Capital of Portugal on the Tagus River

Lisbon is a popular city trip. This city in Portugal is cozy, has a nice climate, a refined kitchen and is cheap to reach. A wonderful city for a weekend away. These are the best tips and best sights for your trip.

Lisbon is sometimes referred to as The White City. Where you can easily get lost in the small streets and alleys and quickly become addicted to Portuguese cuisine. Therefore a popular destination for a city trip.

Shopping, fine dining and a visit to one of the many museums should be on your to do list. But also a stroll along the many bars, through narrow streets and enjoy the nice climate. These are the most beautiful sights of Lisbon. And some fun tours to do while you're here.

Ride with Tram 28

The yellow tram 28 in the streets of Lisbon.

A ride with Tram 28 is actually mandatory. Tram 28 is legendary in Lisbon. Hop on board and ride through popular neighbourhoods like Graça and Mouraria. It is best to go early in the morning, you will see how the city awakens.

Read my tips for Tram 28.

Belem Tower

The Belém Tower in Lisbon.

The Belém Tower, or Torre de Belém, is an ode to the Portuguese Century when Portugal was a leading sea nation. The tower is still in good condition and has a unique location.

Read my tips for Belém Tower.

Castelo de São Jorge

Castelo de São Jorge in Lisbon.

The Castelo de São Jorge is a castle towering over Lisbon. This is a historic place with a rich history. And also a place with a wonderful view over the city.

Read my tips for Castelo de São Jorge.

Fado in Lisbon

Fado in Lisbon.

Fado is very modest. Where music and the human voice meet in a raw, yet elegant way. A solo singer accompanied by a classical Portuguese guitar will sing mournful songs, making you feel the beating heart of the city.

Read my tips for Fado in Lisbon.

Jerónimos Monastery

The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, or Jerónimos Monastery, in Lisbon.

The Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimos Monastery) is an exuberant mix of how the Portuguese saw Baroque and Renaissance in the 17th century. It is actually an ode to the Portuguese Century, when the country ruled over the waters.

A visit to the museum is a must, but it can get crowded. And warm, although most of it is indoors. The best time to go is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Tomb of Vasco da Gama

The tomb of Vasco da Gama. ©Corno van den Berg

Vasco da Gama was the first to sail from Europe to India. He was born in 1460. In 1497 he was appointed by the Portuguese government to set up an expedition to the then unknown Far East. In May 1498, he arrived at present-day Kozhikode in Kerala, India.

After which the route to the east was established. Da Gama is buried in the church at the Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos). When you enter you will see his tomb on the left. 

The Most Beautiful Viewpoints

The Miradouro de Santa Luzia viewpoint in Lisbon.

Lisbon is a hilly city. Wandering the streets will give you enough excercise. But also numerous viewpoints and miradouros. The most famous are Miradouro da Graça, Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Mirodouro das Portas de Sol where you look out over Alfama, the old Moorish quarter. Another beautiful and popular one is the Castelo São Jorge, which overlooks the city and the Tagus River.

The best time is early in the morning, when the sunlight falls over the city. In the summer it is also wonderful to go in the evening and see the sunset.

Shopping in Lisbon

Shopping in Lisbon: the city has several shopping streets for good shopping. With a mix of international, but especially local shops.

The nice thing is that some streets are named after the shops that used to be there. Rua de Prata (silver); Rua de Ouro (gold) and Rua de Ferreiros (goldsmith) are some examples. The main shopping street is Rua Augusta, where brands such as Zara, Benetton, Lanidor, Levi's and H&M have shops. Other nice streets: Rossio and Rua de Augusta.

In the Chiado district it is nice to walk down Rua Garrett, Rua do Carmo and Rua Nova do Almada, just like the famous Shopping Center Armazéns do Chiado. Those who visit Bairro Alto can shop well on Rua da Atalaia and Travessa da Espera. If you want to buy luxury brands, it is best to go to Avenida da Liberdade in Lisbon where you find the brands like Louis Vuitton and Armani.

Visit the Smallest Shop in Lisbon

The shop Luvaria Ulisses on Rua do Carmo 87 is a must. It is a very small shop full of handmade gloves. They only help one person at a time. The owner measures your hand first. Then you can choose from the existing models or it comes with various types of leather.

Do you prefer a different fabric? That is also possible. You can pick them up after a few working days. There is a 'fast service' for tourists. Look around you, this could be the smallest luxury store in the world. The question is; with the Portuguese climate, what do you need gloves for?

The Praça do Comércio in Lisbon.

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Belém District

The Belém district is the most monumental district of Lisbon. It is famous for the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos , the Tower of Belém and the Pastel de Belém pudding bun. But the district has more, as it is located on the Tagus River and you can enjoy a walk here. Including in the tropical garden. The district is easily accessible by tram and train.

Berardo Museum

The Berardo Collection is world famous. It is the collection of Portuguese billionaire Joe Berardo. Opened in 2007, it showcases modern art by famous names such as Warhol, Picasso, Dalí, Duchamp, Magritte, Miró, Bacon, Jackson Pollock and Jeff Koons. The exposition differs; although there are always more than 250 works on display. You can visit the museum for free.

Fashion and Design Museum

MUDE, as it is officially called, is one of the most recent museums in Lisbon. It is one of the largest fashion and design museums in the world. The museum is located in the middle of the city and has changing exhibitions of clothing, furniture and many accessories.

In total, it has more than 1,200 haute couture pieces from more than 200 designers from around the world. With famous names such as Phillipe Starck, John Galliano, Charles Eames, George Nelson, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, and Yves Saint Laurent. The building is an old bank, the counter of Portuguese marble can still be seen.

Oceanarium Lissabon

The Oceanarium, or Oceanario in Portuguese, is Lisbon's most popular attraction. And from all of Portugal. The reason is simple, it is one of the largest aquariums in the world with no fewer than 8,000 animals from more than 500 species.

The five oceans take center stage in this impressive building designed by North American architect Peter Chermayeff. Pay special attention to the central water tank with sharks, rays and special fish such as the sunfish and huge species of bass. The aquarium is located in Parque das Nacoes, the former site of the World's Fair; the Expo in 1998.

The Exquisite Food of Lisbon

A meal of sardines in Lisbon. ©Corno van den Berg

Small shops, narrow streets and restaurants, and a very relaxed atmosphere in the evening. The Bairro Alto and Chiado districts in Lisbon are wonderful for shopping, strolling or simply relaxing. With countless shops where you can, for example, buy handmade products or find fresh food. Which you can take with you or eat on the spot. Since most Portuguese don't eat until after nine, you can easily spend an entire evening here.

Lisbon Beaches

A morning at Cabo da Roca, the westernmost tip of mainland Europe. ©WaveCult

From Lisbon you can easily spend a day at the beach. Popular among the inhabitants of Lisbon is the Setúbal peninsula. Setúbal has a number of beaches including Costa da Caparica, Nova Praia, Praia do Meco and Praia Coelhos. During the summer months, a train runs along all the beaches on the southwest coast of the peninsula.

Read my tips for Lisbon beaches.

Lisbon's Rich Past

Whoever walks through the city will see that Lisbon has a rich and turbulent past. Including the era of the Great Discoveries, in which the famous explorer Vasco da Gama played a major role.

Lisbon is the colourful capital of Portugal. The city is located on the northern bank of the Tagus and stretches over seven hills. The beaches of the Atlantic Ocean are only a few kilometers away.

It is a city with a beautiful history, or rather a legend. Lisbon is said to have been founded by the Greek hero Odysseus during his long journey home, the famous Odyssey. It is also known that around 1,200 BC. a trading post of the Phoenicians arose.

Street art in Lisbon. ©Corno van den Berg

According to the scriptures, the Romans conquered the city around 200 BC. As happened in Europe: when the Roman Empire fell apart, the city fell into disrepair.

History of Lisbon

The Moors came around the year 714, the city prospered and became an important trading center again. The name of the city was then al-Ushbuna (also called al-Ishbunah). A very restless time began. With countless looting and takeovers. 

It was King Alfonso I, who had proclaimed himself the first king of the initially smaller Portugal in 1139, who conquered Lisbon. He did this on October 21, 1147, after a failed attack in 1140. He had the help of crusaders, including Gilbert of Hastings, an English monk.

The Christians inflicted a veritable massacre among the inhabitants (154,000) of al-Ushbuna, both among Christians and Muslims. For example, the bishop of the city, along with a delegation of other Christian and Muslim leaders, was also killed by the Crusaders.

World Explorers

The tide turned when Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to the Indies around 1500. Vasco de Gama is the most famous explorer after Columbus. He discovered India, but especially the spices. Pepper in particular caused a revolution in the Western world. And prompted the Netherlands, among other things, to go in that direction as well.

Da Gama started the Portuguese Golden Age: the Age of the Great Discoveries. The city flourished, including the construction of the famous Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. You can still see the time of Portuguese discoveries in the population. Many inhabitants originally come from former colonies such as Brazil, Cape Verde Islands (Cabo Verde) and also Angola and Mozambique.

Baixa is the actual center of Lisbon. On November 1, 1755, a major earthquake (and the ensuing tsunami and fires) destroyed large parts of the capital. In this part of the city, straight, wide streets and numerous shops now dominate the picture.

Fortunately, other parts of the city are still winding, narrow and above all very atmospheric. Where the fado sounds soar through the air.

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