A Travel Guide to Lisbon
January 1, 1970
by Eva Rystok
After living in Lisbon for almost 10 months and going for 12, I am no expert in guidance, but will say that I have gained a somewhat whimsical perspective in the city. After this long journey with many bumps and unexpected events, I have already lived in 4 different locations all around this Portuguese river-town.
Maybe you are going on holidays in Portugal, maybe you have made plans to study/work here, maybe you are just interested for the hell of it? For whatever it is worth, I hope you will have gained some kind of insight after reading this article.
Lisbon is the capital of the rectangular country called Portugal, which you probably already know. Lisbon has a population of a little more than 550.000 people and is considered a small capital with its 100 km2. The Lisboans, along with the rest of the Portuguese population, adore their fado (a Portuguese music genre that stems from Gypsy and Flamenco), their football (Benfica and Sporting are the biggest teams from Lisbon), their sardinhas and/or bacalhau (the two most popular fish to eat, sardines and codfish) and last but not least, their port wine (which is mostly produced in the north of Portugal, around Porto, the 2nd biggest city). Of course, this is speaking in a general matter, as I unfortunately do not know every person in Portugal.
These are the most important things to see:
Rua Augusta and Praça do Comércio
Rua Augusta is the biggest shoppingstreet in Lisbon and ends in the triumphal arch and the big square, Praça do Comércio. Take the green metro line to Rossio and begin your stroll at the top of the street, through the area called Baixa. You will find many restaurants, boutiques and street performers, which is definitely worth experiencing, as it is considered the heart of Lisbon and the perfect 1st stop on your journey to gain an overview.
Alfama and Castelo de São Jorge
From Baixa, begin your stroll upwards to Alfama. This area consists of charming streets, viewpoints, architectural gems and is the oldest part of Lisbon. Walk past the Sé Cathedral, take a quick peek inside and light a candle before continuing upwards to the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, the beautiful viewpoint from where you can see all the way to the river. From here, you can continue upwards to the castle of São Jorge, the biggest monument in Lisbon that gives an insight in Lisbon history, dating all the way back to the 11th century.
Marquês de Pombal and Avenida da Liberdade
Take the blue or yellow metro line to Marquês Pombal. This giant roundabout is considered the actual center of Lisbon and is named after Marquês Pombal who reconstructed a big part of the city. He is represented in the statue in the middle. From Marquês Pombal, continue down Avenida da Liberdade (Avenue of Liberty), the most famous street in Lisbon, equivalent to the Champs Elysées in Paris. Down the street, you will find all the top brands, hotels and cafés until you reach the Praça Dom Pedro (Rossio).
Here is where you need to eat:
Ramiro in Martim Moniz
This restaurant specializes in seafood, like only a true Lisboan restaurant can. It is much more pricey than on an average basis, but definitely worth the experience, if you can afford it. Every night, exiting customers has to draw a number and wait in line for their turn outside of the restaurant, at which point it feels almost like waiting to enter an exclusive club. If you make it inside the jungle of deliciousness, do not sleep on the lobster or the garlic prawns, they are absolutely amazing.
Tapas and Friends in Chiado
Although tapas is mostly a Spanish concept, I have not been able to locate a better tapas restaurant anywhere in Spain. Tapas and Friends have multiple restaurants in Lisbon, but the one on Rua Trindade, Chiado is definitely the coziest and I would recommend picking a table outside on a hot summer evening. The restaurant is neither too expensive nor very cheap, but definitely affordable.
QuickAsia in Marquês Pombal
Are you crazy about Thai food like me? Then you need to try my absolute favorite restaurant on Rua Luciano Cordeiro, QuickAsia. The atmosphere in the restaurant is quiet and cozy, and they offer a variety of delicious Thai dishes that never cost above 10 EUR. It is definitely more than worth it and my personal favorite is the Camarão Panang.
Bars/cafés where you need to get a drink:
The old, working class neighborhood is now a jumble of small, cools bars and I bet you can find whatever atmosphere you desire. Take the blue metro line and get off at Restauradores, continue upwards from here. The bars usually close around 2-3 am, after which people continue down to the clubs in Pink Street, Cais do Sodré.
Miradouro de Santa Luzia
The beautiful viewpoint of Santa Luzia, as described before, has a secret; the hidden café, which you can find at the end of the Miradouro and up the stairs. Here is the perfect place for afternoon sangria and pictures of the beautiful flowers, covering the café. Best of all, the view is just a tad better than the actual Miradouro de Santa Luzia.
Are you looking for drinks in a different atmosphere? This bar, Bora-Bora in Alameda is easy recognized with its intimidating figures that guards the door, but inside exists a dim-lighted bar, filled with African figurines on the walls, a fountain in the middle and strong, tropical drinks on the menu. Do not miss this place!
Calçada do Combro is the street beneath Bairro Alto, on which Park Bar is located, but it is not easy to find. Discover the parking garage, go to the elevator and up to the roof. Your guests will think you have invited them to a secret, VIP party, because on the roof of this parking garage lies an oasis. Drinks are a little expensive, but the music is up to date and the view is amazing.
There are, of course, many more places, restaurants, attractions and cafés to visit, as Lisbon really does offer anything the heart could possibly be beating for. I hope I was still able to give you ideas and some kind of insight to this amazing city. All I can say for now is, keep doing your research, start packing your essentials and maybe I will meet you in Lisbon one day. Thank you for reading to the end!