I had been to Europe before, but on a short trip to England back in 1999. For my birthday, I was looking for a trip that was affordable, fun and adventurous. After days of contemplating, I chose Portugal for its profound historical, cultural and architectural influences across the globe.
Located in the Southwestern part of the European continent, the Republic reverberates with an allure of medieval mixed with modernity. With all of this in mind, we were well on our way to Lisbon, commonly referred by the locals as Lisboa.
How We Got There
My family and I booked seats from Newark to Lisbon. In addition, most of the mainline carriers have direct routes from major cities throughout the United States to Lisbon, which lessens the hassle of connecting flights. Getting from the United States is an approximate, 8 hour journey.
On the ground
We landed in Lisbon at approximately 8.15 am local time and was immediately wowed. Transfers to and from the airport were relatively easy. The metro is located at the airport and directions were posted all over. Besides, it’s super cheap to access. We bought a four day pass which afforded us the use of the train, bus, tram and ferry. Even though we had tickets for the Metro, we decided to utilize the Taxi service. I guess excitement got the better of our ability to discern what was in our best interest. That decision was more than we bargained for. With this in mind, be very weary of price gouging by a few unscrupulous Cabbies.
We chose a hotel that was located in the city center as well as easily accessible to the metro. This location did not disappoint. It was affordable, immaculately clean, and customer service was on par. However, if you have the funds to splurge, there are several options available.
Interesting Things to do in Lisboa
If you are a fan of history, there’s an extensive amount of things to do and see in the city. Check out these attractions on your visit.
Castelo de San Jorge
This historic citadel perches above the capital city and was utilized as Portugal’s seat of power during the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. As emblematic as it is, this site is accessible to both locals as well as tourists for a small entrance fee. We were lucky to get a free pass from one of the security guards stationed at the entrance booth. The top of the fortress gives a breathtaking view of Lisbon
Santa Justa Elevador
Its intricate industrial design makes the ‘Elevador’ a must see when in Lisbon. It is used as a means of transport to take visitors as well as locals from the Baixia district all the way up to the Igrega do Carmo Church. Getting to the top gives you a spectacular view of Central Lisbon. There is a small entrance fee that must be paid to ride to the top, however the ride down is free. Ensure that information is gathered as to the best time to visit as entrance lines are exceptionally long.
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, this marvel is testimony to the 15th and 16th century period of civilization when Portugal flexed her might. It was originally built to pay homage to Portugese Navigator, Vasco da Gama for his successful trip to the Indies. It is a MUST SEE if you plan on visiting Lisbon and there is also an entrance fee attached.
And if you are a history enthusiast like me, you would find the municipality of Sintra intriguing. Infamous for its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, it is also designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Estates, Castles and Palaces dot the rolling hills of this town, making it an exciting tourist attraction.
Portugal is an incredible country if you are searching for a destination that offers a bang for your buck. I would absolutely recommend it.