If you want to visit the capital of Portugal, in this text I will give you some tips on how to enjoy Lisbon in the best possible way.
Lisbon attracts visitors for its history, but also for its varied tourist offer, able to please any style of traveler.
Tours, gastronomy, beaches, museums, historical monuments and nature.
So that your experience in the city of seven hills is well used, here are ten essential tips
1. How to get there
The city is well served by public transport, with metro lines and buses that cover the entire urban area. For those arriving at the airport, just follow the signs, purchase the individual transportation card (viva viagem) in a machine and load it according to the desired option. Just validate the card and board. The line that leaves the airport is the red one, which crosses with the others.
Important tip: Lisbon is known as the city of the seven hills. Consider this when preparing your luggage and also choose the place of accommodation. And don’t forget comfortable shoes
2. Where to stay
If you are looking for a lively place at night, you can look for Bairro Alto, while Baixa is the most touristic neighborhood but also very close to the main tourist spots in the city. Another neighborhood I suggest staying in is Alfama, the oldest part of the city.
For those who prefer the beach, there are options in the cities near Lisbon, which belong to the same district and, therefore, have a good offer of public transport, making it easy to get around, for example Cascais, or the Costa de Caparica, for those who like surf.
3. What to eat
The classics deserve all the attention. Pastel de Belém (in Belém) – or pastéis de nata (in the rest of the city) -, pastel de bacalhau or typical dishes like Bacalhau à Brás or Polvo a lagareiro (preferably away from Rua Augusta, to avoid tourist traps) .
For those looking for more modern concepts, a great option is the LX Factory
4. The Lisbon night
Cosmopolitan, Lisbon brings together adventurers from different countries, who go out for an imperial drink (as it is called a beer) during the night. The most concentrated spots are Pink Street, surrounded by bars with diverse proposals, such as Menina e Moça, which during the day also works as a bookstore, and Pensão do Amor, a former brothel turned into a bar and disco.
There is also the Cais do Sodré area, with lively parties and a beautiful view of the Tagus. Bairro Alto is a bustling spot, with crowded streets and lots of entertainment. For those looking for a more authentic experience, the trick is to get lost in the streets of Alfama and end up in one of the many fado shows that take place there.
5. Mandatory stops
Be sure to have them in your script:
Praça do Comércio or Terreiro do Paço and Pier of the columns
It is one of the largest squares in Europe and was for many years a noble space in the city, with palaces and headquarters of important institutions. It was also the entry of people of the nobility, who disembarked at Cais das Colunas.
Rua Augusta Arch (and Rua Augusta)
Rua Augusta is super busy, full of shops and restaurants and also many street artists. It is curious to see how each one finds his way of earning a living in the city.
To climb the Arch, the cost is low (2.5 €) and the ideal is to go in the late afternoon, to catch an incredible view of the sunset. It’s a highlight, you can also see a little bit of Lisbon and, of course, the Tagus.
Chiado and Alfama
These are two of the most traditional neighborhoods in Lisbon. The first is where all the city’s cultural aura circulated, with writers, poets and other artists who were inspired by this special air that only Chiado has and created their works from that. Alfama has preserved houses from before the earthquake that almost destroyed the capital entirely. Small streets where it is easy to get lost (and also find yourself) are a charm apart
– Elevators and viewpoints
Located at various points, they offer unique views of Lisbon, with special angles.
This is another essential region that guarantees a day well spent visiting the Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower, Monument to the Discoveries, Berardo Collection Museum, Praça do Império and the famous Pastel de Belém. To get there, just use the tram 15E, which leaves Praça do Comércio or Praça da Figueira.
7. Parque das Nações
Getting away from the cultural and historical aura, there is also the modern Parque das Nações, with a cable car, the main highlight being the Oceanarium. The space is very well organized and offers the opportunity to see sharks and many other exotic fish, large or small, up close. You can get comfortable there, even sitting in front of the giant aquarium and watching the coming and going of the aquatic residents.
With easy access by bus or train, the beaches in the Lisbon region should also be explored. On the south bank of the Tagus, the options are Costa da Caparica and Setúbal, with breathtaking landscapes.
Already in the same way, there are equally incredible options, such as Cascais, Carcavelos, Parede and Oeiras. Each beach has its charm, with rocks by the sea and crystal clear water.
The only thing is that the water is cold, but, of course, worth the dive.
9. Unique destinations a few km from Lisbon:
– Sintra, a world heritage site, is 35 minutes by train from Lisbon (Rossio station). Here you can visit the Pena Palace, the old village palace, the esoteric Quinta da Regaleira, and much more.
For those looking for a religious destination, they can reach Fatima by bus in about an hour and a half from the Sete Rios bus station
If you are looking for truly unforgettable historic places, you can rent a car and visit the monasteries of Batalha and Alcobaça about an hour and a half from Lisbon.
10. Visit Lisbon with me 😉
If you want to enjoy the city, visit less touristy places and live that experience in complete relax without the stress of planning, then entrust me with organizing your trip. Let’s discover Lisbon together for an authentic and unforgettable experience.
The story I will tell you today is the story of one of the most beautiful churches in Lisbon and perhaps one of the least visited. But it is also the story of a queen and a promise.
The Basilica da Estrela, or Royal Basilica and Convent of the Santíssimo Coração de Jesus, is a Catholic temple and former convent of Carmelite nuns. This vast church, topped by a dome, rises on top of a hill in the west of the city, being one of the landmarks of the Lapa area.
The Basilica was born from the devotion of D Maria I, daughter of D José I (king known to have reigned at the time of the terrible Lisbon earthquake of 1755) to the cult of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1760 when D. Maria I, still a princess, married her uncle the infant D Pedro (future D Pedro III), she vowed to the Holy Heart to build him a church and convent for the nuns of Santa Teresa, asking for the birth of a male child, who had one day to inherit the throne. D. Pedro contributes to the cause, giving the land of Casal da Estrela, in the Occidental part of Lisbon. However, from the outset a series of obstacles faced the devout princess, only overcome when she ascended the throne: technical and economic difficulties (the reconstruction of the capital was underway after the earthquake, for which Marques de Pombal had made available all means), as well as religious reasons, since the cult of the Sacred Heart, besides being controversial, was not accepted by Catholic orthodoxy, because it “revalued the human nature of Christ over the divine” which implied an almost radical change in the mentality and way of facing the dogmas of the Church of the time. In fact, only Pope Pius VI, at the end of the 18th century, will approve it.
The wish of the Queen was fulfilled and the construction of the temple started in 1779. Unfortunately, however, the boy, baptised as D. José, died of smallpox, two years before the construction was finished, in 1790. D Maria decided to move forward still with her promise and completed the construction of the church.
The project was in charge of architects from the Mafra School. The temple has characteristics of the late Baroque and neoclassical style.The façade is flanked by two twin towers and decorated in the center with a relief representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus with statues of saints (Saint Elias, Sainte Theresa de Ávila, Saint John da Cruz and Sainte Maria Madalena de Pazzi) and allegorical figures (Faith , Devotion, Gratitude and Liberality), by Joaquim Machado de Castro and his pupils.
The large interior, in grey, pink and yellow marble, illuminated by openings in the dome, instills respectful awe. Several paintings by Pompeo Batoni adorn its interior. The empire style tomb, by D. Maria I, who died in Brazil, is in the right transept. Closed in a room nearby, there is an extraordinary crib by Machado de Castro, formed by more than 500 figures of cork and terracotta.
The Basilica da Estrela was the first church in the world dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Queen Maria I is the only Portuguese monarch of the Bragança dynasty (except for King Pedro IV of Portugal, emperor of Brazil, who is buried in the city of São Paulo) who is not in the Pantheon of the Dynasty of Bragança, but in the Basilica da Estrela, which she herself built.