Day 1. Lisbon City Break

In search of some winter sunshine we decided to head south and spend a few days in Lisbon.  Our flight with Ryanair departed from a quiet Bournemouth Airport mid-evening and as it was very late by the time we had cleared immigration in Lisbon airport we opted to take an Uber into the city centre (€13.52).

Turim Av Liberdade Hotel, Lisbon
Our room at the Turim Av Liberdade Hotel

We’d arranged to stay at the Turim Av Liberdade Hotel with its main entrance on the Avenida da Liberdade, one of Lisbon’s most famous avenues renowned for its designer shopping.  After a speedy check-in we quickly unpacked, made ourselves cups of tea and shortly afterwards were tucked up in bed fast asleep looking forward to the day ahead.

Praca dos Restauradores, Lisbon
Praca dos Restauradores

The next morning we woke refreshed and after enjoying a delicious buffet breakfast set off to explore the city.  Although the Marques de Pombal metro station was just around the corner we decided to walk to collect our Lisbon Cards from the tourist office in the Baixa district.  The cards cover entry into museums and attractions plus unlimited travel on bus, metro, tram and funiculars with the bonus of train travel to both Sintra and Cascais.  As we had planned to spend several days in Lisbon we opted for the 72 hour cards at €42 (£35.30) each.

The monument in the Praca dos Restauradores, Lisbon
The monument in the centre of the square

The tourist office overlooks the large Praca dos Restauradores.  This square is dedicated to the restoration of the independence of Portugal in 1640 after 60 years of Spanish occupation and has a fountain and tall monument to the restorers as its centrepiece.

Rossio Station, Lisbon
The beautiful Rossio Station

A notable building surrounding the square is the former 1930’s art-deco Eden Cinema which is now a hotel retaining its beautiful facade.  The square is often referred to as Rossio as it is a major transport hub and home to the magnificent Rossio Railway Station.  The building resembles a palace with its horseshoe arched doorway and stunning concourse resplendent with traditional Portuguese blue and white tiles known as Azulejos.  As we would be catching a train from this station the next day we decided to take a closer look then.

Elevador de Santa Justa, Lisbon
The Elevador de Santa Justa

Leading from the square is the Elevador de Santa Justa.  This 19th century lift transports passengers 45m up the steep hills of Baixa to the Largo do Carmo in Chiado.  The wrought iron elevator is a marvel of engineering with its neo-gothic arches and geometric patterns adorning the structure.  Historically the lift was an important part of the city’s public transport system but nowadays it has become a popular tourist attraction.

Walkway to the Santa Justa top funicular station
Walkway to the Santa Justa top funicular station

The lift holds a maximum of 29 people so there is often a lengthy queue to board.  However, for those short of time the upper station can be reached on foot by following the path to the right of the Convento do Carmo ruins and then crossing a 25m walkway to the funicular.  By the time we reached the top it was showery with dark clouds overhead but we still enjoyed some good views of the city centre below.

View from the top of the Santa Justa Funicular, Lisbon
View from the top of the Santa Justa Funicular

We made good use of our Lisbon Cards by popping into the Museum of National Republican Guard (GNR).  This museum is housed in a historic barracks and tells the history of the GNR which was created in 1911.  Members of this police force are military personnel and on display we viewed items including weapons, vehicles, uniforms and kitbags.

Museum of National Republican Guard, Lisbon
The Museum of National Republican Guard

Leaving the museum we then headed back downhill to Lisbon Cathedral which is the city’s oldest church.  The building dates from the 12th century and has survived several natural disasters including the 1755 earthquake which left part of it in ruins.  It’s free to visit (apart from the cloister and treasury) and features a beautiful rose window.

Interior of Lisbon Cathedral
Interior of Lisbon Cathedral

Not far from the cathedral lies Praca do Comercio, a vast waterfront square facing the River Tagus.  We approached through its triumphal arch which connects Rua Augusta which is one of the city’s main shopping streets to the square.  Surrounding the square are elegant colonnades beneath which are some stylish restaurants and bars and in the centre there is a statue of King José on horseback.

Praca do Comercio, Lisbon
Praca do Comercio, Lisbon

Adjoining the tourist office on the east side of the square is the Lisbon Story Centre (included in the Lisbon Card) so we popped in to take a look around.  From the desk we were handed audio guides which we used to follow an interactive journey through the city’s history from its foundation to modern times.  The exhibition takes visitors through 6 distinct zones with the filmed re-enactment of the 1755 earthquake and the subsequent re-building being the most impressive.

The Lisbon Story Museum
The Lisbon Story Museum in the main square

On leaving the museum we enjoyed a stroll along the waterfront in a westerly direction as far as the Time Out Market at Cais do Sodré which took us about 20 minutes from the Praca do Comercio.  This proved to be a good choice for lunch as it contained a large assortment of food outlets, shops and bars.  The market hall was busy and it took awhile to find a table but eventually our patience paid off and we sat down to enjoy some tasty snacks.

Time Out Market, Lisbon
The Time Out Market in Lisbon

Feeling rested after our short break we continued on to the Elevador da Bica connecting Largo do Calhariz with Rua de Sáo Paulo.  There was just a short wait to climb aboard the bright funicular coach with its polished wooden seats which took us up the steep hill near the Miradouro de Santa Catarina viewpoint from where we enjoyed some far reaching views across the river.

Elevador da Bica, Lisbon
The Elevador da Bica

Close by, we came across the Praca Luis de Camóes named after Portugal’s most famous poet.  After exploring the streets around this district we returned to the city centre on the same funicular we had come up on then found a bar with a sunny terrace for a glass of beer.  Even though it was winter, it felt luxuriously warm so we removed our coats and soaked up the sunshine for a little while.

Miradouro de Santa Catarina, Lisbon
The Miradouro de Santa Catarina viewpoint

We noticed that two museums that were reasonably close to each other had late openings so we decided to take advantage and hopped on the metro (blue line) to Santa Apolonia so we could visit the Museo da Agua (half price with the Lisbon Card).

Museum da Agua, Lisbon
The Museum da Agua (Water Museum)

This fascinating museum all about the city’s water supply is tucked away down a side street in the Alfama district just a 10 minute walk from the metro station.  The main gallery details the history of the Lisbon aqueduct and after exploring this section we continued onto the well preserved pumping station with its original large steam engines dating back to the 1880’s.

The Museum da Agua, Lisbon
Interior of the Water Museum

Don’t let the topic of the city’s water supply put you off visiting as it wasn’t a bit boring especially if you are interested in engineering as it is a beautifully maintained museum with its high quality displays.

Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)., Lisbon
The courtyard of the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)

Leaving the water museum it didn’t take us long to reach the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum).  Entrance is through a very pretty courtyard adorned with plants (admission free for Lisbon card holders).  The museum is located in the former Convent of Madre de Deus and contains a stunning collection of Ajulejo (blue and white decorative tiles) dating from the 15th century to the present day.

National Tile Museum, Lisbon
The lavish interior of the National Tile Museum

The exhibition documents the history of Portuguese ceramic tiles ranging from simple to ornate in style.  We found the building to be just as beautiful as the tiles themselves with displays in the convent chapel alongside ornate oil paintings and ceiling frescoes.  We’d visited numerous museums during the day but it was safe to say that we’d saved the best to last as the tile museum was outstanding and I’d definitely recommend visiting.

The exquisite interior of Lisbon's National Tile Museum
The exquisite interior of Lisbon’s National Tile Museum

After a full day of sightseeing we were feeling slightly jaded so we returned to the hotel for a nice long rest before going out to dinner.  After such cold days back at home in England it had been so good to feel the warm sunshine and we looked forward to more of the same in the days to come.


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58 thoughts on “Day 1. Lisbon City Break

  1. jasonlikestotravel

    A city I have fond memories of but also one I saw very little of. Definitely a city I need to return to! Looking forward to seeing what else you got up to on your trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh I loved Lisbon but haven’t been for years – the views from the top of the elevator are great, and I found it full of open squares which were great for having a drink and people watching. What a great way to get some winter sunshine 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. How lovely Marion to escape to the sunshine. Would love to visit Lisbon one day. I would definitely be interested in the tile museum. We are just busy exploring Essex and London. Still waiting for my dad’s treatment to start so keeping our trips local. Enjoy the rest of your trip 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Portugal was on my soon to-do list when Covid hit. Nice to see a little of Lisbon. I seem to remember there were a few bloggers around there that I have come across on WordPress. Do you ever meet up with any on your travels?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for your interest Amanda, it’s so nice to hear from you. Hopefully, you’ll make it over to Portugal in the not too distant future. I’ve so far only met up with bloggers in New York City and Finland but it would be good to meet more when mutually convenient.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had a whirlwind of a time in Lisbon when I visited in 2016, but I recall visiting the Santa Justa lift (rather, I walked up to the top instead of waiting for the lift). The miradouros are just stunning from just about anywhere in the city, as it really is the “City of Seven Hills.” Even though I’m not much of a museum-goer, I would’ve loved to have checked out the National Tile Museum, as I find the Portuguese azulejos so beautiful. Can’t wait to see what else you were up to in Lisbon!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Oh that sunny weather. It’s a long way from cold England, Toto. Looks like you managed to find a few under-the-radar museums that the less discerning traveller might have missed. The Azulejos are wonderful, as are the black and white street mosaics. A lot of love and creativity has clearly gone into Lisbon’s design. I have yet to visit, but it’s one of Sladja’s favourite cities. Looking forward to your report on Pasteis de Belem, I had them in Macau and they were delicious.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Excellent post as usual Marion. I can almost feel the sunshine from my location in the frozen North. Great views of the city from the top of the hill and that Water Museum does indeed look interesting. Thanks for sharing and stay well. Allan

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Great post and wonderful photos, Marion. Magnificently sited on a series of hills running down to the grand Tagus River, Lisbon is one of the world’s most scenic cities. Beautiful unexpected views are found at every turn down its colourful, picturesque streets, and especially from strategically-placed viewpoints or terraces at the top of each hill. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Oh, the memories! Lisbon is the beautiful city from where we started to walk our 620km Portuguese Camino. We only had 2 days to enjoy Lisbon, but now I can see it thoroughly through your posts again – that makes me so happy! Your views over Lisbon and the ocean are stunning … and oh, I would have loved to visit the tile museum! On our 25 day walk through Portugal those azulejo’s were truly beautiful.
    Thank you Marion for taking me with you on this lovely trip – I’m looking forward to the rest of your visit!

    Liked by 4 people

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