Picturesque Lisbon – 8 must-see tourist attractions
Apr. 12 2022
Planning a visit to Lisbon and afraid of missing the most special places in the city?
We don’t want that to happen to you, so we have 8 suggestions from those who know the secrets around São Jorge Castle like no one else, so you don’t miss out on the best that Lisbon has to offer. And don’t miss out on the best views from the various viewpoints we suggest you visit.
One of the best ways to enjoy Lisbon is on your own feet, avoiding the confusion of the traffic in the historic city centre, which is difficult to access. It is also the best way to avoid looking too much at the map and pre-defined routes, and let the winding streets lead you. What matters is the journey and not the destination, and not all cities have this ability to offer, in every corner, details and features that are not exactly found in tourist guides.
If you are really looking for a unique accommodation experience in Lisbon, take the chance to get to know Solar do Castelo, the only Hotel within the walls of São Jorge Castle and probably the only one where you can often find the Castle’s peacocks in its interior garden!
Solar do Castelo – the most picturesque places to visit on foot
1. Alfama district – The imperfect heart of Lisbon
Endless streets and alleys. A magical winding of cobbled streets, the enemy of high heels, full of typical houses around São Jorge Castle. Alfama is one of the most typical and visited districts in Lisbon and also one of the easiest to get lost in the labyrinth of its narrow streets.
Here it’s easy to be a mere spectator in a real movie and listen to conversations between neighbours, who almost always speak too loudly or else sneak up on the lives of those who have made local commerce their family business. And Fado, the ever-present Fado pulling our soul towards “saudade” (which can be simplistically translated as melancholy or nostalgia). Alfama is a feeling, present in the inclined walls of this district, the heart of Lisbon.
2. National Pantheon (Panteão Nacional) – Famous people from Portugal
Many people don’t know, but this monument took four hundred years to be finally inaugurated, in 1966, when there was also a bridge connecting the two banks of the Tagus, between Lisbon and Almada.
Here you can find, in the Central Nave, a memorial reminiscent of the great names that were associated with the discoveries of Portugal, including the poet Camões. There are also the tomb chambers, with the remains of famous personalities, such as former presidents of the republic, writers, among others. If open to the public, take the opportunity to visit the terrace, which offers a unique view of the city and the Tagus River.
3. Lisbon Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa) – almost millenary history
The Lisbon Cathedral, named Sé Patriarcal de Lisboa, is the oldest church in Lisbon and was built during the reign of King Afonso Henriques after the city was recaptured from the Moors in the 12th century. Most of its estate is preserved in museums, such as the Museum of Ancient Art, but the Lisbon Cathedral also includes a visitable collection, the patriarchal treasure (Tesouro da Sé Patriarcal). Be sure to visit the inside of the cathedral and admire the large and beautiful rose window.
4. Ricardo Espírito Santo Foundation – a journey into ancient arts
Visiting this Museum takes us on a journey to the past of the Decorative Arts from the 15th to the 18th century in areas as distinct as: Furniture, Textiles, Silverware, Chinese Porcelain, Portuguese Faience and Tiles, Painting, among others.
Also at the Museum of Portuguese Decorative Arts, there is a cosy cafeteria, in a courtyard full of history, where you can take a break during your walk in Lisbon.
The entrance to the Foundation is free, thanks to the cultural offer that Heritage Hotels provide to their guests.
5. Miradouro das Portas do Sol – a brick road overlooking the river
One of the most visited places in Lisbon, it offers one of the best views of the city and the lacy streets of the Alfama valley and allows us to see as far as the eye can see! Central point of Lisbon’s historic centre and surrounded by emblematic monuments, such as the National Pantheon or São Jorge Castle, this viewpoint stretches out into the Tagus River, under its long orange tiled floor.
6. Miradouro da Graça – the perfect sunset
Another viewpoint not to be missed is the Miradouro da Graça, which has a breath-taking panoramic view and allows us to contemplate from São Jorge Castle to the river, as well as from the Mouraria district to the downtown Baixa Pombalina. An enormous colourful display of houses, streets and gardens at our feet and the buzz of the city, muffled by the immensity of places that we try to discover, with our own eyes. A good way to get to this viewpoint is by the 28 tram (Elétrico 28) and then you can take the opportunity to return on foot.
7. Gastronomy – “saudade” sung on a dish
There are plenty of small restaurants serving typical Portuguese dishes in the Alfama and Castelo districts. Here you will also find the oldest Fado houses, which include the show in their own dinners. Prepare your stomach to try for the first time some “peixinhos da horta” (green bean tempura), or some “pastéis de bacalhau” (codfish fritters) with tomato rice, without forgetting the grilled sardines or mackerel with a pepper salad. But it’s very likely that walking around the city has left you with a big appetite, in which case you can try “arroz de pato” (duck rice), “bacalhau à Brás” (codfish specialty) or the famous “cozido à portuguesa” (Portugues stew).
8. Transport – on foot or by tram
Lisbon, like Rome, has 7 hills and the best way to enjoy the city is to take public transport to the top of the hill and calmly walk down enjoying the views of the river and the details around every corner. But if you’re staying at Solar do Castelo, don’t worry, the trips on the 28 tram are free and on us. The “28”, as Lisbon residents call it, passes through the best places in the city, on a unique route that runs through Lisbon’s narrow historic quarters.
This offer is included in the direct bookings of Solar do Castelo.
Header photo by: Dariusz Sankowski, Unsplash