Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, is the perfect European city break destination; a city small enough to be explored over a long weekend.
A short bus ride from the airport to the city center and, armed with a Lisbon Card a visit to Lisbon can start from Eduardo VII park; offering nice views of the city, it includes a sport pavilion, a lake, fountains, statues and the Estufa Fria (Cold Greenhouse), housing plants from all the five continents, divided into three separate areas.
At the southern end of the park is the statue of Marquis de Pombal; it stands at the center of a busy roundabout at the beginning of Avenida de Liberdade.
On this mile long wide boulevard, similar to Paris Champs Elysees, there are a number of luxury hotels, designer shops and cafes with tables outside. At the end of Avenida de Liberdade is Restauradores Square, with an obelisk at its center and Foz Palace, where the main Tourist Office is located.
From here it is a short walk to Elevador da Gloria, a funicular connecting the districts of Baixa and Barrio Alto.
South of Restauradores Square is Rossio Square and Lisbon train station; it is from here that a train goes to Sintra, a very popular day trip destination for visitors.
Next is Rua Augusta, a pedestrianized street; it connects Rossio Square with Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square) through the imposing Rua Augusta Arch.
For good views of the area and the rest of the city, a trip up the Elevador de Santa Justa nearby is highly recommended and so it’s a visit to the Carmo Convent close by.
Commerce Square is a hub for the trams that crisscross the city; Line 15 goes all the way to the district of Belem where, a number of tourist attractions are located, including two UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Getting off at the tram stop of Belem-Jeronimos, the imposing Jeronimos Monastery can be seen; a visit to its magnificent interior will give the opportunity to see well preserved cloisters, colorful stained glass windows in Santa Maria church and the tomb of the explorer Vasco de Gama.
Across the road from Jeronimos Monastery, walking through nice landscaped gardens, the Monument to the Discoveries comes into view. A huge white marble monument shaped like a caravel, it offers good views from its terrace accessed by a lift, including views of the river Tagus and the 25th April Bridge and Jeronimos Monastery. The square directly below the monument, has a compass with a map of some of the discoveries on the pavement.
From up here the Tower of Belem can also be seen, the next stop on a visit to this district of Lisbon.
A fortress built on the banks of the river Tagus, Belem Tower is a much photographed tourist attraction; an intricately decorated monument it also offers good views of the area from its terraces accessed through a narrow stone staircase.
A more modern addiction to Belem district is the Cultural Center, it hosts art exhibitions, congresses and music and theater performances.
Back to Lisbon city center, a trip on the number 28 tram will save a steep climb to visit the district of Alfama; it is worth to stop en route at the viewpoints of Santa Luzia and Portas do Sol for good views of downtown Lisbon, before visiting the Cathedral and St.George Castle.
The best way to explore the Alfama district is to get lost in the maze of medieval alleys with colorful houses, shops, palaces and churches all around.
After a long day touring Lisbon, the fun continues with a very lively nightlife best experienced in one of the numerous establishments in the Barrio Alto district, including traditional restaurants, Fado Houses, cafes and bars.
Lisbon used to have a bullring, Campo Pequeño; when the bullfights stopped, the beautiful building was restored and it now hosts major events like concerts and live acts. There is also a newly built shopping center under the bullring with many shops and restaurants.
A more modern side of Lisbon has been developed on the banks of the river Tagus, starting with a new bridge crossing the river (Vasco de Gama Bridge) and a cable car taking visitors to the Park of Nations. An area built for the ’98 Expo it includes the Oceanarium, Europe’s largest aquarium, a number of pavilions and gardens, the Vasco de Gama Tower, the city tallest building and the Oriente Railway Station, an architectural masterpiece with a steel and glass roof.
Thanks to a new Metro connection, the airport can be reached from Oriente Station; it will give the option to tourists to visit this area before catching their flight home or, to continue their exploration of Portugal and the rest of Europe by boarding one of the national or international trains from the station.