Lisbon is the Capital city of Portugal and one of the oldest European cities, predating other European cities such as London, Rome and Paris by centuries. As well as being one of the oldest cities in Europe, it is also one of the warmest, especially during the Winter months. Known as the “sunshine capital”, Lisbon has on average 3’000 hours of sunshine every year, with a six month summer that
lasts generally from May – October. Even the winter months are very pleasant, all in all making it an ideal location for a short city break or holiday.
This stunning coastal city that sits on the edge of the Atlantic ocean has become known for many things over the years. Now recognised as a global city due to its importance in the realms of the arts, finance, economic trade and entertainment, it is also a major tourist destination.
The largest city in Portugal has had something of a renaissance over the last few years and more and more people are travelling there to see all that it has to offer meaning it has become a popular year round destination.
Like other European cities such as Rome, Lisbon is built on seven hills, which gives it many stunning vistas. It is a great city to walk around, with many fascinating points of interest to see. On 1st November 1775, the city suffered a devastating earthquake. The city was engulfed in a firestorm that lasted for a week and which incinerated much of the city. The Modern city of Lisbon that you now see
has been constructed and shaped since, by that terrible day in history.
Lisbon is the ideal location to escape to as it has easy access from many other European destinations. It is a place that offers its visitors many different experiences. This cosmopolitan city is known for its very lively nightlife with areas such as Bairro Alto having as many as 250 bars and clubs, as well as it famous Fado music. There are many festas held in Lisbon every year and to top it off it has many sandy beaches where you can spend many pleasant hours either relaxing or enjoying some great activities such as sailing or surfing.
As if all of that wasn’t reason enough to visit Lisbon, is also offers its guests very good value for money and is a much cheaper destination than places such as Barcelona or Amsterdam. It is a great city to go and has a great mix of ancient and modern with plenty of amazing sights to see and fun times to be had.
Top 4 Picks of What To Do in Lisbon
Belém Tower is an architectural jewel that is well worth going to see when in Lisbon. Built between 1514 and 1520, the tower lies at the mouth of the River Tagus and is probably the most iconic image of Lisbon. It was built by King Manuel I as a defensive tower having first been conceived as a lighthouse. It was given World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1983 and is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in the capital. The beautiful exterior is what draws people in but there is plenty to see and do in the interior.
The tower is made up of the Lower Battery, The Kings Chamber, The Governor’s Chamber, The Audience Chamber and The Chapel, Tower Terrace and Upper Battery. Altogether a tour will take around 45 minutes. Trips early in the morning are usually a good idea as it does get very busy, especially of a weekend. There are many amazing opportunities to get some fantastic photographs especially if
you climb to the top of the tower where you will be afforded a spectacular view of the River Tagus and the waterfront.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Padrão dos Descobrimentos or Monument to the Discoveries lies on the bank of the River Tagus and stands as a monument to the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th Centuries and is a very powerful monument to that period in history. Built by Cottinelli Telmo and Leopoldo de Almeida, it was first erected in 1940 as a temporary creation. In its first conception it was designed with perishable materials and so in 1960 a permanent monument was erected to celebrate 500 years since the death of Henry the Navigator. The middle of the monument has a flight of steps that lead on to a platform that will offer you a view of the whole area.
This giant of a testament to Portugals explorative past is full of limestone figures such as Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama,Fernão de Magalhães and Diogo Cão as well as many others. If you are feeling fit then you can climb the stairs up to the top or if you prefer take the lift and marvel at the view below you, this is another iconic monument that stands close to Belém Tower.
Jerónimos Monastery is also situated near the Tagus river in the parish of Belém. This 500-year-old monastery belonged to the Order of St Jerome whose spiritual role was once to comfort sailors and pray for the King and is a real vision to behold. Another commission of King Manuel I to celebrate the discovery in 1498 by Vasco da Gama of a sea route to India this was used as a monastery up until
1833 when the order was dissolved. It was then used as an orphanage and school until about 1940.
Seen as another great monument to the age of discovery, the project was funded in part by treasures gained from explorations to Africa, South America and Asia as well as the spice trade with Africa and the East.
The monastery stands as a fantastic example of Manueline architecture, which is a building style that is wholly unique to Portugal and incorporates Moorish, Gothic and early Renaissance influences throughout. As you walk through you will be able to spot various maritime motifs in the stone work. Inside lie the tombs of King Manuel as well other members of the royal family and also Vasco de Gamo who was the inspiration for the monastery.
This is a stunning site and a must see attraction when visiting Lisbon. Although it does get very busy the size of the monastery means that the crowds shouldn’t affect your visit too much.
São Jorge Castle
São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle that can be found on the hill tops overlooking Lisbon. Its commanding position looks down over the River Tagus as well as the city. The castle was the ancient seat of power in Portugal for over 400 years . Although a lot of the Castle that you now see only dates from the 1920s when it under went a significant restoration project, it in no way will spoil your
appreciation of this amazing sight, in fact it will add to the allure of the place as it gives you an excellent idea of what life was like when the Castle was fully working.
Its position above the town meant that it had an excellent defensive position and the site has been occupied since Roman times because of this. The castle that dates back to the mid 11th Century, seems to dominate the skyline and once there the sense of history that the Castle creates is immense. The views over the city are worth the trip alone but whilst you are there you will find plenty to entertain you and there are some cafes and restaurants where you can stop and catch your breath for a while.
Lisbon Where to Go – Final Words
Lisbon is a city that will enchant and delight you. It is a city that offers it’s visitors much to do and in a stunning setting. Whether you bide your time in Alfama one of Lisbon’s oldest quarters were much of the original structure of the city still remains or you decide to go to the more fashionable area of Santos to visit the museums and indulge in the restaurants and bars you will find much to keep you entertained. It is a city that entices it’s visitors back and on each return something new can be discovered and enjoyed.