What to do in Lisbon – Scaling new heights

Lisbon, just like Rome, is known as the city of seven hills. For this reason, it would probably be a good idea to mentally and physically prepare yourself for the prospect of travelling through Lisbon’s hilly terrain. Difficulty faced when walking through Lisbon will be further exacerbated by the texture of the pavements; these appear to be made of varnished tiles which make them incredibly slippery. One advantage of travelling to such a hilly city, however, is that you are guaranteed to find some great viewing points. Here are some of the best attractions in Lisbon which will no doubt give you some great views and Instagram shots of the city #doitforthegram

Jéronimos Monastery (Mosterio dos Jéronimos)

My top tip for anyone wishing to visit Jéronimos Monastery is to skip the ridiculously long queue for buying tickets outside of the monastery by buying these at the archaeology museum (Museu Nacional de Arqueologia), which is adjacent to the main entrance of the monastery. You can also buy tickets for Bélem Tower here. Once you have your tickets you can zoom straight to the entrance for both sites and save yourself waiting for an hour or more to get in.

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Jéronimos Monastery is a visually stunning building. As you walk past it as well as through it you can’t help but be taken aback by the sheer beauty of both the interior and exterior. I had no prior knowledge of the monastery before my visit but thankfully there was an abundance of information dotted around the monastery which detailed its history. There is one room in particular which juxtaposes timelines of the monastery’s c.500 year history and the history of the world over the same 500 year period.

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Although I managed to bypass the initial queue at the entrance of Bélem Tower I was confronted with lots of smaller queues as I tried to make my way up the narrow stairs within the building to the various levels of this stunning Unesco World Hertiage site. Once I managed to get up these stairs, however, I was met with stunning views of the river Tagus and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument.

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N.B. Almost all the main historical sites and attractions are closed in Lisbon on a Monday. I learnt that the hard way when I turned up to Bélem Tower on my first full day but at least this meant that I managed to get a photo of the exterior without a long line of tourists obstructing my view.

Castelo de São Jorge (St George’s Castle)

This site is located near Alfama so if you are planning a trip to this part of Lisbon you should most definitely add Castelo de São Jorge to your list. Some information about the history of the site itself is located in a modern building near the castle but if you are solely on the hunt for some great views of Lisbon you can wander around the viewing point, or Mirodouro, which is outside of the actual building or simply walk around the castle and climb the steep stairs which are located all over the castle.

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Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift/Elevator)

My top tip for going here is to arrive early in the morning to avoid the queues that develop later in the day. I arrived just after 9am and was part of the second group to ascend to the top. N.B. You can use your Lisbon Viva Viagem card to access the lift providing you have enough credit on your card. A ticket will cost around 4 euros.

This is another great site in Lisbon that will provide you with some fantastic views of the city. Once you arrive at the top you will be able to see Carmo Convent, which is nearby, as well as Rossio Square (Praça de Dom Pedro IV).

Explore Lisbon by tram or on foot

It’s a safe bet that every travel guide and blog about Lisbon will tell you to take the historic tram 28. Whilst some may argue that no trip to Lisbon is complete without doing this at least once I wasn’t overly impressed with what I saw whilst I was on the tram. I even took it twice at around 8am just to make sure that I was able to fully appreciate the experience. As most of the streets in Lisbon are incredibly narrow I mainly just witnessed the tram coming dangerously close to crashing through a few coffee shops. Sometimes I felt that it was more interesting to see the trams travelling through the narrow streets than it was to be on the tram, especially as the tram mainly seemed to travel past shops and restaurants.

I managed to see much more of Lisbon when I was walking through the city. As well as allowing you travel at a slower pace, travelling on foot will provide you with a great opportunity to have a look at Lisbon’s famous azulejos (tiles) which adorn many homes and other buildings all over the city. Just take care when climbing steep (and very slippery) streets!

Have you travelled to Lisbon? If so, let me know what other interesting sites in Lisbon are worth visiting!