Occasionally overshadowed by its neighbor Spain, Portugal is a travel destination that you shouldn’t overlook. It’s a beautiful country with friendly people and excellent food, and it’s compact enough to explore with relative ease. But the capital city of Lisbon (or Lisboa, depending on where you’re reading and who you’re talking to) is a particularly excellent place to visit. Here’s a little bit on things to do and see while exploring this city, which really ought to be mentioned among the great Western European places to travel to.
City trams don’t really sound like attractions, and in most cities they’re not; they’re just modes of transportation, or at best sightseeing vessels. Lisbon’s trams are a little bit different, however, and Tram 28 in particular has developed a reputation over the years. It’s a small yellow tram that lots of tourists prioritize both because it’s become iconic and because it brings you to some very important sights in Lisbon. Yes, you’ll be acting the part of the tourist if you seek out a ride on the tram, but in this case it’s worth it.
This is one of the more unique fortresses you’ll see around Europe, and while it’s kind of hard to miss, it’s worth visiting up close. Belém Tower stands in the shallows of the Tejo River and dates back to the 16th century. At that time it was basically a protective launch point for explorers venturing out into the Atlantic, which adds a nice sense of history to it. But it’s also a beautiful structure to take a look at.
When you hear “rooftop bars,” your interest in visiting a place ought to jump up significantly. Or at least, that’s my rule! There’s just nothing more relaxing than having a casual drink on a rooftop, preferably at a trendy venue with nice views of the surrounding city. As it so happens, Lisbon is known for establishments like this, particularly given that it’s a city of seven hills, with plenty of awesome vantage points. Topo and Park may be the coolest rooftop bars, but there are a lot to choose from.
St. George’s Castle
Belém Tower should satisfy most of your pure sightseeing needs, but St. George’s is a legitimate castle that sits on the highest of the seven hills of the city. Dating back to occupation by both the Moors and the Romans, it has a long and fascinating history, and still looks as if it might be able to withstand a siege. It’s not exactly a hub for activity, but it makes for a nice tour, both for the ramparts themselves and for the views you can see from the castle area.
Throughout Europe, casino activity has been gaining popularity – though primarily doing so online. Sites have been enhanced with live dealer games, with streams that originate from within physical casinos to simulate incredibly realistic games. Here and there, however, you can find the actual physical casinos that inspire these games. Casino Lisboa is one such establishment – a fun-filled, classy entertainment center that can be a nice break from sightseeing and exploration.
Now for a little bit of adventure! Portugal happens to be one of the best destinations of the world for surfing and other watersports. While you can’t really surf in Portugal (though you could paddleboard), the beaches of Caparica just a very short distance away are legendary. If you don’t know how to surf, it’s a great place to find a lesson, and if you already know how to handle yourself, you’ll enjoy excellent conditions and a beautiful area.
Sintra Forest Climbing
For a little more adventure you can also visit the forest of Sintra, which is an absolutely gorgeous park-like area near Lisbon. It also happens to be considered an excellent spot for climbing and bouldering, not least because climbing there is year-round. The conditions are good no matter what time of year you visit, which means it’s never a bad time to explore the nearly 1,000 climbing boulders in the forest.
I’ll be adding a few more detailed posts about our recent visit to Lisbon- coming soon! But let us know- have you been to Portugal? What were your favorite spots?