Monday, 9 July 2012

Speed tourism!

Day 75 06.07.12 Lisbon

Lisbon cityscape
Praca do Comercio arch in Lisbon, PortugalPraca do Comercio, Lisbon PortugalWe woke up to a scorcher of a day and set about making our way into the centre of Lisbon.  We picked up a public transport card for 5.50 each which covered our transport into the centre as well as unlimited use of buses, trams and lifts within Lisbon itself.  We arrived just outside the main Praca do Commercio with its huge white statue and gigantic archway into the city, a warm welcome!

Elevador de Santa Justa, Santa Justa lift in Lisbon PortugalLisbon tram and the cathedralSadly one of the first things you notice about Lisbon is that it’s a city where you need to keep your wits about you.  There are plenty of unscrupulous types hanging around tourist hotspots waiting for a lapse in concentration to relieve you of your valuables.  There are also a lot of rather pushy street traders trying to sell you sunglasses and cannabis. 

We enjoyed walking around the centre spotting nice fountains, impressive statues and brilliant architecture.  We went on the famed Elevador de Santa Justa lift, a very beautiful metal latticework structure dating back to 1902.  It takes you up to the ruins of the Convento do Carmo, a roofless convent with an amazing view over the city.  It’s odd how despite its damaged structure it’s still a very attractive building.

One of the most amazing buildings in the city is actually the exterior of the Rossio train station, a mock Manueline style that is incredibly impressive.  Inside however its very modern and a bit ordinary sadly.  

Rossio train station, Lisbon Portugal
We popped inside numerous churches around the city but they were all quite similar, nothing special.  We made our way up the steep hill to the castle Castelo de Sao Jorge although we didn’t pay to go in having seen many a Moorish castle over the last few weeks!  Along the route we came across the Largo da Graca a viewpoint high over the city with spectacular views that show you quite how sprawling Lisbon is.

Our highlight of the day would actually have to be our trip on one of Lisbon’s famous old trams.  The old-fashioned, wood clad yellow trams are a symbol of the capital and regularly make their way up the cities many hills.  We took the 28 up to the Basilica and it was a great experience, to be able to spot the sights along the way as the tram chugs its way up ludicrously steep climbs.

The basilica itself is one of the capitals more impressive buildings both inside and out.  Over the road it also has some enjoyable gardens where I spotted some supercute ducklings!   

Strolling around the capital, it is ridiculously easy to get lost.  We had 3 maps and still struggled to find some of the landmarks as there are virtually no signposts!  And don’t even get me started on the pot-hole filled road surface!!!   

We had planned on heading into Lisbon on two consecutive days but to be honest it became apparent quite quickly that one very busy day would suffice and there isn’t enough left to see to warrant the 11 euros to go back tomorrow.


Panteao Nacional Lisbon, Portugal
There is a wealth of attractive buildings and statues around but Lisbon somehow doesn’t have the feel of a capital and I think if you came here for a week’s holiday you’d quickly run out things to do and see.  The major earthquake in 1755 destroyed much of Lisbon’s historic centre so there isn’t a great deal of history here.  Many of the buildings have been attractively re-built but they are a bit sterile looking, they are undoubtedly beautiful in their own way but there isn’t a huge amount of imagination that’s gone into it, no real creativity and flair you see elsewhere in Portugal.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing but we certainly didn’t fall for Lisbon like we did for Porto, a city with more charm and loads to take in.  I think we’ve perhaps been spoiled by our stay in Belem on the outskirts of Lisbon which has more history and beauty in its well-known tower and monastery than you find in the centre of the capital.


  1. Lisbon is among the most magnificent cities of
    Europe. It is a great tourist destination. It is sad to learn that crime rate is high in Lisbon. I had visited Edinburgh in Scotland, a few
    months ago.I found no such problem there. I spent a memorable week there visiting Edinburgh castle, Edinburgh zoo,the palace of holy-rood house, our
    dynamic earth and royal mile.

  2. Hi Melissa,
    Lisbon is great but I definitely prefer Porto. I've yet to visit Edinburgh but it looks like a fab place for a short holiday. Definitely lots to see and do there. Bit cold for us though!