There are few cities on earth that will capture your imagination at first sight. For me, Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is one of them. Straddling seven hills, Lisbon’s panoramic silhouette of domes and towers emerging out from a sea of terracotta rooftops, impresses upon you an initial riveting impression. Culture, cuisine, old-world lifestyle and the friendliness of people extends the enticing sensation to anyone stepping on its shores fringing the River Tagus, just before the mighty waterway dives into the Atlantic Ocean. What to see in Lisbon if you only have a short time? Here’s how I enjoyed my time there.
The city brims with centuries of history pinned with ups and downs from maritime triumphs and royal feats to disastrous earthquakes, civil war and autocracy.
After one its naval legend, Vasco da Gama traced in 1498 the sea route to India, the city thrived as a global trading hub. With increased wealth and power Portugal expanded its foothold in Asia, USA and Africa.
Later finding gold in colonial Brazil, then a Portuguese colony, kept Lisbon prosperity moving higher and higher until an earthquake in 1755 reduced the city to rubbles.
Subsequent rebuilding was hampered by revolutions and a long dictatorial era which ended in 1974.
Since then revitalisation accelerated and the city today draws 3.5 million visitors annually to see the fresher version of a grand old city.
Lisbon cityscape has architectural styles and urban layout patterns that were copied by Macau, Goa and Rio, all former Portuguese colonial outposts.
The most striking features are Lisbon’s church facades and wavelike mosaic designs paved on squares and pathways. These pavements tell the story of how Lisbon spread its wings during its heyday of colonial expansion.
What to see in Lisbon
Some must-see sights are royal residences, museums, towers and monuments. Then you might like savouring the sights and sounds of Lisbon’s lively neighbourhoods such as Baixa, Bairro Alto, Alfama and Belem.
This is where you can experience the charm of Lisbon through its laidback lifestyle, food choices and Fado experience. Fado is the traditional melancholic and gripping music of Lisbon.
A good way of exploring Lisbon’s neighbourhoods is by taking a ride on one of Lisbon’s famous vintage trams. The most popular route is number 28, which rattles through the slender alleyways of the hilltop suburbs clattering past many epic sights.
Sandip Hor received some assistance from Turismo de Lisboa and Tap Portugal.
Getting There: TAP Portugal is the full service, flag carrier airline of Portugal which links Lisbon with many cities in Europe.
Stay: Hotel Olissippo Saldanha is conveniently located and well serviced.
More Info: Turismo de Lisboa
Looking for more ideas on things to do in Europe?
When visiting the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Macao, you could almost believe you’re in Europe. See this for more.