A sightseeing guide to Lisbon, Portugal

As part of my winter travel in 2013 I opted to head to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal for a long weekend away with six members of the Nomadness Travel Tribe from around Europe.

With some of my companions travelling from Italy, Spain, Germany and France, we had chosen Lisbon for a group trip as it would be a new experience for us to meet and explore the city together. It proved to be a fun and eventful trip offering plenty to keep seven women busy and intrigued, wanting more from a city that never stops giving.

With it being Christmastime, we opted to do some sightseeing around the city whilst enjoying food, shopping and more – I’ve summarised below.

Christmas in Lisbon

The Christmas lights in Lisbon are so professionally displayed that it’s almost impossible to imagine the city without them! It’s truly picturesque, and whilst Lisbon’s Christmas tree is traditionally erected in Comercio Square, beautifully festive lights are available to see throughout the city.

Christmas in Lisbon

Christmas in Lisbon

Christmas in Lisbon

Christmas in Lisbon

City sights

As one of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon has plenty of offer for those seeking culture and exploration in the city. From the Castle of São Jorge, in the Alfama (visible from the city) to D.Maria II theatre in Rossio Square and spectacular sights like Padrão dos Descobrimentos on the northern bank of the Tagus River estuary.

Castle of São Jorge, in the Alfama

Castle of São Jorge in the distance above the city

D.Maria II theatre in Rossio Square.

D.Maria II theatre

Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Lisbon

Padrão dos Descobrimentos

In addition to the stunning sights above, the city is also home to The Palácio de São Bento, “Saint Benedict’s Palace”. This is also the home of the Assembly of the Republic, the Portuguese parliament.

The Palácio de São Bento

The Palácio de São Bento

The city also boasts Vasco da Gama Tower which is amongst some of the tallest in the city and shares a striking likeness to the Burj Al Arab Hotel, Dubai.

Vasco da Gama Tower

Vasco da Gama Tower

To the Portuguese, Lisbon is known as the “cidade das sete colinas” (city of the seven hills). According to legend, the city was originally built over seven hills and remains as one of the city catch-lines.

I’m pretty sure that all women in the travel group would concur that the hills are still very much alive and kicking – our thighs felt the effect several times over as we explored the city! Whether it’s up and down endless steps, or walking up steep hills, the city is a walker’s dream, ideal for those wanting to see and experience the sights on foot.

Steep hills of Lisbon

Steep hills in Lisbon

Steps in Lisbon

Stepped alternative to the hills of Lisbon

Lisbon Oceanarium

The Oceanarium in Lisbon is the biggest in Europe and has the most magnificent displays with one enormous tank in the centre. At a cost of 16 euros per adult, visitors can walk around the tank from ground and first floor levels. There are numerous smaller displays on the opposite walls, using maximum potential to show the sea life, colours and habitat of many creatures.
Sea anemone

Sea anemone in Lisbon

Frog on leaf

Frog on leaf in Lisbon

Penguins in Lisbon

Penguins at Lisbon Oceanarium

Nightlife

Spending three days and two evenings in Lisbon allowed us a chance to explore the varied nightlife in a city that hosts some of the world’s best nightclubs. Whilst Barrio Alto offers a bar or nightclub for every musical taste, Rua de cintura do Porta de Lisboa along the Tagus river offers clubs like The Docks where you can dance and sing to Portuguese, RnB, Salsa and Hip Hop music until 7am!

Docks Nightclub logo

Docks Nightclub in Lisbon

Street art

The cultural influence of Lisbon would be incomplete without street art which has been embraced by the city through specially commissioned pieces of work of the Crono Project, to transform neglected buildings in the business district instead of abandoning Lisbon’s crumbling heritage to developers.

Street art in Lisbon

Street art in Lisbon

Street art in Lisbon

Street art of burglar in Lisbon

Street art in Lisbon

Street art in Lisbon

Lisbon was a complete eye-opener for me. I embraced everything from the food to the music, people to the creativity and architecture. The city ticks so many of my boxes and could easily have entertained me for far longer than three days.

With such a range of activities available around the city, there must of course be food – and Lisbon has good food by the plenty. We enjoyed dining in a range of restaurants, many of which offered fantastic bacalhau (cod) fish or steak and hand cut fries washed down with sangria, often for less than 10 euros.

At all times, I felt safe and happy to explore (albeit tired from walking up and down hills) and it proved to be highly accessible from many corners of Europe, ideal for the particular group that I travelled with.

Many thanks to Turismo de Lisboa for the provision of a complimentary Lisboa Card which allows you to access Lisbon’s metro, buses and trams for FREE.

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