“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” – R. Emerson
PRINT & GO
Before your departure, do not forget to check/bring with you :
– Boarding Pass and Hotel Reservation
DAY 1: VISIT LISBON – ALFAMA AND BAIXA
Lisbon is one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal. An historic capital, pleasant to visit in sunny days. The charm of the city is in its unique structure, its narrow streets going uphill and downhill, its great view on the ocean, and its vibrant atmosphere that you can feel in every corner. Thanks to its special bars, restaurants and to its friendly people, Lisbon is definitely a city to explore in a weekend. A nice weekend there will give you a first glimpse of the treasures this city has. If you have more days available, a nice trip outside the city is totally worth.
The first day in Lisbon will be dedicated to the visit to its main districts: Alfama and Baixa. Despite the fact that everything is nearby and can be done on foot, Lisbon is not a flat city, it is built on two high parts – like Alfama and Bairro Alto – and a lower one, Baixa; therefore it is strongly suggested to wear comfortable shoes in order not to feel tired after 10mins. The first thing to do before starting any long exploration of the city is to enjoy a good breakfast in one of the hundreds pastellarias located in the city. The Portuguese cuisine is very diversified in terms of pastry, you can go from the traditional pasteis de nata to other delicacies..all accompanied by a strong coffee. After breakfast, you can go to Alfama district, the most emblematic quarter and one of the most rewarding for walkers and photographers thanks to its medieval alleys and outstanding views. Because its foundation is dense bedrock, it survived the 1755 earthquake, and a walk through this old-fashioned residential neighborhood is now a step back in time. It is a village within a city still made up of narrow streets, tiny squares, churches, and whitewashed houses with tile panels and wrought-iron balconies adorned with pots of flowers, drying laundry, and caged birds.
It was settled by the Romans and Visigoths (it was also an important Jewish quarter in the 15th century), but it was the Moors who gave the district its atmosphere and name (alhama means springs or bath, a reference to the hot springs found in the area). They were also responsible for its web of streets created as a defense system, while at the same time enabling their homes to remain cool in the summer. Enjoy a walk in the nice streets of Alfama and do not miss the main attractions of the area: St George’s castle, Sao Vicente de Fora church and the miradouros of Portas do Sol (one of the most amazing views on the city). The visit of Alfama will take you several hours, so you can stop there for a quick lunch break.
From Alfama you can go to Baixa either on foot either you can experience the famous Lisbon old tram. You can purchase a day ticket on board and have a ride in these old and charming small trams. As the name says, Baixa is the lower part of Lisbon and also the main city center. It was completely rebuilt after the Great Earthquake of 1755 with streets flanked by uniform, neoclassical buildings. This was Europe’s first great example of neoclassical design and urban planning, and one of the finest European architectural achievements of the age (it is currently being considered to be listed as a World Heritage Site, pending much-needed renovation of many of the buildings).
It remains an imposing district, with elegant squares, pedestrianized streets, cafes, and shops. Old tramcars, street performers, tiled Art Deco shopfronts, elaborately decorated pastry shops, and street vendors selling everything from flowers to souvenirs, all lend a special charm to the area.
You can start from Praca Dom Pedro and continue to Praca da Figueira, walk along the perpendicular streets to the sea and eventually end up in Praca do Comercio. This is a beautiful square, full of life at any time of the day and with a fantastic view on the sea. Make sure to be there at the sunset, the show will be wonderful. After a long tour around the city, you can go back to the hotel for a power nap and get ready for the city’s nightlife. Lisbon by night is a great experience: the city is filled with people and bars, restaurants and music everywhere. A great neighborhood to experience the nightlife is surely Bairro Alto. From Baixa you can take the San Justa elevator and enjoy a great dinner and after-dinner in one of the several restaurants and bars in Bairro Alto.
DAY 2: VISIT LISBON – BAIRRO ALTO AND CRISTO REI
On the second day you can wake up a little later and explore Bairro Alto. You can walk along the historical streets and admire the view on the city from several miradouros. From Bairro Alto, you can go to Chiado, an elegant, sophisticated district of theaters, bookshops, old-style cafes, art nouveau jewelry shops.
Much of the area was destroyed in a fire in 1988, but has since been reborn. It remains one of Lisbon’s most beloved districts, with reminders of its past as the center of the city’s intellectual life, with statues of literary figures such as Fernando Pessoa, Luis de Camões, and Eça de Queiroz.
Once you finish your tour in Bairro Alto, you can take a tram (or have a sporty walk) and head to Cais Do Sodre ferry terminal. There, you can take a ferry crossing the river and in a 15mins ride, you will get off the opposite side in Cacilhas. The ferry arrives in a nice area, full of delicious fish restaurants, you can stop there for your lunch break.
After a delicious lunch, walk 10mins to get to Cristo Rei. Built in 1959 in thanks to God for having spared Portugal during WWII, this enormous monument to Christ was inspired by the famous statue in Rio de Janeiro.
The 28m figure of Christ opens its arms to Lisbon, and there is a sweeping view of the city and 25 de Abril Bridge from the top of the 82m high pedestal (reached by an elevator). The view is simply wonderful!
After this great trip you can spend your evening on the other side of the bridge, or you can go back to Lisbon to enjoy another great night in the city.
DAY 3: SINTRA
On the third day, you will leave Lisbon to explore some wonderful places outside the city. In order to reach those places, you need to join an organized tour or you can rent a car.
The first stop will be Cabo Da Roca, the westernmost point of Europe, located at around 1h drive from Lisbon. Roughly 150 metres from the sea, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the Serra de Sintra and out to sea over the coastline, all of which makes your trip here well worth the visit.
Historical records point to the existence in the 16th century of a fort at Cabo da Roca which played an important role in guarding the approach to Lisbon, forming a defensive line along the coast, especially during the Peninsular War. All that is left of this fort nowadays are some remains, together with the lighthouse that still serves as an important warning beacon for shipping in this area.
After a lunch break to recharge your batteries, you can can head to Sintra, more exactly to Quinta da Regaleira. The property consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park that features lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. .The park also contains an extensive and enigmatic system of tunnels, which have multiple entry points that include: grottoes, the chapel, Waterfall Lake, and “Leda’s Cave,” which lies beneath the Regaleira Tower. One of the coolest parts of this structure is the “Initiation Well” .The Initiation Wells are two wells on the property that better resemble underground towers lined with stairs. These wells never served as water sources. Instead, they were used for ceremonial purposes that included Tarot initiation rites. The tunnels described above connect these wells to one another, in addition to various caves and other monuments located around the park. Of the two wells, the larger one contains a 27-meter spiral staircase with several small landings. The spacing of these landings, combined with the number of steps in the stairs, are linked to Tarot mysticism. The smaller well contains straight stairs that connect a series of ring-shaped floors to one another. This well is also called the ‘Unfinished Well’. A structure similar to these wells can be found in the Pozzo di S. Patrizio in Italy.
The visit of the Quinta will take approximately 2hrs, afterwards you can continue to the beautiful Palaco da Pena. The castle stands on the top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon and much of its metropolitan area. It is a national monument and constitutes one of the major expressions of 19th-century Romanticism in the world. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. The Pena Palace has a profusion of styles much in accordance with the exotic taste of the Romanticism. The intentional mixture of eclectic styles includes the Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic and Neo-Renaissance. The Palace is simply gorgeous, a beautiful masterpiece surrounded by a charming nature.
You can end up such a beautiful day in the charming city center of Sintra, a beautiful touristic area with narrow streets and traditional bars and restaurants. A nice dinner and walk there is the best way to conclude an unforgettable day.
DAY 4: VISIT LISBON – BELEM
On your last day in Lisbon, you can take it easy and visit the famous area of Belem. Differently from what we have seen so far, Belem is located far away from the center, but still easily reachable by tram or by taxi. Foresee around 30mins by tram. Belem is an important area in Lisbon’s history. It was from here that many of the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their voyages of discovery: Prince Henry the Navigator and the first overseas expedition to conquer Ceuta in Morocco, Bartholomeu Dias to round the Cape of Good Hope, the first voyages of Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco da Gama to discover the sea route to India, and Christopher Columbus stopped here on his way back to Europe after discovering the New World. During this time Lisbon flourished with riches pouring into Portugal and saw the construction of great monuments like the Belem Tower and Jeronimos Monastery. Today these monuments and their surrounding museums are essential viewing for any visitor.
For short breaks the best place for a drink and pastries is the cafe Antiga Confeitaria de Belem which has been serving delicious custard tarts in its rooms adorned with tiles since 1841.