Lisbon, a city that piques many travelers' curiosity, but which is largely underestimated as a must-see city in Europe. With its waterfront and hillside location, rich cultural heritage, delightful cuisine, and stunning photo opportunities, Lisbon is not to be underestimated. See below the top reasons for adding it to your travel bucket list. We've also included some stunning photos taken by urban photographer CEE Explorer to help paint the picture of this beautiful city!
Stunning sky-high views
Lisbon offers many opportunities for panoramic views, some from some rather unexpected viewpoints. So, grab your camera and head to the places below.
Rooftop views from the Elevador de Santa Justa
The Elevador de Santa Justa is an elevator in the civil parish of Santa Justa. Situated at the end of Rua de Santa Justa, it connects the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Carmo Square. Like the vintage streetcars (see more below), this elevator is not only a convenient means of transportation to get from upper to lower Lisbon and vice versa, but has also become a popular tourist attraction in itself. The observation deck at the top offers magnificent views over the Baixa area.
What is a miradouro, you ask? It's a lookout, a designated spot on top of Lisbon's hillside. Take in the sights from one (or better yet, several) of the 30+ hilltop viewpoint terraces scattered around the city. The city is also full of bars and restaurants that offer majestic views, pairing their services with the scenery. The photo below was captured by CEE Explorer from the top of the Radisson Blu Hotel Lisbon!
Tip: Pick your favorite miradouro, grab some local Portuguese food, and head to the viewpoint just in time for sunset!
Rich musical heritage
Fado is a music genre that is a key component of Lisbon's cultural identity. Traditionally, fado is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea and daily Portuguese life. And it is often associated with pubs, cafés and restaurants. Which means visitors can experience this art form and blend in with the locals! Today, there are dozens of fado houses sprinkled throughout Lisbon’s cobblestoned streets. The best area to experience it? The Alfama district.
The colorful Alfama district is truly a must in order to get an authentic and local feel for the city. With its multicolored houses and facades and narrow alleyways, this district is beating heart of Lisbon. It is the oldest quarter of the city, so lots of hidden gems to discover on an afternoon stroll.
However, one of the best ways to tour Lisbon is by tram. Take the iconic yellow Tram 28, a symbol of the city. The ‘Remodelado’ trams date from the 1930s. In any other city they’d likely be housed in a museum, but in Lisbon they are an integral part of the public transport network. These historic trams are still in use as the route is unsuitable for modern trams due to its tight turns and steep gradient. Needless to say, an experience you wouldn’t get anywhere else!
Psst! If you’re into travel photography, then Pink Street is one of the most Instagrammable spots of the city.
Pena Palace is a majestic castle nestled in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra. On a clear day, this UNESCO World Heritage Site can be easily seen from Lisbon. But we recommend to see the palace and its lush green gardens up close on a day trip from Lisbon. Sintra can be easily reached by train. Situated at the second highest point of the Serra da Sintra, it is a very tough uphill hike from the historic center of Sintra. So take the 434 tourist bus which connects the train station, the town of Sintra, and the Pena Palace in one loop.
Unique architectural wonders
Although Lisbon is most certainly known for its old world charm, some of its most modern architectural works are surprisingly impressive. We've included a few highlights below for those architecture lovers among you.
Measuring over 10 miles, the Vasco da Gama Bridge is the longest bridge in Europe and crosses the Tagus river connecting the north and south of the country. The 25 de Abril Bridge was the first bridge constructed for this purpose. Both provide interesting perspectives of the city. Don't miss the Christ the King monument for example which can also be seen from a walk along the Tagus river promenade.
The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology is truly a must for any art and/or architecture lover. The museum presents national and international exhibitions by contemporary artists, architects and thinkers but if you don't have time for a proper visit, the structure of the building itself is an inspiring sight on its own.