Long-Weekend In Lisbon

Land of many great explorers, most notably Vasco da Gama, Lisbon is also home to much rare beauty. Here are a few recommendations for a 48-hour stay.

SATURDAY
9 a.m.

After arriving in Lisbon, the best way to get to know the city is a pleasurable morning stroll. We board the tram and visit the quarter of Belem, famous for its luxuriant green parks on the ocean shore. Reminiscent of a miniature castle, Belem Tower was built in the 14th century. The flea market set up at Alfama on Saturday mornings is a must-see even if you aren’t going to buy anything.

12 noon
When noon approaches, you can settle back into a leather armchair at one of the many historic cafes in the city center and try one of Lisbon’s famous cinnamon tarts with cream (pasteis da nata). When you’ve recouped your energy, you can follow one of the city’s loveliest walking routes. As you proceed southwards from the old city center at Baixa, you will reach the square named for Luis de Camoes, one of the most important figures in Portuguese literature. 

6 p.m.

Carmo Convent to the north is one of the city’s most prominent structures. From here you can continue to the shopping district around the neo-classical Arch of Triumph and from there to Comercio Square at the harbor. The castle just beyond Sé de Lisboa (Lisbon Cathedral) on the hill is the Castle de Sao George. Built in the 16th century, this magnificent fortress was home to the Portuguese dynasties.

9 p.m.
And it’s only just begun to get dark… This time we are in the district of Bairro Alto, the heart of Lisbon’s nightlife, with its plentiful offerings of places to hear traditional Portuguese ‘fado’ music. The coastal districts of Santos and Docas where the city’s most famous nightclubs are located are a sight to behold after midnight.

SUNDAY
9 a.m.

It’s a good idea to start the next day with a splendid landscape. And the panoramic view on the south side of Lisbon Cathedral is eye dazzling: the giant earth fissures along the wide Tagus River and the Bridge of 25 April that spans it.

12 noon
Almost every hill in Lisbon promises an enjoyable view. At Baixa you can take the Santa Justa Elevator, designed by Gustave Eiffel, to the city’s highest point. The  Park of Edward VII that descends in the direction of Baixa is spread over such a broad area that it never appears to be crowded. Laid out on a sloping terrain, this park also offers a perfect view of the city.

6 p.m.
We are ready now for a nostalgic tram tour through Lisbon’s narrow, cobbled streets. Our starting point is the city’s largest square, known as the Praca do Comercio. A journey from Prazeres to the west of Bairro Alto to Martin Moniz north of Baixa promises an unforgettable experience even though it lasts less than an hour.

9 p.m.
On a ferryboat that runs the length of the Tagus, we branch out now to Santuario de Cristo Rei for a souvenir photo of Lisbon. The observation point, which boasts a statue of Christ similar to the iconic one at Rio de Janeiro, is ideal for viewing the Lisbon skies and the opposite banks of the river.