Lisbon – as the capital of Portugal – is one of the most popular destinations for travelers and tourists from all around the world.
The city is full of contrasts – on one hand, it is the authentic relict of the past with old yellow trams and ceramic tiles (Azulejos) everywhere. On the other hand, nowadays it is also one of the most attractive destinations for people engaged in art and culture with the extensive range of local hip spots – from cafes and bars to co-working spaces and cultural hubs. I’ve prepared a list of must-see places* consisted of some traditional spots that are worth to explore as well as new corners on the map of Lisbon - all of them confirm the city is the center of creative minds.
*The order is random as every place has unique advantages, and it depends only on your preferences which of them would be most suitable for your preferences.
The yellow tram is one of the most recognizable hallmarks of Lisbon and probably it is not far-fetched to say that any visit can be completed without at least one trip by this traditional way of transport (this kind of vehicles have been operating there since the end of the XIX century). Nowadays, there are five different routes to choose - mainly in the central area of Lisbon. You have an excellent opportunity to observe the unique construction of this old tram, and, at the same time, you can also explore the historical areas of Lisbon.
The oldest neighborhood of Lisbon is called Alfama. In the past located outside the city walls, Alfama was considered as the place to live for the poorest social class.
Nowadays, it has become a very trendy area of the city where you can spend long hours walking through the narrow and steep streets*, observing local people during their daily activities or listening to Fado in one of the plenty bars or restaurants.
For those, who want to explore historical monuments and buildings, it's good to mention that in Alfama are located, among others, the Sé Cathedral (Sé de Lisboa) and National Pantheon (Panteão Nacional).
*Alfama is located on the hill, so the transport system here is very limited.
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The Graça District is another of the historical areas of Lisbon and offers a unique journey to the old times. Everything around looks like a postcard from the past. Some buildings are still in good condition, some of them are empty and destroyed. However, all of that impact a very specific but charming atmosphere of this place. Graça is located on the highest hill in Lisbon - to reach its streets you have to climb many and very steep stairs. Is it worth to do it? Definitely yes! First of all, on the top, there is located Castelo de Sao Jorge – the Moorish castle dating back as far as the 6th Century BCE. Secondly, this district offers spectacular views from almost any point you can reach. Thirdly, it’s a very charming area with plenty of cozy cafes, night bars or elegant restaurants.
There are many different dishes that you have to taste to feel that you are in Lisbon for real! The world-famous sweets from Lisbon are called Pasteis de Nata - it's a tart filled with an egg cream. Often served with cinnamon and powdered sugar, they have become a guilty pleasure for everyone who once tried. The one and the only traditional recipe for these delicious sweets you can find at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem bakery located on the western side of the city where they are known as Pasteis de Belem.
When you are visiting Lisbon, you have to try at least one of the most traditional fish dishes in this region like for instance “Bacalhau”. It’s a salted codfish typically served with potatoes and spinach. There are of course much more kinds of seafood – from caracoles (caracóis) or prawns to fish cutlets or raw fish steaks.
What I’ve also found very interesting is the fact that there is a broad range of vegan spots in Lisbon (click here to read a review of The Food Temple restaurant). In almost every district you can find an interesting place to grab a vegetable snack or eat a vegan dinner. I also have to admit that it was in Lisbon where I’ve found one of the best ice-creams that I’ve ever eaten!