Lisbon Travel Guide
Introduction to Lisbon
Bathed in sunshine and experiencing a cultural renaissance, Lisbon is a place that has steadily risen on the itinerary of those visiting Europe.
With prices much lower than most places in Western Europe due to persistent economic struggles that stemmed from the 2008 global economic collapse, prices are very reasonable as well, making it a solid addition to your travels through the region.
Cultural Experiences to Lisbon
Begin your time in Lisbon at Jeronimos Monastery, which counts easily as one of Southern Europe’s most prominent religious structures. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being one of the best examples of the Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture, the massive size of this complex will have you exploring for hours on end.
With intricate details defining its hallways, arches, and impressive courtyard, you’ll understand why this monastery has been the chosen place for a number of international state functions in the past. Do not forget your camera when leaving your hotel for Jeronimos!
Heading up the hill that overlooks Lisbon will take you to your next destination on your tour of Lisbon. At the apex of it, São Jorge Castle has loomed over the metropolis for centuries as its guardian.
Its walls were expanded greatly after the original castle was taken from the Moors in the 12th century, and it served as a stalwart for the growth of Lisbon and Portugal from that time onward.
Walk the ramparts and admire the superior sight lines that the aging cannons had to deflect incoming armadas with ease – or enjoy the vantage point it has over the city of Lisbon below, and use it to grab a great photo from above. Either way, ensure that a visit to this castle is on your itinerary.
If you want to tour another defensive structure in Lisbon, then making a trip down to the Belem Tower will not disappoint. Unfortunately for the military planners that built it back in the 16th century, it failed in its intended purpose as a strengthening of defenses at the mouth of the River Tagus, as the Spanish captured it in a matter of hours.
Another interesting factoid about this attraction is that it originally sat on an island in the middle of the river. However, it now sits on the shore due to the rerouting of its water after the massive earthquake that struck Lisbon in 1755, which is a direct testament to the terrifying power of nature.
Other Attractions in Lisbon
The weather has long been one of Lisbon’s strong suits. As such, there will be plenty of days where a visit to the Jardim Botanico da Ajuda will be the perfect way to make the most of the bright sunshine that Portugal’s capital soaks in on a near daily basis.
Ranking as one of the oldest parks in the city, it has over 5,000 types of flora residing within its confines, many of which were procured from Portugal’s holdings overseas that were brought back during the Age of Discovery.
Walk beneath trees that are centuries-old, admire its elaborate Baroque fountain, or eat a picnic lunch while you watch boats go by on the River Tagus below.
With centuries of Moorish influence before the Crusades drove them out of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is well known for its Islamic-inspired tiles. If you are a fan of this type of design, then spending some time in the National Azulejo Museum will prove to be a worthwhile use of your time.
Many of the tile designs harken back to the days of the Moors, though many are designed with Christian themes as well. You might come in here expecting to spend an hour, but many get sucked into staying longer, so plan accordingly.
If you are traveling with your family, or if the weather decides to thrust a rare rainy day on you while in the capital of Portugal, then make sure you pay a visit to the Lisbon Oceanarium. Originally serving as the exhibition grounds for Expo ’98, it has since been converted into the largest indoor aquarium in Europe.
There are four themed tanks aside from the main show tank, which simulate various environments, from the Antarctic to the tropical coral reefs of the Indian Ocean. Don’t leave without seeing their gigantic sunfish, a rare find in most aquariums due to the challenges of taking care of one in captivity.