Welcome to our second day in Lisbon, adventurers! Yesterday we explored the lively city center and indulged in its delicious cuisine, but today we're taking a different route. Get ready to hop on the famous Tram 28, an iconic Lisbon experience that will take you on a thrilling ride through the city's winding streets and hilly neighborhoods. Along the way, we'll marvel at the stunning views of the city from various miradouros (viewpoints) and explore the charming Alfama neighborhood with its narrow streets, colorful buildings, and lively atmosphere.
But that's not all – in the afternoon, we'll venture out to the historic district of Belém, where we'll visit some of Lisbon's most iconic landmarks, including the Jerónimos Monastery, the Belém Tower, and the Monument to the Discoveries. And of course, we can't leave without indulging in Belém's famous pastries, the delectable Pastéis de Belém. Get ready for a day full of adventure, culture, and stunning views – Lisbon, here we come!
Alfama and Belém, nestled within Lisbon's historic landscape, boast rich narratives shaped by centuries of tumultuous events. Perched at the crossroads of the river Tagus and the Atlantic Ocean, these neighborhoods have been witnesses to a captivating history. From Phoenician sailors to Roman conquerors and resilient Moors, Alfama and Belém were coveted territories until they succumbed to Christian kings during the Reconquest campaign.
Despite facing occupations and adversities, these districts flourished during the Christian era. Alfama and Belém became integral to maritime commerce, serving as crucial stops on the trade route between the North Sea and the Mediterranean. The shipyard industry played a pivotal role in shaping their economic prosperity.
The turning point occurred in 1256 when King Afonso III designated Lisbon as the capital, transforming Alfama and Belém into shining beacons. With the threat of the Moors diminished and the economy thriving, these neighborhoods played a crucial role in Lisbon's ascent. In response to challenges from the Ottoman Empire in North Africa, Portugal strategically shifted to the Maritime Conquest, resulting in the colonization of ultramarine territories and the monopolization of trade routes. This strategic move elevated Alfama and Belém, contributing to Lisbon's status as one of the wealthiest cities globally in the 16th century, characterized by the stunning Manueline architectural style that graced their buildings.
However, their histories weren't without setbacks. Revolutions, political upheavals, and strokes of misfortune left imprints on Alfama and Belém. Despite these challenges, the neighborhoods retained their charm and cultural diversity, standing as testaments to the enchanting spirit of Lisbon's past. Today, wandering through the narrow streets of Alfama and exploring the historic monuments of Belém unveils the unique stories that have shaped these old neighborhoods into captivating cultural treasures.
FROM TRAMS TO TARTS – EXPLORING ALFAMA AND BELÉM!
1. TRAM 28E
All aboard the Lisbon express! Our first stop for the day is the legendary Tram 28, and trust us, this is no ordinary tram ride. Not only is it a practical way to get around the city, but it's also a thrilling rollercoaster ride that will have you holding onto your seats (and your hats) as it winds its way through the narrow streets of Lisbon. But that's not all, folks! The Tram 28 also happens to be a living piece of history. It's been running since the 1930s, and it's one of the best ways to experience the authentic Lisbon of yesterday. You'll be transported back in time as you rattle through the cobblestone streets, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of this vibrant city. And did we mention the views? The Tram 28 offers some of the most breathtaking views of Lisbon, from the historic Alfama neighborhood to the grand plazas of Baixa. It's a sightseeing tour in itself, and you'll want to have your camera ready to snap some unforgettable shots. So hop on board, hold tight, and get ready for a wild ride on the Tram 28 – it's a journey you won't soon forget!
| Opening hours - daily from 8.30 a.m. - 10 p.m. |
| Admission - 3 EUR |
| Golden tip - rides are included in the day transportation ticket (6.60
2. MIRADOURO DA SENHORA DO MONTE
Next stop: Miradouro da Senhora do Monte! This gem is conveniently located on Tram 28's route and offers some of the best views in town. Get your cameras ready because you won't want to miss the stunning panoramic views of Lisbon from this hilltop lookout. Plus, it's the perfect spot to catch your breath and take in the city's beauty before we continue our adventure!
3. MIRADOURO DA GRAÇA
Let's move on to the next stop on our list – the stunning Miradouro da Graça! It's just a short walk from the previous viewpoint, but if you're feeling lazy, you can always hop back on Tram 28 for a quick ride. Once you arrive, you'll be greeted with breathtaking panoramic views of the city that are sure to take your breath away! This lesser-known viewpoint is a hidden gem that's often overlooked by tourists, so you can enjoy a quieter and more intimate experience. Take some time to soak in the stunning views, snap a few photos, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere!
Let's head over to the charming and historic neighbourhood of Alfama! Known for its winding alleyways, stunning architecture, and lively atmosphere, Alfama is a must-visit for anyone exploring Lisbon. This charming neighbourhood dates back to the city's early years and is believed to be one of the oldest in Europe. With its colorful buildings, quaint cafes, and local music echoing through the streets, Alfama is the perfect place to experience Lisbon's unique charm. Get lost in the maze of narrow streets and alleys, and discover the hidden gems of Alfama. The neighborhood is also home to some of the city's most iconic landmarks, including the Castle of São Jorge, the Sé Cathedral, and the National Pantheon. So be sure to take some time to explore these historic sites and soak in the rich history of the area.
5. MIRADOURO DE SANTA LUZIA
The next stop on our itinerary is the Miradouro da Santa Luzia, where we'll soak up some stunning views of the city while feeling like we've traveled back in time. This charming lookout point is named after the church of Santa Luzia, located just below the terrace, which was built in the 18th century. From here, we'll be able to admire the picturesque Alfama neighborhood, with its maze of narrow streets and colorful buildings that have been around for centuries.
As we take in the breathtaking scenery, we can also appreciate the historical significance of the Miradouro da Santa Luzia, which has been a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike for over a century. Whether we're admiring the view, chatting with other travelers, or simply enjoying the sunshine, this is a spot that truly captures the essence of Lisbon's unique charm.
6. CATEDRAL SÉ DE LISBOA
Are you ready to step back in time and explore one of Lisbon's most ancient and awe-inspiring buildings? Our next stop is the Lisbon Cathedral, also known as Sé de Lisboa or Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa. It's the oldest temple in the city, with a history that dates back to the 4th century! Legend has it that during the moors' occupation of Lisbon (from the 8th to the 12th century), the cathedral's site remained empty. But after King Afonso Henriques reconquered the city in 1147, he ordered the construction of the church on the site where the moors had built the main mosque of Lisbon.
The cathedral's stunning Romanesque architecture style has undergone many transformations and restorations over the years, adding elements of Gothic and Baroque design. But thanks to a recent restoration project, the cathedral now looks much like it did in medieval times. And the restoration team even found traces of Roman, Arab, and medieval history underneath the central courtyard and cloister! So, let's step inside and soak up the history and atmosphere of this magnificent building. From the soaring vaulted ceilings to the intricate stained-glass windows, there's plenty to marvel at. And don't forget to snap a selfie or two to capture the moment!
| Opening hours - daily from 9.30 a.m. - 7 p.m. |
| Admission - 5 EUR |
7. PASTELARIA SANTO ANTÓNIO
Next up, let's take a break at the famous Pastelaria Santo Antonio. This little pastry shop is tucked away in the charming narrow streets of the Alfama neighborhood and is famous for its delicious Pastéis de nata. Trust us, you won't be able to resist the warm, flaky crust and sweet, creamy filling of these mouth-watering custard tarts. They're the perfect fuel for the climb up to the castle, which is our next destination. So, grab a pastry and go explore the stunning castle and take in the panoramic views of the city from the top!
| Opening hours - daily from 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. |
8. CASTELO SÃO JORGE
Are you ready for a breathtaking view of the city of Lisbon? Our next stop is the majestic Castelo São Jorge, perched atop the highest hill in the city! As you climb up to the castle, you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the city and the Tagus River. This impressive fortress dates back to the 11th century and has witnessed centuries of history, from the Moors who built it to the Christian kings who conquered it. As you explore the castle, you'll see evidence of its rich history, including the medieval towers, the royal residence, and the archaeological site where ancient Roman and Moorish ruins were discovered. But the real highlight of the castle is the panoramic view from the top, made even more special by the fascinating Camera Obscura exhibit. This device uses a periscope and a concave mirror to project a real-time, 360-degree image of the city onto a table, allowing you to see Lisbon in a whole new way!
| Opening hours - daily from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. |
| Admission - 15 EUR |
9. MOSTEIRO DOS JERÓNIMOS
Now let's head to Belém! To get there, you can take a tram, bus, or train from the city center, it shouldn't be too difficult! The most famous landmark in Belém is the Monastery of Jerónimos, a stunning architectural masterpiece that will take your breath away! The monastery was built in the 16th century as a testament to the wealth and power of Portugal during the Age of Discovery. It was commissioned by King Manuel I to celebrate the discovery of a sea route to India by Vasco da Gama. The building is a prime example of Manueline architecture, characterized by intricate stone carvings, maritime motifs, and ornate decoration.
As you step inside, you'll be awed by the grandeur of the monastery's interior. The vast halls and intricate cloisters are adorned with ornate carvings and beautiful stained-glass windows. Make sure to take a moment to admire the intricate details of the columns, arches, and vaulted ceilings. But the real highlight of the monastery is the tomb of Vasco da Gama, the legendary explorer who discovered the sea route to India. His tomb is a magnificent work of art, adorned with intricate carvings and beautiful sculptures.
| Admission - 10 EUR |
10. PADRÃO DOS DESCOBRIMENTOS
Next up is the Monument to the Discoveries, or in Portuguese, Padrão dos Descobrimentos! This monument is an absolute must-see for any traveler to Lisbon. As you approach the structure, you'll be blown away by its sheer size and grandeur. It's a towering tribute to the Age of Discoveries, when Portugal led the way in exploring the unknown world. The Padrão dos Descobrimentos was built in 1960, but it's a nod to the original monument built in the same location in 1940. The monument is shaped like a caravel, the type of ship used by Portuguese explorers during their voyages, and it's adorned with sculptures of famous Portuguese figures, including Vasco da Gama and Prince Henry the Navigator. So, come and discover the wonders of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos – a tribute to Portugal's rich history of exploration and discovery, and a highlight of any trip to Lisbon.
| Opening hours - daily from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. |
| Admission - 10 EUR |
11. TORRE DE BELÉM
Now, make your way towards the Torre de Belém, one of the most iconic landmarks in Lisbon! This beautiful tower has stood proudly at the mouth of the Tagus River for over 500 years, and it's a must-see on any visit to Belém! Built in the early 16th century, the Torre de Belém served as a defensive structure to protect the city from sea attacks. It also played an important role in Portugal's Age of Discovery, serving as a departure point for many of the country's explorers, including Vasco da Gama. But let's not forget the fun details about this tower! Did you know that it was once home to exotic animals like lions, monkeys, and an elephant? It's true! King Manuel I kept these animals at the tower as a symbol of Portugal's global influence and power. As you explore the tower, you'll notice the intricate stonework and beautiful Manueline-style architecture. From the outside, it looks like a fairy tale castle, complete with turrets and battlements. And from the top, you'll have breathtaking views of the river and the surrounding landscape.
| Opening hours - daily from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. |
| Admission - 6 EUR |
12. PASTÉIS DE BELÉM
After a day filled with history, architecture, and stunning views, it's time to enjoy a sweet treat at the famous Pastéis de Belém! This charming pastry shop has been serving up its signature custard tarts since 1837, and it's a must-visit spot in Belém! As you approach the shop, you'll likely see a line out the door – but don't be discouraged! It moves quickly, and the wait is well worth it. The real star of the show, of course, is the pastel de nata. But Pastéis de Belém isn't just about sweet treats – we highly recommend trying their savory delights, such as the crispy and flavorful pasteis de bacalhau (codfish pastries), the juicy and tender coxas de galinha (chicken drumsticks), and the irresistible rissois (deep-fried pastry pockets filled with savory meat or cheese). It's the perfect spot for a quick lunch or an afternoon snack. So, sit back, relax, and savor the flavors of this iconic Lisbon pastry shop – it's the perfect ending to a perfect day!
OUR FINAL THOUGHTS
Got an extra day in Lisbon? As amazing as Lisbon is, there's a fairy-tale city just a hop, skip, and a train ride away: Sintra! Trust us, you won't want to miss the enchanting castles, the mystical forests, and the picturesque streets of this charming town. Check out our post here on Sintra and prepare to be transported to another world!
We'd love to hear about your unique experiences in Lisbon that weren't covered in our post! Please share with us in the comments below so we can plan our next visit accordingly. We can't wait to read all about it!