Lisbon Travel Summary

Lisbon’s stunning location and effortless beauty immediately strike with first time visitors.  Boasting a superb setting, the Portuguese capital is built on seven hills around banks of the River Tagus and is best on summer evenings, when pavement cafes and riverside restaurants bustle with life.

The Lisbon Travel Summary is segmented into 3 key travel themes to immerse you into everything Lisbon:

  1. An introduction and brief history to Lisbon;
  2. Some Facts & Figures;
  3. What to See

Hope you enjoy it!  Carpe Diem!


1. An introduction and brief history to Lisbon:

Europe’s second oldest capital (after Athens) has survived many twists and turns, including a devastating earthquake that flattened many of the buildings in the 18th-century.  Lisbon enchants travellers with its red, orange and yellow ochre buildings, intimate alleyways, and an easy going charm that makes it a popular year round destination.

Get ready for a workout as Lisbon is built on seven hills. This is also a city of enchanting contrasts: The elegant squares, broad avenues, monumental buildings and rectangular layout of the lower areas quickly gives way to the hilly, narrow, winding, unpredictable and cramped streets of districts such as Alfama and Bairro Alto.


Lisbon pairs dramatic history and wonderful architecture with a delightfully Mediterranean climate.  This makes Lisbon an exceptional destination to explore on foot, dotted with ceramic-tiled shops and traditional cafés.

A short stroll through Lisbon’s ancient streets will introduce stunning examples of Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, Modern and Postmodern architecture, stretching through beautiful boulevards and squares. And as you step through this delightful city, you’ll notice the almost total absence of cars – creating a wonderfully quiet and relaxed atmosphere.


Fantastic patisseries (you will fall in love with Portuguese Egg Tarts – Pastéis de Nata) and restaurants thrive side by side with late night bars and nightclubs.

You will be spoilt for choice for Museums – check out the Gulbenkian which has a great collection of arts through the ages and the National de Arte Antiga (National Gallery) which has a collection of Portuguese and European masterpieces.

The Portuguese know how to have a good time – you have the traditional fado clubs of the Alfama district to the cool venues in the Bairro Alto and Santos, through to the biggest clubs that can be found on the river e.g. Lux near Santa Apolonia and the upmarket venues of Alcantara.


Centro Histórico Orientation

The historic centre of Lisbon is the riverfront belt formed by the hills of Bairro Alto and Alfama and the flat area of Baixa between them. It contains the following neighbourhoods (Bairros):

  • Alfama: this neighbourhood still bears signs of the Moorish presence in the city, with the buildings very close to each other, and very irregular streets.  The neighbourhood is very atmospheric and a great spot in which to wander around
  • Bairro Alto: head uphill to Bairro Alto and give your legs a good workout, or take one of the funiculars for stunning views of the city and some wild partying in Lisbon’s most popular nightclub district
  • Baixa: this part of the city was completely rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake by the Marquês de Pombal. The planned layout, greatly different from what you will see in the more ancient neighbourhoods, is a testimony to the architects
  • Chiado: take a stroll along the historical streets of this elegant shopping district, stopping for a cup of coffee with the statue of Fernando Pessoa, Portugal’s great Modernist poet.
  • Principe Real: the trendy district with all the fancy shops is just a 5 minutes walk from Bairro Alto


2. Some Facts & Figures:

Lisbon Facts and Figures 20210921 v0.1

Lisbon boasts:

  • A population of 3 million;
  • 4.4 million tourists per year; and
  • 214 registered football clubs – it is football crazy

Some intriguing facts:

  • Lisbon is the oldest city in Western Europe – it was founded by the Phoenicians in 1200 BC
  • Vasco da Gama bridge is the longest bridge in Europe – circa 11 miles in length
  • Both the oldest bookstore in the world (Livraria Bertrand, 1732) and the smallest (Livraria do Simão, <35 sq ft) can be found in Lisbon
  • Only five people in the world know the recipe of the Pastel de Belém, de originele Pastel de Nata. the original Pastel de Nata. They have memorized the recipe, there is no written version
  • The Church of Santa Engrácia in Lisbon has entered the Guinness World Records as having the longest construction time of any church. Work began in the 17th century and was only completed in 1966


3. What to See:

Alfama District:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Alfama is Lisbon’s oldest district (having survived great 1755 Lisbon earthquake)
  • The district is quaint maze of narrow cobbled streets and ancient houses, which lead up the steep hill from the Tejo Estuary to the Castelo de São Jorge. It is great for photographers owing to its medieval alleys and outstanding views
  • You can cross off many of Lisbon’s most important historic buildings, including the Se Cathedral, the Castelo de São Jorge, the Panteão Nacional and the Igreja de Santo António
  • Historically, Alfama was situated outside of the city walls and was associated with poverty, however, nowadays, Alfama fashionable and artisan district

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Castelo de São Jorge:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • São Jorge Castle (Castelo de São Jorge) is one of Lisbon’s most emblematic landmarks. The silhouette of the Castle stands out both by day and when illuminated at night, located on the summit of São Jorge hill, the highest in Lisbon. The hillside also houses two of the city’s neighbourhoods called Alfama and Castelo
  • For visitors, the Castelo de São Jorge is a fascinating tourist attraction, and this is in part due to a major restoration performed in the 1940s. This project completely rebuilt the ramparts, embellished the watchtowers, and added tranquil gardens within the courtyards
  • You can also take excellent panoramic photographs from the grounds


Sample Portuguese food at Time Out Market:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • A market since 1892, Mercado da Ribeira now takes a different guise as Time Out Market Lisboa
  • There are 40 restaurants, eight bars, plenty of shops, stalls galore and even a live music venue. The result is one of Lisbon’s buzziest spots
  • Time Out Market is the first market in the world where everything has been chosen, tasted and tested (with four or five stars, and not one star less) by an independent panel of city experts: Time Out’s own journalists and critics


Lisbon Cathedral:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Lisbon Cathedral, better known as Sé de Lisboa, is the oldest and most important church in the city
  • The Cathedrals’ construction dates from the twelfth century and is predominantly Romanesque in style. Its official name is Santa Maria Maior
  • Surprisingly, it has survived several natural disasters, like the great earthquake of 1755, which left part of the religious edifice in ruins. Throughout the centuries, the Cathedral has been renovated and rebuilt on various occasions


National Pantheon:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Located in the Alfama district of the Portuguese capital, the 17th century Igreja de Santa Engrácia has been converted into the National Pantheon (Panteão Nacional) since the 20th century and holds the tombs of various famous Portuguese figures
  • The building is noted for its large dome (completed only in the 20th century) which is a popular landmark on the Lisbon skyline overlooking the historic centre of Lisbon and the Tagus River
  • The spacious interior makes use of much marble elegantly finished in the Italian style.
  • The terrace around the dome has spectacular views out over Lisbon


Carmo Convent:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • The Convento do Carmo is an historic ruin in the Chiado district of Lisbon, which is the city’s most striking example of the devastation caused by the 1755 earthquake which struck the city.
  • Nowadays the ruined Gothic church is used as the Museu Arqueológico do Carmo (Carmo Archaeological Museum). Exhibits include Roman remains (ceramics, mosaics), a Visigothic pillar, as well as a series of tombs including that of King Ferdinand I in the exposed nave.
  • The eclectic museum also displays Egyptian and some Peruvian mummies, a collection of coins and many of the treasures from Portugal’s monasteries which were dissolved in 1834

Elevador de Santa Justa:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • One of the city’s best-loved landmarks and also known as the “Elevator of Carmo,” this extraordinary structure was built in 1902 by the Portugal-born French architect Raoul de Mesnier du Ponsard (an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel, explaining the structure’s similarities to ParisEiffel Tower), to connect downtown to Bairro Alto (the lowest and highest points of the city)
  • Originally powered by steam, it’s 45 meters (147ft) high, and remains an interesting example of post-Eiffel iron architecture
  • The top of the Neo-Gothic tower, reached via a spiral staircase, has a splendid view of the city, including over Rossio Square, the castle and the river


Belém Tower:

AllThingsTravel Top Pick:

  • Standing on the waterfront at Belem, near the mouth of the River Tagus, is the Torre de Belém, one of the most iconic symbols of Lisbon
  • Originally designed as a lighthouse, the tower was eventually built as a defensive fortress on the orders of King Manuel I. Architect Francisco de Arruda was tasked with designing the tower
  • Granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1983, the Belém Tower is today one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lisbon

4. Photo Gallery:

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