Everything about Lisbon is charming. There is yellow tram that easily navigates the windy, hilly roads. Then there are the ancient museums, opulent cathedrals, and creaky lifts, not to mention all the boutique hotels in Lisbon. Grab some fresh roasted chestnuts and stroll through the city squares and along the cobblestone passageways. Mark your own course through this laid-back city where from many of the world’s great explorers hail.
Rossio Square (Praça de D. Pedro IV Square)
Since Medieval times, Lisbon’s Rossio Square has seen revolts and revelries, bullfights and executions. Featuring a bronze fountain, statue of Dom Pedro IV, and wavy pavement, it has since become a busy meeting place. Follow tradition: go to a bar bordering the square, order a shot of the sweet cherry liqueur drink, Ginjinha, head outside and do some serious people watching.
A review on Lonely Planet called the riverside neighborhood Belém “the portrait to the Portuguese soul.” Belém is host to a slew of essential landmarks and museums, including the Torre de Belém, a watchtower that now stands as a symbol for the Age of Discoveries. The maritime tower and the sumptuous Jerónimos Monastery are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For a gastronomic delight, sample one of Portugal’s addictive egg tarts, Pastel de Belém.
Praia do Guincho
If you’re longing for the sun and sea, Praia do Guincho will suit you well. A previous World Surfing Championships site, this beach has preferential surfing conditions. Experienced kite and wind surfers will love the billowing winds and powerful waves. For movie buffs, Praia do Guincho was a setting in the James Bond flick On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Castelo de São Jorge
Sitting astride one of the city’s many hills, Castelo de São Jorge is an unmistakable part of the Lisbon skyline. Built in the 6th century, several royal families have roved these castle grounds. Although significantly destroyed through the years, especially during the Great Earthquake, it has since been restored and extended. Try to spot a peacock in the gardens or take a stroll on the ramparts to see some of the best views of Lisbon.
Jardim da Estrela
On hot and lazy afternoons, this is a green oasis well cherished. The tall tree canopy dulls the bustle of the city and provides ample shade. The garden is often busy, with children feeding ducks by the lake or patrons sipping bica (espresso) in the cafe. Come during the summer and listen to sweet jazz during Sunday evenings from the bandstand.