Exploring Lisbon in 3 Days
On to exploring Lisbon!
–Day 1 of Exploring Lisbon–
We arrived via train from Porto in the early afternoon. After we checked into our hostel, we activated our Lisboa cards (which are very worth the money!) and hopped on a local train towards the Belem area.
I had read some positive reviews about the monastery near Belem Tower, and it was free entry plus no waiting in line with our Lisboa card, so we headed there first, not knowing what to expect.
The first thing you notice as you walk towards the monastery is its sheer size. Once you are a little closer, you still notice the size but you start to see the intricacies of the sculpture surrounding the windows and doorways. So ornate, complex and absolutely beautiful! It was built in the Late Gothic Manueline style, which was very popular in Portugal as we encountered it a few more times.
Kelsie and I were both in stunned, as this was not high on our “to see” list. Kelsie was busy embracing her inner artist and knowledge of art history, while I was busy reading every information sign absorbing all of the history, and of course madly snapping photos!
Belem Tower & Waterfront
We spent more time in the monastery than originally planned, so by the time we made it over to the Belem Tower, access to the inside was closed. Slightly disappointed, since we did not have time to make it back again, we decided to have a drink at the cafe nearby.
The area is lovely, right on the water and the sun was shining. We had actually just started to hit the magical sunlight hour, in which photos tend to turn out best, so we waited around for the crowds to thin and snapped some great photos. We walked back to the train station along the river. Fortunately for us, there were numerous bulletins detailing everything you might want to know about Belem Tower, so it all worked out in the end.
Along the river walkway, we came across a bridge that looks curiously like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as well as the Padrão dos Descobrimentos: A Tribute to the Age of Discovery. We actually were not sure what we were looking at initially, but determined it must be a tribute to all the famous peoples of Portugal – we were close to being right. I rather enjoyed the tiled floor – it was a map including all the scary sea creatures frequently found on early maps.
–Day 2 of Exploring Lisbon–
Our day started at Praça do Comércio to check out the statue of King José I, the Rua Augusta Arch and start to the famous Rua Augusta. It was here that we hopped on the tourist’s hop-on, hop-off tram (we saved 5 euro and got a free entrance ticket to the Santa Justa Elevator).
Tram Tour & Alfama District
The trams are a famous icon of Lisbon. Some of the streets are so narrow, the turning trams seem as though they may hit you on the sidewalk. At this point, you must become one with the wall. The tram tour gives you some background information on the different areas. We could have spent hours wandering and getting purposefully lost in Alfama’s hilly neighourhood. The best part was turning a corner and seeing the shimmery blue water between to whitewashed buildings.
Castelo de São Jorge
Our next stop was the Moorish Castle – Castelo de São Jorge. The castle has fantastic panoramic views as it sits atop a hill overlooking the city. The Lisbon cathedral (Sé de Lisboa) was only a short walk away. We did not stop inside as there were swarms of tourists.
The tram tour ended at Praça do Comércio. We then headed across the square to a wine tasting room, Vini Portugal. Here, we enjoyed some of Portugals delicious Vinho Verde, amoung a variety of others. We were exhausted after a whole day of exploring in the blazing sun. Shortly after arriving back at the hostel, we were curled up in bed.
–Day 3 of Exploring Lisbon–
Our first stop: Elevador de Santa Justa. We wanted to arrive before the lines got too long, and our free access ticket expired at 11:30. The structure is ornate, made of iron in Neo-Gothic style. It was originally made to connect the higher and lower areas of the city. The elevator itself is not the attraction. It is the view from the platform above – showing off the tiled streets, red rooftops and blue water.
Once we had our fill of photos, we headed over to the Convento da Ordem do Carmo. A medieval convent that was ruined during the sequence of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. It is rumoured, that in the “romantic era,” city members decided that the convent looked better without a roof. It is now the home of archaeology finds around the city. I agree that it looks better without the roof. Something about the tall vaults looking into the immensity of sky it just awe-inspiring.
Our last stops in Lisbon included some beautifully tiled squares, eating gelato at the famous Santini’s and exploring the worlds oldest bookstore, Bertrands.
Kelsie headed to the airport early in the morning and I headed to the train station. I was catching a train to the Algarve to soak up a little more sun!
Stay tuned for my Algarve adventures!