We delivered our car back at the airport of Lisbon and set off to give Lisbon a second chance. We’ve been here a few years ago (in January). Well, that was a bit of a disappointment back then.
From the airport it is fairly easy to get to the city centre. We bought a day card (€ 6 per person, + € 0.5 for the card itself) which we could use on the metro, tram and bus throughout the city, including the trip from the airport. In about 30 minutes we reached our hotel (a very nice one in a good neighbourhood!) and after we dropped our bags we began to explore Lisbon. Well prepared as we always are, we first went to see the Prazeres cemetery. We took the metro to the Rato stop and walked from there along the Jardim da Estrela and the namesake basilica. On our way we had our first encounter with the famous tram 28. The cemetery is really a city of the death. You could compare it to the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. The graves are like little houses, in streets. From the entrance, go down to the left, keep going till the wall and be amazed by the view over the Ponte de 25 Abril! It made us very eager to actually find a way to get down to the famous bridge. But everything in good time. Visiting a cemetery is a nice way to get to know a culture, but not for more than an hour! The Prazeres cemetery lays at the terminus (our the beginning) of tram 28. When you are visiting Lisbon, and especially for the first time (we counted this one as a first time visit), you just have to take the old tram. We were lucky to find out the tram was about to depart and we could use our day card for this too! It was a bit of a bumpy and rough ride, partly because of the nature of the tram and the tracks, but definitely the driver had a hand in this as well. When we got of, we actually got as far as the Alfama quarter! The Sao Vicente de Fora church is a nice church to have a rest (with big steps in front of it), and the lookout (miradouro) Santa Luzia gave a good oversight of the maze of streets in Lisbon, beneath us. We were a bit away from the metro stops, so we walked through that same maze we just saw from above, down to the river the Tagus. Praça do Comércio is a good people-looking spot, but not our destination. However we did pause at the river for a moment, and enjoyed the view over the river and the Ponte de 25 Abril in the distance.
With our day card we took another metro to find some food at the Mercado da Ribeira. Unfortunately it was way too late to see the actual market, but since a few years a local initiative gave this place a new vibe: the place is literally surrounded by food stalls, mostly local food, and every one of them very affordable. With this new energy, we decided the day didn’t have to stop here yet. Lisbon is famous for its teleferics and lifts. The streets go up and down like crazy… And again we were very surprised we could use our day card for the Elevador da Bica (a teleferic) at Rua Bossa Nova. Watch carefully because you can easily miss it, but once you find it, it is a joy to use it! The kids playing around, running along the tram, are lovely and make you feel like you’re in some African country. We got to the Barro Alto, one of the older quarters of Lisbon. Famous, or notorious, for its night life and restaurants. We walked to the Miradouro Sao Pedro Alcantara and enjoyed the sunset over this vibrant city. From there we took the tram for a very short ride (thank you day card!) to Praça dos Restauradores and the metro back to our hotel. Yes, there is something left for our second and last day in Lisbon 😉
Sunday in Lisbon, but every sight seems to be ready for the tourists! We started our day at the Elevador Santa Justa. Still early, but we already had to wait for almost 20 minutes to get into the elevator. A nice one for sure, made out of wood, the ancient system with the weight blocks still in action. It is listed a national monument. The operator told us the lift actually has to rest between every ride up and down. Our day card of the day before was still valid (24 hours) and, again, we were surprised we could also use it for the lift. Once upstairs we had to buy a ticket for the viewing platform (€ 1,5 each) but this is much cheaper than to buy a combined ticket! And the money (and time) is well-spent! The view is lovely: the Castelo de Sao Jorge in front of us; the Tagus, the Praça do Comércio and the Arch at our right; and the Carmo church behind us (see the 360 view here). After checking we saw everything we left the Elevador and couldn’t find another way to go down than to go along a market place J with some nice souvenirs we eventually found the way to the Praça da Figueira to take tram 15 (a modern tram) towards Belém, a suburb of Lisbon. Well, this was the plan … Unfortunately we lost almost an hour waiting for a tram which never came, while more and more people arrived. We decided to take a train instead, so headed to the metro towards Cais do Sodré. From there it is less than 10 minutes to Belém. However, we were not the only ones with this luminous idea … We didn’t even try to figure out how long the queue was, and started walking instead to the next train station, which was only 800 meters further. No crowds there, but also no ticketing machine (day cards don’t work on the train). We found out the tram tracks where just next to the train tracks, and yes, in the distance we could see a tram arriving! We crushed ourselves into the crammed vehicle and drove some kilometres. Our first goal was the bridge (see yesterday!), and luckily for us – or unfortunately for the hundreds of other people, this was the terminus of the tram. We couldn’t see much of the bridge, because we were standing wright under it, but we followed our instinct and found the way to the river (no GPS needed J). Hello Ponte de 25 Abril!
This is such a nice place! Bikers, joggers, walking people, all enjoying the sun and the breeze along the river. And the bridge is even more amazing when you see it from this close! The bridge was completed in 1966, before that time people had to travel to the other end of the river by boat. The Monument Cristo Rei watches Lisbon from that other end. It is easy to guess where the inspiration came from … We walked the 1.5 kilometre left towards Bélem, or rather towards the Tower of Bélem. The first sighting is the Padrao dos Descobrimentos, or the monument to honour Prince Henry and his fellow travellers on their expedition to the New World. This truly is a gigantic tower! We decided not to go in or up (however the view must be amazing) because the queue was again very big. Up to the Tower of Bélem! The towers stands in the water (now connected to the shore with a small foot bridge) and was built in the 16th Century. It first served as a lighthouse, but as with many buildings, this one too once served as a prison. Although we initially planned to visit the tower, a queue decided otherwise. Be sure to walk a bit further and see the statue of remembrance for all fallen Portuguese soldiers.
Well, it was a bit hard to get this far, but it was definitely worth the trouble!
On our way back, we found some modern architecture between all the historical places of Lisbon and eventually got back to the Mercado da Ribeira. There was only one place still on our list: Castelo de Sao Jorge. Back on the metro with a new day card, we went to the closest stop – Rossio – and walked up to the castle. This entrance fee was the most expensive of our trip, € 8,5 per person. The castle was built by the Moors in the 11th Century, and sure they didn’t mind the view (we had to climb quiet a bit to get there, guess there weren’t any steps back in those days to attack easily) but is absolutely fabulous! We spent some hours to discover the place, which is quite extensive.
Getting hungry in this city is almost impossible, and we found a lovely restaurant to have our last dinner in Portugal. The streets of Lisbon earned their second chance!
- Great places to eat in Lisbon are the Mercado da Ribeira and Le Petit Café Restaurante in the Alfalma area.
- Buy a day card to use public transport (to reload use the same card).
- Rent a bike to go to Belém (which we didn’t)
Lisboa city view #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA