Archive | November 2014

2 days in Porto – Wonderful, Wet & with Wine

Summary – Me and my friend Amanda went away for the weekend to Porto. She had some friends she wanted to visit who were also doing part of their year abroad in Portugal too but in Porto rather than Lisbon. I also had a friend who I had been meaning to meet up with for ages! They also proved to be good tour guides.
We saw most of the town during the 2 days and also went to one of the wine cellars and wine tasting.

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My Top 30 in Lisbon

Introduction – This is in no particular order. These are my favourite places to visit in Lisbon after living here for a year. Thus, this is a personal opinion and my reccommendations and advice. I have kept the information minimal so that I don’t go on and on and on but if you want more information you can always research of email me – I will be very happy to explain.
Note – All time allowances don’t allow travelling.
[Currently a working progress]

1 – The Monastry in Belem
This is one of the most impressive monastries I have ever been to due to the architecture. There is also an interesting room with the history of the world as a time line. The church part is free.
Advice – Don’t go on a Saturday as it is popular for weddings.
How to get there – The best way is the 15E tram from Praça de Figeira, Praça do Comércio or Cais do Sodré and get off at the stop after ‘Belém’ as this is a fair distance from the centre [about half an hour not including waiting time] – Warning this tram is always packed! Use the travelcards as it is twice the price to pay on the tram. There are also buses which run from other areas but frequency varies. 
Time Allowance – 2 hours

2 – Tower of Belém:
This is the look out tower protecting Lisbon for ships coming in from the Atlantic. It also was a royal residence before and this shows. As well as being very interesting at the top you can see a long way down towards central Lisbon.
Advice – Go on Sunday because it is free every Sunday is get there before 2pm.
How to get there – See the directions for the Monastry [1] as if you cross under the train tracks via the subway from the garden to the momument you can walk along the river to the tower.
Time Allowance – 1&1/2 – 2 hours

3 – Cristo Rei
This is a copy of the cross in Rio and has great views of Lisbo from the other side of the Rio Tejo (River Tagus). You have to go to the top which in honesty isn’t really worth it due to all the fensing and little different to the view from the bottom. However there is a sweet little church at the bottom which is free).
How to get there – Get the ferry from Cais do Sodré to Cahlieras (something like that) and then the 101 bus from just outside on the other side of the train station direct to the cross itself. The bus is €2 return and the ferry is a couple of euros on the normal Viva Viagem card. The ferry is about 15 mins (not including waiting) and the bus is also about 15 minutes (not including waiting). Both go every half an hour.
Time Allowance – 1 hour +

4 – Igreja de São Domingo (St Domingo Church)
This is one of my favourite churches and is burnt down in the 1950s and they could only afford to rebuild the roof. Thus, it has a really interesting affect with the burnt out middle and a new red roof. It is more impressive if you see if yourself.
Outside is a monument and tree to signify where hundreds of Jews died, it explains more there.
How to get there – It is easy as it is right in the middle of the city centre, next to Praça do Rossio (Rossio Square).
Time Allowance – 15 mins

5 – Igreja de São Roque (St Roque Church)
Never have I seen so much gold in one church. It is very impressive just for this reason.
Advice – Remember that is closes at 5pm. I use to keep getting caught out by then.
How to get there – It is easy walking distance from Rossio or Chiado and is marked on most Tourist maps. It is practically in Barrio Alto.

6 – Chiado Convent
This is an old convent which is half in ruins. Not only is the main part of the convent is interesting, but also the museum there which has lots of artifacts throughout the history of Lisbon.
Advice – Better to go during the days in the weekdays as it is not open too often I found. This might havr changed though.
How to get there – It is basically in Chiado so easy walking distance from the centre. It is also at the top of the Santa Justa lift. Literally as you come out from the top you will see it.
Time Allowance – 1 hour

7 – Miradouro da Senhora de Monte
There are many viewpoints around the city but this is by far my favourite. It is just around the corner from the one which in Graça. That one is so busy but does have a cafe. This one doesn’t but is very quiet and has the best view of the city as it is the highest point in the city.
Advice – We like to take a picnic and picnic blanket and watch the sunset over the opposite hill. Also, take a map as this isn’t sign posted at all!
How to get there – You need to get the 28E to Graça and get off at the main stop in the centre or you can walk up from Martim Moniz (green line of the metro). Don’t follow the sign posts to the ‘miradouro’ (view point) as this is the big one, unless you want that one instead. My favourite isn’t known by tourists and isn’t signposted but it is on a road with the same name. It literally a few roads down.
Time Allowance – whatever you want

8 – Basilica de Estrela
This is like a cathedral and in reality I think is more impressive than Lisbon’s actual cathedral. Obviously you can go into the church but the best place is to go up to the roof. You will need to look around to find where you go, but it is off to the left as you enter. Not only is there a great view from the top but also from the inside of the dome you can look down onto the church from inside. This can be a bit daunting.
Advice – Be warned this is closed over lunchtime and like I said finding the way to get up is more complicated than it seems.
How to get there – It is easily possible to walk it in 20 mins from Avenida de Liberdade/ Marquês do Pombal via Rato; I actually do it every Sunday but you can also get the 727 bus from Marqués do Pombal or the 28E tram from Baixa or Praça de Camões. The same thing as before you will need a Viva Viagem card you need on the metro.
Time Allowance – 1 hour

9 – Lisbon Cathedral  (AKA: ‘Sé’)
The cathedral itself isn’t that impressive compared to many others in the city but still worth the visit. Especially the Treasury upstairs. This part you have to pay a couple of euros for but there are some very impressive and interesting things in it. I would reccomend the visit anyway. Also, there is a better view of the church up there from the Upper Choir. Although not as impressive still look around especially at one of the little rooms on the left of the church it might suprise you.
Advice – Don’t go on a Sunday due to a) all the services and b) the treasury is closed. That is something always forget about. Also just get the ticket for the Treasury upstairs. There is another part you can pay to see but it isn’t really worth it unless you really are that interested.
How to get there – You can easily walk up from Praça do Comércio or get the 28E from there or Martim Moniz. It goes straight past it. As always you will need a Viva Viagem card.
Time Allowance – 1 hour

10 – The Pantheon
This is in a way similar to Westminister Abbey in that it is where all famous Portuguese people are burried. It is technically classified as a ‘church’ but there are no services actually held there. There is also a great view from the top as you can climb to the roof at the bottom of the dome.
Advice – Firstly I found you gain more from the visit if you research some of the people first to understand their importance. Also it is free before 2pm on the first Sunday of the month.
How to get there – You can either get the 28E to Graça and walk from there or a metro to Santa Apolonia (blue line) and walk up from there. Both are about 5 mins, but it’s downhill from Graça and uphill from the metro.
Time Allowance – 1 to 2 hours

11 – Elevador de Santa Justa
This is the big lift in Baixa. At the top is a view point with a great view 360° around Lisbon. It is €2 to get to the top.
Advice – Use a Viva Viagem card to pay as always it is a lot cheaper. Or alternatively you can just walk to the top via Chiado and then just pay the €2 to get to the top. The lift in many senses isn’t really worth it. You pay and will queue for ages and won’t really see much.
How to get there – It is in central Lisbon so very easy to find. If you coming from further afield you can get the metro to Baixa-Chiado (blue/green line) and come out at the Baixa end for the lift of the Chiado end just for the view point.
Time allowance – 15 mins + (view point only) or an hour + (for the lift as well; that includes the queuing)

12 – Parque Eduardo VII
This is an odd hill as it is on a hill. It is actually where Shakira filmed the music video she released for the World Cup (2014). At the top of the park has a nice view literally looking down on the city.
Advice – Obviously this isn’t always but if there is a big football game on they will play it on a big screen here. Also take some time to explore area around the main body of the park.
How to get there – You can easily walk up to it from central Lisbon within 20 mins via Avenida de Liberdade. Or by metro to Marquês do Pombal (yellow/blue line). There are various buses too if you know which.
Time Allowance – 45 mins +

13 – Avenida de Liberdade
This is one of the main roads out of Lisbon but it is a pretty walk. Plus I like the kiosk type bars on the way. This is where all the expensive shops are; such as Prada, Gucci, etc.
Advice – Traffic lights and traffic is a little crazy. Not a problem but just be warned (you will understand when you are there) and they like to close it due to marathons and any other random event.
How to get there – It starts in central Lisbon at Praça do Restauradores and runs up to Marquês do Pombal. So if you are further afield either of these 2 metro stations are fine.
Time allowance – 30 mins (each direction, not including stopping for a drink)

14 – The Pastelaria in Belém (Sorry I can’t remember the name of it)
You can’t miss it, it is the one with the massive queue of people coming out of it. The main thing it sells is Pastela Natas (Traditional Portuguese Custard Tarts). They claim to be the best in the world, as well as being the oldest. The queue may look long but it goes quickly due to the good system. You pay and a counter, then move just to the left and present the receipt at the collection counter to collect. You can buy individuals or boxes of 6.
While there though make sure you visit the very back of the shop (I mean keep going until you can go no further. You will see things they used about a hundred years ago; including an impressive old till. Also, at certain times of the day you can see them making them.
Advice – You can sit in the restaurant but it is so busy! You would be better to get them to take away and eat them in the pretty park on the other side of the road (behind McDonalds).
Getting there – It is practically next to the monastry [1], so follow the directions I gave for that.
Time Allowance – 10 mins + for take away (depends on how busy it is) or 30 mins + for eating in (again depends on how busy it is)