Posts About 'Alfama'

Lisbon’s 10 Most-Visited Attractions

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Based on official reports and semi-official numbers, these are Lisbon’s 10-most visited attractions. Some are understandably so, others less worthy of a visit than a few sites missing from the list.

Jeronimos Monastery, Lisbon

This World Heritage Site is Lisbon’s most important monument and naturally receives the most visitors. The church is free and is extraordinarily ornate, but the real attraction are the cloisters.

Attracting over one million visitors every year, this is one of the world’s largest aquariums and it just got bigger with a new extension this year, guaranteeing even more people through its doors for temporary exhibitions.

Locals and tourists (close to a million of them) flock to this ancient hilltop monument every year. It’s seen from almost anywhere in the city, so it constantly invites you to its ramparts.

Apparently everyone thinks “It’s free, so why not go inside?” The reward is one of Europe’s most important modern art collections and it’s now visited more than other famous European museums such as Bilbao’s Guggenheim.

Leaving Lisbon without seeing Belém Tower is like going to Paris and not seeing Eiffel’s. The city icon is on the riverfront almost by the Atlantic, but it’s a pilgrimage everyone must make.

This one is almost inevitable: It’s found halfway between the Tower of Belém and the monastery and is featured on almost every postcard and guidebook of the city. The colossal images of Portugal’s famous explorers also make it a must-stop for photos.

The ride only lasts a few seconds, but the real attraction are the views at the top of this towering elevator with an Eiffel Tower-like structure.

This is Portugal’s most-visited national museum and the reason is that everyone is told that it has the world’s largest and best collection of royal carriages. It’s like entering a Cinderella world that attracts visitors of all ages, making it a perfect family attraction.

The number of visitors has risen every year and that is due to a few important temporary exhibitions that have led many to discover its noteworthy permanent collection, in large part related to Portugal’s Age of Discovery.

Everyone who visits Lisbon will at least pass by on their way to the castle on tram 28. Many end up going inside, and although it’s far from being one of Lisbon’s most beautiful churches, it is its oldest and it is the cathedral.

Discoveries Monument, Lisbon

5 Spots to Literally Spend the Night Out in Lisbon

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

When you say you’re going out at night, you often mean spend the night sitting in a movie theater or at a bar, or dancing at a club. “Out” simply means out of the house, but in such an outdoors city like Lisbon, “out” really means outside. Most people gather around the streets of Bairro Alto by the doors of the multitude of bars, but there are other spots for a relaxed evening in the open air. These are the five best choices:

Portas do Sol, Lisbon

In the city’s biggest and most beautiful terrace is this café-bar overlooking the river. It’s more of a café during the day, but at night it’s a cocktail bar that stays open until midnight on weekdays and 2AM on Fridays and Saturdays. The lively ambience is often enhanced by DJs.

This iconic viewpoint competes with Portas do Sol for the best views in town. It has two kiosks (one on each of the two levels), and on the lower terrace we can recommend a bowl of açaí that was introduced this summer for a healthy dessert before you go for the drinks as you look out to the moonlit city.

This riverfront café is a great spot to sunbathe during the day, but it’s also perfect at night for cocktails and upbeat sounds (this summer it also hosted live bands). On the warmer nights it has a certain beach bar vibe, especially with its palm trees and wooden decks.

Most bars and restaurants of the docks are a little touristy and lack any real personality, but one of the exceptions is this glass rectangle on the water’s edge. Throughout the week it’s open until 2AM (it closes on Mondays), and on weekends you’ll hear DJs spinning house and chill-out sounds until 6AM as you watch the sunrise.

It’s much smaller than Portas do Sol and São Pedro de Alcântara but this terrace-viewpoint is just as popular and attracts a variety of people of all ages. You can sit there drinking and chatting (often to the sound of music) until 3AM as you admire the castle and 25 de Abril Bridge in the distance.

Lisbon from 3 Monumental Rooftops

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Basilica da Estrela, Lisbon

One of Lisbon’s most monumental churches never really opened itself to tourists. Its doors were only open for mass and prayer, with tourists just taking a quick look inside. But it’s now finally decided to open its terrace and dome for tourist visits, on guided tours taking place every half hour.
Many will find it overpriced (it’s 5 euros per person with no discounts available with the Lisboa Card), but anyone will enjoy the views from the top. You reach it through a dizzying spiral staircase, and may enter the dome to see the interior of the church from above.
The views from the terrace by the twin towers include the river, 25 de Abril Bridge and the castle in the distance.

Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora, Lisbon

It’s one of the city’s main landmarks but it’s often overlooked among so many other attractions. The interior includes a fascinating series of tile panels telling La Fontaine’s fables, while the terrace offers a magnificent view of the city, including of the dome of the National Pantheon right below.

National Pantheon, Lisbon

You can see the dome of the National Pantheon from several parts of the city, and you can also lean against it as you admire a view of the city. You can do it for free on Sundays until 2PM or at any time with the Lisboa Card. Those views include the towers of St. Vincent Monastery and the river.

5 Lisbon Cafes for Rainy Days

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

If you happen to be in Lisbon on a rainy day, here is where to seek refuge. These are cafés that could also be destinations themselves, either for their ambience, décor or simply for the food and refreshments they offer.

Your day will be brightened as soon as you enter and see the inviting interior where everyone enjoys an excellent piece of cake and a good drink. The cakes are the first temptations you see, and then you’re given a long list of teas to choose from. Because you’re in Portugal, look for the only tea produced in Europe, in Portugal’s Azores, the Gorreana green tea.
Address: Rua das Salgadeiras 38

Café Fabulas, Lisbon

It’s big but cozy thanks to a very charming décor made up of old furnishings. Not much light comes in from outside, so no matter how gloomy it is on the street, here it’s a wonderful escape where you can eat, drink, and spend some time relaxing, perhaps carefully planning your itinerary. It’s found in Chiado, and a metro station is nearby, where an underground train on the blue line can take you to your next destination — perhaps the Gulbenkian Museum.

Esplanada Café Portas do Sol, Lisbon

Lisbon’s favorite summertime terrace can also be the place to be on rainy and colder days. That’s because there is also a nice interior with large windows that still allow you to look out to the city. Relax as you watch the rain fall over Alfama‘s rooftops and church towers, have a drink and a light meal, and then hop into tram 28 just a few feet away to get to the following attraction on your sightseeing list.

This historic café is known for its monumental interior and as a pastry shop offering some of the city’s most sugary confections.
Dating from the 1920s, its name comes from the obvious inspiration for the mirrored walls and stucco ceiling decorations, and is easy to reach on the yellow line of the metro, the best way to get around the city on rainy days.
Address: Avenida da República 15A

Pois Café, Lisbon

This is one of the favorite cafés in the city to stay sitting with friends, or reading a book and periodicals. It’s found close to the cathedral where tram 28 stops, and it serves daily specials that combine Portuguese and Austrian dishes. It’s also a good place for brunch on a rainy weekend. The best spots, if you are lucky to find them unoccupied, are the ones with sofas and not the less-comfortable wooden chairs.

“Cruzes Credo” – A New Café in Lisbon for a Sightseeing Break in Alfama

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Cruzes Credo Café, Lisbon

Those walking around Lisbon’s Alfama neighborhood, especially around the city’s cathedral on the way up to the castle often end up at “Pois,” an Austrian-inspired café. It’s a local favorite and it has reached the guidebooks as one of the best places for a quick meal in this part of town. That café now has a new competitor down the street, the new “Cruzes Credo,” found to the right of the cathedral.
Unlike Pois, it serves dinner, staying open until 2AM (doors open at 8AM). It has a very relaxed atmosphere and a well-preserved interior of stone walls and industrial lighting around which a menu of light meals is served. There are toasted sandwiches and hamburgers that can be accompanied by wine by the glass.
After dinner you can go for the mojitos and caipirinhas, in a dimly-lit ambience to the sounds of electro-jazz.

Address: Rua Cruzes da Sé, 29

Cruzes Credo Café, Lisbon

Cruzes Credo Café, Lisbon

Lisbon’s New Terrace Bar: “Clube Ferroviário”

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Clube Ferroviario, Lisboa

Lisbon has a new terrace that is aiming to become one of the city’s hottest bars. It’s found by Santa Apolonia station (and Lisbon’s favorite club, Lux), and promises an eclectic calendar of events. It has two rooms for concerts and DJs, two bars and a terrace which can also be used for live music together with views of the river.
It’s open from Wednesday to Sunday, but unlike many other bars in the city, it’s not just open at night. It’s also a place to go before dinner in the afternoon, serving tapas, light meals, and drinks looking out to the Tagus.
Sundays will be a little different, devoted to theme parties and offering a brunch served by Magnolia, one of the city’s favorite contemporary cafés. On that day you can catch guest DJs, concerts, or film screenings.
Check out its Facebook page for more details.

10 Lisbon Outdoor Sightseeing Activities for the Summer

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

It’s now June which means that from now until October, Lisbon will be sunny about 90% of the time. When visiting the city at this time, touring museums feels less appealing and you’ll likely be drawn to the great outdoors. Lisbon is perfect for that, with a marvelous setting: It has a river that many mistaken for the ocean, hills creating an amphitheater-like landscape best admired from the top of its castle, and terraces scattered around offering panoramic vistas. In between you’ll discover charming gardens, monuments offering views, and the approaching breeze of the Atlantic. Here are 10 ideas for what to do in the open air this summer in Lisbon:

Principe Real, Lisbon

The Principe Real neighborhood is one of Lisbon’s most charming residential areas, and its main square has just reopened last week after months of renovation. That square is actually a garden and you can sit under a gigantic “umbrella tree,” try one of the city’s traditional drinks at a kiosk café, and admire the architectural details of the colorful buildings of the surroundings. Go down the hill and you reach Praça das Flores, perhaps Lisbon’s most romantic corner. It’s never mentioned in guidebooks, but this small, shaded square has a couple of the city’s most inviting cafés with outdoor tables, including the new “Novamesa Snack Bar,” an extention of the recent Nova Mesa restaurant. Back up the hill is the enchanting Botanical Garden.

Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon

Avenida da Liberdade is Lisbon’s mile-long “Champs Elysées,” a boulevard know for its luxury shops, theaters, and cafés. A new Prada store is opening this week in one of its most beautiful buildings, and you can do some window-shopping as you go down the avenue admiring the city’s trademark mosaic pavements and stop to take a look at the many scattered statues, all the way to the city’s biggest park. Edward VII Park goes up a hill and once you reach the top you’re rewarded with a postcard-view of the city.

Praca do Comercio, Lisbon

As GoLisbon reported, Lisbon’s biggest and most monumental square has just been renovated. The planned cafés will only be open in September or October, but you can sit by the river, at Cais das Colunas, a quayside area with two large columns marking the entrance to the city from the Tagus. From here you can admire the square and its triumphal arch, and sit as you watch the ferries cross the river, and see the landmark 25 de Abril Bridge and the Monument to Christ in the distance.

Panteao Nacional, Lisboa

The National Pantheon and St. Vincent’s Monastery are both located in Alfama just steps from each other, and besides both being painted in shining white, they both offer rooftop terraces for city views. You can stop to check your guidebook or simply stay admiring the city as you work on your tan.

Portas do Sol, Lisbon

Alfama is Lisbon’s most picturesque neighborhood and it’s always best enjoyed outdoors. It forces even the laziest walkers to go up and down its cobbled streets, and the reward are its terrace viewpoints. Three of the most beautiful viewpoints in the city are located within walking distance from each other, and they allow you to do some sightseeing as you enjoy your sunny summer days. Start in Miradouro de Santa Luzia, go up to Miradouro das Portas do Sol (stop for a drink at its fantastic terrace café), and continue up the hill to Miradouro da Graça where you won’t be able to put your camera down.

Belém, Lisbon

Florida’s Cape Canaveral is the launch pad for the exploration of space today, but five centuries ago the launch pad for the exploration of planet Earth was Lisbon’s Belém district. That’s where you’ll find the city’s three biggest landmarks, the Discoveries Monument, the Belém Tower, and Jerónimos Monastery. Starting at the monastery, walk west along the waterfront to admire the architecture and stone work of the other two monuments, and picture Vasco da Gama departing on his way to discovering the maritime route to the East or Pedro Alvares Cabral on his way to discoverig South America.

Parque das Nações, Lisbon

Lisbon’s waterfront is not just about the voyages of the past. At the former site of 1998’s World Fair you now find a modern residential and business district with futuristic architecture. You may see all of it from a bird’s-eye perspective on a cable car ride, or walking along the riverfront from one of the world’s biggest aquariums all the way to a Dubai-like tower, Torre Vasco da Gama. In between you’ll see lawns and gardens inviting you for a picnic.

With so many walks by the river you’ll probably end up wishing you were in it. You may do that by taking a sightseeing cruise which departs every afternoon from the center of the city and goes all the way to Belém and Parque das Nações. Be sure to take your camera, especially when you pass under 25 de Abril Bridge and see Vasco da Gama Bridge at the end of the journey. Get complete cruise details here: Tagus River Cruise

By now you probably already know that Lisbon is one of Europe’s most picturesque cities which is why it’s so loved by photographers. Even if you have very little talent and don’t aspire to become one, you’ll enjoy a walking tour where photographing the city is the theme. Your attention will be guided to all the details that make Lisbon so special, from the tiled façaded to the cobbled mosaics, to the surprising views along the way.
Complete tour details here: Lisbon Photography Walking Tour


Lisbon may have a Mediterranean look and feel, but this is actually a very Atlantic city. Its river opens to the ocean from the Belém district to the seaside towns of Cascais and Estoril. Known as “the Portuguese Riviera,” these are two chic resorts which are connected by a beachfront boardwalk. You’ll find pretty villas, marinas, small coves, and Europe’s largest casino but on a sunny day nothing will make you leave the boardwalk with occasional stops for a drink at a beachfront café or some sunbathing on the sand.

Enjoying Moonlit Lisbon at “Portas do Sol”

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Portas do Sol Café-Bar, Lisbon

“Portas do Sol” may mean “the sun’s gateway,” but it’s also the name of one of Lisbon’s best new cafés with fantastic city views day or night (as GoLisbon told you about here), and now also a happening bar on weekends. So while you go to “the sun’s gateway” to enjoy Lisbon’s sunny skies and a light meal, now you can also observe the moon- and floodlit city from there as you sip on cocktails. As if that wasn’t enough to get you in a chilled-out mood, DJs provide the beats for an even more enjoyable ambience.
As the nights become longer, the temperatures rise, and rain becomes less frequent, a roster of DJs is being planned for the upcoming weeks, and we can already imagine it to become one of the hottest spots to be this summer.
There’s a spacious indoor area, but what’s likely to be taken over first are the couches on the terrace, or the tables to enjoy a midnight snack and drinks. The guest DJs arrive at 10PM and stay until 2AM. You can reach it by taking tram 28, while Lisbon residents arriving by car can park right underneath the terrace.

The Civilizations of the World Unearthed in Lisbon’s Castle of St. George

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Archaeological site in Lisbon's Castle of St. George

Phoenicians, Celts, Romans, Moors, all left their mark on Lisbon. The Portuguese capital is said to be the oldest still-inhabited city in Europe after Athens, and every time a hole is dug, something from a very distant past is revealed. Many of those archaeological finds were unearthed around the Castle of St. George (it was given that name in the 14th century after King João of Portugal married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster), and the site includes a small museum with the most important finds. However, the archaeological site itself has remained closed since the mid-90s until today.
Lisbon is now the only European capital with an archaeological site showing remains from constructions dating back to the Iron Age all the way to the 18th century. This is one of the rare sites on Earth where you can see the presence of so many civilizations, and for those interested in archaeology or the history of Lisbon, it’s a site not to miss when visiting the city and one of its most beloved landmarks.

Archaeological site in Lisbon's Castle of St. George

Alfama’s “O Chá” – Tea and a Taste of Macau in Lisbon

Friday, February 5th, 2010

O Cha Tea Room, Lisbon


It first opened in the residential neighborhood of Alvalade, but it later added a second home in the old, historical center of the city, Alfama. Both “O Chá Tea Room” offer over 70 kinds of tea, mostly from Asia (Japan and China), but also from Africa, Latin America, and Portugal’s Azores. China, or more specifically the former Portuguese colony of Macau is the inspiration for the entire space, reflected on the hot colors of the decor. At Alvalade you may also buy some Asian furnishings while in Alfama it’s strictly a tea house. In addition to the teas it also serves a soup of the day, cakes, scones, crepes, and toasted sandwiches. That together with the chilled-out background music makes this a great place to meet friends or to take a break from sightseeing in Alfama. Sit on the dark-wood chairs, the colorful couches, or the cushy bean bags surrounded by Asian decorative items (from Tibet, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, China…), and feel yourself be transported to the exotic lands discovered by Portuguese explorers (the owners lived in Macau until 2001). On some evenings there is live music, poetry-related events, and there are planned tea-related workshops in the future.
To find it, take tram 28 or follow its tracks from the Portas do Sol viewpoint in the direction of São Vicente Monastery. It’s on number 7C of Rua das Escolas Gerais, with tram 28 passing right by the door. It’s open on weekends, but closes on Mondays and Tuesdays. The opening times on weekdays are 4PM to 11 PM, on Saturdays it’s from 1PM to midnight, while on Sundays it’s 1PM to 8PM.

O Cha Tea Room, Lisbon

O Cha Tea Room, Lisbon