Today we are sharing an article by fellow travel blogger Justin from True Nomads, as part of our guest post series “10 Things to do in X”. Justin writes about his journey and shares tips on how to travel on the cheap! He left his home country, USA, 3 years ago and has been traveling ever since. We are excited to share his awesome tips about 10 things to do in Lisbon with you!
Lisbon is probably best known for its colonialist history, ornate Manueline architecture and tradition of Fado music. But what I like best is the friendly people, spectacular scenery, and the every-day, laid back culture that is so relaxing and inviting. No matter what your fancy is for the day, there is always something amazing to fill it with.
1. Belem is a waterfront neighborhood about 5 miles west of Lisbon’s center. It has major museums and monuments symbolizing Portugal’s maritime past. There you will find the Jeronimos Monastery, the Torre de Belem (Belem Tower), several museums as well as eateries of all kinds. It is crowded with tourists, but definitely a place to spend the day. Keep in mind that several places are closed on Mondays, but do offer free or reduced admissions on Sundays.
2. Oceanario de Lisboa is Europe’s second-largest aquarium, with over 8000 species of aquatic life. It is a mind-blowing experience! You will feel like you are scuba diving while staying dry. One of my favorite places in Lisbon!
3. The National Tile Museum is actually a former convent, the Convent of the Mother of God. It is one of the most important museums in Portugal. The chapel is amazing, with all of the artwork on the walls and ceilings, including paintings that are all in gold frames. The rooms of the convent show the history of the ceramic tile (azulejo) in Portugal and Europe. Portugal became famous making ceramic tile with blue painted scenes.
4. Castelo de Sao Jorge (St. George’s Castle) are dramatically towering hilltop fortifications above Lisbon. It is a major historical area from the Visigoths of the 5th century, Moors in the 9th century, Christians in the 12th century, royals from the 14th to 16th centuries, and convicts in every century. The Alfama, or steep hills, are also very popular and are in this same area. Great view of the city from here, and there are restaurants and shops to visit as well while there.
5. The Elevador de Santa Justa is a wrought –iron, century old vertical street lift that is in the Baixa area. It is amazing neo-Gothic work from the same man that built the Eiffel Tower, and resembles his work closely. It will take you up from the Baxia neighborhood to the Barrio Alto neighborhood for an amazing view over the city and St. George’s Castle. The view from the top is worth the small entrance fee. Time it right, and you can enjoy your evening drinks from there while watching a beautiful sunset.
6. Everyone of all ages loves a zoo, and the Jardim Zoologico (Lisbon Zoo) is one of the best. There are more than 2,000 animals, a great dolphin show and row boats!
7. Gulbenkian Museum is one of the best fine arts museum in Portugal. Not only is there an amazing collection of paintings, there is also a rug collection from the Middle East that dates from the 15th century, a Turkish tile collection, an Islamic art collection, a Chinese porcelain collection as well as a collection of antique French furniture. Each room also has a large window that looks out onto beautiful gardens, which adds much to the whole atmosphere. There is also a cafeteria where a lonely traveler can get some good food!
8. A Ginjinha is an awesome, out-of-the way bar that is just plain, simple old-school fun. Day or night it is a great gathering place for friends, travelers, college students, or the old men regulars. Perfect place to unwind and meet new friends.
9. If you want to kick back and relax with friends while listening to a live jazz band, the Alface Hall is the place to be. It also has a café with wonderful traditional foods.
10. Praia do Guincho is an awesome place for surfers and windsurfers. It is the site of previous World Surfing Championships and sports massive crashing waves. It is not a place for novices, so you better have your game on to play here!
About the Guest Blogger:
My name is Justin, and I come from the beautiful mountains of Colorado. I got my international feet wet in Costa Rica one day, and it opened pandoras box for me. A traveler was born and the travel bug had bitten!
52 countries and 6 continents later, and the bite still itches. I am at home anywhere on the planet, yet have no fixed residence. All I want to do is see and do everything that comes to mind, and share the adventures along the way!