a long weekend in Lisbon

titlelisbon-01Due to unfortunate events we had a lot of time to explore Lisbon, and I’m so glad we did as it turned out to be a truly charming city! I can’t believe it’s more than four years since we booked our trip to the capital of Portugal, it had been on my bucket list for many years and when I found out that there was a Supernatural convention in the city during the Easter holidays it was a very easy decision to take. We booked our flight and the hotel, and then… surprise surprise… the convention got cancelled. It turns out, however, that it was a blessing in disguise, or else I might never have discovered the beauty of this city. I had planned to spend two days at the convention and then have one and a half days to explore Lisbon, but that would never have been enough. If you go, plan to spend at least three days in the city as there is plenty to see! I put together a three days itinerary for you, based on what we did and liked best.

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But a little warning before I’ll tell you what to see: keep in mind that Lisbon is also called the city of the seven hills, and once you start exploring you will see why as you will walk up and down, then up again and down once more. Add the cobbled streets to it and you can be sure that your feet will hurt like crazy after a few hours if you don’t wear your most comfortable shoes.

Day One : Start at Praça Marquês de Pombal, if you want pay a visit to the Parque Eduardo VII just north of the square, and then stroll down the 1,5 km long Avenida da Liberdade. We loved to walk in the middle of this very wide boulevard, inbetween trees, flowers and fountains. At the beginning you walk between office buildings but the further down you get, the more shops you will encounter.
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Before you get to the Rossio (Praça Dom Pedro IV) go and take a few pictures of the facade of the Estaçao Central de Rossio. The Rossio square is also famous for its mosaic pavement that makes it a truly beautiful and unique praça. Next stroll through the many little streets lined with shops and restaurants south of the square, maybe have a little lunch break and then take the Elevador de S.Justa, the most beautiful lift I have ever taken !
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Then walk around and get lost in the Chiado and Bairro Alto area, peek inside the little shops, rest in pretty cafés and soak in the Portuguese atmosphere. Now and then you will also come across some buildings adorned by beautiful azulejos, the typical blue ceramic tiles. For the sunset go to the Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara for a wonderful view over the city with plenty of benches to sit down. There are several miradouros (viewing points) in Lisbon, and each offers a unique view of the city. Then have dinner in the area, there are a lot of restaurants nearby, we ended up in the Cervejaria de Trindade by chance, but loved it there. It is located inside an old monastery and on the walls there are paintings on ceramic tiles. A really unique place and the food wasn’t bad either. Then it’s time to hit a bar in one of the many alleys of the Bairro alto, chose the one you like the most, or visit more than one…

Day Two: Start the day at the Parque das Naçóes; in 1998 the EXPO took place in this area so everything here is new and modern. Visit the Oceanàrio, especially if there are children traveling with you. Personally I love visiting aquariums so I had to see this one and it was very nice. Then take the Teleférico (cableway) for a nice view of the Rio Tejo and the whole Expo ground. Walk back to the Centro Comercial Vasco da Gama for a little shopping before boarding the metro to go back into town.
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Take the bus to the Cemitério dos Prazeres where you can board the Eléctrico 28, the small picturesque yellow tram that will take you through the narrow bending streets of the centre of the city. Get off somewhere near Castelo de São Jorge. Have lunch somewhere in the area and then spend at least a couple of hours at the castle, walk the walls and admire the amazing view on the city.
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Then exit the castle ground and walk to the Miradouro da Graça. In that area there are also a few interesting shops. Then it’s time to explore more of the Alfama neighbourhood (the oldest in Lisbon), starting with the church São Vicente de Fora, then walk under the big arcade on Arco Grande da Cima street. You will then get to the National Pantheon. Walk downhill until you reach Rio Tejo (the river) and turn right, continue until you reach the Casa dos Bicos (the House of Spikes) and marvel at its facade. Just a few more metres and you’re on the Praça do Comércio. Take a while to soak in the view on this historic square. Have dinner in one of the many restaurants between this square and Rossio. If you want go and see a Fado concert after dinner.

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Day 3: Start where you left off yesterday, at the Praça do Comércio. Take the tram and travel to Belém., an area southwest of the centre. Many historic landmarks are located in this area and it will take you a while to see them all. But before you start sightseeing, to get some energy for the walking ahead of you, visit the Pastéis de Belém Café and try their famous Pastéis de Nata, a little yummy egg tart pastry. Then visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a very beautiful monastery. Have lunch in the area and then walk down to the Tagus river where you will see the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the monument that celebrates the discoveries made by the Portuguese in the 15th and 16th century, located where their ships departed. Take a few pictures and then walk along the river to the Torre de Belém, also called the tower of Saint Vincent. I bet you will take many many pictures of this beautiful tower, from the outside but also from the inside.
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Once you’re done it’s time to board the tram again and go back towards the centre. If you want you can get off near the 25 de Abril bridge. Just under the bridge, on the river, there are a few restaurants and shops, and you have a nice view of this beautiful red suspension bridge. Or just go back to the city centre, maybe to do some souvenirs shopping and hit a few more bars in the Bairro Alto.

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Do you have more time to spend in Lisbon? Lucky you! There are a lot of interesting museums to see too, and I so wish I had the time to travel to Sintra!

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