I divide people who travel to Portugal into two groups: those who prefer Porto and those who like Lisbon better. I love Porto, it's a little gem, but if I ever lived in Portugal I'd choose Lisbon in a heartbeat. It's got everything big cities have while staying beautiful and romantic and the same time.
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, the most western country of mainland Europe, which makes Lisbon the most western (and the same time the oldest) capital. It lies by the Atlantic ocean and river Tejo, it’s got around half a million inhabitants and 3 million living in a metro area. It is an economic hub of the nation. Luckily for tourists, every major attraction is in the city center (except for Belem) so you can easily walk everywhere.
If you go to Lisbon the best thing to do is leave the metro at Baixa-Chiado metro station. You can probably call that the epicenter of Lisbon because well, it is directly in the center. You come to the Rua Augusta which is the most important and crowded street in center. Here you have different shops, bars, restaurants. If you look closely you can even spot a Lomography Shop somewhere around there. Rua Augusta takes you straight to Placa de Comerco, the most important square in the city that was built after the earthquake in 1755.
Eastern of Rua de Augusta and Baixa area is Alfama or what is sometimes called the heart of Lisbon. The oldest Lisbon district is also a birthplace of fado, special portuguese music. It really comes out at night, with little restaurants offering dinners and live fado. There is also a fado museum there and a lot of street art/murals celebrating fado music. There is also the lisbon’s oldest church Lisbon cathedral, that was built in the 12th century. Another big tourist attraction in the area is Sao Jorge castle. It is overlooking Lisbon and you get great views from the top.
Western of Baixa area there are Chiado and Bairro Alto areas. Chiado was named after a portuguese poet Ribeiro but there is another poet’s statue in the area. The statue of Fernando Pessoa, one of the most well known Portuguese poets. It is located in front of the most well known cafe in the city — a Brasileira. Next to Chiado is Bairro Alto, a district of numerous restaurants, bars, cafes, discos. If you want to eat good, dance or just basically have a good time, this is a place for you.
Even more western of city center, there is a district called Belem where some of the most well known of Lisbon’s attractions are located. These are Jeronimos Monastery, Tower of Belem, and Monument to the Discoveries. Jeronimos Monastery was built in the 16th century and it is truly majestic. I know i spent half an hour just standing in front of it and admiring it. It is the an UNESCO World Heritage Site and the last resting place of some important Portuguese men like Vasco da Gama, Fernando Pessoa, and Luis de Camoes.
On the other side of the street of Jeronimos Monaster, you’ll find the Monument to the Discoveries. It was built in 1960 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of death of Henry the Navigator. It is located by the river Tejo which a lot of tourists think is a sea; it looks like a ship on a square that has a map carved in. In front of the ship there are sculptures of some of the most famous Portuguese explorers, led by Henry the Navigator, of course. You can go to the top of the monument and enjoy great view of the Jeronimos monastery, bridge of 25. april (Golden Gate replica) and the statue of Jesus on the other side of river Tejo.
Walking a little further by the river you’ll come to the Tower of Belem. It was built in the 16th century as part of a defense system. It is a place where all great Portuguese explorers sailed to the sea to explore new worlds. Being a history lover what I really missed in Lisbon was one museum dedicated to all great Portuguese explorers, but seeing the Tower of Belem was amazing. You just can’t help but imagine how it must have been in those times.
I love Lisbon and encourage you to visit if you have a chance. It is a big city but also small enough to visit all attractions in a day. And a day spent in Lisbon is always a good day.