Archive for March, 2014

7 Terraces on Lisbon’s 7 Hills

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

At the top of monuments or at the top of hills, Lisbon is known as a photogenic city forcing you to stop to take photos or to simply admire the views. The city’s legendary seven hills are all topped by gardens or terraces meant for exactly that, and although there are many viewpoints that you’ll want to check out, these are the seven where you’ll get seven different perspectives of the city, perfect during spring and summer.

Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon

PARQUE EDUARDO VII
Edward VII Park ascends a hill from downtown to uptown, and at the top you’ll find a terrace where tourists stop to take photos of the historic center framed by two hills. To the left is the hill topped by the castle, and to the right is Bairro Alto.

Miradouro do Torel, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DO TOREL
Most guidebooks forget this terrace which is a small garden on a hill above Avenida da Liberdade, reached with the help of the Lavra funicular or after a steep climb. So most people you’ll find here are locals, usually reading a book or enjoying a light meal at the café on the lower level. From here you get to see 20th-century Lisbon, as well as most of downtown all the way to the triumphal arch.

Miradouro da Graça, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DA GRAÇA
The local favorite for its kiosk café open until late, this shaded terrace across from a church rebuilt in the late 1700s offers a view often painted by artists. You’ll photograph the castle right in front of you, with the bridge seen behind the hill.

Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DA SENHORA DO MONTE
Not far from Graça is this terrace at the city’s highest point. It offers a huge panoramic view that goes from Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood to the east, to the modern neighborhoods to the west and north. It’s usually the calmest terrace of all, with very few tourists and only a few young couples.

Miradouro das Portas do Sol, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DAS PORTAS DO SOL
This is a postcard terrace, with views of white buildings, church towers and domes descending the hill towards the water. It’s a mix of old Mediterranean village, Portuguese fishing town and Santorini-like descent in the middle of the city, and there are cafés inviting you to sit for a while.

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DE SÃO PEDRO DE ALCÂNTARA
Many choose this as their favorite, and it’s easily the most romantic. Found at the doorstep of Bairro Alto’s grid of streets, it has an upper and lower level, with fountains and a landscaped garden. From here you can see the castle up on the hill across from you, and the towers of the cathedral. There are two kiosk cafés where you can have a drink as you admire it all.

Miradouro de Santa Catarina, Lisbon

MIRADOURO DE SANTA CATARINA
It doesn’t have the prettiest view (it looks out to the port of Lisbon), but this is a favorite at sunset. It attracts all kinds of people, young and older, local and tourist, bohemians and yuppies, to simply sit and chat among friends, or have a drink at the cafés.

Street Food in Lisbon

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Enjoy street food and outdoor dining, or simply want quick inexpensive meals in Lisbon? Go here:

Martim Moniz, Lisbon
MARTIM MONIZ SQUARE

MARTIM MONIZ
Martim Moniz Square is the heart of the city’s most multi-ethnic neighborhood, home to immigrants from China, Bangladesh, Goa, and Mozambique. The square is overlooked by the castle, and offers a number of food stalls offering varied cuisines. They change from time to time, but currently there’s one for vegetarians, another for hamburgers, another for pizza, another for sushi, and another for hot dogs and cocktails. When the sun is shining, it’s a nice spot to relax with a drink or meal, surrounded by a multicultural ambience and the old trams passing by.

Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon
AVENIDA DA LIBERDADE

AVENIDA DA LIBERDADE
Lisbon’s luxury shopping avenue is lined with a number of kiosks serving food and refreshments. They’re open throughout the day, and some only close late at night. Look for the one that best appeals to your taste buds: there’s one for pizza, another for hot dogs, another for salads and wraps, another for pastries.

Tram cafe, Lisbon
BANANA CAFÉ TRAM

THE TRAM CAFÉ
In the Belém district, across the street from the monastery, is an old tram now converted into a café. At the tables around it you may enjoy a drink or a variety of light meals, such as salads and other healthy choices.

Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon
RIBEIRA DAS NAUS

RIBEIRA DAS NAUS AND MUNICIPAL SQUARE
Watch the trams go by as you sit by the kiosk of Municipal Square. It serves drinks and light meals, perfect for before or after a stroll along the waterfront nearby. One of the most popular waterfront promenades is Ribeira das Naus, to the west of Comercio Square, and that’s where you’ll find another kiosk, quite busy in the afternoon as the sun goes down.

Praça do Município, Lisbon
MUNICIPAL SQUARE

THE LUNCH TRUCKS
New in town are the lunch trucks that are parked around the city from March to October. From Monday to Friday, from 10AM to 8PM, they may be found in the Cais do Sodré neighborhood, in the Amoreiras district or Saldanha Square uptown. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 8PM to 2AM they’re also at the top of Edward VII Park overlooking the city. On Sundays, there’s one from 10AM to 7PM at the Monsanto forest park. Different types of foods will alternate between each location, so you may find the one serving burgers, or the one with hot dogs, another with traditional Portuguese food, another with sushi, and yet another for the healthier meals offered at the Municipal Square kiosk mentioned above.

Top 10 Fun Activities in Lisbon

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Tours

 

In recent times, Lisbon has seen a veritable boom in fun activities for tourists. It’s now possible to visit the historic neighbourhoods of the centre of the city, and navigate the cobbled streets in a variety of ways, ranging from Segways, to jeeps, to sidecars and even aboard an amphibious vehicle which will then head straight to the river for a trip on the water! Here, then, and in no particular order, we list what we think are the Top 10 Fun Activities you can try out in Lisbon:

1. GPS-Guided GoCar Tour

Gocar Tours in LisbonIf you’ve been to Lisbon in the last couple of years, you’ve surely noticed the little yellow 3-wheeler GoCars whizzing around the centre of the city. These 2-seater cars were the first computer-guided storytelling car, originally in San Francisco and then in Lisbon before becoming available in a few other cities. The onboard GPS unit provides instructions so that the car knows where you’re going even if you don’t, allowing you to wander around the small streets and alleys of central Lisbon, investigating the city as you go. More info and bookings here.

2. Discover Lisbon by Sidecar

A relatively new addition to the stable of fun vehicles riding around Portugal’s capital, the motorbike with sidecar provides an entertaining way to tour and see the sights. Driven by a qualified guide, you’re taken around the old streets of Lisbon, with one person in the sidecar and another on the motorbike, and stop off on the way to take some great photos and learn some interesting facts about the city.

Sit back and enjoy the ride in this classic sidecar, taking you back in time to visit the historical areas of Old Lisbon. More info and bookings here.

3. Glide on a Segway

Small-Group Medieval Lisbon Tour by Segway

Segways are quite commonplace these days, and can be seen in airports, used by the police in some cities, and in many other situations. They’re a great way to get around and the perfect means of transport for Lisbon’s sometimes difficult to navigate hills and narrow streets. In just a few minutes you’ll easily learn to ride this self-balancing 2-wheeled vehicle, touring round the city as you stand on the Segway’s platform, allowing you to see the attractions of Lisbon as you glide comfortably on this novel transport. More info and bookings here.

4. Hop-on, Hop-off Tram Tour

One of the first things everybody learns about Lisbon is that the old electric trams still run through the city. As they trundle past, heads turn and cameras flash, and some people even venture onboard to take a quick journey up one of the hills. But the red trams make this possibility even easier, allowing you to buy a ticket, hop-on to visit one part of the city, hop-off to investigate the area by foot, and hop-on again when the next tram comes by. You can start your tour at any of the 6 stops, and ride until you want to hop off, allowing you the flexibility to see the city at your own pace, but with some traditional transport to take you around! More info and bookings here.

 5. A Joyride by Jeep

We Hate Tourism Tours is a local tour company that tries to do things differently, as you might have guessed from the name. They’ve certainly achieved that aim with their King of the Hills tours, taken in what they call their “one of a kind vintage, seven-passenger convertible jeep”. The tour takes you up and down the hills of the city, getting to know the places “only the locals know”, in a “crazy ride” with one of the local drivers. The idea here, obviously, is not to take a typical tour, but to experience something a little different, and to enjoy the novel approach to tourism that this young company is so proud of. More info and bookings here.

 6. Electric Bike Tour

Lisbon Seven Hills Electric Bike TourIt’s certainly not unusual to see traditional bikes being ridden around Lisbon, but we sometimes feel sorry for the rider when he or she has to struggle to climb one of the steep hills the city is known for (and for which we should be grateful, because they give us such wonderful viewpoints at the top!). An electric bike makes such climbs much easier, though, and it’s now possible to hire one of these great inventions to quickly reach the best places for the most stunning views. A tour like this provides a fun way to see the sights and to get a little excercise at the same time – but not too much 🙂   Helmets and reflective vests are provided, and you can ride around the city on the morning, afternoon or night tours. More info and bookings here.

 

7. The HippoTrip Tour

Capture

Of all the tours mentioned on this page, this is certainly the only one that takes place on both land and water. The HippoTrip takes place aboard an amphibious vehicle, the first of its kind in Portugal, and provides a fun-filled guided city tour by a unique means of transport. The HippoTrip bus takes you round the city and on to the water in an entertaining 90-minute trip that will have heads turning and mouths dropping as the large vehicle drives in to the water and then simply keeps afloat to emulate the most seaworthy boats. This is a great way to tour the city and see Lisbon with a splash! More info and bookings here.

8. Lisbon & Sintra by convertible Beetle

Private Tour: Lisbon and Sintra Sightseeing Tour by Convertible BeetleThe old, original VW Beetle car is one of the most-loved and best-known cars of all time. Its instantly recognisable shape is synonymous with fun and adventure, and the restored, convertible models used for this tour certainly provide plenty of that! This 3-hour tour allows you to get to know Lisbon with your family or group of friends, and at the same time enjoy a comfortable drive in this classic car. A full-day tour is also possible, which includes the world heritage listed town of Sintra, a beautiful destination and a perfect place to complement the historical districts of the capital. More info and bookings here.

9. Tuk-Tuk Tours

Untitled-7An auto rickshaw is a three-wheeled cabin cycle used as an essential form of urban transport in many developing countries. So what’s that got to do with Lisbon? Well, the Tuk-Tuk, as it’s commonly known – due to the sound it makes when in motion – is now available as a means of seeing the city. This is a fun way to sit back and let yourself be driven around to see the sights, sitting on the back of this novelty transport to enjoy the warm weather and get a great view of the attractions of the old, historic quarters of Lisbon. These fun vehicles come in different colours and sizes, and are operated by two different companies, but all of them provide an entertaining tour and an experience to remember. More info and bookings here and here.

10. Sunset & Coastline Cruises

For the romantic among you, how about the chance to see the spectacular sunset in Lisbon from a sailboat on the expansive Tagus estuary? Sip a glass of champagne as you admire the city skyline from the deck of your sailboat as you pass by the Belém Tower, Monument to the Discoveries and under the 25th April Bridge, and as the crew point out the famous landmarks on shore, while you’re bathed in the light of the late-afternoon sun. Several different tours by boat are available in Lisbon, even including a hop-on, hop-off version allowing you to visit different shoreline neighbourhoods on a 24-hour ticket. We can’t promise you’ll tour on both land and water like the HippoTrip tour above, but we can promise you’ll end this tour with an unforgettably romantic experience! More info and bookings here.