Lisbon: The 6 most photogenic sights
Lisbon is a city where you can leisurely stroll the day away, finally ending the night with dinner on a terrace in one of it’s beautiful, old neighborhoods. Or listening to the mesmerizing Fado music in a tiny, noisy cafe. And, what are the top spots you definitely can’t miss if you love beautiful, old buildings, churches, and cathedrals? You can find our top picks below; which also happen to be the most photogenic spots in the city!
Lisbon tips and must-see’s
1. Alfama district
In the daytime, this area looks like a few shabby little streets, but in the evening it truly comes alive. You’ll seriously be scratching your head trying to figure out where all these restaurants and little bars suddenly came from. Fado music pours out of all the little, busy cafes and on every corner there’s a great terrace to choose from. Must sees in this district are:
- Castelo de Sao Jorge. A castle with a beautiful garden atop the neighborhood Alfama that you cannot miss.
- Sé, the oldest catheral in all of Lisbon.
2. Bairro Alto District
The oldest neighborhood in Lisbon, up on top of a hillside. Stroll through the old alleys; past all the laundry hanging outside to dry and hidden courtyards waiting to be discovered. To visit:
- Viewpoint: Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcantara. For a view over the city and at the end of the afternoon to watch the sunset.
- Fado-café Tasco do Chico: very small and crowded, but the fado music is specatacular.
3. Santa Justa elevator and Ascendors (funicular railway)
Right in the center, on the Rue Santa Justa, is an iron elevator standing 45 meters high. This elevator joins the lower city with the higher (Alto) city. Or, you can also take a tram; these are extremely handy since the roads in Lisbon are often much steeper than you’d think. The tram squeaks and creaks its way along. You’ll be up top in no time. And, you can always walk your way back down, of course.
The most well-known funicular trams are ascendor da Bica, ascendor da Gloria, and ascendor Lavra.
4. The city’s central square
Praça Do Comércio is the biggest square in the city. A massive plaza with a view of the river Taag. Of course, also the home to the immense, yellow Ribeira Palace; which stands beautifully in contrast with the blue sky. Quite photogenic, indeed!
5. Belém (tram 15)
This was once the main harbor of the city. Walk along the water and pay a visit to:
- Torre de Belem: the starting point for many Portuguese adventurers.
- Mustero do jeronimos: a beautiful monastery with many maritime decorations, signaling the Portuguese power and wealth during the 15th and 16th century.
- In Belem, you have to try the Portuguese pastries. Pasteis de Belem are the best because the original pasteis were developed by the nuns here. We found delicious ones throughout the entire city, though. Visit the original bakery, Confeitaria de Belém; always busy, but worth it for the experience.
6. Sintra – fairytale castles and nature
This is a place you do not want to miss! Seriously. Especially, if you love fairytale estate homes and castles. Take your time here because there is so much to see. The city of Sintra is 2,000 years old and on the UNESCO world heritage list. It’s almost like Disney…
With the train from Lisbon, via Rossio Station, you’ll be there in about a half hour. A train goes every fifteen minutes and a round-trip costs about 5 euros. In Sintra, it’s easiest to buy a ticket for the tour bus because the distances are quite large (and steep). There are plenty of different routes going to the palaces and castles.
One day simply isn’t enough to see everything; so, here are our favorites:
- Palacio Nacional de Pena: with the many, colorful towers and different architectural styles, this is a real eye-catcher in the city
- Castelo dos Mouros: the oldest moorish castle. Here you’ll have a spectacular view of the area.
- Parque e Palacio de Monserrate: a ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ castle with extremely beautiful, botanical gardens
- Quinta da Regaleira: forests and a magical castle
- Het Palacio Nacional de Sintra: an impressive, white palace in the center
We also visited the Parque das Nações; the former locale for Expo ’98. Lots of modern architecture, but honestly not our favorite if you compare it to the atmospheric, old city.
Lisbon is not an expensive choice for a city trip. You can read more here about budget travel in Lisbon. Looking for a great B&B or apartment in Lisbon? Take a look at our top picks for accomodations in the city.
Weather in Lisbon
The winters in Lisbon are mild and summers are (typically) not extremely hot. From April to June temperatures around 20-25 degrees celsius. In the summer months, this climbs just under 30 degrees. September and October are great months to visit the city; it’s still nice and warm, but you’ll avoid all the busy summer vacation crowds.