Travel Story Portugal- Lisbon
Today our travel story brings you to Lisbon, Portugal, Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, a city, a port, and the geographic center of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. The most western capital city in continental Europe, it is situated in western Portugal on the estuary of the Tagus (Tejo) River. It is the nation’s principal port, largest city, and commercial, political, and tourism hub. The name of the town, which is a modification of the ancient Olisipo (Ulyssipo), has been attributed to three people: Elisha, who is said to be the grandson of the Hebrew patriarch Abraham; and, more plausibly, Phoenician colonists. Ulysses (Odysseus), the hero of Homer’s Odyssey, is also mentioned as having left a legacy when the city was founded. Lisbon’s natural harbor, one of the most magnificent in the world, is what gives the city its historical prominence. Thirty-three square miles are in the city (85 square km).
What not to miss in the center of Lisbon
In Lisbon, a good point to start is the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Plaza), one of the largest plazas in Portugal. It faces the River Tejo and has the nickname: Terreiro do Paço (Palace Yard). Also, a must-see is the “Pink street” (Rua Cor de Rosa). This street is known for its lively nightlife; I haven’t experienced the street during the night, but also during the day, you will find charming little restaurants. One of the most known districts is the La Alfama; going up the city, you have a stunning view of the pastel-colored houses and the River Tejo.
Continuing until the highest point of Lisbon, you will encounter the San Jorge Castle (Castillo de San Jorge), which offers you a view over the whole city.
Other places to visit are the Cathedral of Lisbon, which also carries the name Cathedral Sé and is one of the oldest buildings in the city.
When tired of walking uphill, you can go to de Elevator Santa Justa, which will bring you to de district La Baixa or the other way around to the Barrio Alto, two lively districts.
A little bit outside the center of Lisbon, next to the River, you will find the Monument of Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos ), located in the district of Belém. It is a reminder of the Portuguese Age of Discovery as colonial power during the 15th and 16th centuries.
On the other side of the Bridge 25 of April (Ponte 25 de Abril), crossing the River Tejo, you will reach the municipality of Almada. There you will be able to visit the Cristo Rei (The Sanctuary of Christ in the King), either from the ground or going up the statue – both possibilities offer a fantastic view of the city of Lisbon.
What culinarian experience not to miss in Lisbon
Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, is a great city to sample a range of food from all corners of the coastal nation. Must-try food in Lisbon includes local specialties that originated on its cobblestone streets as well as Portuguese dishes from other regions and cities such as the Douro, Alentejo, and the Algarve.
Besides the stunning cities of Lisbon and Cascais, which I was able to discover, the Portuguese kitchen was one of the experiences I most enjoyed. Due to the coastal position of Portugal, you find a variety of seafood which leaves nothing to be desired. Known for the Sardinha (Sardine), Lisbon has a variety of canned sardines – something for every taste.
But also, for sweets, there is a lot to discover. You can find the famous Pastéis de Belém in the same called district, Belém. And surprise, surprise, the bakery has the same name, “Pastés de Belém” – it cannot get easier than that. Besides the delicious mini cakes, you can also find other sweet and salty bread types.
Underneath the Cristo Rei, you will find various restaurants right before the coast. There you find super good seafood, typical dishes, and a beautiful view of the bridge and the city of Lisbon. You need to try the grilled sardines, and specific in Portugal is to order a variety of little plates (petiscos) which are finger food or little dishes. I recommend the restaurant “Ponto final,” which I visited with my local girlfriend and left me speechless.
The Bifana may be a mystery to visitors, but the concept will surely be familiar. One of the best sandwiches in the world, this iconic Portuguese sandwich is comprised of sautéed, marinated pork packed inside a crispy roll. Some restaurants add more ingredients, but a true Bifana is a simple affair. Add some chips (i.e., french fries) and a glass of Sagres beer to complete the ultimate Lisbon cheap eats meal.
Bacalhau is more than your mother’s cod. This salted fish is a popular food staple and part of Portugal’s culinary heritage.
The epic history of Bacalhau goes back centuries when intrepid explorers ate preserved fish while conquering the world, consuming necessary protein during long stints at sea. Today, travelers find Bacalhau on Portuguese menus throughout Lisbon, with enough variations to eliminate any possibility of boredom.
Although you’ll find the crispy treats at most snack bars in Lisbon, they’re a specialty that originated in northern Portugal. Be sure to try Bacalhau à Brás with shredded cod mixed with potatoes, eggs, onions, chopped parsley, garlic, and olives for garnish. We also recommend Pastéis de Bacalhau, fried fish cakes with a mix of potatoes and herbs reminiscent of croquettes.
The best way to visit Lisbon’s surroundings – is with a local person.
That’s how I got to the beautiful area surrounding Lisbon. I went with my Portuguese girlfriend at that time, originally from Cascais.
Cascais – a coastal city, which is also known for the many royalties who lived there and has a lot to offer, especially in terms of stunning nature. Cascais is located about 40 minutes by car from Lisbon. Whether you prefer city beaches like the Praia da Poca or calmer places outside of the charming city of Cascais like the Praia do Guincho, near the Praia do Guincho, you will also find some hiking routes which lead you to a hill where you have a beautiful view of the beach and the city of Cascais.
For those who like it windy, I recommend visiting the municipality of Sintra, where you will find Cabo da Roca – the most westerly extent of Portugal (and continental Europe). Beautiful rock formations and the Praia da Ursa offer gorgeous, isolated beaches and a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean. You also find a lighthouse (Farol de Cabo da Roca) there, which started to operate in 1772.
In Sintra, a must-visit is also the Palácio da Pena, located in the Sintra Mountains and above the town of Sintra. When walking up to the castle, you can stop by the park and palace of Monserrate (Palácio de Monserrate), a world heritage cultural landscape and convinces with its romantic style – lakes, springs, fountains, and a variety of flowers. The castle stands out due to its bright colors and the beautiful green area (over 200 hectares) surrounding it and is worth a walk.