Lisbon is an incredible city to visit for so many reasons. If you’ve never been, knowing where to begin your trip can be a challenge. My Lisbon travel guide is a simple itinerary that’ll get you to the top sights and attractions.
Lisbon travel – a simple itinerary
Parque das Nações
Start by taking the Metro to Oriente and follow the directions as signposted. If, as the name suggest, you’re expecting to find a park, you’ll be disappointed. The area’s actually home to leisure and commercial facilities as well as residential homes.
Shopping mall lovers and gastronomes will appreciate the Vasco Da Gama shopping centre. The Teleacbine cable car is also a must for gaining a bird’s eye view of the city.
Campo de Ourique
Taking the wrong tram can sometimes have its advantages. This was the case when I jumped on the wrong number but came upon Campo de Ourique.
This mercado Mecca sells traditional market produce plus an array of delectable treats. I chowed down on a charcuterie platter with a large glass of red for a respectable price of €8.
R. Coelho da Rocha 104, 1350 Lisboa
Every capital has its overcrowded tourist hotspots, and Lisbon’s equivalent is Baixa Chiado.
As well as a busy metro station, there’s plenty of shopping options in the area. It’s a short walk across the plaza to the lively Barrio Alto area, and connects travellers to the Praco do Comercio and the trendy boutique lined shops of R. Dom Pedro V.
Mercado da Ribeira
Opposite the Cais do Sodre train station is the Mercado da Ribeira, a mouth-watering hub of food and drink stalls.
There’s also a conjoining section for locals and travellers alike to stock up on fresh fish, flowers and other household goods. A must stop for the budget conscious yet hungry traveller.
481, Av. 24 de Julho, 1200 Lisboa
Feira da Ladra
Fans of open air markets will enjoy the ‘Thieves’ market’ otherwise known as Feira da Ladra.
A larger version of the English ‘car boot sale’ or the American ‘yard sale’, the market offers everything from secondhand clothing, to jewellery and food produce. Saturday mornings get busy very quickly, so the earlier you arrive, the better.
Campo de Santa Clara, 1100-472 Lisboa
Approximately 35 minutes from Cais do Sodre train station is the glorious town of Cascais along the Portuguese Riviera. The ‘bourgeois’ village by the sea is the perfect getaway from Lisbon’s busy streets.
It offers visitors a slice of beach living plus the chance to stroll through the centro historico of the town.
Following the Fado
Making a trip to a good Fado house is a must. It’s akin to catching a spectacular flamenco show in Seville. You’ll find the majority of Fado houses in the Alfama district of the city, but do research before going. I took in dinner and a show at Clube de Fado.
The melancholic, dulcet tones from the Fadista together with a glass of good red made the evening a memorable cultural experience. Food prices in certain Fado houses can be expensive, so check the menus before going. Alternatively, you can always fill up on the bread basket!
The pretty and tourist heavy hotspot of Belem is worth a visit for many reasons. These include seeing the stunning Jerónimos Monastery or Hieronymites Monastery, as well as the Torre de Belem a short distance away.
Belem’s also home to the red 25 de Abril Bridge (very similar to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge) and the iconic Pasteis de Belem. This is known as the birthplace of the popular gooey and scrumptious Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese egg tarts). One sniff of the alluring aroma and you won’t complain about joining the long queue to get your hands on one.
During the second part of my stay in Lisbon, I was extremely lucky to stay in the very Soho-esque neighbourhood of Principe Real. The area’s in short walking distance of popular areas of town, like Baixa Chiado.
What’s more, this is where you can find independent shops, the Gloria funicular and the stunning Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara.
This viewing point gives you some of the best views of the city, even more so if you catch it at sunset.
I saved the best till last on my itinerary with a visit to the historic town of Sintra. I instantaneously fell in love with the surroundings as I departed the train and made my way into the town. You’ll find statues and sculptures – both old and contemporary – dotted among the trees and spiralling roads into the centre.
Must-see attractions include Quinta da Regaleira, Castelo dos Mouros, and the colourful Palacio da Pena and park. If you want to visit the latter two, take the bus, or other modes of transport. The roads are considerably steep and it can become tiring to reach these attractions.
The Viva Vivagem card is the cheapest way of getting around the city. At the time of travelling, it cost €0.50, and I topped up with credit as and when necessary. I travelled in late October, and the weather was still warm (an average climate of 24°) and less busy without the summer season tourists.
Have you been to Lisbon? If so, is there anything I missed that’s worth seeing?