The view from Miradouro da graça over the rooftops of Lisbon, Portugal. In the near distance you can see the castle on the hillside, and in the distance the April 4th Bridge over the River Tagus

Why did we leave it so long, Lisbon, Portugal?

In Europe, Memories, Mini Breaks, Our Journeys, Portugal, Trip-Types, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

It’s left us wanting more

This was our first trip to mainland Portugal, I’m not too sure why we had never been previously. However, that meant we have a whole new country to discover

The view from Miradouro da graça, Lisbon, Portugal

As usual, Gary and I always find ourselves chatting about our previous trips, and recalling particularly moments that stand out for us.

With any break, there are always memories that remind you of an experience you had, a place you visited or even a dish you were eating.

So, we have selected our stand out high points from our Lisbon break to share them with you, and hopefully, they tempt you into creating your own adventure, and then you can share your memories with us.


Central Lisbon

I know this is probably clichéd; however, it has to be said that Lisbon is such a great city. It has a genuine local feel about it, and in particular, the people were extremely welcoming.


Just a short hop along the River Tagus from the centre of Lisbon, you’ll find Belém. This area of Lisbon has three sites to lure you to visit;

First on the banks of the River Tagus is the 52 metre (171ft) high Monument to the Discoveries.

Created to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.

Then the iconic Torre de Belém, which was built in 1514-1520 as a military outpost.

This unusual defensive tower has a great mixture of architectural styles and once stood on its own island.

Just along from the tower is the Monastery of the Hieronymites, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983 along with the Torre de Belém.

The cloisters and inner courtyard of this monastery are amazing, such intricate detail.

Palaces of Sintra

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must if you have a few days in Lisbon.

It’s around 18 miles from Lisbon. However, the trains are regular and reasonably priced.

The most popular Palace is Pena, with its colourful façade, but we particularly enjoyed Quinta da Regaleira which has underground walkways and amazing “subterranean towers”.


The Panteão Nacional; take a climb to the top for some spectacular views over the river and the city.

You can also wander around the inside of the dome, although not for the faint hearted.

Sé Cathedral

In the heart of the Alfama district this is Lisbon’s oldest church, but due to numerous earthquakes, it has seen various architectural changes.

Largo do Carmo

Standing high overlooking the city, are the ruins of the 14th-century church & convent of Carmo.

This a fantastic place to wander through & admire the imposing Gothic pillars and arches towering above.

This square is where the bloodless coup of the Carnation Revolution took place on 25th April 1974, to end Portugal’s dictatorship.

Elevador de Santa Justa

The iconic landmark was opened in 1902 and stands 45 metres (147ft) high.

Try and take a stroll past it in the evening when it is lit up, it is quite impressive.

A reference guide

I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. This Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide was invaluable to us.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Lisbon mini-break, now you can grab the revised copy.



There are some amazing viewpoints scattered around Lisbon, in particular, Miradouro das Portas do sol & Miradouro Santa Luzia.

From here you can see across the roof tops and along the River Tagus.

Thieves Market

The Feira da Ladra is only on Tuesdays & Saturdays, but this bustling, lively street market is worth a visit, you’d be amazed at what people are selling.

Lisbon’s Praças

Squares to you and I.

Lisbon has some lovely social areas where you can admire the views or just sit and watch the world go by.

Pastel de Nata

A visit to Lisbon wouldn’t be complete without trying the local delicacy, the Portuguese custard tart.

Our favourites were from Pasteis de Belém – they are so moreish.

Trams & Funiculars

Another icon of the city is the trams, the most popular route is No. 28, as it takes you past a few of the local landmarks. They can get very busy but are a fun way to get around.


Fado bar

This was high on our to do list, as we had enjoyed Fado music for years.

 Try and seek out a local’s bar and indulge yourself in the melancholic laments, from both men and women

This is a live clip from our evening, we like it so much we bought the CD.

Fado CD, Lisbon, Portugal


This local tipple is a sour cherry liqueur you can get it in most bars, but the best places to try it is out of the two little shop fronts by Rossio Square.

You really should give it a go, you are served with a brimming shot glass full of the liqueur, and as a treat when you finish it, there is an infused ginja berry at the bottom.

Elegant Cafes

Around Lisbon are some lovely historical cafes, offering pastries and that little bit of sophistication.

Look out for Café Nicola in Rossio Square & Brasileira in Chiado.

What I would do differently

  • Visit Cascais – if time were not a factor we would have loved to have visited Cascais, a delightful fishing town just along the coast from Lisbon.

A funny moment

  • We chuckle now but Seven Hills - We demand a recount - it seemed we were always climbing or descending.
  • Slippery when wet - a word of warning the pavements can be a challenge when it rains - we both found out the hard way!

A slight disappointment

  • Weather – we choose to visit Lisbon at the end of March, our timing wasn’t great as the few days before we arrived were glorious. Unfortunately, our day at Sintra was rather on the damp side. But them's your breaks you, can’t arrange for everything to be perfect.

Point of Note

  • Sintra does get extremely busy, particularly the buses, avoid weekends if you can.
  • We found taxis in Lisbon fairly reasonably priced. So, worth noting if you find yourself struggling with the seven hills after a long day.

Closing Note

This visit to Lisbon has definitely whet our appetite to discover more of Portugal; I think a road trip will be on the cards next.

Have You?

Visited Lisbon? Have you been left wanting more? What's your one memory of this City that makes you smile?

Inspired to visit Lisbon?

Have our memories of this mini break inspired you?

Why not check out the latest deals on Booking.Com?
Elevador de Santa Justa at night, Lisbon, Portugal

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