View across Rio Tejo Lisbon

Alicioustravels: My favourite places in (and around) Lisbon

We hadn’t put in a lot of detailed planning when boarded the plane to Lisbon. I mean, I had turned the pages of my Lonely Planet guidebook and there were places that I wanted to go to as well as places friends and family had recommended. Still, my arrival at Lisbon was with a relatively fresh mind, open to explore the city without too many expecations.The first walk from our apartment down Avenida da Liberdade I checked out people and buildings and figured I was going to like Lisbon. The longer we stayed, the more I came to like it and when we left, both Mr A and I agreed that we would return to Lisbon some day (soon).

Red fire hydrant in front of azulejos
Red fire hydrant in front of azulejos
Alfama street art
Alfama street art

Lisbon is a pretty city. It’s situated along the banks of the (quite mighty) Rio Tejo, nestled between, on top of and around an array of hills (bring good shoes!), with beautiful and generally well-restored old buildings that add to the overall charm.

Miradoura Santa Luzia Lisbon

 

Miradoura Santa Luzia Lisbon
Miradoura Santa Luzia Lisbon

Altogether, we spent three-and-a-half days exploring Lisbon, near-by Sintra and adding a trip to Belém and another two or three wouldn’t have hurt.

Thanks to an extensive network of metros, trams and local trains, Lisbon and her surroundings are easy to navigate. If you enjoy walking, even better! The narrow streets of the Alfama are wonderful to lose yourself in.

Lisbon street
Alfama street

Alfama

 

Be prepared for sudden stunning views.

On our first day we took inspiration from the walking tour suggested in our Lonely Planet guidebook and strolled up and down the hills towards the Castelo de Sao Jorge via many a miradouros (viewpoints) and a good amount of churches.

View towards igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora
View towards igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora

The next day we took the train to Sintra (Lisbon Rossio train station is a sight in itself!) to amble in the gardens of Quinta de Regaleira because we had found this well on the Itsabandoned Instagram account (@itsabandoned) that we absolutely needed to see. As good a reason as any for visiting a place, isn’t it?

Initiation well in Quinta da Regaleira near Sintra
Initiation well in Quinta da Regaleira near Sintra

It was well worth the visit! The initiation well is situated in a magnificent park with a large number of little fountains and pretty towers and there is a main house which is more like a small palace in itself.

The garden has an enchanted Alice in Wonderland-esque feeling.

Detail of a fountain in Quinta da Regaleira near Sintra
Detail of a fountain in Quinta da Regaleira near Sintra

Needless to say, I like it a lot!

Originally we had planned on visiting Castelo dos Mouros (castle of the Moors), picturesquely situated on a hill overlooking Sintra.

On our last full day we took the Elevador de Santa Justa for a grand mid-town view across the city, then visited the Convento da Ordem do Carmo (Carmo Convent), a medieval convent and church that were destroyed during the 1755 earthquake and turned into an open-air museum.

Sintra
Sintra

Later we – along with a whole lot of other tourists – crammed into a tram to Belém to visit the famous tower which ended up being a little disappointing as in that it looked just like on photos and wasn’t any more impressive. Firstworld problems, I know.

We walked along the shoreline – and then almost all the way back as the centre of Lisbon was closed due to a strike and neither busses nor trams were operating.

This also meant that we had to postpone our planned ride with the famous and much photographed tram No 9 but we did that the next morning after breakfast so as not to miss out on this truly scenig experience.

The famous tram No 28 Lisbon
The famous and much photographed tram No 28

For our next visit I have planned to use at least one of the  many ascensores and elevadores (funiculars and lifts) that take you up the steepest parts of many Lisbon streets – and to have dinner at Terra again.

Have you been to Lisbon? What were your favourite impressions? Did I miss out on any “must see” places?
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