For some time now I’ve been hearing people talking about Lisbon – everyone I know that has visited the city were amazed. Of all the things to do in Portugal, I’ve decided to change my plans for this summer and visited the Portuguese capital for four days. Let’s see what are the things to do in Lisbon and if the city of the seven hills is really that special!
Things to do in Lisbon – Day 1: Arrival at Lisbon
We arrived at Lisbon airport at 14:30; after some minutes in line waiting for a taxi, we went to the apartment we booked near Cais do Sodré, in the centre of Lisbon. After 15 minutes and paying 12€, we got out at Maragarida’s apartment – the person I’ve called in Airbnb.
Margarida was running late so we grabbed something to eat in the bar below the apartment. Breakfast was long gone so we ordered two grilled toasts, but we looked in awe when we saw them.
The two grilled toasts looked for four people… The amount of food can vary depending on the establishment – if you’re like us and eat little, ask how they serve before you order, this way you’ll avoid paying more than you eat.
When Margarida arrived, she showed us the apartment. The first impressions were very good – the apartment was very pretty, like in the photos and Margarida gave us a warm welcome. She gave us tips about the things to do in Lisbon, the restaurants, the places where we could have fun and the most important point for the first day – where we could buy groceries. There were so many things to do in Lisbon and so little time!
After shopping for groceries, we spent the evening making dinner and because we were tired, we went to bed early so that we were ready for the next day.
Day 2: São Jorge Castle and discovering Lisbon in the tram nº 28
It was hard to get out of bed on this first complete day in the city of the seven hills. As we were in the first floor, the noise of the bar downstairs kept us awake until it closed so, from then on, we decided to go to bed later to avoid this situation from happening again.
Around 10:00 we went to Cais do Sodré train and metro station to buy the pass Viva Viagem costing 0,50€. With this card you can buy metro, bus and tram individual, daily or monthly tickets. We chose to buy daily tickets, 6€ each, that would give us the possibility to take the metro, bus, tram and elevator as many times as we wanted for 24 hours.
Before we got to the castle we first went for a stroll in the surrounding streets where we found an atmosphere much like a village we know, Montmartre, in Paris.
After waiting 10 minutes to buy the tickets to São Jorge Castle, we realized it was time to eat. As real tourists that we were, we went to lunch at a restaurant that I usually don’t recommend. Do you know those restaurants that have their menus in many languages? The ones for tourists… The waiters were friendly, the food was nice but the price was 35% higher than in a “regular” restaurant.
There are so many things to do in Lisbon and visiting São Jorge castle is definitely one of them! From the castle, the view over the city is magnificent, the place itself is beautiful and we had a great time, although the only thing left from the castle was the exterior walls. I believe that it’s a little bit exaggerated the 7,5€ we had to pay for the tickets and recently it became even more expensive – 8,5€. If I got this right, the number of tourists increases and so does the price of the tickets… Probably that’s their way to limit the number of entrances and/or earn more money!
On our way back, we managed to take the tram nº 28 that let us out at the National Assembly stop where we could watch the reception of Germany president by the National Assembly president.
We ended our second day with a stroll around the Assembly and, after that, we walked our way back to the apartment. We wanted to visit Lisbon but, more than that, we wanted to leave the points of interest behind and get to know the people and the atmosphere of the city.
Day 3: Tram n°28, Cristo Rei and Belém
Because we didn’t have the chance to visit Lisbon in the famous tram nº 28, at least like we wanted, we’ve decided to start our day by visiting all the tourist neighbourhoods in Lisbon by tram.
When we got to the end of the route, we took the metro to Cais do Sodré and then the ferry to visit Cristo Rei (Monument to Christ).
It was the statue of Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that inspired the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon to build a similar monument. The foundation stone of Cristo Rei was laid in 1949 and the monument was inaugurated 10 years later.
When you visit Cristo Rei you’ll be amazed with one of the most beautiful views over the capital and its monuments – make sure you put it on your list of things to do in Lisbon!
Back to the centre of Lisbon, we had lunch in a typical Portuguese restaurant located in Largo Vitorino Damásio 7. We chose two “bitoques” (a typical Portuguese steak dish topped with a fried egg) and paid only 7,50€ each. All included, we paid 21€, which means 35% less than the day before in a tourist restaurant near São Jorge Castle.
We spent our afternoon in Belém, where you can find Hieronymites Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries, Belém Tower and the famous Pastéis de Belém.
Hieronymites Monastery was built in 1502 and reflects the richness of the Portuguese discoveries of that time.
Among the things to do in Lisbon, the Hieronymites Monastery was a must see! When I looked at the monastery, I was amazed with such beauty – if you must visit a monument in Lisbon, this is the one! I was a little disappointed with the visit though, because I thought that the ticket would be enough to see everything in the monastery but we could only see a small part.
We continued our journey towards the Monument to the Discoveries and Belém Tower. We couldn’t visit Belém Tower though because we got there at closing hours, 18:00.
But we couldn’t end our day without visiting the famous pastry shop Pastéis de Belém to taste the best “pastel de nata” (a sort of egg tart pastry) in the world, baked here since 1837 – it’s one of the things to do in Lisbon, so don’t miss the opportunity!
Day 4: Chiado and Carcavelos Beach
Instead of taking the metro, we preferred to walk through the streets until Chiado. We stopped at the coffee shop A Brasileira – historic place inaugurated in 1905. Be prepared to pay more than on other coffee shops, but you’re paying for the subtle decoration and the history of this place.
The next destination was the Santa Justa elevator, the only historic vertical elevator in Lisbon. It connects two neighbourhoods and Carmo convent.
We ended the first part of the day in the beautiful square Dom Pedro IV.
Finally, we dedicated the afternoon to sunbathing – among other things to do in Lisbon, we couldn’t leave the Portuguese capital without trying its beaches. So, we went to Carcavelos beach, 20 minutes by train from the historic centre.
To end our amazing day in the capital, we strolled through the streets at night – a pleasant time, especially when it’s hot, and definitely one of the things to do in Lisbon!
As you know, I was born and raised in the north of Portugal and there is a small big rivalry between the north and south of this beautiful country but I have to be honest with you: I was amazed by Lisbon and it’s not a myth, if you visit it you’ll fall in love. There are so many things to do in Lisbon, so don’t miss the opportunity and discover the city of the seven hills!
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