By Stephanie Lynch from OnTheQT.ie
The best piece of advice I have ever received from anyone so far in my life has been… ‘Always say yes to adventure’. Whether the adventure is a road trip for a few hours or to hop on a plane somewhere, say yes. You will become a great storyteller. When the opportunity arouse for me to spend a few days exploring and filming in Lisbon… I of course said yes.
Before our trip we planned out exactly where we would go when we got there. We wanted to explore the city, while also learning about the sport of futsal. We contacted people who lived there to get some local knowledge, read various books and researched pretty much everything we could find online! However, we realised soon after we got there, the best kind of adventures happen completely and utterly unplanned! So we are going to share some of the planned adventures with you, while also sharing some of the gems we stumbled upon along the way in Lisbon.
The best knowledge of a location is always from someone who has been there, learnt from mistakes and stumbled upon hidden treasures. I am going to be that person for you. I am going to fill you in on all the tips from Lisbon city.
1. Take time exploring the city’s cobbled streets
Lisbon is the capital and the largest city in Portugal. It is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is known for its café culture, fadó music and colourful landscape. It is a city you will want to wander around, explore and get lost in the tiny cobbled streets.
Lisbon is known as the hilly capital of Portugal so you will be happy to know that the public transport is great for getting around quickly. The transport in Lisbon is superb with the metro taking you all the way from the airport right through the main city centre stops. One thing I would say is don’t be afraid to walk. Even though it is Portugal’s hilly capital, the stops are very near each other and the views walking around will take your attention away from any inclines! It wasn’t until we hit the streets that we really found our bearings.
Top Tip: Get a Lisbon city card. It is the best card for transport while exploring Lisbon. You can explore Lisbon with ease and see all the sights of the colourful city. It works on the metro, buses and even the electric cable car. It also gives you discounts in various museums and attractions across the city. You can get a 24, 48 or 72 hour pass.
2. Give yourself time to explore Alfama
Sometimes it is nice to get lost and go a little off the beaten track. While visiting the São Jorge Castle (St George’s), be sure to spend some time exploring the picturesque neighbourhood of Alfama. This is an area we stumbled upon and instantly fell in love with. It is definitely worth penciling in a few hours in this part of Lisbon. Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon and truly spectacular. Wander around Alfama’s beautiful cobblestone streets to explore this more traditional area of Lisbon. You can walk through the old style streets, get lost in a café and experience the real traditional gems of Lisbon. There are also lots of nice shops and unique boutiques in this area for you to explore. By day, there is even a little boat bar by the water and there are plenty of tasty restaurants in this area at night.
Tip: Maybe slot this in before your visit to St. George’s Castle (see next tip for more information).
3. Visit São Jorge Castle (St George’s)
While in Lisbon, St. George’s Castle is a must. Located in the Alfama quarter of Lisbon, it has one of the best views of the city, providing a great spot to watch the sun set – simply majestic. The castle towers above Lisbon and is one of the most photographed landmarks in Lisbon (if not the most). It provides a feeling of stepping back in time with cobbled paths, courtyards and towering walls. You can explore the courtyards, admire the views of the city, soak up the history of the castle, explore the galleries from past centuries and even visit the camera obscure which offers a wonderful panoramic view of Lisbon (demos every half hour).
Top Tip: A great time to go to the castle is two hours before sunset. It gives you time to explore the castle in daylight, while also ending your day with a beautiful sunset overlooking the colourful, vivid landscape.
4. Hope on the tram
Before I arrived in Lisbon, I noticed the Elevador da Gloria (Electric Tram) was in all my research so I decided to check it out for myself. On our first evening, we actually stumbled upon it and decided to hop on and check it out. It opened its doors in 1885, and to this day it still climbs the hilly streets of Lisbon.
The Cable Car is situated in the newest part of Lisbon city. The Oceanario Cable Car is a great way to soar up above the Tagus River and view the iconic Vasco DeGama bridge from above. It is a short cable car ride but well worth it for the views.
Top Tip: The metro takes you right out to the newest part of Lisbon (get off at the Orient stop on the metro). A nice spot to go for a walk by the water and enjoy some of the city’s famous café culture.
5 Swing by the world famous Estadio de Luz
A gem for all you sports fans is the Stadium of Light (Estadio de Luz), which you can get the metro to (just get off at the Luz stop). The Stadium of Light hosted the UEFA championship final in 2014 and it also hosts the home games for one of Portugal’s most famous club sides, SL Benfica. A hugely impressive stadium.
Why not get sporty like us?
Normally, I wouldn’t think of going to a sports game on a city break but honestly, it was such a good way to get a local feel for the city. We got to know the locals and experience Lisbon the way the locals do. For Lisbon, a Futsal game is a must. It is a tradition in Portugal to support and encourage your local team. The games have an electric atmosphere and it is a great way to get up close and personal with the culture and enthusiasm for sport that the city possesses. The futsal games are held in a smaller stadium next to the Stadium of Light allowing you to take a tour of this world famous stadium before taking your seat for a game of futsal.
Top Tip: One of the biggest shopping centres I have ever come across on my travels is located at the metro stop for the Stadium of Light, so maybe plan a little extra time for some retail therapy!
Make memories in Lisbon
During our trip we had an immense amount of fun, laughed a lot, ate some deliciously tasty food, met some really nice cool people, found some absolutely stunning places, learnt some Portuguese, got lost on the public transport system, enjoyed the café culture, listened to the fádo music and admired the colourful landscape… and had a perfectly amazing time!
Why not go explore Lisbon like us? Turn your travels into a story. Book your Lisbon city break today.
“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” Ibn Batutta