If you have not yet been to Lisbon, this fall is the perfect time to remedy this error. Nestled snugly among the hills above the Tagus, it is the perfect destination for a week or two of exploration, relaxation, enjoying wonderful food and learning everything you’d ever wanted to know about the capital of Portugal.
Lisbon was once the home port of many an intrepid explorer, heading out into open seas and into the unknown. Today, it is home to hundreds of thousands of visitors from every corner of the globe, proud to show off its history and culture.
If you are visiting for the first time, you will naturally want to see as much as you can. Here are five of the things you should not miss out on by any means.
Visit the Castelo de São Jorge
St. George’s Castle is probably one of the most recognizable landmarks of Lisbon. It is also crowded by tourists, but that does not mean you should skip a visit. The location it was built on has been a stronghold ever since the Iron Age, and the first castle there was built by the Moors. Today’s castle was built by Alfonso Henriques, and was later the home of the Portuguese royal family.
While you are up there, you should definitely take a walk along the battlements, and visit the museum itself. You can also look through the Camera Obscura periscope from one of the towers.
Visit the National Museum of Ancient Art
Visiting any museum in Lisbon will be a great experience, but this one is the one we recommend most. It houses Portugal’s best collection of 15th and 16th century art, and there are also several pieces from Africa and the Orient.
If you are exploring the permanent collection, you should see St. Albert’s Chapel, located on the first level, all that remains of the church which once stood there. It was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1755. On the second level, you can find ceramics, jewelry and artwork from the Portuguese Discoveries.
Stop by the Oceanarium
If you like to explore marine life, this aquarium is the perfect place to visit. It is the favorite haunt of families, and you can meet species from the Antarctic, Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. We especially recommend visiting the tanks of the sharks and the stingrays. The smaller aquariums are also a great find, as they are home to some of the more rare species in the aquarium. If you are a fan of underwater life, this is simply a must on your itinerary.
Ride Tram 28
Lisbon is also quite famous for its trams. In fact, there is no better way to explore more of the city, than by catching a ride on one of the historic lines. We recommend line 28, as it is the best one to take you by many famous landmarks, including St. George’s Castle, and the Alfama. The trams date back to World War II, and take you through all the most beautiful areas of the city. Bear in mind that there can be quite a crowd on the trams, as they are used both by tourists and locals.
See the Belém Tower
Finally, no visit to Lisbon would be complete without a visit to the Belém Tower. Today, it is a UNSECO World Heritage site, and one of the most famous, if not the most famous, landmarks of Lisbon. It is situated at the mouth of the Tagus, a vast monument to Portugal’s Age of Discovery. It was built in the beginning of the 1500s, originally in the very middle of the river. Since then, the river has shifted, but the tower remains as a testimony to the achievements of Portugal’s explorers.
Whatever you choose to do or see in Lisbon, you will not go wrong. The food scene is also amazing, so make sure to try some of the local dishes and wines. There are many more museums to explore, and many more galleries to visit, but this short list in a way encompasses the essence of the Portuguese capital. Book a holiday in Lisbon today, and find yourself on the way to one of Europe’s cultural gems!