A friend of mine just got back from Portugal and after telling me all about it I thought I would put pen to paper (so to speak) and write a mini-guide to Lisbon. The city offers an amazing location, near to the Tagus River, and its long and eventful history has made Lisbon one of the most fascinating of European capitals to visit, a city where the cultural influences of the past exist in harmony with modernity (sounds more posh spoken). The relaxed atmosphere and vibrant culture of this city is really worth experiencing: like walking in the wide open avenues, taking a trip in a cable car and getting lost around the many narrow alleys, or admiring the wonderful vista from different viewpoints. Here’s a little weekend guide on what to see in Lisbon!
Pessoa favourite area: Chiado
A native of Lisbon, Fernando Pessoa is considered one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century, an enigmatic figure, he loved to spend his days reading and writing while sitting at the tables of the historic coffee house A Brasileira. Walking along Rua Garrett a fancy street lined with book stores, etc. You can soak up the tradition that distinguishes this famous area, a meeting point for many Portuguese intellectuals of the late nineteenth century. This interesting area is home to the majestic ruins of the Carmo Church, which became a symbol of the great earthquake that struck the city in 1755.
Pedestrian streets of the Baixa
From the banks of the Tagus Avenida da Liberada, the Baixa district is the heart of Lisbon with its wide pedestrian streets, unusual shores, bars, and local restaurants. Completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1755, the Baixa was rebuilt for the first time using the anti earthquake techniques in the late nineteenth century. Do not miss the Praca do Commercio – one of the largest squares in Europe – the Praca do Rossio and the Elevador de Santa Justa.
Check out the brand new Manueline style and delicious pastéis de nata de Belém
Located on the banks of the Tagus river, the district of Belém was the beginning of many expeditions that set off to discover the new worlds. Dotted with beautiful gardens and monuments – including the Monastery of Jeronimos, the Tower of Belém and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos – the area has a unique architectural style, the Manueline. To finish of your tour why not head out to the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém to eat their famous pastéis de nata, little pastries filled with cream which are served warm.
Enjoy different Portuguese gastronomy
With the nearly infinite flavours without which you can not fully appreciate the essence of Lisbon. In addition to the well known classics of bacalhau and Porto, why not try some typical dishes by entering into one of the many tascas – small family run cafes: between black olives, ham, goat cheese and smoked ham, do not forget to order one of dishes of meat such as cozido à portuguesa – stewed meat and vegetables – and sarrabulho – pork liver or duck marinated in red wine.
Enjoy a ride in a tram
Ideal to quickly move from one area of Lisbon to another without missing out on the beauty of the city, the tram is a real institution in Lisbon, capable of transporting you across the many narrow alleys into the soul of the city . Do not miss the tram number 28, which you can quickly shoot through the Alfama to be able to snatch the elusive nature of this intense and chaotic neighbourhood.