Lisbon in Portugal was one of those cities that I was always going to go and check out but never got around to going, always choosing a city in Italy, France or Spain instead. Finally, this year I made my way to this beautiful city on the banks of the Tagus River and on arrival my first thought was what took me so long to visit. Lisbon’s scenic location on the river, the steep hills leading to breathtaking views over the city, the colorful tiles on the buildings lining the cobblestone streets, I can tell you Lisbon is one of the prettiest European capitals I have ever been to.
We spent a week in Lisbon with some day trips to nearby Cascais and Sintra. I rented an apartment inside the walls of the Castelo de San Jorge and we spent most of our time walking around and discovering the neighborhoods of Alfama, Chiado, Biaxa and Barro Alto. Walking is definitely the best way to see the city, however expect sore calf muscles from walking up steep hills, but the panoramoc views over the harbour make it all worth while. Walking also is the best way to soak up the old world atmosphere of the neighborhoods, get lost in the narrow alleyways and see up close the beautiful pastel washed buildings covered in patterned tiles.
Alfama is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lisbon full of bars and mostly traditional Portugese restaurants where in the late evening hours Fado music, the melancholy folk music of Portugal can be heard playing to patrons enjoying their tapas and drinks.
Praca do Comercio, in the commercial Baixa neighborhood, is one of the prettiest plaza’s I have seen in Europe. The picturesque location on the harbour, the cafe’s, the shopping and the general buzzy atmosphere make Praca do Comercio a central area to hang out in Lisbon.
The lively neighborhoods of Chiado and Barro Alto have a great range of restaurants from affordable pizza parlors like Pizzaria Lisboa, to chic lunch spots like Cafe Lisboa and the funky Mini Bar, all these establishments owned by Lisbon’s most famous chef Jose Avillez.
A must in Lisbon at least once a day is a double espresso and a pastel de nata, the ubiquitous custard tart that is available everywhere in Lisbon and is totally delicious.
A Unique feature of Lisbon are the tiles covering a lot of the old buildings.The tiles are called azulejos in Portuguese, they create a rainbow of color throughout the city and the effect is so beautiful. I loved the contrasting colors and the designs of the azulejos, they gleamed in the sun and elevated the neighborhoods of Lisbon in to art.
I loved my time in Lisbon, the city is not as high profile as some of the other European capitals but that is also part of it’s charm. The city is a hidden gem that I look forward to returning to and discovering again.