There it is. The most beautiful city of Europe to date for us, deep in the west and on the coast to the Atlantic Ocean. After a lot of salt water the new world is waiting on the other side, New York. If you look closely, you may even feel a little bit wanderlust or curiosity now and then.
But seconds later, the ancient pearl of Portugal recovers all those thoughts and draws the eye into the here and now, to their own wonders and ancient beauties, of which there are so many here. Lisbon sights during our Portugal Road Trip – that’s what our article is about today.
Portugal Road Trip
For us, Lisbon was the start of a wonderful 9-day South Coast Portugal road trip in the summer of 2017.
From the capital to the southeast coast of the Algarve, we have been able to collect fantastic and formative experiences over a total of approx. 430 miles. A landscape, drawn by eternal summery and relentless dry heat. Enchantingly beautiful and sometimes fantastically surreal. All the Lisbon sights have enchanted us directly. People who meet with open-heartedness. Local delicacies, delicious freshly caught fish right on your plate. Almost too good to be true sweets. And in between a very special magic, in which we fell in love directly.
If there’s a dream place to live for us, then it is probably here.
The city Lisbon
Today’s Lisbon welcomes its visitors with a very special and unique feel-good package. This Mediterranean flair, combined with a very own relaxation, as well as a pure, honest charm, without any ostentation and showmanship.
Class instead of mass gets a new definition here.
What you are looking for in vain in Lisbon and Portugal (if you are even looking for it), is the very typical lively and often loud lifestyle of many other Mediterranean countries. For us, this was a welcome feature of Portugal and Lisbon in particular on our Portugal Road trip.
Here you find true magic
The city lives in its own quiet and peaceful silence. A decelerated pulse that feels strangely good and familiar. It slows imperceptibly a little bit the pace. You look at things four or five seconds longer.
Remains more often and lets your eyes wander. You take a deep breath. What was that fine, volatile scent? Where does it come from? Am I following? Even before one finds the answer to the question, it is gone. A small moment held for eternity.
Lisbon does not feel like a big city. Rather like a journey. Lisbon wants to be discovered and does not come up as a reward with the next gigantism. No endless skyscrapers, sterile plastered marble blocks, no.
Small beauties, sleepy lanes, an almost dilapidated backyard, provided with splashes of color that conjure the viewer this typical self-forgetting smile on the face. Lisbon’s magic is found in its small things.
Lisbon in the here and now
Far from any romantic transfiguration, in the end, it’s just pure facts that make things stay the way they are. Portugal is still one of the poorest countries in Europe and yes, of course you can see and feel that in many places. Financial crisis, resignation, poverty. Yes, that too is Portugal.
Nevertheless, here is much in the change and not a little for the better. Radical reforms, an emerging start-up scene, art and alternative scenes – Portugal and especially Lisbon is moving!
And it is precisely this mixture of all that is described that makes Lisbon one of the most interesting metropolises in Europe.
Lisbon in two days
How many days do you need for Lisbon? In today’s time, trimmed for efficiency and minuteness, that’s often the first question, just next to “What does it cost?”.
To be honest, we have no answer. It is also difficult to answer universally, since everyone has their own expectations and needs. For us two full days were enough to inhale a sufficient and intense dose of Lisbon. But two weeks are certainly just as good.
But to make it more tangible, let’s show you what we’ve discovered and seen in two days. Mind you, everything by pedestrian and only for a few longer distances within the city very conveniently with Uber taxi.
7 interesting facts about Lisbon
However, before going into the details, there are a few “good to knows” about the capital of Portugal. There are countless other facts about the Lisbon sights, but here in the short break some interesting points that you certainly did not know:
- Lisbon was built like Rome on 7 hills and is also known as the cidade sete colinas, the city of 7 hills.
- In Lisbon, you will find the longest bridge in Europe, the 17-kilometer (10.5 miles) Vasco da Gama bridge.
- Lisbon is considered one of the most important street art cities ever. Even tours and guides have specialized in it.
- The city has one of the largest oceania in the world, with more than 8,000 marine species.
- Pasteis de Nata! The dessert can be found everywhere in Portugal, but you have to taste it in the Casa Pastéis de Belém bakery. Here it was sold first.
- Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Centuries older than Rome, London and others.
- In 1755, Lisbon was largely destroyed by a devastating earthquake.
Our stay was between the scene district of Alfama in northeastern Lisbon and Bairro Alto, one of the oldest districts of Lisbon, very close to downtown.
Bairro Alto serves as a magnet for numerous museum visits, beaches, excellent restaurants and quality of life during the day.
At night, however, so many streets turn into a glittering party. The boisterous and pure celebration of life takes place here intensively. Moments that you will never forget.
The Sao Roque Church, with its Museum of the Holy Arts, rejoices and invites you to admire very special exhibits such as censers, crucifixes and other sacral objects. By the way, the church with its unique chapel São João Baptista is officially one of the most magnificent churches in the world.
Elevador da Bica
That’s it, Lisbon’s legendary funicular. On an extremely steep track, it goes up several hundred meters high. The camera snaps in continuous mode, even better additionally with the smartphone in film mode. Here you will experience a great portion of Lisbon on the journey, past colorful houses, artistically designed works and floral seas sprinkled out in dazzling colors.
So much to see, so little time
I do not really want to make too many recommendations, like “Do this…”, “Look at that”, “10 things you have to do…”, “You will not believe what is hidden behind #4”, etc … No, discover Lisbon on your own. The more informal, the better.
Lisbon, as I mentioned, is a journey. And the more open and unprejudiced your own eyes embark on this journey, the more intense the trip becomes. I can almost promise that. A little tip only I am allowed: Be fit and have trained legs and feet, there is a lot to discover by walking.
However, as an attunement you can be inspired by the diverse offers. Here is a very good overview.
Trams and Tuk Tuks
Yes, even the greatest wanderer among us may come to the point where the steps become agony. Especially in midsummer Lisbon. At the latest then the moment has come, where two things are more than welcome: an ice-cold sparkling water, which the dry throat will appreciate with great gratitude. And second the legendary tram or, alternatively, one of the tuk tuks that will bring the weary explorer comfortably to any place of desire. It’s best to book tours right here in advance.
There is so much more to tell about Lisbon and its charms. Do not worry, in the coming articles about our Portugal Road trip we will go into more detail on some highlights. Until then, however, we leave you alone with our first impressions of the city, which until 250 BC was called “Alis Ubo” (Lovely Bay).
See you soon, Adeus – Your conquistador pacífico Hendrik, find all photos in our gallery here.