Lisbon is one of our favourite cities to visit. We like it so much we bought a small apartment in Estoril many years ago, which has easy access in to the heart of Lisbon. This post is aimed at the return visitor or those who are spending more than a long weekend in Lisbon. First time visitors may find my original blog of use; please click here or look down the list of posts for the September 2018 blog.
So what’s new here? Lisbon has some great things to see and do and here are some other things you may find of interest. This is not in my normal “Magnificent Seven” format as, frankly, there are so many options, so this is a list to consider once the Magnificent Seven from the original Lisbon post have been reviewed – and hopefully visited.
I have deliberately not included restaurants and bars. There are so many good ones and it is one of life’s pleasures to walk through a different neighbourhood and find a new restaurant to try. Failing that there is always TripAdvisor!
LX Factory: Situated on the west side of Lisbon, on the way to Belem, this is an old 19th-century industrial factory complex that has been turned into a creativity hub.
Very quirky, with lots of cafes and other dining options as well as boutique shops to browse. The highlight for me was the bookshop, Ler Devagar (Slowly Reading). There is a fantastic range of books, an old printing press and works of art hanging from the ceiling. No problems taking photos, but buy something as a souvenir! We also like Wish, a coffee shop near the bookshop, as well as some of the graffiti-style street art.
LX is a good place to spend an afternoon browsing. The main downside is that it is not pedestrianised and when we visited we had to be careful crossing a narrow lane from one outlet to another. After LX it is a short walk to the riverside under the April 25th bridge. It is a nice walk to Belem (a couple of kilometres), with no traffic and great views.
No 28 tram route. This is recommended so much, by so many guides, that a little perspective is needed. This tram line connects Martim Moniz with Campo Ourique, and passes through the popular tourist districts of Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela. Getting to the start at Martim Moniz is easy; it’s a few minutes’ walk from the subway station of the same name on the green line.
The Remodelado trams on this route, dating from the 1930s, are an integral part of the public transport network. The 28 route is unsuitable for modern trams. The trams go very close to buildings on the route and navigate numerous tight turns and steep gradients.
What is not explained clearly is that if you go to the start at Martim Moniz you will probably have a long wait. On a dank November day we waited for nearly 2 and a half hours. Save yourself a lot of time and walk to the first stop after Martim Moniz, or indeed any stop on the line and your wait is likely to be 10-15 minutes. You will have to stand, but you can get a seat on the return journey. You can look up the tram 28 route and stops online.
Feira da Ladra. This is Lisbon’s major flea market, open on Tuesdays and Saturdays from early morning to mid-afternoon. When we visited on a beautiful Saturday in January it was still going strong at 5pm. This has a truly eclectic mix of goods, from downright junk to some interesting finds. You will see lots of vinyl records being sold from a wide range of artists as well as jewellery, and I particularly liked wallets and purses made out of cork and others from industrial carpets. But in the main you will find clothes, bric a brac, coins, some furniture, books etc. This is a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning followed by lunch in the Alfama district (look for fixed price menus) followed – if inclined – by a visit to the National Pantheon as the market is in the shadow of this magnificent building. A short movie of the visit to the martket, National Pantheon, National Tile Museum and the walk back to the Cais de Sodre railway station is below.
National Tile Museum. Not the first thing to think of when you visit Lisbon, but it is surprisingly interesting from a design and historical point of view. Walking around Lisbon you will see different types of tiles and the museum walks you through the development of patterned and decorative tiles. We spent an enjoyable few hours in the former Madre de Deus Convent, founded in 1509. The church within the convent is heavily decorated with tiles. Guided tours are available. You can get a joint entrance ticket with entrance to the National Pantheon. A good day would include Feira da Ladra, the National Pantheon and a walk up to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum). There are lots of restaurants in Alfama showing the daily fixed price menus (pratos de dia).
Changing of the Republican Guard. We visited Belém on a Sunday morning and stumbled upon the changing of the Republican Guard in front of the Palacio de Belém (the Presidential Palace). It was the third Sunday of the month and started at 11.00 am.
This is quite spectacular and involves a horseback band (never seen that before) as well as a marching band and Palace Guards. It is worth visiting Belem on a third Sunday to see this as well as all the other attractions of Belem, which include, amongst others, the Jerónimos monastery, the Pastéis de Belém for the original recipe of pastel de nata, the Belem Tower, the Berardo Museum and the small craft stalls in the beautiful gardens.
Lisbon Aquarium and Oceanarium. We absolutely loved this place. It is about a 10-minute walk from the Oriente metro station on the red line in the Parque das Nações district. We were told it is the world’s largest salt water Oceanarium and home to over 450 different species of animals. I loved the sharks and rays, Sue the penguins and sea otters.
The viewing area is well thought out and is divided into four large tanks that represent the world’s four major oceanic ecosystems, with a massive central tank. The ecological systems are the North Atlantic rocky coast, the Tropical Indian coral reefs, the Temperate Pacific kelp forests and the Antarctic coastal line. There are lots of areas to take photos and simply sit and admire these wonderful creatures. It took us around 2 hours to see everything at a leisurely pace. A few of the many pictures we took are in the clip below.
Jardim Principe Real. This is a quiet city park in a trendy area of Lisbon, about 15 minutes away from the Cais do Sodre. This small oasis of green space is a lovely setting and has a gigantic tree in the middle. The branches of this tree are kept in place with various metalwork and frames with benches placed beneath its branches for protection against the sun. There are artisan stall holders on the perimeter of the park and on Saturday mornings there is also a small fruit and veg market. A great place to rest and people watch.
Jardim Botânico. Just along the road from the Jardim Principe Real are the Botanical Gardens. As botanical gardens go, this is a small park of about 10 acres
and there is a small entry charge. We visited on a cool November day. In summer it will be a fabulous place to sit in the shade of exotic trees from around the world.
Both the Botanical Gardens and Jardim Principe Real are a short walk to the viewing point in São Pedro de Alcântara which is one of the best in Lisbon.
Lisbon Duck Store. First a disclaimer. We are not being paid to say this (or anything else in our blogs). But we love this shop. Shelves are lined with rubber ducks: you can buy a bride and groom, astronaut, teacher, American football player as well as Duck Vader and Chewquacker duck. Of course there is a Donald Trump duck saying Make America Quack again. This place makes you smile and the ducks make fabulous presents.
Livraria Bertrand Chiado. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this is the oldest bookstore in the world still in business. It has typical blue tiles on the outside of the building and is located in the busy Chiado district. The bookshop is pointed out on the walking tours of Lisbon. Several rooms are named after Portuguese authors and we spent a pleasant hour or so browsing the shelves – there is also a small café in the rear of the building.
Lisboa Card. A Lisboa card gets you discounts on museums and free transport. We do not bother, however if you plan to hop on and off public transport a lot and visit many of the museums it is worth it. It costs about €40 for a 3-day Lisboa Card which also gets you to Cascais and Sintra. A metro ticket is about €2.50 per journey as is the cost of a ticket to Cascais one-way.