The city of natural light
0 km - it is the capital
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Lisbon, or better Lisboa, is the capital of Portugal. The city is built on 7 hills aside of the wide Tagus river. Every hill has his unique picturesque atmosphere with wonderful viewpoints over the city and river. Lisbon, and also whole Portugal, contains more than 300 days of sunshine in a year. These are the reasons why Lisbon is called the city of natural light.
The historic center of the city contains a lot of picturesque neighbourhoods. The most famous and must do neighbourhoods of the city are Alfama and Mouraria, Baixa, Bairro Alto, Chiado, Príncipe Real and Cais do Sodré. More upwards of Alfama, you have to visit Graça and São Vicente. Graça contains maybe the most famous and wonderful viewpoints of Lisbon. More about the neighbourhoods of Lisbon can be found in this post.
Lisbon has a famous pastry. Maybe you already known it. It is the Pastel de nata. You can buy and taste the original one in Belém, a little bit out of the city center of Lisbon. You have to visit Pastéis de Belém to taste the only original famous pastries of Lisbon: Pastel de Belém. Pastéis is the plural of Pastel.
Personally, in the city center of Lisbon itself, I find the best Pastéis de nata by Manteigaria.
Lisbon also is famous for the fado music. Fado has its origin around 1820 in the historical heart of Lisbon. You find the cradle of the Fado in Mouraria. Fado is a musical expression of the typical Portuguese way of living, the Portuguese culture and identity of melancholy, hope, sadness and happiness. The Portuguese word to express this all is Saudade.
Learn more on our site lindoportugal.eu where you can get all the detailed information about Lisbon and our other Portugal trips.
A lot of guides and travel sites tell you about a lot of popular spots and things to do in a city. According Voyageiro, these are the 5 most popular must things to do and see in Lisbon.
On the top hill of the city, you find the Saint George castle, o Castelo São Jorge. This castle stands dominant in the city. This is the first must do in Lisbon. Because the castle has a huge history, was important for Lisbon and Portugal, you discover the old Lisbon and get wonderful viewpoints over the city and Tagus river from the highest hill in the city.
The castle of Lisbon already was important in the reconquest of the city by the Christians on the Moors. Afterwards, when Lisbon became the capital of the Kingdom Portugal, the castle became the Royal Palace. It also survived the earthquake of 1st November 1755. In the streets around the castle and in Alfama, you still can discover how Lisbon was built up before the devastating earthquake of 1755.
In Belém you find the monument as a tribute to the famous Portuguese navigators, the maritime discoverers from the 15th and 16th century. This monument is the wonderful Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a boat with all the important figures out of this period looking to the wide Tagus river.
You can go inside this monument and visit it as a viewpoint. An elevator bring you to the top of the Padrão. From there, you have a wonderful view over Belém and the last part of the Tagus river. It is an absolute must do when you visit Belém for the first time. Personally, I would choose to go up here and not enter the Belém Tower. The Belém Tower is more beautiful on the outside than on the inside. When you go up on this Padrão, you get a nice view over the Jerónimos Monastery, gardens in Belém, the Belém Tower, the Tagus river with the impressive 25 April Brige and Cristo Rei at the other side of the river.
According to the sunlight on the Padrão, the monument gets another shine, another shade of colour. When you do a boat tour, and specially a sunset boat tour, you see this effect much more. I find it fascinating to discover such things.
Do you want an an experience about how Lisbon was before the 1755? Do you want an experience about the earthquake of 1st November 1755? In that case, you have to visit Quake in Belém. This is a experience center about how the devastating earthquake in the morning of 1st November 1755 demolished and changed the whole city in a short time. So, this is a great museum to learn more about the history of Lisbon. Ideal to do with children.
Ok, Lisbon is a hilly city. 7 Hills and almost no flat streets in the city, with a lot of small tiles and cobblestones. But, Lisbon also is a great city to walk. If you are in a good healthy condition and able to walk, leave automated transport aside and walk through the small picturesque streets. Streets full atmosphere.
The ideal neighbourhoods to walk through the city our Alfama and Mouraria. These neighbourhoods have old, typical, characterful small streets built up like a labyrinth. Also, you find many viewpoints over the city and river. Some viewpoints are larger squares and famous places to visit, some are at the end of a street or in the corner of a street. Enjoy the natural light at these viewpoints.
A good nice to do is to walk down through the Alfama. First, take a tram from Baixa to the castle. When you visited the castle, walk down the hill over the Miradouro da Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol and further down through the small picturesque streets behind you. Let's guide you through the picturesque streets of the Alfama. These streets will give you a Middle Ages feeling in a modern city like Lisbon. Step into a time capsule to be catapulted back into the time.
As already told in the 4 previous things to do in Lisbon, almost anywhere are wonderful viewpoints with great views over the picturesque city and Tagus river. Don't make the mistake. In Lisbon, is no sea, it is a wide river. But yes, also for me, many times it feels like you are sitting aside of the sea. But, it isn't.
So, Lisbon has many viewpoints to enjoy wonderful overviews over the city and the natural light in the city. Visit many of the great viewpoints and you learn why Lisbon also is called the city of natural light. The Portuguese word for "Viewpoint" is "Miradouro". Some of the must do viewpoints, or Miradouros, are:
We also told about a few monuments that have great viewpoints. Also, Elevador Santa Justa is one of these. But in my opinion, it is not worth tho wait in the long line to take this elevator. Because the ride takes only a few seconds and you also can reach the viewpoint from the other side for free and without waiting in a long queue. The Cais das Colunas at the Praça do Comécrio also is a nie place to take a seat at the river, enjoyt the wide river view, the mountains at the other side of the river and one of the largest squares of Europe: the Praça do Comércio with the arch as a noble entrance to the city.
Do you know that you also can visit this arch of the Commerce Square? From there you'll have a great view over the Praça do Comércio and Tagus river, Baixa and the Alfama with the Cathedral of Lisbon in front of you. Give it a try.
Some hotels, parkings and shopping centers also have wonderful viewpoints on their roof to discover. These are the rooftop bars and places to enjoy extraordinary views over Lisbon, the city of natural light. Sometimes you are there almost alone, because they still more are hidden gems.
Lisbon is a city which holds a lot of hidden gems behind apparently meaningless facades:
Also the restaurant streets of Bairro Alto are a sort of hidden gems. During the day, these streets look like closed houses and apartments and it can feel like there's nothing to do. But, at eating time, when all the doors open, the small streets of Bairro Alto transform into a zone full of life. All restaurants aside of each other. You just have to choice one of them.
What are the famous events? Are there regional festivities? What are the huge city festivals to join every year? Are there festivities you don't may miss in this city? Below, you find some of the famous yearly activities to do in Lisbon.
Every year, you can visit the oldest and largest book fair in Lisbon. This takes place in the Eduardo VII park at the square of Marquês de Pombal. You can walk between the books every year from the end of May till the mid of June.
This is one of the most famous city festivals in the city. June is the month of the huge festivals, everywhere in Portugal. In this month, the streets and squares of Lisbon transform in huge street festivals. It all starts on 10 June, the National Day of Portugal, day of Camões and the Portuguese Community. 12 June is the day before Saint Anthony, the patron of Lisbon and Portugal. That is the day of the Brides of Saint Anthony and the huge marches of each neighbourhood in the evening on the Avenida da Liberdade. Finally, 13 June is the day of Saint Anthony, Santo António. On this day, Saint Anthony comes out of his church in Alfama. The people of Lisbon are so proud on Saint Anthony that they celebrate the whole month of June. Find out more about the June festivities in Portugal by reading my post on lindoportugal.eu.
Do you love rock music? Every year in July, you can enjoy many Portuguese national and international rock artists at the riverside, at the west of Belém. Bands like Snow Patrol, The Cure and Arctic Monkeys are some of the previous headliners who already gave the best of themselves aside of the Tagus river in Belém. Will you join this festival next July?
At the end September, music lovers have to be in Alfama. Alfama is the place to be to discover the real feeling of the Fado, the typical Portuguese music. This festival is the perfect moment to enjoy Fado in the city and the neighbourhood where it belongs. Fado has his origin in Lisbon around 1820. If you love the Portuguese culture, then this festival is absolutely for you. You can listen to the most famous names of Fado music in the streets and on the squares of Alfama. Festival Santa Casa Alfama takes lace on 2 days in the last weekend of September.
Sport! Running is your thing? Also for a distance of 42 km through a city? This is the Marathon of Lisbon. This sport event takes place in October. The start is given at the Praça do Comércio near the wide Tagus river and the runners cross the river over the 25 April Bridge. The famous red bridge in the city, which is a copy of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Every year, more and more runners find their way to participate in this huge city run. So, put on your running shoes and also join the most famous Marathon of Europe in the city of natural light.
You can also join an event every week in the year, even 2 times. Yes, of course!
Every Tuesday and Saturday, around the Mercado Santa Clara and the National Pantheon, you can go to the Feira da Ladra. This is a huge city market with vintage, original and kitsch and old items. When you are looking for traditional, original and retro items to use in your home, visit this market. This is the place to be for you. But, you also can walk over this market, take a seat to eat and drink something and enjoy the atmosphere.
It is always good to be informed when you visit a city, location, region or plan to make a road trip. So, you are on the right way by reading my posts. Aside, of this, it can help you to have a personal guide in your pocket. Why not put a short guide document in your hand luggage, backpack or on your mobile device? To do this, we have some personalized tour guides for you. More information is available on our Guides page.
Below you find some of our personalised guides about Lisbon created especially for travel lovers like you. These will give you another dimension to your trip. It allows you to better understand the location where you are. To travel with more passion.
We created a digital brochure, especially for travel lovers like you. This brochure is available as a digital download from the Etsy shop of Galeria Sámuel, the project of our travel images.
Do you want a guided tour, but don't want to go for a rush with a city guide? In that case are the self-guided audio tours ideal for you. Install an app on your device and download the tour you like. Use your headset for for the audio information.
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