Ever wonder why so many people have stated Lisbon as a must-go city but few get to know the secrets behind its success. The capital of Portugal had exponential growth in tourism in the last decade for a city that remained hidden from the top tourist destinations in Europe for so long. In this article, we will climb the hilled city and reclaim our reward in its beautiful panoramic views.
1. Miradouro do Arco da Rua Augusta
The city’s most famous square (Praça do Comércio) and Europe’s largest seems not so impressive for the other guides however if you happen to be on a very hot day in Rua Augusta, right before reaching the square on the left corner, you’ll see the stairs that will offer you this panoramic dream and will raise you from the crowds. This square was the stage of the 15th century’s spices market brought from the Americas, India, and Africa. Due to its historical relevance, today is a national monument and the stage of the city’s most important festivities.
2. Padrão dos Descobrimentos
Built in 1940, to welcome the Portuguese World International Exposition and to give homage to the Discoveries’ protagonists, the 56 meter-tall monument offers the best view of its neighborhood Belém, one of the most visited areas in Lisbon. On top of that, you’ll be able to visit it inside and be mesmerized in its unique architecture.
3. Miradouro do Jardim da Cerca da Graça
Right in the center of Lisbon’s historical neighborhood Mouraria lies this beautiful vertical-shaped garden. Go down the stairs and turn right, ask your favorite drink and take a sit in the wide grass field then be rewarded with the immensity of the top-hilled monuments. This garden never gets crowded due to its demanding climb but it must not be left behind.
4. Miradouro do Castelo de São Jorge
The castle has remained intact for thousands of years and it’s really well preserved, allowing visitors an almost time-travel experience. The guests are allowed to patrol the walls, verify the canons and take as many photos of the views as possible. There is an archeological interpretation center for the curious and some excavations going on so there will always be surprises. Go at sunset for best awe moments. Don’t miss the biggest tower for more adrenaline infusion.
5. Miradouro das Portas do Sol
This beautiful cascade square was once one of the castle’s perimeters entries. Its name, The Doors of the Sun, could not be more literal: it’s the best view to the riverside one can get and when the sun reflects in the river is even more mesmerizing. It is located in Alfama, one of the oldest quarters in Lisbon known by it’s very narrow almost impassable streets. If you’re trying to flee the crowds, come by nighttime: the sun reflection is replaced by the city lights, the traffic noise by live music but the view will still be magnificent.
6. Miradouro do Parque Eduardo VII de Inglaterra
We have a saying in Portugal that goes ‘When one is going down all the Saints are helpful’. Although we have a metro station called Parque connecting to the park itself, the best way is exiting in São Sebastião Metro Station. Then walk around the El Corte Inglês building until you find Alameda Cardeal Cerejeira. This tip will save your breath and you’ll be able to walk the park going down with this view, so no climbing this time.
7. Elevador de Santa Justa
Lisbon’s most iconic elevator structure inspired by Gustave Eiffel’s Tower in Paris is the most beautiful’s public transport in the city. If you don’t want to spend 1 hour in line to be lifted up you can contour Chiado quarter and end up at the top entrance next to Convento do Carmo Ruins. Then it’s just a few stairs until the panoramic view. If it’s too crowded you will be able at least to take some pictures and enjoy the surrounding area.
8. Miradouro Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (Graça)
Named after one of the most prominent literary figures of Portugal, this is a very known panoramic site for Lisbon people where they love to spend hours taking their ‘bica’ (coffee) and pastel de nata. A 5-minute walk will take you to the highest panoramic view called Senhora do Monte which has a beautiful tile-made map of the view. There is no bar/restaurant nearby so take something to drink/eat at the top.
9. Take a ferry return trip to Cacilhas
Just 15 minutes away by ferry from Cais do Sodré (Metro) one get to Cacilhas, a very old yet refreshing town dubbed as Lisbon’s new Brooklin. This would just be the bonus as the trip offers the best view of Lisbon from the river and allows you to escape the crowded center turning a cheap public transport ride in an almost high priced cruise view. If you haven’t fallen in love for Lisbon yet this trip will for sure convert you.
10. Santuário Nacional do Cristo Rei
Visible from almost everywhere around lies the 110 meters tall Christ monument. Inspired by Cristo Redentor in Rio de Janeiro, this monument offers the most splendorous view of Lisbon. But it is not visited as much as it should be due to, probably, the belief that it’s not easy to get by. But actually, it is much closer than one would think. Take the same ferry ride as in tip number 9 and get to Cacilhas and once you’re there, simply get onto the bus 101. That’s it. The visual sensation is superb and the best from the bridge 25 de Abril, named after the Carnation Revolution back in 1974. Contrary to one’s belief this bridge was inspired by the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and not Golden Gate, although it sure reminds more the second one. Take a wind jacket for more comfort appreciation.