On this post I will highlight the places we visited and the best things to see and best things to do in Lisbon – Day 1.
We have been to Portugal many times. We have two friends who have houses in Portugal (one in São Martinho do Porto, and another in Óbidos), and we have stayed at their houses every time we go with them. We have also visited other places in Portugal on our own. However, it had been a long time since we last been to Lisbon, or Sintra, and we really wanted to re-visit them, as both cities are very beautiful and full of interesting things to see and do. With that in mind, we planned this 7-day trip to Portugal, visiting Lisbon, Sintra, and Óbidos again.
We arrived at Lisbon Airport on a Sunday at 7:30 pm and when at the arrivals lounge, we went straight to the Lisboa Card office to collect our Lisboa card which I had ordered on-line before travelling.
This card is very good value for money if you are staying a few days in Lisbon, as it includes all forms of transport in the capital and certain attractions as well. We bought the 72 hours card, covering us for three days. You can get the Lisboa card via this LINK
After collecting our cards, we met our driver for the transfer I had also booked in advance. Our Lisboa card would only start on the following day, so it would cover us for the three days spent in Lisbon. Because it was in the evening and we had our suitcases, we thought it was better to book a transfer to central Lisbon to our hotel with a taxi company.
Once in the taxi, we quickly arrived at Residencial Florescente on Rua Portas de Santo Antão , in the centre of Lisbon and close to Rossio Train Station.
Residencial Florescente is a four-star hotel, very well located in the centre of Lisbon with comfortable rooms and friendly staff. We booked a double room for three nights and although the room was a bit small, and the bathroom could do with a bit of a refurbishment, we were quite pleased with the accommodation and the hotel in general as it reflected the price we paid.
We took the time to download and install our eSim digital data pack from Airalo, before going out, so we could access the Internet avoiding excessive roaming charges. If you want to try it, try via this LINK.
After leaving our suitcases at the room we went downstairs and asked the receptionist if he could make a booking for us, for either of the next 2 nights, to a Fado restaurant. I researched the Fado houses before the trip and our first option was “Parreirinha de Alfama”, and the second “Casa de Linhares”. It turned out that “Parreirinha de Alfama” didn’t have any spaces available for Monday or Tuesday, but Casa de Linhares did have a table for two for Tuesday evening. So, “Casa de Linhares” was booked for us for Tuesday at 8 pm. If you are unable to book any of the above, you can book an authentic Fado show, dinner, and night tour HERE
We went out to look for a restaurant for dinner. There were lots of restaurants and options at that part of the city, but we were looking for something more local and not too touristic, so we didn’t choose any of the restaurants on Rua de Santo Antão. We turned on Travessa de Santo Antão and saw the restaurant “Bonjardim”. It had tables outside and inside and it was quite full. We asked the waiter if there was a table available for two and he quickly found a table for us. This restaurant basically only serves a few dishes, with the main one being spit roast chicken. We ordered the chicken with some cod fried cakes, a salad, fries, and rice — not forgetting the house wine to go with it.
Dinner was delicious, the chicken was simply magnificent. We loved everything and really enjoyed our first dinner in Lisbon. Highly recommended.
After dinner we walked back to the hotel to rest before starting our explorations of Lisbon next day.
We woke up feeling energetic and looking forward to the day. We went downstairs for breakfast and were surprised with the variety of items available to chose from. It was buffet style and had various types of breads, pastries, cheese, ham, salami, fruits, yogurts, hot and cold drinks as well as scrambled eggs, sausage, and bacon. We had a very good breakfast and left for the day feeling full and happy.
The first programme of the day was to walk to Praça Martin Moniz to take the no. 28 Tram that would take us to the top of Alfama, one of the most traditional neighbourhoods in Lisbon. No. 28 Tram is a traditional tram, very typical and it has a touristic route. For this reason, there is always a queue at the tram stop and the trams are always full. There was a long queue when we arrived at the stop, but luckily, the queue moved very fast as there are frequent trams leaving. I think we did not spend more than half an hour in the queue to board a tram and get seats. Our Lisboa card covers the use of all trams, metro, trains, buses, and we did not need to pay for any tram journeys we took. You can take the tram by yourself like we did, but if you prefer to be accompanied by a tour guide you can book a Ride & Walking Tour at no. 28 Tram HERE
We decided to get off the tram at Miradouro da Graça. This is a viewpoint in front of Graça Church that offers beautiful views of Lisbon. We walked around and had a look at the church, and we took various photos of the views. After that we decided to walk to the next stop, the National Pantheon, instead of waiting for the next tram. We took Rua da Verônica and went all the way to the Pantheon. It was Monday, so the Pantheon was closed for visits, but we were able to see it from the outside and we thought it was a very impressive building. The Pantheon is included in the Lisboa card.
We continued our itinerary by walking and headed to Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora which was also closed (lots of attractions are closed Mondays). This one is not included in the Lisbon Card.
From there, we walked to Portas do Sol via the narrow streets of Alfama. This is where you get off the tram if you want to visit Castelo de São Jorge. We climbed lots of steps and went up the narrow streets until we reached the castle. We had been inside the castle and gardens before, and it is a nice visit. The tickets are not included on the Lisbon card, but you can get a 20% discount. We would have gone inside again if it wasn’t for the long queue outside to buy the tickets. The best thing to do is to buy the tickets on-line in advance, this way you avoid the queues. We didn’t do that, so as we had already been there in a previous trip, we skipped it this time. For skip-the-line tickets and self-guided audio tour to the castle book HERE . We went back down to Portas de Sol and to Miradouro de Santa Luzia where there were more amazing views of Lisbon, and where we stopped for some drinks.
Continuing our journey down the hills our next stop was on the Sé Cathedral. The real name is Basilica de Santa Maria Maior. It started being built in 1148 after D. Afonso Henrique conquered Lisbon. It keeps the Treasure of Lisboa Sé that comprises of objects of great religious and artistic value. There are nine chapels in gothic style where tombs of various noble men and their wives are located. It is an imposing building, full of history and art to explore. Lisboa card doesn’t cover the cathedral but there is a discount in the tickets.
Just on the corner of the Sé Cathedral, on Rua Cruzes da Sé, there is a lift that can take you down to Rua da Alfândega. We took that lift down and once there, walked all the way on Rua da Alfândega in the direction of Praça do Comércio. We turned on Rua da Prata and walked to Rua da Conceição where there was a tram stop for the no. 28 tram. We caught the tram and went all the way up again to Chiado.
Just in front of the Chiado tram stop is the famous café “A Brasileira”. It was opened in 1905 by Adriano Telles, a Portuguese man that immigrated to Brazil. Once in Brazil he married the daughter of one of the biggest coffee producers from Minas Gerais. When he returned to Portugal, he started selling the drink that was unknown and not very well appreciated by the Portuguese because of the bitter taste it had. He opened the café and started offering the drink for free as a form of marketing.
The glamorous decoration of the café called the attention of illustrious lawyers, doctors, teachers, writers, and artists of the time. “A Brasileira” of Chiado became one of the most notorious cafés in Lisbon, and famous writers such as Fernando Pessoa and Almada Negreiros were assiduous clients.
As it was lunch time, there was no better place to have lunch other than at “A Brasileira”. We were quickly shown to a table outside and ordered our food and drinks. We just had a small dish each (as we don’t like to eat a lot at lunch time) and some beers for refreshment.
After enjoying the lovely lunch, we walked to Museu Arqueológico do Carmo.
This museum gives a little discount if you have the Lisboa card and there was no queue to get in. The building where the museum is installed is the ruins of the old Church of Covent of Santa Maria do Carmo, which was funded in 1389. This was one of the most beautiful gothic churches in Lisbon until an earthquake in 1755 destroyed almost everything. They started reconstruction in 1756, but stopped in 1834, leaving the naves without a roof and the chapels incomplete. Nowadays, the museum incorporates pieces of historic, archaeological, and artistic value from pre-history to contemporary days. It is a very interesting museum to visit, and we really enjoyed it.
From there we walked to the beautifully designed Santa Justa Lift. This lift connects the lower streets to the higher ones. It became a tourist attraction in Lisbon and is the only vertical lift left in the city. There was a big queue to go on the lift, but as we are a bit of agoraphobics, we passed this pleasure on and used the stairs by the side of the lift and continued walking. However, there is no doubt that the lift needs to be visited to appreciate the beautiful construction from the 1900s. The ticket is included in the Lisbon card.
We walked down Rua Aurea all the way to Praça do Comércio again. On Praça do Comércio we went up on Rua Augusta Arch (included on the Lisbon Card) where there are 360 degrees views of Lisbon. This is an incredible monument symbolising the re-born Lisbon after the earthquake of 1755.
You can check out this video from the Travelling Surveyor Instagram account that shows Praça do Comércio and the roof tops from above.
If you feel more comfortable by having an English-speaking private walking tour, you can book this one HERE that last about 3 hours and takes you to most of the places I mention on this post.
After visiting Rua Augusta Arch, we walked back to the hotel for a shower and some rest. We didn’t have a restaurant reservation for tonight, so we did like the previous night, and walked around the hotel until we found a restaurant that we liked.
We found a restaurant called “Pinóquio” that was quite busy and looked quite nice. This restaurant specialises in seafood, so we decided to try it. I love “Arroz de Tamboriu” (rice with prawns) or “Arroz de Marisco” (rice with lobster, prawns, and clams) and the latter was my choice for the evening. My husband does not like prawns or seafood very much, but he likes all types of fish, so he chose a cod dish for himself.
My dish was delicious, and I ate much of it, but could not finish the big bow served to me. It was too much for one person only, but it was very tasteful. I wish I could have taken a doggy bag home, but that wasn’t an option as we were staying in a hotel. The cod dish was also excellent according to my husband.
After dinner we walked back to the hotel for another restful night to continue our Lisbon visit the following day.
Below you will find a list of what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in Lisbon – Day 1. I classified each place as follows:
BOLD – Visited, tried and recommended
NOT BOLD – Not visited or tried, but planning to visit or try and heard very good reviews
*** – Excellent
** – Good
* – OK
£££ – Expensive
££ – Fair and affordable
£ – Cheap
WHAT TO SEE IN LISBON – DAY 1
1 – No. 28 Tram – ***
2 – Mirandouro da Graça – ***
3 – National Pantheon – ***
4 – Mosteiro de São Vicente de Fora –
5 – Castelo de São Jorge – ***
6 – Miradouro de Santa Luzia – ***
7 – Sé Cathedral – ***
8 – Café “A Brasileira” – ***
9 – Museu Arqueológico do Carmo – ***
10 – Santa Justa Lift – ***
11 – Rua Augusta Arch – ***
12 – Praça do Comércio – ***
WHERE TO STAY IN LISBON
1 – Residencial Florescente – 4* – ** – ££
2 – Nicola Rossio Hotel – 3* – ££
3 – Palácio das Especiarias – 4* – £££
4 – Santiago de Alfama – 5* – £££
WHERE TO EAT IN LISBON – DAY 1
1 – Restaurante Bonjardim – *** – £
2 – Café A Brasileira – *** – ££
3 – Belcanto – £££
4 – Cervejaria Ramiro – Beer and Seafood – ££
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