Portugal is always a good idea. With its rich cultural heritage, stunning architecture and culinary excellence, it’s easy to see why. But if you’re having trouble deciding which Portuguese city to visit, this list of my favourite Lisbon destinations and how to reach them using the HERE WeGo app, might help you make up your mind.
If you’re anything like me, when planning a city break, one of the first things that you want to establish is the area you’re going to set as your base. I like to stay in areas that don’t feel too touristy – where I can find accommodation that’s to my liking, great supermarkets, bars and restaurants nearby. And perhaps most importantly, a corner of the city that isn’t in the thick of things but still has great connections to the hustle and bustle via convenient transit options.
I was in Lisbon a few times last year and whether in town for an InstaMeet, a conference or for a holiday, I always tried to stay in the district of Principe Real. It’s well situated for easy access to overground trains, buses and metro trains and its leafy central square offers a quiet spot to stop for shade in the summer months, while you soak up the view of the stunning 19th century buildings surrounding it. The area has just the right amount of special restaurants, small Tascas and cultural highlights, such as Jardim Botânico do Princípe Real (a botanical garden), the weekly market and numerous art galleries. But on an ideal day in Lisbon, I would also venture outside this little haven and visit a few other special corners of the city. Read on, as I share some of those corners with you.
A spectacular morning view
Step out of your Principe Real accommodation in the morning sunlight and take a short stroll to one of the greatest viewpoints of the city: Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. It overlooks all of downtown Lisbon, with views of the castle and the mesmerising River Tagus. Grab a quick espresso from the friendly owner of the kiosk, peruse the landscaped terrace and ready yourself for a fun-filled day in this great city.
The ride of your life
Arguably one of the most famous tram routes in Europe, Lisbon’s number 28 will allow you to see some of the best bits of the city from the iconic yellow tram. Jump on at Martim Moniz, a multicultural hotspot, and enjoy a scenic ride through the famous districts of Alfama and Chiado. At Chiado, you can hop off and make your way down the capital’s most glamorous shopping streets, before stopping at my favourite Mantaigaria for a pastéis de nata that will change your life.
Take the ferry
After that unforgettable mid-morning bite, you will have one thing on your mind: lunch. Head for the Cais do Sodré ferry terminal and take the 10 minute boat ride to Cacilhas. Once you’re on the other side of the river and on dry land, follow the water towards the famous red bridge, Ponte 25 de Abril. After a 10 minute walk, you will arrive at your lunch destination. You can’t miss the bright yellow furniture outside the Ponto Final restaurant. I always pick a seat at the far end of the jetty and enjoy a slow lunch, with an uninterrupted waterside view.
Drive to the monastery
You’ve washed your bachalau down with some fresh Vinho Verde and you’re itching to experience more of the historical parts of the region. Open HERE WeGo and order a taxi. You will drive over the bridge and make your way to beautiful Belem. There’s a lot to see in this parish of Lisbon but the place I never tire of is Jerónimos Monastery. The ornate monastery was built by King Manuel in 1502 and is today listed as a UNESCO World Heritage monument. If you are a fan of European gothic architecture, this landmark is not to be missed.
A bus journey to bliss
Let your day end at Park Bar on top of a car park in the centre of town, where they serve refreshing cocktails and consistently impressive sunsets on the side. This open-air, rooftop bar gives you a great view of the city and the Tagus River. It’s the perfect place to wrap up your day of exploration, before you start it all again the next morning.
Oh Lisbon, how I love you.