Lisbon is a riot of pastel coloured tiles and terracotta roofs, from the buzzy streets of Bairro Alto to the quiet traditional Alfama district, it has something for everyone. Lisa, who blogs at Not Quite Enough knows her way around the city and gave us her favourite areas to visit!
So where to start on your visit to Lisbon? You should kick things off with a pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tart) and end it in a small neighbourhood bar listening to fado (traditional Portuguese music).
Step back in time
If you fancy getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city, step beyond an unassuming door on a quiet square and back into time at Carmo Convent. Destroyed during the Lisbon earthquake in 1755 its arches remain in place but it is now open to the sky. It also now houses a small archaeological museum.
Any good guide to Lisbon will suggest heading to Belem by tram to visit the Jerónimos Monastery and to try the original pasteis de nata at Pastéis de Belém, both are must-dos. Get there early to avoid the crowds and don’t bother going in the Belém Tower, the long queue isn’t worth it. Instead, stroll along the bank of the Tagus River, past the Tower and head for the Champalimaud Foundation Cancer Centre. Not only does it have some interesting architecture to admire, it also houses Darwin’s Café (don’t be fooled by the name, it’s less a café, more a restaurant). If you are lucky (or book), you can get a table in the open air and enjoy an unhurried lunch and glass of wine while you take in the view across the Tagus to Belém Tower.
Have an otterly good time
Wondering how to keep the kids (both young and young at heart) entertained? Why not visit Lisbon Oceanarium? Tanks display several different ocean climates and it plays home to lots of species that you don’t see in many aquariums, including sunfish and a pair of adorable sea otters.
Take a day trip
It might seem like cheating to suggest something that is not in Lisbon, but bear with me. Sintra is a 40 minute train ride from Lisbon so it’s very possible to do a day trip there. The Palacio de Pena should be on your must-see list as.
Once they’ve visited the Palacio de Pena many people will then head to the nearby Moorish Castle, which is definitely convenient and provides great panoramic views. However, I would suggest heading back down the hill and visiting Quinta da Regaleira instead. Located only a short stroll from Sintra’s Old Town, it’s a beautiful maze of an estate where the gardens are woven with labyrinthine paths and tunnels and studded with grottoes, statues and fountains.
It’s most spectacular feature is the initiation well, a 27 metre deep well, inset with spiral staircase connecting the well to various tunnels. It’s a mysterious magical place and one which many daytrippers seem to miss out on.
Lisa blogs at Not Quite Enough is constantly seeking to make the most of her annual leave and is always planning her next mini-break. She’s next heading to the Alsace region in France and then Slovenia.