I spent some days in Lisbon, Portugal, and I just loved it. Maybe that’s because, after two years living far from Brazil, I felt home in Portuguese lands, which share so much history with my home country – same language, similar culinary and architecture, all reminded me of my home.
Lisbon is charming. It’s old buildings, the yellow trams (some were red), the narrow and steep streets, it all makes us feel like we got into a time machine. At every corner, you can smell something amazing being cooked. On the other hand, all the buildings and streets are in pretty bad shape and there’s graffiti (the ugly kind) everywhere – Lisbon is one of the cities who suffered the most with the European crisis. But that’s a detail, and it’s such a safe city that even a lonely adventurous woman like myself can walk around in peace of mind, night and day.
Here are my tips for whoever is planning to spend a few days there!
Rocio neighborhood and Praça do Comércio
It’s the city old center. It reminds me of São Paulo’s old city center, full of antique buildings, charming little stores and streets full os restaurants with tables on the outside. Great place to go eat some codfish, a local speciality prepared in a ton of ways, or to have an espresso at the end of the day.
Closeby, it’s Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square), a huge patio with a view to the ocean and a great arch.
Catedral de Santa Maria and Miradouro de Santa Luzia
When you walk out of Rocio and klimb one of the steep streets filled with the yellow trams, you end up facing the Catedral de Santa Maria (or Patriarchy of Lisbon), a church with a beautiful facade at Sé. Keep on walking and you’ll find the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, an observatory with a patio, a garden, flowers, old Portuguese tile art and a killer view to the ocean from above.
Bairro Alto and Chiado
Those two neighborhoods are the most charming part of Lisbon, in my opinion. That’s where I stayed (at a very comfortable bed and breakfast called Casa de Santos). Full of steep streets and narrow streets, those neighborhoods are full of small restaurants and small stores. The streets are decorated with little lights, flags and other things. A great discovery there was the Fumeiro de Santa Catarina, a restaurant that serves dishes that are at the same time traditional and experimental and has great prices. At night, those are the most animated areas, with their fado concerts, a music style where an old guy or woman signs melancholic Portuguese songs to the sound of guitars.
Mercado da Ribeira
Close to Chiado, on the way to Cais Sodré, there’s a place called Mercado da Ribeira, which is a combination of a chic food court and a grocery store. The kiosks look like fast food places, but are actually run by chefs who serve the best of the local culinary, such as cod fish, olives and olive oil amouse bouches, sea food, wine, ginginha (a local, delicious and strong destilled drink made out of cherries) and sweets. You can stop by at day or night, to eat, drink, talk and even buy edible souvenirs.
A huge and beautiful aquarium, with lots of specimens from the sea, such as sharks, diverse fishes, rays, jellyfishes, penguins, sea stars, eels and even a funny sunfish. It’s a place for gorgeous photos and relaxing at their corner benches to medidate while you observe the whole thing.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Belém Garden and Pastéis de Belém
Belém is a little far from the city center, you need to take the bus to get there. There, you can visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, an enormous building composed by a cathedral, a huge internal patio and tens of rooms where they hold exhibitions nowadays. That’s also where the two most important Portuguese poets, Camões and Fernando Pessoa, are burried:
At the monastery’s exit, there’s the Belém garden, perfect for a walk or some rest at their benches to observe the flowers, threes and water fountain work its magic.
Then, you’re close to the patisserie called Pastéis de Belém, where you can buy the original Portuguese pastry pastel de nata. They were the inventors of this gem. There are long lines outside if you want to buy them to go, but if you take the time to sit and enjoy it calmly, there’s plenty of space inside.
So those were my favorite spots in Lisbon. Have you been there too? Share your tips with us on the comments!
More photos from my eurotrip at #mochilaodacintia at Instagram, and more Lisbon shots bellow.