What to do in Central Lisbon

In April we took a two week trip to Lisbon and thanks to the length of our trip we were able to get in some much needed chill time whilst still enjoying all the sights that Lisbon offers. We were blessed with 20 degree temperatures for the whole trip, warm but comfortable and perfect for all our walking.

Walking is certainly the best way to get around Lisbon and we hardly used their metro system at all. The metro is however the easiest way to get to and from the airport and at 1.45 euros a trip it’s cost effective too. Once when we were a bit tight on time we downloaded the ‘Cabify’ app and got a ride across town in a beautiful Mercedes for just 3 euros!

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During our time in Central Lisbon we stayed in two places, both private rooms within hostels. The first was the Passport Lisbon Hotel, which was centrally located and very funky. We had a pop art themed room and it was huge, with an enormous bathroom and large bedroom too. The staff were so friendly and the rate included a reasonable breakfast too. We paid £65 per night for our private double.

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We also spent time in the Sunset Destination Hostel, which was really something else. It was situated above the Cais Do Sodre railway station, which made it a really great location for catching the train to Belem or walks along the riverfront. Once again we stayed in a private room, which was clean and a nice size. This hostel had so much going on social wise with a huge number of daily events, a rooftop bar and even a rooftop pool. For a single traveller you’d have no trouble meeting people. Fresh pancakes were served in the morning and this hostel was amazing value at £60 per night for a private double room.

 

The Squares

Rossio Square has been one of the main squares of the town since the Middle ages and has previously hosted everything from bullfights to executions but on our visit it hosted a quaint Easter food fair! We bought some bizarrely blue but delicious chocolate coated pineapple from one of the stalls there. Adam must have a look about him as he was offered drugs approximately once every 2 minutes for the short time we sat down to eat our snacks.

 

At the bottom of Rua Augusta sits the Rua Augusta Arch, a triumphal arch built to commemorate the city’s rebuilding after a devastating earthquake in 1755. The arch is quite elaborate and therefore beautiful to look at and people can pay to enter the arch, although we didn’t.

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Just through the arch you will find Commerce Square, which was once the location of the Royal Riberia Palace until the earthquake. Since then it has been remodelled, with a statue of King Jose I in the middle. The square allows access right into the Tagus River, where we found a number of people dipping their feet and cooling down on the warm Spring day.

 

Walking around we happened on the Martim Moniz square, where we found an interesting water feature and a fair few pigeons cooling down too. There’s fun to be had trying to weave your way between the fountains too.

 

Another square found by chance was the square of the Fig Tree (Praca da Figueira), a large open square where we found a market full of wonderful looking cheeses, huge loaves of fresh bread and beautiful looking meat being sizzled away in front of our eyes.

The Streets

Rua Augusta is a pedestrianised street lined by many shops. We visited a number of interesting Cork shops (I had no idea you could make so many things from cork?!) and a number of funky shops selling tinned sardines (who knew sardines could be funky!).

 

Avenida da Liberdade (Liberty Avenue) is a very wide, very long avenue which is lovely to walk down as it features a number of small gardens and is lined by some very interesting buildings, that mix both modern and old.

 

Rua Nova De Carvalho may only be a small street but it’s an instagram must. Once the heart of the red light district the street was painted pink and you’ll find art work splashed on the buildings that line it. It was a beautiful street but you may have to sit through someone else’s Instagram photoshoot to get the picture you want!

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The viewpoints

One thing you’ll soon notice whilst walking around Lisbon, it’s hilly! I woke up on our second morning and could hardly walk, my calves were killing me! Comfortable shoes and morning stretches were certainly a must for tackling Lisbon but there is also an advantage of all these hills, the views!

Lisbon has a number of viewpoints, named Miradouro’s, and they’re certainly worth the effort to reach them. We admittedly didn’t get around to as many as we’d have liked, because…well we got lazy!

We walked past Miradouro de Santa Caterina a number of times, it was quite a popular hangout with young people, with live music often being played and people dancing. It was the liveliest viewpoint we encountered.

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Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara was quite a large viewpoint, with a long garden running the length of it. As we were here during the Easter period the garden had been filled with an Easter market, selling a selection of craft goods.

The Parks

I had heard wonderful things about the Botanical Gardens but unfortunately we rocked up there to find that it was closed for a 6 month restoration! We continued onwards to the Eduardo VII park instead, a huge public park occupying 26 hectares.

 

The park occupied us for a while, from walking the garden and seeing the gorgeous pavilions to spotting baby turtles and frogs at the pond. It was a lovely way to spend a morning!

 

Carmo Convent

Carmo convent was one of my favourite sites that we saw on our trip, who knew that removing a roof from a building could make it so beautiful?! The place was left in ruins after the 1755 earthquake but for a very reasonable 4 euros you can tour the convents ruins and enter the archeological museum housed towards the back of the building.

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I have to admit an archeological museum can sometimes be a bit boring, there is only so much broken pottery a girl can take, but this museum housed some interesting pieces including some mummified bodies!

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Sao Jorge Castle

This Moorish castle dominates a hilltop overlooking the city and as such offers some wonderful views of Lisbon.

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Alongside many other buildings in the city the castle was largely destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and mostly left as ruins but there are still large parts of the Castle that are interesting to see.

 

Another captivating element of our visit were the peacocks roaming the grounds, that really stole everyone’s attention, especially when they started cockfighting each other! At one point there was a territory war going on over a tree branch that resulted in one peacock throwing another out of the tree by its neck!

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Escape rooms

We’ve become accustomed now to visiting an escape room on most of our holidays and it’s always wonderful to see all the different variations that are offered.

Lisbon certainly offered something we’d never seen before, a virtual reality escape room, the Lostroom! We chose a space themed room, Cosmos, and it was a very interesting experience. The puzzles were relatively simple but we only just made it in time due to my inability to move that fast around the game. I came down with awful travel sickness! I don’t think I’m cut out for such immersive virtual reality, about 20 minutes into the game I started feeling awful and didn’t recover for hours afterwards. Adam on the other hand felt absolutely fine so it really depends on you as a person.

We also visited the Game Over Escape room and played their ‘Top Secret’ room. It was amazing, a tad difficult and we got given an extra 5 minutes to solve it. It was a brilliant game, the staff were really friendly and the set up was so professional. I’d absolutely recommend it.

The LX Factory

This place was an absolutely hipster haven full of street art, vintage shops and crafty workshops. There is so much to be found here from an origami workroom to a burlesque escape room as well as a stunningly wonderful book shop! I managed to walk away with some cute jewellery, a treat courtesy of Adam! We spent a surprisingly long time strolling around and absolutely adored it.

 

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And the rest…

We found so many wonderful places just wondering around and giving ourselves the time to get lost in this lovely city. On our days in Central Lisbon we usually averaged about 17,000 steps a day!

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No photo I got really showed how beautiful these tiled buildings were

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See how these people are dressed for winter? It was about 24 degrees!

 

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