We travelled to the city of Lisbon, knowing very little about the country, it’s people and its most recent past. Suffice to say that Lisbon blew us away with its eclectic charm and uber-hip population.
The first thing you notice on arrival in the centre of Lisbon is the terrain. The landscape of Lisbon is very much of steep cobblestone alleyways, colourfully tiled townhouses and terracotta roofs. The city is built upon seven hills with the old citadel of Sao Jorge castle in the centre.
Whilst roaming through the different neighbourhoods of the city, its easy to see how Portugal’s recent past of authoritarian rule and the subsequent revolution of 1974 has influenced its people and the city. There are many run down buildings however the way in which the Portuguese have recycled old things into trendy creations is a testament to the cities resilience and is part of its eclectic charm!
Things To Do
Lisbon appears to be a picturesque sleepy town, although, in reality, it’s an incredibly cosmopolitan city buzzing with energy. In the summer months, the city really comes to life in the night time. The best way to experience this buzzing energy is to sip drinks at the trendiest watering holes around the city. Park in Bairro Alto is a fantastic bar with beautiful twilight views of the city from its rooftop. The lush greenery decorating the bar space is so surprising and helps to give it that laid-back cool vibe.
Praça do Comérico, Walking through the square is a nice way to soak up the vibrant atmosphere of the city! There are many cafes on the edge of the Praça do Comérico where you can sit, drink and watch people go by. From the Praça do Comérico, you can walk along the banks of the Tagus river to the Cais de Sodré. The Cais do Sodré was once a seedy area that has now been re-developed into a trendy food and lifestyle district with restaurants, bars and art galleries. The Mercado da Ribeira (Timeout Market) is also located in the Cais do Sodré district.
São Jorge Castle, a visit to this old moorish castle is a must whilst in Lisbon. The climb up to the citadel is steep, although you can catch an elevator that takes you all the way up. Walking through the old castle is like taking a trip back into Portugal’s medieval past with its imposing stone walls and moat. An archaeological dig site within the castle grounds has also unearthed many old tools and cooking equipment dating back to the medieval ages. A series of stairways allows you to access the top parapet of the castle, the view of Lisbon city and the Tagus river is incredible! Its a perfect way to get your bearings on the layout of the city.
Lisbon Cathedral is another example of gothic Portuguese architecture within the city, and was commissioned in 1147. The interior of the church is actually quite dark with strict warnings to maintain a quiet atmosphere. However a beautiful stained glass window and artwork help to lift the solemnity of the church. On departure from this castle you are left with a sense of serenity and appreciation for history.
There are multiple shopping areas in Lisbon, for international brands and clothing stores like Zara and Mango, head to the Chaido district. Local designers can be found in alleyways of the Bairro Alto neighbourhood. Whilst regional produce and craft items are located in the century old shops dotted throughout the Baixa neighbourhood. The Baixa neighbourhood was fantastic for sourcing quirky mementos of Lisbon as well as local produce items such as canned fish.
The warm climate and proximity to the ocean help to make this port city a fantastic summer destination. There is always something new to see and do with the city’s quirky mix of art, history and architecture. Lisbon is the type of city where loosing yourself in one of its many cobblestoned alleyways is entirely possible!
Check out the second part of our Lisbon blogs on food culture and places to eat at https://thehattedtraveller.com/lisbon-food-culture-where-to-eat/