If you’re heading to Lisbon this year, then have I got the guide for you.
Lisbon is perfect for castle fans, lovers of a good port wine, and travellers passionate about quaint cobblestoned streets and city views.
Read on to find out the must do activities in Lisbon.
1. Visit the San Jorge Castle
Towering above Lisbon is Castelo de Sao Jorge (St George’s Castle). The complex has been used as a military fortification and royal palace during its life, which dates back to the 11th century.
The castle offers great views of the city below and you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time as you walk along the medieval castle walls.
You can walk up to the castle via the fascinating Alfama district (Lisbon’s oldest district) or take bus 37. It’s open from 9am. Entry is A$13 (€8.50). There are also guided tours of the castle included in the ticket price daily at 1pm and 4pm.
On the way to and from the castle, check out Lisbon’s cathedral, built in 1150 on the site of an old mosque
2. Roam the streets of Lisbon
The streets of Lisbon are perfect for wandering. But you’ll work up a sweat with the many hills across the city (but you’ve got to burn off all the amazing food anyway).
Along the way you’ll come across beautiful buildings, street art, painted funiculars and breathtaking views.
The best areas of Lisbon to wander is the historical Alfama district and Bairro Alto neighbourhood.
3. Indulge in some port wine
Take a break from your wanderings and down a port wine or two.
Some pastelerias serve a pastel de nata (egg custard tart), salted codfish (known as Bacalhau), expresso and a port wine for around €4 ($6.50 AUD).
You can also find the delicious egg custard tarts on their own all over Lisbon. They’re even available in supermarkets for nearly half the price of downtown bakeries.
4. Check out the views from the miradouros
Lisbon has many viewpoints (miradouros) spread throughout the city, including Miradouro De Santa Luzia – a balcony which has views over the river, Alfama district and the Pantheon. Tram 28 will take you here if you don’t want to walk up the steep hill.
The nearby Miradoura das Portas do Sol has further views over the Alfama district, and Miradouro da Graça has views to the castle.
You can also admire the city and river views from the top of the Rua Augusta Arc for €2.50 ($4 AUD). Head there when they open at 9am and you’ll have the place to yourself.
5. Visit Belem Tower
Take the train out to Belem Tower from the Cais Sodre train station.
The train costs €3.10 ($5 AUD) return (including the purchase of the reloadable travel card). From the Belem train station, it’s a pleasant 20 minute walk to the tower along the Tagus riverside. Entrance is €6 ($9.50 AUD).
Afterwards, pick up some treats at the famous Pasteis de Belem – a rite of passage for any visit to Portugal.
6. Ride the funiculars or elevator
Save yourself a steep walk up to Lisbon’s higher neighbourhoods and ride one of Lisbon’s funiculars for €3.70 ($6 AUD).
Or you can also take the Santa Justa lift up to Carmo Square. The decorative lift dates back to 1901.
7. Take a day trip to Sintra
From Lisbon, it’s an easy 45 minute train ride to the town of Sintra. The trains leave every hour from the Rossio train station near the Baixa district.
Your first stop in Sintra should be the Quinta da Regaleira, a 10 minute walk from the centre of town.
The Quinta da Regaleira estate served as a summer residence for many years for a wealthy family, before it was sold to Carvalho Monteiro who added a range of buildings and gardens in various styles.
The unique gardens feature underground tunnels, a fascinating 27 metre well with a spiral stairway, grottoes, waterfall and towers.
The Regaeleira Place is topped with an octagonal towers and gargoyles and has five floors.
Once back in Sintra’s centre, make your way up to Pena Place and Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors). The 434 bus does a continuous loop to ferry people up to the castle and palace from the train station or town centre. Just look for the bus stops with the blue signs. You could also choose to take the hop on hop off bus around Sintra to reach the many sights.
The Pena Palace can only be described as a fairytale palace – it’s like nothing you’ve seen in real life with its artistic and vivid colour scheme.
The castle was built in the Romanticism style during the 1840s and 1850s, and was intended for the then owners as a summer residence. The palace was built from the ruins of a monastery, which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1755.
The palace is open from 10am and costs A$18 (€11.50) to enter.
The Castelo dos Mouros is not far from the palace, and was built in the 9th century as a military fortress. Entry is A$10 (€6.50).