The Most Romantic 24 Hours in Lisbon

Lisbon sunrise

PORTAS DO SOL

SUNRISE
Wake up before sunrise, and head to Portas do Sol (literally “The Sun Gate”). This terrace in the Alfama district is where you may sit and watch the sun rising, and admire the early morning glow over the city’s most postcard-perfect view. It’s a good idea to stay at one of the hotels nearby, and if you choose Palácio Belmonte, you may even have the Portas do Sol view from your room. Other choices are Memmo Alfama, Solar dos Mouros and Solar do Castelo. After the sun has risen, go for a stroll around the neighboring maze of picturesque streets until 9AM, the castle’s opening time.
Castle view, Lisbon

VIEW FROM THE CASTLE

MORNING
Get a bird’s-eye view over the city from its oldest monument. Feel like the king and queen of the castle as you walk around the ramparts in the company of peacocks. You’ll want to spend some time here, but there’s still plenty to see, so hop on an official tram tour, which goes around the old city.
You may then look for a place for lunch that best appeals to you, although you probably should head back up by the castle for a meal with a view over the city, at Chapitô à Mesa.

Chapitô à Mesa

CHAPITÔ À MESA

Coaches Museum, Lisbon

COACHES MUSEUM

AFTERNOON
You may want to wait a few minutes for dessert. Try the city’s famous custard tarts on the opposite side of town, the Belém district. Lisbon’s most famous and iconic landmarks are all found there on the waterfront, where the Tagus river becomes the Atlantic. This was from where explorers like Vasco da Gama departed for their voyages around the world during the Age of Discovery, and now you may see the magnificent architecture from that time. Start with the cloisters of the Jeronimos Monastery, take a photo by the Discoveries Monument, and relax by the beautiful Belém Tower. Be sure to also see the Cinderella-like carriages of the Coaches Museum, and if you’ve still got the energy, head up the hill to the royal palace of Ajuda, known for its romantic collection of decorative art.

Belem Tower, Lisbon
BELEM TOWER

Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon

RIBEIRA DAS NAUS

SUNSET
Head back to the center of town, but stay by the waterfront. Head to the top of the triumphal arch for the beautiful view, and late in the afternoon there’s no better spot to be than Ribeira das Naus, the promenade next to Comercio Square. This is where many choose to stay for the sunset, either at the Cais das Colunas wharf, or sitting on the steps of the promenade.
Lisbon sunset

RIBEIRA DAS NAUS

Moon over Lisbon
MIRADOURO DE SÃO PEDRO DE ALCÂNTARA

NIGHT
After the sun disappears in the horizon, but before nightfall, head up to Bairro Alto for the city’s most romantic viewpoint, Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. It’s the perfect backdrop for a selfie of the two of you, and you may sit for a while, as the moon shines above the castle.

Comercio Square, Lisbon

VIEW FROM THE TRIUMPHAL ARCH

Embaixada

EMBAIXADA

Continue heading up the hill and you’re now in the romantic district of Principe Real. Get yourselves a gift at the monumental Embaixada shopping gallery, and sit relaxing under the gigantic umbrella-like cedar tree at the garden across from it. It’s now dinner time, so choose one of the many restaurants in the popular nightlife district Bairro Alto nearby. Consider As Salgadeiras, a former bakery (the stone vaulted ceiling and old brick oven have been maintained) that serves excellent Portuguese cuisine, or try Lisboa à Noite. It’s a former stable for horses that has kept the ring chains and beautiful tile panels from the 1700s, serving some classic Portuguese dishes. A third option is Pap’Açorda, a chandeliered restaurant known for both its contemporary and traditional Portuguese cuisine, and yet another choice is The Insólito, found on a rooftop looking out to the castle.
The Insolito

THE INSOLITO

It’s now time to head back to your hotel, but you may also choose an apartment instead.
But why should you only have 24 romantic hours in Lisbon? Make this a 48-hour experience, and head to Sintra on the following day. This fairy tale town less than 40 minutes from the capital city was Europe’s first center of Romantic architecture, and is now a World Heritage Site. Of the many palaces and castles in town, the one you can’t miss is Pena Palace, but we also recommend the Regaleira Palace and the Moorish Castle, and Monserrate Palace. You can easily spend an entire day hopping around palaces and castles, and you may then relax in the oldest hotel in the Iberian Peninsula, Lawrence’s Hotel, or have the royal experience at Seteais Palace Hotel.

Pena Palace

PENA PALACE

Christmas and New Year’s in Lisbon 2014

Holidays in Lisbon, Portugal

The Christmas lights are now on, and the Christmas shopping has begun. Much like everywhere else, there’s plenty of Christmas spirit in Lisbon, and if you’ll be in town this month and until New Year’s Day, you’ll find special events around the city:

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS
From December 7th to the 21st, there will be free Christmas concerts in several of the city’s churches. Some of the highlights: In São Roque Church on the 12th at 9:30PM, in Graça Church on the 14th at 4PM, and in São Domingos Church on the 20th at 9:30PM. There will also be a special concert of the Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra on Sunday the 21st, at 5:30PM in São Luiz Theater.

CHRISTMAS MARKET
From the 12th to the 28th you’ll find a Christmas market in the city’s largest square, Praça do Comércio. It’s the perfect opportunity to find something special from Lisbon for a gift.

MULTIMEDIA SHOW
The market won’t be the only event in Comercio Square. From the 14th to the 23rd, there will be a multimedia show projected onto the façades every night at 7PM, 8PM and 9PM. It’s a family show, lasting for about 15 minutes, with the theme of “Christmas wishes.”

CHRISTMAS VILLAGE
Outside Lisbon, to the north of the city in the medieval village of Obidos, is the annual “Christmas Village.” It presents several shows and activities from December 5th to January 4th within the castle walls: See Facebook photos of the event here

NEW YEAR’S EVE
As always, the major New Year’s Eve celebrations will also take place in Comercio Square, with the usual fireworks at midnight. There will be plenty of live music before that, and you may grab a seat for a meal or drink at one of the many tables surrounding the square.

5 Things to Cool You Off in Lisbon this Summer

Although this summer has been a little cooler and less sunny than usual, remember that you may find summer weather in Lisbon until early October. In between sightseeing, you’ll want to take a few breaks to cool off, and these are five things you could do in different parts of town:

Cocktail bike, Lisbon

SIP A COCKTAIL AT RIBEIRA DAS NAUS
A bike serving cocktails has been recently added to the attractions of Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon’s unofficial “urban beach.” You may sip a mojito, a mint lemonade or gin as you sunbathe on the lawn or on the water’s edge.

Graça, Lisbon

HAVE A BEER IN GRAÇA
As you may know, there are several hilltop terraces in Lisbon with beautiful views. One of them is in the Graça district (reached by tram 28), and there’s a kiosk café on the site. Enjoy a cool beer as you look out to the castle and the city below you.

Ribeira market, Lisbon

HEAD INSIDE THE RIBEIRA MARKET
It’s currently Lisbon’s trendiest dining destination. The new food court of the Ribeira Market serves all kinds of food and drinks throughout the day. So whether you wish to escape the heat at lunch time, or want a refreshing drink or meal in the evening, this is the place to go.

Santini, Lisbon

ENJOY AN ICE CREAM AT SANTINI
As you shop around the elegant streets of Chiado, you may want to enjoy what many locals say is their city’s best ice cream. You be the judge, as you choose among a list of different flavors. You’ll find them at number 9 of Rua do Carmo.

Lisbon cruise

GO ON A CRUISE
See Lisbon’s monuments go by on a cruise. Take a few photos and relax as you go from historic to modern Lisbon, but remember that it’s always a little cool on the boat, even on the hottest days. Check out all the information about the city’s sightseeing cruises here: LISBON CRUISES

10 Spots to Watch the World Cup in Lisbon

If you’re in Lisbon between June 12 and July 13, and want to join the rest of the world in watching the World Cup, there are a few spots in town where you may do that in the company of locals and other tourists — while having a couple of drinks. We’ve chosen ten of them, in different parts of the center of the city, so no matter where you are staying, there is a place close to your hotel or apartment:

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Lisbon

1. QUIOSQUE DE SÃO PEDRO DE ALCÂNTARA
Neighborhood: Bairro Alto
Address: Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara

The kiosk café on Lisbon’s most romantic terrace viewpoint will be presenting more than just the usual city views. It will show all of the games and offer beer “happy hours.”

2. QUIOSQUES LIBERDADE
Neighborhood: Avenida da Liberdade
Address: Avenida da Liberdade

The several kiosk cafés found down Lisbon’s grand central boulevard will be showing Portugal’s games on large screens, with beer glasses going for just €1.50.

3. PARK
Neighborhood: Bairro Alto
Address: Calçada do Combro, 58

Found at the top of a parking garage, this is one of the city’s most popular bars. You’ll be able to watch the games (in the afternoon and at night) with a view of the 25 de Abril Bridge.

Ribeira das Naus, Lisbon

4. QUIOSQUE DA RIBEIRA DAS NAUS
Neighborhood: Cais do Sodré
Address: Ribeira das Naus

The waterfront promenade Ribeira das Naus, between downtown’s Comercio Square and the Cais do Sodré neighborhood, is the latest hotspot for some drinks in the sun, and during the World Cup it will also be the best waterfront spot to watch the games. It promises to show all of them, with “happy hours” offering beer at special prices.

5. LE CHAT
Neighborhood: Santos
Address: Rua das Janelas Verdes/Jardim 9 de Abril

Right at the doorstep of the Ancient Art Museum is this café terrace looking out to the port. During the World Cup games it will offer special menus, such as steak sandwiches and beer at special prices.

6. ELÉCTRICO BANANA CAFÉ
Neighborhood: Belém
Address: Largo dos Jerónimos

If you’re in Lisbon’s most monumental district, look for an old tram now converted into a café parked across the street from the famous Jeronimos Monastery. It will show the games on a 2-meter screen.

7. QUIOSQUE DO OLIVEIRA
Neighborhood: Príncipe Real
Address: Praça do Príncipe Real

Across the street from the city’s trendiest shopping gallery (“Embaixada”), at a corner of the neighborhood park of Príncipe Real, is this kiosk café that’s popular for late-afternoon drinks. It will show the games on a TV as it serves cheap beers.

8. CLUBE FERROVIÁRIO
Neighborhood: Alfama
Address: Rua de Santa Apolónia, 59

Hidden on a street behind Santa Apolónia train station by Alfama, this bar offers a terrace overlooking the river. It will project the games on the stage where it usually presents DJs and live music.

Mercado de Fusão, Lisbon

9. MERCADO DE FUSÃO
Neighborhood: Mouraria
Address: Praça de Martim Moniz

The big square in Lisbon’s most multiethnic neighborhood which usually serves foods from different parts of the world, will have a 42-inch LED screen showing the World Cup matches. Given the size of the square, that is not huge, so make sure you show up early to find a spot up close to the screen.

10. JARDIM DA ESTRELA
Neighborhood: Estrela
Address: Largo da Estrela
The café by the entrance of Estrela’s park across from the basilica will be showing every World Cup game except those that start at 11PM. In addition to its regular menu, it will have special finger food for you to enjoy as you watch the games on a plasma screen.

Top 10 Fun Activities in Lisbon

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.