Lisbon is a truly gorgeous city. Beautiful and crumbling, you genuinely feel like you’ve stepped back a century in time.
Built above the Tejo estuary the city of Lisbon, built between tiny cobbled streets often slightly narrower than a wisp, the city dazzles and delights and it’s difficult to not be totally enchanted by the place.
Prior to what is referred to as the Great Earthquake (which struck whilst Lisbon’s population was at mass in 1755 and felt as far away as Jamaica) Lisbon was one of the busiest ports in Europe. Many of the capital’s most beautiful and oldest buildings were sadly destroyed during the earthquake, whilst others survived, sometimes becoming all the better for missing roofs and crumbling walls.
There are many magical experiences to be had in Portugal’s delightful capital city, but of all them, the most enchanting is to just mill about the streets and watch traditional life play out in front of your lucky eyes.
To really do Lisbon justice you would really need to allow a minimum of five days here, allowing a further two days to see Sintra (see below). There is always something to see and do in Lisbon, a spectacular city and a treat for the eyes and heart and any other senses you have that are still in tact.
Pastel de nata
The first thing you have to do in Lisbon is to eat pastel de nata – these three-bite-size traditional custard tarts are delectable. Traditionally they are served warm with a sprinkle of cinnamon and are really quite delightful. They are sold everywhere and are cheap although it’s worth hunting out a top quality vender to really appreciate their divineness as the cheaper brands aren’t always made with flaky pastry and leave a greasy film on the back of the throat.
Castelo de Sao Jorge
From the walls of St George’s castle you can enjoy stunning vistas of the city. This is probably the highlight of Lisbon’s architecture and its easy to spend at least a few hours meandering the ramparts of this millennium-old monument in the company of peacocks. Thoroughly splendid. Read more about the Castelo de Sao Jorge here. See pictures here.
The Alfama is the oldest and crumbliest quarter in Lisbon and easily the most romantic. The streets are steep and narrow but worth the leg power it takes to truly investigate the cobbled alleys and archways. Despite tourism the area has retained much of its magic with traditional life still very much apparent. Enjoy getting lost in the labyrinthine streets.