much to see and explore here. You can just spend the day exploring the palace-heavy Sintra or waterfront area of Belém or discover the history here made of Moorish builders, Berber pirates and fierce Reconquista knights. With so much to see in Lisbon it can be overwhelming to decide where to go and what to see….
1. Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
Also known as the Monastery of St. Jerome, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos is located in Lisbon’s Belém district. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the highly ornate style of architecture exemplifies Portugal’s Manueline style. Built during the Age of Discoveries, the structure served as a monastery for monks during the 17th century. By 1940, this imperious 15th-century Manueline monastery became a school and orphanage. The main attraction is the Gothic chapel is that it opens up on to a grand monastery that showcases Portugal’s greatest historical figures. Today, tourists can admire the intricately carved
pillars and the grounds at their own pace.
2. Tram 28
The vintage tram that runs through the streets is just perfect to get a scenic view of Lisbon. It makes essential stops on the ways such as the terrace area of Portas do Sol, St. George’s castle or the famous flea market Feira da Ladra. Travelling on the wooden tram is great to see the most historic streets and prettiest sights of Lisbon. Don’t miss the shopping districts of Baixa and Chiado before you see the churches and castles of the Alfama and Graça areas. Many visitors recommend take the tram up the steep Alfama hill and walk the way back down.
3. Vasco da Gama Tower
Vasco da Gama Tower is a lattice tower with the skyscraper that is located in the municipality of Lisbon. Named after the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, the tower is built on the north bank of the Tagus river. It is Lisbon’s tallest building, and the futuristic tower was opened in 1998. Its shape looks like a nautical sail and reminds you of his voyages to India. There is a viewing platform at the top which is reached by panoramic glass elevators. You can enjoy an incredible view over Lisbon, the river, and Vasco da Gama Bridge.
4. Castle of Sao Jorge
Another of the city’s most significant historical attractions is the Moorish castle, which occupies a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic Portuguese city and Tagus River. Dating back to the medieval period of Portuguese, it is a popular tourist site and offers fantastic views of the Baixa district. The fortified citadel is steeped in history, but the steep climb towards the Castle from the city centre makes it challenging to get there.
5. Pedro IV Square
Pedro IV Square is a favourite meeting place for locals and is also known as Rossio in Lisbon. It has been one of its main squares since the Middle Ages and is placed in the Pombaline Downtown of Lisbon. Steeped in history, it has been the setting of popular celebrations, executions, and revolts. The square includes a bronze statue of Pedro IV, who was the king of Portugal during the early 1800s. The Portuguese take pride in their great square, its grand fountains, the pavement and the statue. It seems as the whole Lisbon revolves around Rossio as it remains crowded with tourists or workers protesting or students who come here to sing.
Lisbon Oceanarium is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe. Located in the Parque das Nações, the Oceanarium boasts of a collection of more than 450 marine species. You can look at a large collection of marine species such as seagulls, penguins, sharks, rays, chimeras, crustaceans; starfish, sea urchins, sea anemones, corals and more. There are sea snails, octopuses, cuttlefish, jellyfish and many marine plants in the Lisbon Oceanarium.
The main exhibit in the Oceanarium is a massive tank with acrylic windows on its sides that creates an illusion of the open ocean. It is one of the few aquariums in the world to house a sunfish because of their demanding needs.
7. Ampo Pequeno Bullring
The Campo Pequeno Bullring was built between 1890 and 1892 and is located in the Campo Pequeno Square. It was renovated in 2006 and designed for various events apart from bullfighting. The Campo Pequeno Bullring also hosts a range of live acts, and many famous bands have performed there. You can also enjoy exploring the underground shopping centre and restaurants. Influenced by traditional North Africa design, the huge orange brick structure is unique to Lisbon. The entire site is a highly recommended visit for tourists.
Take the 45-minute train ride to the seaside town of Cascais, which was once a fishing village. It has been a popular respite for the Royals in the 1900s and today; tourists flock here to enjoy some low-cost fun in the sun. It is an ideal end to your Lisbon vacation, and you can spend a weekend here in a luxurious resort and hotel. Take a stroll around and visit one of the area’s many forts or beaches.
Have you ever visited Lisbon in Portugal?