Find the Lisbon attractions and our precious secrets before you arrive at Portugal
Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Tagus river, Lisbon offers all the delights you’d expect of Portugal’s star attraction, yet with half the fuss of other European capitals. If you are curious regarding the neighbourhoods of this beautiful city you can check the link here for more information: http://www.ezimute.com/en-GB/lisbon/neighbourhoods
You probably do not know much about Lisbon yet but believe us soon it will be your new favourite city! Let us explain why Lisbon is definitely the best city to choose for your Erasmus. What is there to do in Lisbon? What should you do and see? Where should you eat? Where are the best viewpoints? What is the cost of living in Lisbon? Where are the beaches? How does the transportation work? How to get home at night? Scroll down to find an answer to all these questions and learn more about our beautiful city!
It is the capital of Portugal, counting 550.000 people in the city center and over three million people live in the suburban areas; almost one third of the whole Portuguese population lives here. Lisbon is not the biggest capital and you can still walk around in peace without having to avoid the big masses on the streets, making Lisbon attractions a charming, authentic and peaceful city. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and the second oldest capital in Europe after Athens. This is definitely visible: if you look down at Lisbon you will see a labyrinth full of buildings in different colours and styles with the typical red rooftops, small streets going in every direction and here and there you will encounter beautiful green parks to spend a lovely sunny afternoon. Did you know Lisbon is the sunniest capital in Europe, with over 3000 hours of sunlight a year? How awesome is that! Sounds like the perfect escape for the freezing Northern European cities during winter and, of course, to enjoy our long endless summers. Relax and chill at one of our stunning beaches: just 40 minutes away from Lisbon’s city center you will be swimming in the Atlantic Ocean or learn how to surf – one of the most popular sports in Portugal.
What to see?
Lisbon is also called the city of the seven hills. Walking around in the city will make you wonder how they counted just seven hills since nearly every street is going up or down. Prepare yourself to get lost while exploring the old neighbourhoods of Lisbon like Alfama, Graça, and Chiado, discover the many miradouros (viewpoints) offering a magnificent view of Lisbon or see the sun going down behind the Belem Tower. Just 30 minutes away from the city you can explore the amazing beaches and try out some surf classes at Carcavelos beach or at the beaches in Caparica . Or take a trip to the lovely village of Sintra and explore the castles and the amazing nature. An awesome way to explore the city by foot is by joining one of the free walking tours of Discover Lisbon. They walk around the city in their bright yellow t-shirts and organize these tours two times a day. To find out more about their schedules and tours check out their website at http://www.discoverlisbon.org/
Belém is a small neighbourhood at the mouth of the Tagus River, 6km west of the city center. This place is known for its important role during the period where the Portuguese started to discover the rest of the world. It is worth to pay a visit to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos (monument of the discoveries), walk around the nice gardens of Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and of course do not leave Belem before having tried one of their delicious pasteis de Belem! One of the typical sights of Lisbon are the small yellow trams everywhere with the number 28 tram being the longest route. Hop on at number 28 which will take you along narrow steep streets up to the St. George Castle, then on to Portas do Sol (gates to the sun), relax at this large miradouro with many cafés viewing the river. Tram 28 continues its route until the Feira de Ladra (Lisbon’s popular flea market) and then it goes on to Graça, Mouraria and Bairro Alto. This is Lisbon’s bohemian center for artists and writers and at night it becomes the heart of Lisbon’s nightlife.
Another completely different part of Lisbon attractions is called Oriente: this is the modern part of Lisbon. In 1998 this area got selected for the Expo ‘98 (a World Fair hosting 130 countries) and the entire place had a complete transformation. Nowadays it looks very futuristic and one of the things not to miss here is a visit to the Parque das Nações; this park got named after Expo’98 but locals still name it Expo. It is a large park located next to the river and along the way you will see the Vasco da Gama tower, and the Vasco da Gama Bridge - at 17km this is one of the longest bridges in the world and today it is the second longest bridge in Europe. Another main attraction of the Parque das Nações is the Oceanário de Lisboa - this is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe! Another big and beautiful park you should visit is Monsanto; this is basically the green hart of Lisbon covering a space of 10km! This is a great place for hiking and there are some nice tracks to ride your bike. It is the place to be for nature lovers and from here you will have an amazing skyline view of the whole city. And that is not it; especially during the summer a lot of concerts, theater and exhibitions are organized here. There are a lot of picnic places where you will see many Portuguese families on Sunday afternoons having good food and some quality time outside the city.
Obviously there are many cool things to do in Lisbon and the list is too big to name it all here. Old churches, ruins, cathedrals, small tascas (typical Portuguese restaurants), vintage shops, street art, beaches, parks, museums and many many cool bars. Take a look at our tips from locals to find out about the secret spots you really should see and join our walking tours once you are in town to explore your new city in great company!
Tips from locals
- The best secret viewpoint is the tiny terrace on the roof of the Pollux store.
- The best miradouros in town are: Santa Catarina, São Pedro de Alcântara, Santa Luzia, Graça and Nossa Senhora do Monte.
- Every Tuesday and Saturday there is the big flea market in Campo de Santa Clara, from 6am to 5pm.
- Some bars that will blow your mind away because of their decorations, nice atmosphere or beautiful view are: Casa Independente, Primeiro Andar, Pavilhão Chines and PARK Bar.
- For a good long afternoon lunch go to Noobai on Miradouro de Santa Catarina; they serve delicious small tapas and other meals with an amazing view.
- Pastel de Nata and Pastel de Belem look alike but the taste is not the same!
- You will find outside gyms in almost every park - the biggest one is in Monsanto.
- College tradition holds it that you cannot have your drink in your right hand; if you do, you are forced to drink it all at once!
- Landeau chocolate in LX factory at Alcântara serves the best chocolate cake of Lisbon and probably the best one you have ever tried.
- Afterwards explore LX factory: this used to be an old factory and nowadays it is completely renovated. It’s the creative corner of Lisbon where you will find a mix of craft shops, advertising and fashion agencies, cosy vintage cafés, restaurants and their unique library/bookstore Ler Devagar smile emoticon read slowly)
- Out Jazz is a free outdoor jazz & lounge concert happening from May until September every Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon in one of Lisbon’s beautiful parks.
- The best places to shop downtown are Rua Augusta and Chiado. In Principe Real you will find a lot of nice vintage shops and concept stores.
Below you have a list with some of the most important attractions that our city is offering. They are quite a lot, trust us and you should not miss any of them during your stay in Lisbon. Enjoy!
Alfama is Lisbon’s most emblematic quarter and one of the most rewarding for walkers and photographers thanks to its medieval alleys and outstanding views. One of the oldest districts of Lisbon, was founded by the Arabs who gave it the name “Al-hama” (the fountains). At every turn you will find alleys, squares and courtyards, some of them very beautiful as “Calçadinha de Santo Estêvão”. But these narrow and disordered streets were not made for the enjoyment of visitors or to make courageous drivers despair, but rather to better defend and ventilate the native’s homes. Because its foundation is dense bedrock, it survived the 1755 earthquake, and a walk through this old-fashioned residential neighborhood is now like a trip back in time. Interesting fact: no matter what you do, if you are going up through Alfama and don’t know exactly where you are (it’s easy to get lost in this neighborhood), keep going up and you will reach the castle!
Castelo de São Jorge (Saint George’s Castle)
A Moorish castle is located on the highest of Lisbon’s seven hills, towering over the historic centre and the Tagus River. This strongly fortified citadel dates from the medieval period and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon. The notable siege of Lisbon, in 1147, in which the first Portuguese king Afonso Henriques conquered the city and castle from the Moors, had an unlikely hero. The knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing that said door again by sacrificing himself and throwing his own body into the breach. It’s only proper that the square from where most of Lisbon’s visitors start their castle climb is named after this Portuguese hero. (“Praça do Martim Moniz”, a stop in metro’s green line)
Portas do Sol
After visiting the castle, this is the place where you will want to stop and take a breath in the beauty city of Lisbon. The "cafés" and “esplanadas” in the area are awesome to relax and chill while enjoying the amazing views overlook the Alfama rooftops and river. It has a direct access from the tram 28!
Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral)
A roman catholic cathedral, is the oldest church in the city. Its numerous modifications and reconstructions turned this imponent building into a mix of different architectural styles. After the siege of Lisbon, the Portuguese conquerors, with the help of north european crusaders, built this cathedral on the site of the main mosque of Lisbon, and an English crusader, Gilbert of Hastings, was placed as a bishop there.
Panteão Nacional (National Pantheon)
To those who watch Lisbon from the other side of the river, this building is hard to miss, with its distinct lantern tower. Built in the 17th century as Igreja de Santa Engrácia (Church of Saint Engrácia), was later converted into the National Pantheon, final resting place to some important Portuguese personalities, such as the former first President of the Portuguese Republic, Manuel de Arriaga, the famous writer Almeida Garrett and the Portuguese best known fado singerAmália Rodrigues. Nearby, on the top of Lisbon’s seven hills, you will found another important Lisbon church, the Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of Saint Vicent Outside the Walls).
Igreja de Santo António (Saint Anthony Church)
Santo António (better known as Saint Anthony of Padua), is a catholic saint revered as a matchmaker, the protector of young brides, and patron of the lost and found. The house he was born at, in Lisbon, became the site of this church. Work began in 1757, and the façade blends the Baroque style with Neoclassical Ionic columns. Despite the popular wisdom, Santo António is not the saint patron of Lisbon, being that honor awarded to São Vicente de Fora. Despite that fact, the city holiday is celebrated on the day of Santo António’s death, the 13th of June. While the prior night is known for being one of the longest of the year for all “alfacinhas” (Lisbon inhabitants), on that same day, mass marriages known as Saint Anthony Weddings are held in this church.
Casa Dos Bicos
“Casa dos Bicos” (Portuguese for House of the Spikes) is a historical house built in the early 16th century in the Alfama neighbourhood. It is thought that Italian palaces like the “Palazzo dei Diamanti”, in Ferrara, influenced its very curious façade, embedding both Renaissance and Manueline influences. Despite being almost destroyed in the disastrous 1755 Lisbon earthquake, old drawings and paintings were used to restore its previous quirks. It is now used as a headquarter for the José Saramago Foundation.
Feira da Ladra
It is Lisbon’s very own flea market, and the most emblematic and oldest market in the city. Here, people will mostly just spread a sheet on the ground or over a portable table and try to sell anything they possibly can. And by anything, we really mean anything. The place is always packed with all sorts of people selling all kinds of objects, from the most fashionable to the most antique. Literally, from trash to treasure. This market with no apparent order is a place where you’ll never come away empty-handed, and, despite the haphazard feel to it, it has plenty of space to walk around in. It takes place every Tuesday and Saturday!
Baixa, or downtown Lisbon, is the heart of the city. It is the main shopping and banking district that stretches from the riverfront to the main avenue (Avenida da Liberdade), with streets named according to the shopkeepers and craftsmen who traded in the area. It was completely rebuilt after the great earthquake of 1755 with streets flanked by uniform, Neoclassical buildings. Marquês do Pombal, at the time the right-hand man of the king Joseph I, is responsible for this great example of neoclassical design and urban planning, and one of the finest European architectural achievements of the age (it is currently being considered to be listed as a World Heritage Site, pending much-needed renovation of many of the buildings). It remains an imposing district, with elegant squares, pedestrianized streets, cafes, and shops. Old tramcars, street performers, tiled Art Déco shop fronts, elaborately decorated pastry shops, and street vendors selling everything from flowers to souvenirs, all lend a special charm to the area.
Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square)
One of the biggest European squares, with around 36.000 m2, used to be the noble entrance into the city, used by kings and emperors in their visits to Lisbon. The royal palace (Terreiro do Paço, the other name this square is known by, owns its name to this fact) and its library surrounded this square back in the 15th and 16th centuries, but the 1755 earthquake obliterated the place, transforming it in to innumerous pieces of art, including works by Ticiano and Rubens, and documents priceless for the Portuguese history. Reconstruction followed, beginning with the present name to indicate its new function in the economy of Lisbon, and lasted until very recently, with the renovations in the pier by the riverside (the marbled-based Cais das Colunas). The iconical statue of the king Joseph I, who promoted the reconstruction in the downtown Lisbon and the Triumph Arc are the dominating structures of this square.
Rua Augusta and its Triumph Arch
Spanning through the Arc until Rossio square, this street is the best example of the Lisbon downtown. Closed to car traffic since the 80’s, it is a lively street with mosaic pavements, outdoor cafes, international shops, and occasional street artist and peddlers. The Arch itself is a one-of-a-kind monument in Lisbon. Originally designed as a bell tower, the building was ultimately transformed into an elaborate arch, that can now be visited for only 2.5€. A trip up the elevator until the rooftop will reward the visitors with a unique panoramic view of Lisbon downtown, riverside and castle. The allegorical group of statues at the top, made by the French sculptor Calmels, represents Glory rewarding Valor and Genius. The other statues are historical figures, representing different periods of the Portuguese history: Viriato (sec. II – leader of the early Portuguese people who tried to get their independence from the Romans), Nuno Álvares Pereira (sec. XIV – main figure in the 1383-85 crisis), Vasco da Gama (sec. XVI – discover of the maritime way to India) and Marquês do Pombal (sec. XVIII – responsible for the rebuild of Lisbon after the earthquake).
Another symbol of the Pombaline Downtown, it has been one of Lisbon main squares since the Middle Ages. The name “Rossio” is roughly equivalent to the word “commons” in English, and refers to a commonly owned terrain. But its true name, Praça de Dom Pedro IV (Peter IV Square), king of Portugal as well as first emperor of Brasil, it’s owed to the column and statue in the middle of the square.It has been the setting of popular revolts and celebrations, bullfights and executions, and is now a preferred meeting place of Lisbon natives and tourists alike. On the north side of the square lies the imposing D. Maria II theatre.
Estação do Rossio (Rossio Railway Station)
Connecting the city to the region of Sintra, this train station was formerly known as Estação Central (Central Station) and that designation still appears in its Neo-Manueline façade, which, along with the cast-iron platform cover, makes up for an important example of the Portuguese architecture. It was reopened recently in February of 2008, after the renewal works in the 2.6km tunnel.
Praça dos Restauradores (Restauradores Square)
This square is dedicated to the restoration of the independence of Portugal in 1640, after 60 years of Spanish domination. The obelisk in the middle of the square, inaugurated in 1886, carries the names and dates of the battles fought during that Portuguese Restoration War. The rectangular square is surrounded by 19th and early 20th century buildings. The most remarkable are the Palácio Foz, a palace built between the 18th and 19th centuries that boasts magnificently decorated interiors, the old Éden Cinema (which is now a hotel), with a beautiful Art Deco façade dating from the 1930s, and the old Condes Cinema, built in 1950, that now hosts the Hard Rock Cafe of Lisbon.
Chiado is the name used to designate a square and its surrounding area, between the neighborhoods of Bairro Alto and Baixa. Being a traditional shopping area that mixes old and modern commercial establishments (is concentrated specially in the Carmo and Garrett Streets), is visited by locals and tourists alike, looking to buy books, garments, and pottery, as well as to have a cup of coffee. It is also an important cultural area, with several museums and theaters. Back in the 16thcentury, a poet called António Ribeiro, whose nickname was “chiado” (squeak), lived in the area, and that’s the most likely origin of the toponym Chiado. There’s a statue of this historical figure in Chiado square, right outside of one of the exits of Baixa/Chiado metro station. On August 25 of 1988, a fire started in Carmo Street and quickly spread to Garrett Street and others, destroying a total on 18 buildings of the Chiado. Two people were killed, 73 injured, and between 200 and 300 people lost their homes. Several of the historical shops were destroyed. In terms of the extent of the city affected and number of destroyed buildings, the Chiado fire is considered the worst disaster to strike the city since the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. A rebuilding project directed by Portuguese architect Siza Vieira that lasted more than 10 years, has, to a great extent, returned the area to its former glory. The exterior look of the buildings were restored, while the interiors have been completely renovated. One of the building most affected by this disaster was the main shopping area of the Chiado, and one of the oldest in the city, the Grandes Armazéns do Chiado (Great Chiado Warehouses). While the structure and the exterior façade were reabilitated, and then reconverted into a modern mall, the success and importance that the Armazéns had in the past won’t ever be achieved.
Convento do Carmo (Carmo Convent)
This medieval convent was ruined in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, and the ruins of its Gothic church (the Carmo Church) are nowadays the main trace of the earthquake effects still visible in the city. It is located on a hill overlooking the Rossio square and facing the Saint George’s Castle hill, and right in front of a quiet square (Carmo Square), very close to the Santa Justa Lift. Nowadays, the ruined Carmo Church is used as an archaeological museum (the Carmo Archaeological Museum).
Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift)
Lisbon and its hills have always presented a problem for accessibility, and if now that is attenuated by all the means of transport, we still have to wonder how that problems were beaten centuries before our time. Inaugurated in 1902, this lift gave Lisbon natives an easy way to go from the lower streets of the Baixa to the higher Carmo Square. More than that, since its construction, the lift has become a tourist attraction for Lisbon as, among the urban lifts in the city, Santa Justa is the only remaining vertical one, being the others (Elevador da Glória and Elevador da Lavra)
Café A Brasileira (“The Brazilian Cafe”)
The most well known and sought after café (“coffee shop”) of the Chiado, located in the elegant Rua Garret and its chic shopping street. One of this café claims to fame is its renowned patron, Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet who died in 1935. His presence is still visible now, in the form of a bronze statue which is a perennial company in photographs taken at the cafe’s terrace. A Brasileira started as a coffeehouse selling authentic Brazilian coffee and was the first to start offering the “bica”, a strong form of coffee, not unlike espresso. Regulars at this café continue to order their cups of “bica”, which is, usually, enjoyed standing by the bar, instead of settling for seats. Sandwiches, local treats and other favorite beverages make up the menu of A Brasileira. Its prime location and popularity with tourists, have led to a pricier menu, but the grand interior and inspiring ambiance make it a worthwhile trip.
Belém (officially known as Santa Maria de Belém), whose name is derived from the Portuguese word for Bethlehem, is one of Lisbon’s most distinguishable parishes. At the mouth of the Tagus River, it is located 6km west of the city centre and 2km west of Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge). It is known for its important role in the Portuguese Discoveries period, with a lot of monuments connected to it. It went through a lot of changes during the years: it started as a small fishing village; was the departing point for Portuguese ships on their way to India and Brazil; in the aftermath of the 1755 earthquake, since Belém was one of the areas least affected by it, a lot of families (including the royal family) moved there, turning it into the centre of bureaucracy and attracting commerce; lastly, it has been know for the last century as a main touristic and cultural center of the city, especially after the renovations that 1940 Expo brought to the area.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Hieronymites Monastery)
One of the most prominent monuments of the Manueline-style architecture (Portuguese late-Gothic) in Portugal, it was classified in 1983 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém. Originally the home for the Hieronymite religious order, it was built by the Infant Henry (son of the king Manuel I) around 1459, with the help from the gold that Vasco da Gama brought from the first trip to India, making this monument a representation of Portuguese expansionism. The monastery was designed in a style that later became known as Manueline: a richly ornate architectural design that includes complex sculptural themes incorporating maritime elements and objects discovered during naval expeditions, carved in limestone. Some of the greatest Portuguese have here their tombstones and mortal remains, including Vasco da Gama (responsible for the discovering the naval route from Europe to India), Luís de Camões (the greatest poet in the Portuguese language, whose most known work, Os Lusíadas, mimics Homero) and Fernando Pessoa (one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century). It was also here that the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon was signed, laying down the basis for the reform of the European Union. Elected one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument of the Discoveries)
Across from the Hieronymites Monastery, reached via an underpass by its gardens, is the Discoveries Monument, built on the north bank of the Tagus River in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. It represents a three-sailed ship ready to depart, with sculptures of important historical figures such as King Manuel I carrying an armillary sphere, the poet Luís de Camões holding verses from The Lusiads, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Cabral, and several other notable Portuguese explorers, crusaders, monks, cartographers, and cosmographers, following Prince Henry the Navigator at the prow holding a small vessel. The only female present is Queen Philippa of Lancaster, mother of Henry the Navigator, the brain behind the discoveries. Inside you can find is an exhibition space with temporary exhibits, an interesting film about the city of Lisbon, and an elevator that takes visitors to the top for some bird’s-eye views of Belém and its monuments.
Torre of Belém (Belém Tower)
A fortified tower which was commissioned to be part of a defense system at the mouth of the Tagus River and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon, it is now perhaps the most well know symbol of the city! Built in the early 16th century, it is another prominent example of the Manueline style, but it also incorporates hints of other architectural styles. It has incorrectly been stated that the tower was built in the middle of the Tagus and now sits near the shore because the river was redirected after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. In fact, the tower was built on a small island in the Tagus River near the Lisbon shore. Curiosity: it served as the state prison during the Spanish rule of Portugal between 1580 and 1640. Elected one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.
Pastéis de Belém
An egg tart pastry, known in some countries as a custard tart, the Pastéis de Belém deserve a place in this article because of their relevance in the Portuguese cuisine. They are one of the most famous Portuguese exportations and have the same importance for Lisbon as the Porto wine has for the Douro region! While every pastelaria (pastry shop) around the city has their own fresh pastéis de nata, the taste of the ones made in Casa dos Pastéis de Belém, in the main street of Belém (next to the Hieronymites Monastery) is just different, earning them the right for a different name. What makes them even more unique is the secret recipe to make them that only their 5 master pastry chefs know of. Locals and visitors to Lisbon visit the bakery (translating in around 10.000 pastéis sold each day) to purchase them fresh from the oven, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Their popularity normally results in long lines at the take-away counters, in addition to waiting lines for sit-down service, but the wait is definitely worthwhile.
Centro Cultural de Belém (Belém Cultural Centre)
With 140.000 m2 of space, it is the largest building with cultural facilities in Portugal. Built in 1992, to provide the Portuguese Government with a structure to welcome and accommodate the people involved in Portugal’s European Union Presidency, its area is now adapted to provide room for conferences, exhibitions and artistic venues (such as opera, ballet and symphony concerts).
Planetário Calouste Gulbenkian (Planetarium Calouste Gulbenkian)
Designed by the architect Frederico George, it opened in 1965 and is situated between the west wing of the Hieronymites Monastery and the modern extension of the Maritime Museum, also designed by George. The planetarium has a 25m diameter dome and there are astronomical shows throughout the day in Portuguese, English and French. These shows explain the movement of stars and the solar system, but there are also specialized themes such as the Star of Bethlehem (Belém). This Lisbon attraction is especially popular with children.
Gare do Oriente (Lisbon Orient Station)
One of the most interesting and modern sights in Lisbon is the Oriente Station. Designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava for Lisbon’s Expo ’98, to support the expected influx of visitors of the international exposition, its roof of glass and steel made to look like a row of trees are very distinguishable. It now encompasses a railway hub, a metro station and a bus terminal. The entrance to the metro platform has huge tile murals designed by some of the best local contemporary artists. Despite having only 8 rail lines, the bus and metro traffic makes Oriente Station one of the world’s largest stations, with 75 million passengers per year, making it as busy as Grand Central Terminal in New York!
Parque das Nações (Nations’ Park)
1998 was a very important year in Lisbon’s history. The very successful international exposition took place in that year, and it changed forever the landscape of the city. The northeastern area was the most affected, and being formerly used for industrial purposes, with the renovations and remodeling that followed the Expo, it is now a leisure, commercial, and residential areas, as well as one of Lisbon’s premier business centers, with many multinational corporations basing their headquarters in its main avenue. One of the visual highlights with their shaped-like giant sailboats, the São Gabriel and São Rafael twin towers, on each side of Vasco da Gama shopping center, were named after two of Vasco da Gama’s ships. With a few attractions for different interests, science and technology buffs may want to visit the Pavilion of Knowledge, while fans of live concerts, can go to the “Meo” Pavilion, Lisbon’s main multi-purpose indoor arena. Gamblers may also try their luck in Lisbon’s Casino! To get around the Park of the Nations, walking is the popular choice, but the cable car sure provides an amazing panoramic view of the area: this “telecabine” runs the full length of the area, parallel to the river, lasting about 1km. More info here. Birdlovers will find this district a perfect spot for bird watching as it is sited in the Tagus Estuary, one of the largest and diverse estuaries of Europe. Also, the many gardens and water volcanoes make up for an amazing area to just chill and take in the beauty of the river in those warm afternoons.
XXIX. Oceanário de Lisboa (Lisbon Oceanarium)
The largest indoor aquarium in Europe, is one of the main attractions in Parque das Nações. Its architecture is said to resemble as Aircraft carrier, and it is built into the pier on a internal sea. It has a large collection of marine species: birds, mammals, fish, cnidaria, and other marine organisms totaling about 16,000 individuals of 450 species. The main tank is 7m deep, which provides the illusion of open ocean, and has around 100 species, including a very rare to find in aquariums sunfish. Other famous inhabitants are the sea otters Eusébio and Amália, named after two Portuguese contemporary cultural references.
Vasco da Gama Tower
At 142m (counting the antenna), it is the tallest structure in Lisbon, and in Portugal as well! It is named after Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who was the first European to arrive in India by sail, in 1498. The tower was built in 1998 for the Expo, with an observation deck at 120m and a luxury panoramic restaurant just below it. Unfortunately, right now they are closed to the public. In 2012, the structure was expanded on the riverside with an 72m and 20 floors luxury hotel.
Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April Bridge)
The 25th of April bridge is a suspension bridge connecting the city of Lisbon to the municipality of Almada on the left (south) bank of the Tagus river. As the first bridge built connecting Lisbon with the other side of the river, it was only inaugurated on August 6th of 1966 and a train platform was added in 1999. By the time it was completed, it was the fifth largest suspension bridge in the world, being today the 25th largest. Because it is a suspension bridge and has a similar coloring, it is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA. In fact, it was built by the same company (American Bridge Company) that constructed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and not the Golden Gate, also explaining its similarity in design. With a total length of 2,277 m, it is the 23rd largest suspension bridge in the world. The upper deck carries six car lanes, while the lower deck carries two train tracks. The bridge was firstly named Salazar Bridge (Ponte Salazar), in honor of the then Prime Minister, but after the Carnation Revolution, in 1974, it was renamed with the day the revolution had occurred.
XXXII. Ponte Vasco da Gama (Vasco da Gama Bridge)
Vasco da Gama Bridge is nowadays the longest in Europe, with a total length of 17,2 km, constructed with the purposes of alleviate the congestion on Lisbon’s other bridge and to support the influx of visitors for the 1998 World Fair. It connects the towns of Lisbon and Sacavém, on the north shore, to Montijo and Alcochete, on the south shore. Construction began on February 1995; and the bridge was opened to traffic on 29 March 1998, just in time for that said Expo ’98, which celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery by Vasco da Gama of the sea route from Europe to India. The bridge carries six road lanes, with a speed limit of 120 km/h, the same as motorways. It has a life expectancy of 120 years, having been designated to withstand wind speeds of 250 km/h and holp up to an earthquake 4.5 time stronger than the historical 1755 earthquake (estimated at 8.7 on the Richter scale). By curiosity, on the day it opened, it was served on the main board a feijoada (typical portuguese dish, a stew of beans with beef and pork), that fed so many persons that entered in the Guiness World Records!
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Mouraria (Mourish quarter)
One of the most traditional neighborhoods of Lisbon. Its name was born after the conquest of Lisbon by D. Afonso Henriques, where the king confined all Muslims to this neighborhood. It was in these neighborhoods that originated the first productions of Portuguese Mudejar art who later would open the way to the emergence of the Manueline style. Mouraria has also been home to some of the most famous Portuguese fado singers: Maria Severa, one of the first fado singers and an icon ever since, was born in Rua Capelão; Mariza, one of today’s greatest singers, grew up in Rua dos Lagares. Mouraria is still full of contrasts. There is a strong presence of the Portuguese culture in these streets loaded with popular traditions that are going hand in hand with other cultural worlds from China, India, Pakistan, Nepal, … and where the smells, noise and colors cross our senses. Because of that, one of the greatest attractions of Mouraria are the Indian and Chinese restaurants, some of them illegal, but a great opportunity to taste some authentic cousine with flavors quite different from most traditional restaurants.
Aqueduto das Águas Livres (Águas Livres Aqueduct)
This aqueduct is something most of visitors will only see if they go by car or bus to the south shore through 25th of April bridge, and while it might seem something of Roman construction, is a relatively recent structure. Built in the 18th century, is one of the most remarkable examples of Portuguese engineering in the Baroque period, and helped solve a big problem in the city at the time: the lack of drinking water. With a network of canals with nearly 58km (the main course of the aqueduct is just 18km), it helped to bring water from the parish of Caneças, in Odivelas to the city, starting by the Amoreiras neighborhood. While being nowadays deactivated, it can still be visited as part of the Water Museum.
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation)
One of the few green spots in the city, students and visitors alike flow to this botanic garden as soon as sun starts to show up but the temperatures are not high enough to deserve a trip to the beach. It opened in 1969, consisting of the head office and the museum for the Foundation, surrounded by the afore mentioned garden. Also, keep an eye on the schedule of the Foundation exhibits, which are normally free and very interesting.
Located in Sete Rios (Jardim Zoológico/Sete Rios blue line metro station), it has around 2000 animals from 332 different species. Born in the late 19th century, it changed location twice, and its growth was both funded and supported by the Portuguese colonies, sending several local and rare species to Lisbon. Its main attractions are the cable car, the dolphin bay and the enchanted woods (an exposition with snakes and lizards).