Lisbon street art

Lisbon surprised me

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A couple of nights in Lisbon were enough for me to fall in love with the city. Once settled into the hotel, I put on my walking shoes prepared to lose myself in the narrow, cobbled streets of Lisbon’s old town.

Discover Lisbon on Foot

Instead of taking the number 28 tram which is crammed with tourists, meander through the lane ways of Alfama to the impressive Castelo Sao Jorge to take in extensive city views. Stroll down Rua Augusta through the grand Arco da Rua Augusta to the waterside Praço do Comercio once the seat of customs and port activities. Sit on the waterside steps on this once bustling waterway.

Must see and do

Or people watch while enjoying a coffee and cake at one of the cafés lining the Praço. Ride up (and down) one of the old Funiculars (Ascensors Gloria and Bica) or the beautifully crafted metal Elevador Santa Justa.

Take a train to Parque das Nações, the site of the 1998 World Expo. Here you’ll find the Lisbon Oceanarium and the Vasco da Gama tower with views which stretch for miles. Walk along the promenade,ride the cable car or take a river cruise from the marina.

Portuguese Culture

You can’t leave Lisbon without listening to the sombre strains of Fado, after getting the back story to this traditional folk music at the Fado museum. The Museo de Azulejos (tiles), while a little off the beaten track, is well worth a visit. It traces the history and production of ceramic tiles over five centuries.

Shopping

In Rua Garret you’ll discover the world’s oldest bookshop. Founded in 1732, Bertrand has a Guinness World Records Certificate to prove its claim. The beautiful jewellery store (Tous) is just a few doors down and there are little specialty shops – the tiny haberdashery shop, Retrosaria Bijou with its vast array of buttons, ribbons and fastenings (Rua da Conceição) or the Doll Hospital on the Praça do Figueroa.

Portuguese Cuisine

You must not leave Lisbon without tasing a pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tart), perhaps  at Confeitaria National with its mirrored ceiling and wooden staircase. Bacalhau, (dried and salted codfish) comes in a number of dishes and really should be tasted if only to say that you have. Note that in Portugal, the bread and olives brought to your table are not complimentary. If you don’t want to pay for them, it’s best to refuse them.

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This is an edited version of a post I wrote for another publication. You can read the full post here.

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