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Lisbon is a vibrant city and there’s good reason for this. The capital of Portugal has had a turbulent history: African immigrants, Romans and Moors have made the city a multicultural metropolis. In Lisbon, you should take your time to discover the city, as there are interesting details in store for you on virtually every corner.
ESTRADA DA ARRUDA, Nº39a
Alverca do Ribatejo
Vila Franca de Xira
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Lisbon gives you plenty of opportunities to get a feel of Fado for yourself: Amália Rodrigues also comes from Lisbon – she is the queen of Fado and was instrumental in popularising the cliché of the melancholic Portuguese. She made Fado famous across the globe and today you can visit her former home as a museum. If you want to hear an original Fado concert, head to Lisbon’s most beautiful neighbourhood, Alfama, and let your emotions get carried away at Casa De Linhares.
Alfama is not only the prettiest part of the city, but also one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon and a great place to kick off a tour of the city. It’s best to take your time, as you won’t be able to do anything other than lose yourself in the labyrinth of narrow streets and snap away at the sights. There is a wealth of details to discover – the façades are decorated all over with colourful Azulejos, ceramic tilework to us. Although the Moors brought the ornate tiles to Spain first of all, the thickness of the tiles in Lisbon is even greater.
Apparently the inhabitants of Alfama are not only the noisiest, but also the friendliest. They stick together, everyone knows everyone and that makes them one of the city’s liveliest neighbourhoods. The buzz of the neighbourhood is accompanied by the chirping of canaries, whose cages tend to be hung in front of the windows next to freshly laundered linen.
The famous tramline 28, which is the most photogenic of all the trams, also heads to Alfama. It goes without saying that it’s a tourist magnet, but it’s still nice to take a look at. The yellow tram is also popular for a city tour as it travels through the popular tourist districts of Graca, Alfama, Baixa and Estrela. As innocent as the little tram looks, be on your guard for pickpockets around here. It is worth getting off at Portas do Sol on the way to Miradouro and enjoying the sunshine and the view on this superb balcony.
The sweet aroma of Pastel de Nata fills the air in the entire city. Just follow your nose and you will find patisseries and bakeries in abundance. There you’ll say the magical phrase: “Uma bica e um pastel de nata, por favor.” A fine Portuguese espresso and a custard delight made of puff pastry will appear in front of you. The small cakes have been made according to the original recipe for over 180 years. Only three bakers are now said to know the original recipe. It has its origins in the Belém district, where the original tartlets are called “Pastéis de Belém”. Confeitaria Pastéis de Belém has been baking the cakes since 1837, and since then, the queue out of the front door of the Confeitaria has been getting longer and longer. It’s no wonder, because they taste simply divine! roadsurfer tip: If you still want dessert after dessert, you should head to the Santini ice cream parlour and decide for yourself if it really is the best ice cream in Lisbon.
At the popular Rossio marketplace, it is worth taking a look under your feet. The typical wave pattern is reminiscent of the golden days of seafaring. Here you can eat very well at the typical Portuguese tavern Tendinha and wash it down with “Ginjinha”, a Portuguese liqueur made from sour cherries. Continuing along the Rua Augusta promenade, you will pass through the imposing Arco de Rua Augusta triumphal arch onto Praça do Comércio, a wide, open square where events are often held. Lisbon has many similarly beautiful, open squares that invite people to socialise outdoors. For example, at the Praça Luís de Camões, locals love to meet before embarking on a night out in the Bairro Alto district.
A little oasis of calm can be found at Largo do Carmo. Once the crowds of tourists have dispersed, you can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the place and the spray of the fountain under lilac-flowering jacaranda trees. Don’t miss the Avenida da Liberdade, a boulevard resembling the Champs-Elysées in Paris, lined with lawns, mosaics and plenty of cafés.
Lisbon has seven hills and the Pastéis de Nata can be quickly worked off during the city walk. For the less active among us, there are four conveniently situated historic funicular railways that take you up to the upper quarters of the city. The Elevador da Glória funicular goes up to Bairro Alto and stops directly in front of the Miradouro San Pedro de Alcântara, a viewpoint nestled in an historic garden. From here you have a wonderful view over the whole city. Such Miradouros can be found in abundance in Lisbon and they are popular meeting places for locals. Although Miradouro de Santa Catarina does not offer the most spectacular views of the city, it is one of the best places to enjoy the sunset with a glass of wine and live music overlooking the river Tagus.
An equally magnificent view is from the Torre Vasco da Gama, Lisbon’s highest skyscraper in Parque das Nações. The former exhibition site is also home to Oceanário de Lisboa, Europe’s largest aquarium. This is certainly a highlight, particularly during a family holiday. If you want to go even higher, don’t miss the view from the medieval castle, Castelo de São Jorge.
Just a few kilometres from Lisbon, you’ll find the regions of Sintra and Cascais, which are also worth a visit with the camper. Hire a camper and then head out of the city. A trip to Sintra is like staying in a retro Disneyland. Palaces and castles as if from fairy tales blend into the picturesque landscape. The Pena Palace, the Quinta da Regaleira and Moorish castle Castelo dos mouros are real highlights, which are worth paying a visit.
Cascais is a great place to stroll along the coast. In this area, you’ll find beautiful beaches such as Praia da Cresmina with sand dunes. Some of Portugal’s finest restaurants are also located here, renowned for their seafood. The typical stockfish (“Bacalhau”) can also be sampled here. The neighbouring beach is Praia do Guincho, the most famous surfing spot in Cascais, which is a real favourite among windsurfers and served as the setting for the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.
Also not far away is the Boca do Inferno, an imposing cave formed by natural forces within the cliffs. To mention every perfect beach just a stone’s throw from Lisbon, the list would be endless, so we will include just the following: On the Setúbal peninsula and around the small town of Sesimbra, with Caribbean flair and fine sandy beaches, you’ll find clear turquoise water waiting for you. You are spoiled for choice. So it’s best to hire a camper in Lisbon and visit several beaches. We hope you enjoy your very own road trip!