Lisbon: The city of sightseeing
January 1, 1970
It may seem a little suspicious that I always say such good things about Lisbon, as it is my hometown. The truth is, I absolutely love everything about it. It is also true that this is one of the most charming and interesting cities I’ve explored so far. Having said that, I’m going to take a moment to reveal some of my favorite places, hoping that, when you get the chance to stop by, you’ll come to truly appreciate its beauty as much as I do.
Lisbon has an endless variety of alluring features. From the perfect nightlife, through the amazing museums and traditional gastronomy, to the incredible beaches along the coast, it just seems to adapt to anyone. By the way, if you can relate to the dilemma of ordering vegetarian food, don’t worry; there is always a way to get your veggies, even at the smallest “Tasca”.
Nonetheless, I’m here to tell you about a specific and distinguishing characteristic of Lisbon: the sightseeing. You see, similarly to Rome, it was built on top of a series of hills. Almost every corner and street has an astounding view, and as this is one of the best traits about the city, I made you two lists of the best sightseeing spots in Lisbon.
Firstly, I’m going to start by giving you some bullet points of a few well-known places with amazing views; I will only mention these briefly because you’re likely to find them on your own. After that, I will introduce you to a second list, where I will name my personal treasured spots. Some of them, not even my Portuguese friends know about; it’s our little secret.
Here are my top 5 famous sightseeing points in Lisbon:
5. Arco da Rua Augusta
If you were ever in Paris, you kind of know what it looks like, as it is very identical to the Arc de Triomphe. This arch was constructed to memorialize the city’s reconstruction after the great earthquake in 1755. You can go up to see the river and the harmony of the parallel streets of Lisbon, for only 2,50€.
4. Miradouro do Adamastor
This viewpoint is one of the best places for a good cold beer before going up to the Bairro Alto bars and pubs. Enjoy a good sunset there – careful with your belongings though -, and then go have some fun!
3. Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte
Be prepared to walk quite a bit and head up to Graça, for one of the most beautiful views of the whole city.
2. Miradouro das Portas do Sol
This is a great one (well, they all are, really). You can make your way there through Alfama – the heart of Lisbon -, stopping to take a look at the sublime details of the Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa).
I decided to include this rooftop on my list – there are so many more – as I completely love it. Aside from being an amazing sightseeing venue, it has great cocktails and snacks. It’s a great spacious area for those who want to enjoy a lovely, relaxing end of a day, but also for dancing when the sun sets!
Now here are my most cherished top 5 sightseeing places in Lisbon:
5. Castelo de São Jorge
This is a tricky one. The São Jorge Castle is one of the most iconic highlights in Lisbon, and, as much as I highly suggest that you go inside, the sightseeing spot I am referring to is not the most obvious.
Before going through the main door, if you look behind you, you will see that there are some ruins with stairs that go up to apparently nowhere; but they do. It’s a little corner, so I don’t recommend that you go with a lot of people, as it is a rather small space. If you do it by night, I guarantee an amazing view over the city and the typically narrow streets just below.
4. Ponte 25 de Abril
This one may seem strange, as I’m not saying you should stand on the bridge and gaze at the horizon. The 25 de Abril bridge connects Lisbon to the south margin of the Tejo (Tagus) river, and going across will only take a few minutes, so just make sure your timing is perfect to really absorb the magnificence of the view, as it is absolutely worth it – okay, maybe more, as it’s not easy to avoid the traffic there, sorry about that.
The best tip I can give you on how to enjoy it to its fullest is this: save a whole day to relax and savor some ice cream – or a cold beer – at the beautiful beaches on the south side, and on your way back to the center of the city, delight yourself with a breathtaking sunset while crossing the bridge.
3. Alto da Ajuda
This view is one of the best you will encounter in Lisbon and I highly doubt you will come across it on another viewpoint guide. It is located in Ajuda, surrounded by the Monsanto Forest Park and it consists of a campus area, where you can find three buildings from the University of Lisbon.
Make sure you go in April and enjoy some drinks at the FAUL (University of Architecture) bar before hanging out with the students at the ISCSP (University of Social and Political Sciences) Spring Party. Everyone is welcome! It’s quite a pleasant bus trip going up too, just take the 723 bus at the Marquês de Pombal roundabout.
2. Parque Eduardo VII
This one is a great promenade suggestion. Take the metro (blue line) to Parque and enjoy the perfectly green gardens and city vibes going all the way down through Marquês de Pombal and Avenida da Liberdade until you reach the Rossio Square.
This is probably my favorite place to go in Lisbon. I normally do it alone, but it’s also nice for some drinks with close friends, or even a date. It is an adorable, small and intimate place; I would spend countless hours up there.
Pollux is a nine-floor building where you can actually buy a whole variety of random things, such as decoration items, toys, or even school material, but you will be surprised when you reach the last floor. Getting out of the elevator, go up the stairs and, literally smell the roses, as you’ve reached the flower selling section. On its right side, there is a modest balcony, normally empty, with a stunning view overlooking the city of Lisbon. You are very welcome.
In any case, don’t forget that the best way to really explore a city is to get lost in it – always with a map at hand, of course. Also, when you are walking around discovering the wonders of Lisbon, remember to always look down at the outstanding symmetry of the Portuguese pavement and up to the magnificent buildings overflowing with history. Lisbon is truly a magical city; make sure you don’t miss a thing!