Un week-end à Lisbonne : Les incontournables

A weekend in Lisbon: The must-sees

Your suitcases are ready, you spend the weekend in Lisbon! Between the preparations and the excitement, you didn't have the time to look at the must-see places to visit in the capital and you are afraid you won't have time to do everything.
Don't panic, we have listed for you the must-see places to do when visiting Lisbon.
Sure, the capital is big, but public transportation is efficient and the places of interest are often close together. 

How to easily find your way around Lisbon?

Smartphones, tablets, Google maps are precious to find your way around easily. But, with your eyes always riveted on your device, you end up losing sight of the overall plan and missing the most subtle points of view.
Despite its maze of alleys, finding your way around Lisbon is quite simple once you understand that all the streets go down to the Tagus and that the city is divided into neighborhoods.
The most touristic areas (always indicated) are


Lisbon, touristic areas - Credit Luisa Paixão

 

Baixa

The shopping district with its avenues and perpendicular streets that go down from the Rossio to the Tagus and the commercial square.


 Baixa - Credit Lisboa Secreta

 

Chiado

The chic district with its luxury boutiques and trendy restaurants.


Largo do Chiado - Crédit inconnu

 

Principe Real

The trendy district, very popular for its stores sometimes housed in sumptuous palaces, for its fashionable restaurants and for its nightlife.

Principe Real - Credit evasões 

Bairro Alto

The night district with an electric atmosphere of permanent party in the pedestrian streets dotted with bars and small restaurants. It is not uncommon to have difficulty getting around because of the crowds.


Bairro alto - Credit Culture trip

 

Alfama

The oldest district of Lisbon, a maze of narrow, sometimes dead-end streets that go up from the Tagus to the Saint George Castle. To visit on foot or to cross with the streetcar 28.


Alfama - Credit Jornal de noticias

 

How to get around Lisbon?

The best way to get around Lisbon is on foot with good shoes and a bottle of water. This is the best way to be surprised by exceptional views and to understand the city.

Cabs

The cabs are not very expensive and never refuse a ride no matter how small. They are easily spotted by their green roof. Some are still beige but the return to the traditional colors of cabs is in order.


Lisbon cabs - Credit Week-end et voyages

 

The metro and the tramway

The metro is safe, clean and serves all areas of the city well. The tramway is also a very good way to get around, line 28 being the most famous and the most touristic. Beware of pickpockets, they are not aggressive but very efficient.


Tramway - Credit Luisa Paixão

 

Whether you are a history buff, a hiker, a foodie or an architect, here is what you need to visit in a weekend in Lisbon.

Walk through the historic center.

Before wandering to Belém, Sintra or Cascais, which you have probably heard about, start by walking through the alleys of the historic center. Bairro Alto, Baixa-Chiado, Alfama and Mouraria are the most touristy areas of the city, and not without reason.
If you like to walk, you can take a stroll in these areas. Here is an itinerary to do in a short day:

Principe Real

Start from the Lisbon Botanical Garden in Principe Real, then stroll through the adjacent streets down to the Tagus. Stop at the Igreja de São Roque in the Bairro Alto. If the exterior is rather banal, the interior is magnificent.


Igreja de São Roque - Credit unknown

 

Baixa

Then, go to Chiado and the Elevador de Santa Justa, a baroque-style elevator, 45 meters high and built in wrought iron in 1900. It allows you to go from the Baixa district to the Chiado district. Be careful, the wait is sometimes very long.

Elevador de Santa Justa - Credit Lisboa Secreta

 

Chiado

Don't hesitate to stroll through the Chiado, where you will find many stores and restaurants. The Praça Luís de Camões is a focal point of the Lisbon center.
From there, you can walk down the streets to the Tagus via the rua Augusta and its triumphal arch to reach the Praça do Comércio. The terraces are very pleasant, protected from the sun and from the noise pollution of the city. 


Praça do Comércio - Credit unknown

 

The banks of the Tagus

Don't hesitate to stroll along the banks of the Tagus, they are well laid out. In the evening, I recommend that you take a few steps from the Praça do Comércio to the mouth of the river and stop at a terrace (if there is still room). The sunset under the 25th of April bridge will be an unforgettable memory.


Sunset on the Tagus - Credit Luisa Paixão

 

Alfama

A few steps from this square is the Alfama, a very famous neighborhood, because it is the oldest in the city. It is the only neighborhood that resisted the earthquake that devastated the city in 1755.
Walking through the narrow streets of the Alfama will allow you to discover the colorful houses, the azulejos and to hear some Fado tunes in the street.
It is in this neighborhood that all Lisboners, from all walks of life, gather in June, during the Saint Anthony's Day celebrations, to enjoy grilled sardines.


Alfama - Credit Luisa Paixão

 

The Sé of Lisbon is the cathedral of Lisbon and the oldest and most important church of the city. It is one of the must-see places to visit during your trip.
Continuing up the Alfama, you will be led to the Castelo de São Jorge, a medieval castle that offers a splendid view of the whole city.


Castelo de São Jorge - Credit inconnu

 

Before that, don't hesitate to pass by the Miradouro de Santa Luzia to enjoy another point of view in height. Its majestic bougainvillea and azulejos will not leave you indifferent!


Miradouro de Santa Luzia - Credit Amalia Bastos

 

If you have some time left, continue your journey through the Alfama to the National Pantheon. Formerly a church, this building houses the graves of great Portuguese men and women such as Amália Rodrigues, the Fado singer, Almeida Garrett, a Portuguese poet and Eusébio, the famous Portuguese football player (!)
The ascent from the Alfama to Saint George's castle can be tiring, especially in the hot summer months. An alternative is to take the streetcar 28 up and then walk back down.
You can end your day in a typical Portuguese bar or restaurant in the neighborhood.
Note that if you can't walk, tuk-tuks are available throughout the city to take you around the most beautiful monuments of Lisbon and tell you their history.

 

Visit the museums and palaces of Lisbon.

If you are a history and museum buff, here is our selection of the most beautiful museums and palaces in the Portuguese capital. You can visit one or two of them during your weekend:

The military museum  

This is the museum that best tells the history of Portugal. It is located in an absolutely magnificent period building. It is the largest military museum in the country and yet one of the least visited museums in the city. Collections of artillery, paintings and Portuguese statues are scattered throughout the 18th century baroque rooms.

The Calouste-Gulbenkian Museum

It is considered one of the best museums in Portugal. It contains international masterpieces from ancient Egypt to the present day. Many of the pieces come from the Portuguese trade with the Orient during the Great Discoveries. The museum is located in the Gulbekian Garden, an emblematic garden of the city.

Ajuda National Palace

It was the official residence of the Portuguese royal family. This neoclassical building from the first half of the 19th century takes us through the daily life of the kings and queens of Portugal.
The palace remains unfinished, but the visit allows us to admire the Throne Room, the Queen's bedroom and the magnificent reception areas.
The palace also houses temporary art exhibitions, such as the Joana Vasconcelos retrospective in 2013. Find out more in one of our other blog posts.


Palácio Nacional da Ajuda - Credit Luisa Paixão

 

The National Museum of Azulejo

It presents the history of the azulejo from the 16th century to the present. This art is ubiquitous in the streets of Lisbon and more broadly throughout Portugal.

 

Visit Belém and Sintra.

Our selection of the most beautiful places to visit during a weekend in Lisbon could not end without mentioning Sintra and Belém, located outside the center of Lisbon, but both worth a visit.

Belém

Belém is easily accessible from Lisbon, in fact it is a district of Lisbon. The main places of interest are the Hieronymites Monastery. To discover the origin of this building, see our article "7 historical monuments that testify to the history of Portugal.
Also noteworthy are the famous Belem Tower and the monument to the Discoveries "Padrão dos Descobrimentos".


Hiéronymites Monastery - Credit Luisa Paixão

 


Belém Tower - Credit Luisa Paixão

 
Padrão dos Descobrimentos - Credit Luisa Paixão

 

Don't leave Belém without stopping at the famous pastry shop "Pasteis de Belém" which makes the best pasteis de Nata in the world!


Pasteis de Belém - Credit Luisa Paixão

 

If you want to continue to enjoy Pasteis de Belém once you're back home, or if you want to share them with your friends, there's only one solution: make them yourself. To do so, you will need the original Pasteis de Nata recipe, the authentic Pasteis de Nata molds and if you really want to feel like you're in Lisbon, you'll need cinnamon powder and a cinnamon dispenser like in Portugal.


Pasteis de Nata tins  - Luisa Paixão collection

Sintra

Sintra is a bit further away and you will have to take the train to get there (or rent a car).
In Sintra, discover the National Palace of Pena "Palácio Nacional da Pena", famous in the world for its shimmering colors and extravagant architecture.


Palácio Nacional da Pena - Credit Parques de Sintra

 

The Quinta da Regaleira and the Castle of the Moors, less known, also promise beautiful moments in this city classified as Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


Castelo dos Mouros - Credit espreitaromundo
 
This itinerary corresponds more or less to 2 days in Lisbon. Obviously, you will miss a lot of things to do or to see. Without making an exhaustive list, you could 
  • Cross the 25th of April bridge and go up to Cristo Rei
  • Go to the Park of Nations and visit the big aquarium
  • Have lunch in a Tasca, the small Portuguese breweries.
  • See the diversity of Portuguese cuisine at Time Out, the old covered market.
  • Take a walk along the Tagus River
  • Discover the surfing beaches of Gincho, beyond Cascais.
  • Discover the beautiful stores of the Avenida de la Libertad.
  • Visit the Belém Museum of Modern Art
  • Visit the navy museum and the carriage museum...

But for this, you will need more than 2 days or you will have to come back.

Luisa Paixao

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