Lisbon: Where to go and what to see during a long weekend in the city
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Lisbon is the epitome Portuguese culture. When visiting, don’t miss out on these must-see sights and eatery experiences.
As Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon embraces modern culture while simultaneously maintaining its unique heritage and traditions and as a result has become a popular hotspot for travellers. Whether you’re on a short city break or have an extended period of time to explore, here are some of the places you should visit.
What to see
You don’t need to wander to a certain sight or attraction for something to see. The city’s hilly cobbled streets are lined with beautiful houses – more than likely pastel painted or decorated with mosaic tiles – impressive murals and quirky, eye catching graffiti designs. No wall has been left untouched.
The Castelo de Sao Jorge stands majestically above central Lisbon and is well worth the climb needed to reach it. A lot of the castle has been destroyed over the years however you can still climb the towers and walk along the ramparts for the most breathtaking views of the city.
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Outside of the city centre, yet still easily reached by bus or by bike, Belém is another jewel in Lisbon’s crown. Situated alongside the River Tagus, at the point where it meets the Atlantic, it is an area of leisure - where historical monuments lie hand in hand with modern museums, contemporary art exhibitions and bustling cafes and restaurants. In the district you will find many of the capital’s most notable tourist attractions. These include Torre de Belem, the historic tower originally constructed to guard Lisbon from sea bound attacks, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, one of the most decorative churches of Portugal and Padrão aos Descobrimentos, the Discoveries Monument that celebrates the country’s explorers.
Although Lisbon is not a seaside city, it isn’t too far away from the coast. West of the capital is Cascais, a formerly quaint fishing village which now buzzes with fashionable shops, restaurants, bars and beautiful sandy beaches. A short walk along the coastal road leads to the outstanding Boca do Inferno, a beautiful cliff formation that has to be seen, and climbed down, to be believed.
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Where to eat and drink
Lisbon boasts a wide range of eateries to suit all tastes and budgets, with everything from traditional Portuguese to international cuisine. Lining both the east and western edges of Comercio Square are a large selection of cafes and restaurants. Quirky eatery Can the Can pays homage to canned fish in appetisers and sharing plates, whilst also serving fresh salads, roast meats and grilled fish.
Mercado da Ribeira is a hidden treasure for foodies, however is unlikely to be a secret for very long. Lisbon’s largest covered market has two sections; the first a hall dedicated to buying fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and meats, and the second an even bigger space taken over by an incredible food court. With dishes from well known chefs from all corners of the world, you will be seriously spoilt for choice.
The Casa Pasteis De Belem is the traditional home the staple food of the sweet toothed Portuguese. The delicious Pastel de Nata is a custard tart which is sprinkled with cinnamon. The chaotic cafe and bakery has been selling Pastel de Nata for over 150 years and no trip to the Belem district is complete without a visit.
The Bairro Alto district also has a large cluster of restaurants, most offering traditional Portuguese cuisine and charming outside seating, or if you’re after a drink with a view, several bars sit up in the hills and look down over the rooftops in the city below.
Where to stay
There is no shortage of places to stay in Lisbon with up and coming hostels and boutique bed & breakfasts thriving in the city. Lisbon São Bento Hotel is only a short journey from both the airport and the city centre, Lisbon São Bento Hotel offers modern accommodation from a prime location. A generous breakfast is included in your stay and each room’s décor is inspired by the water and fountains in the city - some rooms even having beautiful river views.