Finally, finally I got around to write about Lisbon–the last city I visited during my winter break. I booked roundtrip tickets to Lisbon on a whim, simply because the prices on easyJet were tempting and because I wanted to fill my free days with as much traveling as possible (come to think of it, during my 5 week winter break, I only spent 3 days at home!). I did not expect much, to be honest. All that I had known of Lisbon and Portugal were 1) my favorite pastry in the world aka pastel de nata aka egg tart came from Lisbon so I was sure in for a treat and 2) Portugal is not Spain. Confident with my immeasurable knowledge of the world, I hopped on a late flight and arrived in Lisbon at 11pm on a fine winter night.
How do I even begin to talk about Lisbon? Let’s just say that I was charmed, enchanted, transfixed, enthralled, mesmerized, hypnotized by this gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous city. As some of my friends already know, I have confessed a few times that Lisbon is, in fact, my most favorite European city I have ever been to. There are simply way too many things I love about this oldest city in Western Europe: the terrific sights, the cobbled streets, the busy sounds of life, the vibrant colors of the architecture, the bustling atmosphere, the nice-oh-so-nice people, the fat friendly lazy cats, the incredible delicious food, the ridiculously photogenic old trams. Everything in Lisbon, and I mean everything, made my 5-day stay in that amazing city an unforgettable experience, so much so that I really, truly want to go back and learn Portuguese and settle down there one day.
And why, you ask?
This is the first post of “Why I love Lisbon and why you should love it too” series. Let’s start with what Lisbon is best known for, and rightfully so, the Miradouro (viewpoints).
Lisbon is a very hilly city, there is no such thing as taking a leisurely stroll, because every walk means a real (sometimes physically challenging) hike. Bad news for couch potatoes, but once you get over your laziness and get up your ass, you are in for stunning views of a lifetime. For a city that spreads across seven hills facing the Tagus River, Lisbon gives you ample terraces to contemplate the city from high above. The miradouros are where you can sit and rest, and enjoy Lisbon at its best, while pinching yourself whether what you are seeing is actually real, and secretly wishing that you were a Lisboner, just so you could immerse in this beauty everyday.
There is no shortage of miradouro in Lisbon, this list is a good start. The most popular ones must be Miradouro de Santa Luzia and Miradouro das Portas do Sol simply because they are located right on your path up to Alfama–Lisbon’s most popular neighborhood. The two are next to each other as well, but the latter offers better views. The best, however, is Miradouro da Senhora do Monte–the highest point in the city. And you know what you get once you are at the highest point of the city.
Well, enough rambling? Here are some photos for extra motivation, because I know writing is obviously not my forte :D
1. St. Georges Castle miradouro. St. George’s Castle is a massive fortress/residential castle dated back to the 6th century. Most of the castle were destroyed over the years, especially after the Earthquake in 1755, but a big segment of the walls and 18 towers still remain. The view from the castle is quite beautiful, but comes at a price (7.5 euro entrance fee). From here you can have a clear view of 25 de Abril Bridge–the European version of Golden Bridge.
Things get sweeter when you encounter a cat… (in my case, 14 cats!)
If you can’t find a cat (don’t worry, you will), a canon could do…
2. Speaking of 25 de Abril Bridge, perhaps it is from Miradouro de Santa Catarina that you can admire this beauty most closely. The walk to this miradouro alone was a delight on its own, as you can pass by numerous pretty pastel-painted houses and photogenic little streets.
3. The (literally) shady Miradouro da Graça, where you can sit under the trees and enjoy the view of the mighty St. George’s Castle from afar.
4. I took so many photos at ever popular Miradouro das Portas do Sol, which is just a few metres away from Miradouro de Santa Luzia but offers a far superior view, that I lost count. It is beautiful from morning ’til twilight. I seriously can stay there all day just admiring the stunning landscape of São Vicente de Fora Church-colorful rooftops-sparkling river expanding before my eyes.
Beautiful from a cloudy morning:
to a sunny noon:
and literally glows in the heartbreakingly gorgeous luminosity as the sun kisses the earth goodbye:
Sorry I had to squeeze my face in:
5. But the awards to the best, the highest, the most physically strenuous miradouro to get to go to Miradouro da Nossa Senhora do Monte. I take pride in being relatively fit and even more so in hiking, but boy the hike to this miradouro was pretty tough. It was not exactly the safest place to make a trek to in the evening either. I was stupid enough to walk from my hostel to Nossa Senhora do Monte in the evening, which was pretty daring and, to quote a fellow hostel guest, “courageous” of me. I made it there and back alive, that is, after puffing and huffing my way up the hill…
But the sight of Lisbon glowing in the dark was more than worth it:
The next morning, I obstinately walked up there again, this time with a much easier and less steep route:
The little church by the miradouro:
Note: If you are not up for some hiking, the trams, notably the iconic tram 28, will take you to these miradouros easily. Actually, taking tram 28 is considered one of the most-do activities in Lisbon, so you are not missing anything ;)
Fell in love with Lisbon yet? Don’t worry, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve to lure you into booking a ticket to this wonder of a city!