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Portugal: A Guide To Lisbon

Thursday, November 9, 2017
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PORTUGAL

 A Journey in Lisbon

Why Lisbon is so underrated

Lisbon. The land of the 7 hills.

I never quite understood it until I returned back to Lisbon after 15 years and learned to appreciate it more. The colorful, historical and the legendary capital of Portugal is one of the most underrated places on earth and today, the world’s hottest destination.

Lisbon is known as “cidade das sete Colinas” (city of the seven hills). This nickname appeared for the first time in the book of the magnitudes of Lisbon, by friar Nicolau de Oliveira in the seventeenth century. The author wanted to force similarities with Rome, claimed to be also built on seven hillsUpon arriving to the city by boat, he named the seven hills on which Lisbon was edified:

  • São Jorge : Where the castle which bears the name is located.
  • São Vicente : Where the São Vincente de Fora Monastery and the Alfama area are located.
  • Sant’Ana : Between the Martim Moniz square and the Rua Portas de Santo Antão, which contains the São José Hospital.
  • Santo André : The peak of this hill is Largo / Miradouro da Graça.
  • Chagas : At the Largo do Carmo
  • Santa Catarina : In the Bairro Alto, close to Largo Camões
  • São Roque : Also in the Bairro Alto, around the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara.

All in which I visited for one week while staying at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon where they promised to show me the magic and light that Lisbon has, that no other city in Europe can ever attain. Here, I learned that being Portuguese is a state of mind, there is a light you only find in Lisbon. It is reflected in the hearts of the people in Portugal.

Crossing the street to catch the nearest TuK Tuk, I’ve had help from Paoulo who guided me on where to view the best sunset with the best Portuguese dessert. Camila who took me on a food tour and felt so proud of being here to introduce me to the typical Portuguese dishes despite me not being so adventurous with my food, she managed to take me around Lisbon for 3 hours by foot. She’s also a photographer by passion and working her way around Lisboa following her heart. Afonso is the owner of a beach shack in Cascais that was built 65 years ago by his parents and now runs it.

Conversation starts easily here, everyone wants to talk to you, everyone has a story to tell. You’re not a tourist, but a guest in their home and they want you to know everything the way they see it and feel it.

Being Portuguese is a state of mind. You will only feel it with their people. I spent my days in Lisboa walking around the little corners and twisted alleyways only to find myself at a view point of the city.

Fado Music pouring out on the streets around 5pm representing the soul of the city. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else. Lisbon’s version of ‘the blues’. You are never lost in Lisbon and you are never far away from the center.

Viewpoints in Lisbon

One the greatest Viewpoints in Lisbon! São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River

Located on the rooftop of Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, providing breathtaking views of the city and the Tagus River, the Ritz Spa Fitness Centre provides guests with 700 square metres (7,535 square feet) of exclusive facilities.

The view from the room at The Four Seasons Hotel Lisbon. The corners of the streets that lead you to another district

Breakfast at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

View point of Miradouro de Santa Catarina with artists

The Palacio Nacional da Pena is one of the finest tourist attractions of Portugal and exemplifies the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture. One of the most beautiful architecture ever existed in our world.

For the perfect sunset view, enjoy a glass of Portuguese wine from the wine truck in Castelo de San Jorge

Things To Do in Lisbon

Visit Belem Tower Built in the 16th century, the Belem Tower provided protection for the Portuguese capital which was vulnerable to attacks from pirates and neighboring states. Today, the castle represents a key symbol of Lisbon, and serves as a reminder of the former power of the Portuguese on land and at sea. Make sure you visit very early in the morning or at sunset as the queue to get inside the tower could get very long

Castle of the Moors One of the most dramatic and beautiful castles, built during the eighth and ninth centuries, and is one of the oldest preserved fortresses in Portugal. I read once that it reminded a lot of people of the Great Wall of China and it does! The history of the castle is incredible and the views are even more beautiful that stretches to the Atlantic Ocean!

National Palace of Pena I don’t know if there is anything like it! The most famous Palace, location at the peak of the highest hill above the town of Sintra. It’s a monument of national and international importance, and recognized by UNESCO. The story of the Palace of Pena dates back to Middle Ages, when a chapel dedicated to the Lady of Pena was established. This eventually grew into a monastery and then a castle. Also here, make sure you visit early morning to avoid too much crowd then you can head down to the Castle of The Moors

Alfama The oldest district and famous Moorish town with narrow streets and alleys has found itself built in a city within a city. This area is dominated by the Moorish-style castle on top of the hill, which dates back to the 11th century. Make sure you visit the roofs from the Portas do Sol viewpoint, ride the quaint number 28 tram which will cost you €2.90.

Castillo de Sao Jorge – Castelo de Sao Jorge, stands majestically above central Lisbon and was the ancient seat of power for Portugal for over 400 years. This is one of the greatest places to see the city at 360 degrees! The ticket price is €8.50 with children under 10 able to enter for free. You will find little wine trucks/carts inside for a glass of wine at sunset.

The Nightlife of Bairro Alto An excellent place ro experience a night in Lisbon is the district of Bairro Alto. Trendy bars, small clubs and live music venues where the haunting sound of Fado music can be heard wafting out.

View Point: Miradouro de Santa Catarina  A great place to watch the city and to see the prettiest and most unforgettable sunset in the city, with music, conversation and very popular amongst the young generation to watch the sunset and music all around.

Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara a garden sitting at Bairro Alto,  offers a majestic panorama of the city’s landmarks and attractions, including the 6th Century Castelo de Sao Jorge and the Igreja de Sao Vicente de Fora of the Renaissance period.

Cristo Do Rei Statue  Cristo Rei is one of Lisbon’s most iconic monuments. The statue of Christ stands high above the southern banks of the Tejo Estuary, and depicts Christ with arms raised, blessing the city. Cristo Rei dates from the 1950s and its construction was in reverence for Portugal avoiding the horrors of WW2.

Quinta da Regaleira Visiting the beautiful The Quinta da Regaleira is an easy walk in Sintra and we almost missed it. A decorative 20th century residence that is situated in the town of Sintra. The grand house is split over five floors and has an ornate gothic façade, but the real attraction is to the rear with the enchanting gardens and its secret underground pathways.

Drive to Cascais To the west of Lisbon, you will find a fishing town called Cascais a 20 minute train ride or 30 min drive. There are many beaches to visit in Cascais such as the wild and rugged surfing beaches of Guincho, just north of Cascais and the beach front promenade that connects Cascais to Estoril and make sure you visit the grand 19th century buildings of Cascais. Another beach is Praia da Rainha, Tamariz Beach, Praia Do Abano, Praia De Santa Marta.

Praia De Guincho

One of the greatest surf experience

Praia De Santa Marta - This cove with a small sandy beach is located just behind the Marina in Cascais at the western end of the town.

About Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

This stunning 10 storey building with grand decor interiors house from the 18th-century replica furnishings is situated atop one of Lisbon’s seven hills, the Hotel’s striking vistas over Eduardo VII Park, St. George’s Moorish Castle and the Tagus River provide a dramatic introduction to the diverse personality of the city outside.  There is an incredible collection of modern Portuguese art from tapestries to sculptures and paintings hang throughout the hotel and was told that you can even download an app to learn about the pieces.The terrace has historical terrace views with spacious interiors. The hotel’s location near the main Avenida de Liberdade means easy access around Lisbon. The hotel also provides a range of exciting experiences such as tuk tuk around the capital and even a tour with a vintage moto sidecar! One mind-blowing feature is the 18m pool and the unique rooftop track that has views over the whole of Lisbon! A great family friendly hotel that comes highly recommended and one of the most beautiful Four Seasons Property I have stayed in. 

Rates Doubles rooms from €370 (£260) in low season; rising to €450 (£315) in high. Free Wi-Fi.

Morning Views from Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

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Hotel: Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

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