We stayed in Lisbon for two nights. We left Sintra and arrived in Lishon in the late afternoon. We drove directly to our first destination, Tower of Belem. After the tower, we were off to our “stay” located in Barrio Alto which was part of Lisbon downtown. Staying in Barrio Alto allowed us to explore Lisbon downtown on foot. On the second day we walked from Barrio Alto to Baixa, the most touristy part of Lisbon. In the afternoon we hopped onto a train to visit Eduardo VII Park then we were back to Barrio Alto for more sightseeing.
On the last day we had a whole day for the other parts of Lisbon before we had to fly out to the Azores at about 10.20 pm. We did not go far, we drove across Tagus River to visit National Sanctuary of Christ the King and then to Parque das Nações, a modern part of Lisbon. Overall we had about 2.5 full days exploring Lisbon which was more than sufficient.
Tower of Belem
We started from Sintra in the mid afternoon and drove for about 30 minutes to the Tower of Belem. Around the immediate vicinity of the tower though there were mnay parkings they were filled so we kept driving forward in search of empty parking lots. We found ourselves going too far away from the tower so we looped back to search for empty parking lots again. We found some empty lots just after the dock which were free of charge.
In front of the carpark was a huge pedestrian promenade by the sea, on its right was a dock with many boats anchored, further right was Tower of Belem and on its left was a white gigantic monument.
We walked over to have a closer look of the huge monument. It was tall, with a huge cross embedded on one face. On two sides were slopes with many ancient figures ascending the slopes. This monument was called Padrao dos Descobrimentos. This monumnet was built on the northern bank of the Tagus River esturary where in ancient times ships departed to explore and trade with India and the Orient. It was built to commemorate the Portugese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The promenade was wide and large, it stretched from the Ponte 25 de Abril (Bridge of 25th April) to the The Tower of Belem. This place was very popular with locals and visitors as we saw many people enjoying themselves on the promenade. Some were strolling, some were jogging, others were cycling and many were strolling. People were sitting and standing about chatting with friends and some were here with their dogs. It was a hot day but we did not feel the heat because of the strong breeze that blew in. We felt very “alive” as we too strolled casually along the promenade.
Just before reaching Tower of Belem the promenade walkway ended. It ended at a “sea entrance opening” into the dock and continued after the opening over the water. We made a detour to loop passed the dock and walked towards the tower.
Belem Tower was a 16th-century fortress and it also served as a ceremony gateway to Lisbon. It was built during the height of Portuguese Renaissance. It had a bastion and a four storey tower and the structure was constructed from lioz limestone. In 1983 the tower has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Parking in Lisbon old town
Our stay was in Bairro Alto, a central district in the city of Lisbon. While getting into Lisbon we kept encountering “No entry” signs. Each time we encountered such a sign we we made a detour, there were times there was no way to detour so we were forced to drive ahead. We were getting so desperate that we called up our host to check how we could get to his place without violating traffic policy.
While we were travelling in Italy the year before, we too encountered many “red circle” traffic signs, they basically meant that non-resident cars were not allowed into the roads. So when we saw similar signs in Lisbon we interpreted that the sign was also a no entry sign to certain type of vehicles.
It was only after communicating with our host that we understood the “red circle sign” referred to “no parking” on the streets except for certain category of cars. So as long as we were not parking our car we had no issue.
When we reached our “stay” we parked at a “white lot” about 30 metres away and waited for our host to arrive. When he arrived, he immediately told us that the white free lots in the street were meant for residents’ cars only. Usually the resident living in the unit by the lot would park his/her car there. So if the resident happened to come back and saw a “non-resident” car in his lot he would made a report to the authority even if we moved our car away.
All street parkings in the vicinity of our stay were for residents so we parked our car in a secured garage about 400 metres from our stay at €26 for two days (48 hours)
Lisbon famous funicular
From our “stay” if was a 400 m walk to Funicular da Bica, this was where we saw the nineteenth century funicular ascending/decending on one of Lisbon’s steepest hill between Rua de Sao Paulor and Largo do Calhariz via Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo.
We stood at the upper end of the funicular track and waited. We did not have to wait long before we saw a yellow funicular ascending up the slope. Once it reached the highest point it stopped for the passengers to alight. It waited for a while and then went back down again with a new group pf passengers.
- Funicular Timetable: every 15 minutes (approx.) 7am – 9pm Monday to Saturday, 9am – 9pm Sunday and public holidays
Santa Justa Lift
From Funicular da Bica was a 700 m walk to Santa Justa Lift. It was a pleasant walk that gave us opportunites to see the neighbourhood. The Elevador de Santa Justa (Santa Justa Lift) stood 45 m tall and the structure was built in the same style as the renowned French architect, Eiffel. This lift also known as Elevador do Carmo (Carmo Lift) was inaugurated on 10 July 1902.
The Santa Justa Lift connected Bairro Alto district to Baixa neighourhood. Which meant it was the fastest way to get from the lower part of Lisbon (Baixa) to the higher part of Lisbon (Bairro Alto) without zig-zag up the incline streets. The cost of taking the lift ride up and down was €5.15. The number of people going up the lift was huge. The queue was so long that it looped from one end to the other. The lift was limited to 20 passengers going up so it would be a long wait if we wanted to ride the lift. We did not want to waste any time waiting so we proceeded with our exploration of Lisbon.
There were two ways to get to Carmo Convent. One way was to take the elevator ride up on the Santa Justa Lift, then cross a bridge at the top and that would bring us to the back part of Carmo Convent. We took another way as we did not want to queue for the elevator. It was a longer route of 300 m before we arrived at the entrance of the convent.
The entrance fee to the convent was €4 per person and it came with an English brochure.
Convento do Carmo was a roofless church! It was once a magnificent Gothic-style church built between 1389 and 1423. It sat on a high vantage point overlooking Rossio Square and the rest of Lisbon’s downtown Baixa district.
In 1755 a massive (estimated as 8.9 on the Richter Scale if it had been invented in those days) earthquake strucked. The terrifying tremor lasted between 6 to 7 minutes and the roof of the church collapsed.
As a reminder of some 40,000 victims who lost their lives during the terrible earthquake that practically destroyed the capital the church was intentionally left roofless.
Looking up at the delicate roof arches and the brilliant blue sky above, this roofless church held a uniquely different form of beauty. While the interior of other churches felt cool and dim, this church felt comfortably warm and fresh.
At the end of the church was a enclosed area and inside was an archaeological museum. There were collection of prehistoric remains, medieval tombs, coin and rare pottery.
Lisbon downtown – Baixa
After the roofless church we were back at downtown Lisbon – Baixa. Baixa’s avenues and plazas were crowded with locals and tourists. It had a vibrant and cheerful atmostphere. Shoppers were everywhere, shops and cafes were everywhere. As we turned into Rua Augusta we saw a cafe with this big sign that said “Traditional Portugese Pastries” with lots and lots of Portugese egg tarts!
We just could not resist the lure of the pastries, especially portugese tart! We ordered two cups of cafe latte (€2.30 each), a cheese cake (€3.50) and a portugese tart (€1.50). Generally the cost of the coffee break was more expensive here then other Portugese cities.
Though the tart was expensive it tasted fantastic. It was the best we had eaten so far. We thought the one we ate at Porto was good but this was even better. The crust was fluffy and crispy and most important it was thin. The egg cream was delicious!
We had a wonderful time chilling at the cafe outdoor sitting area. It was so relaxing to surf on our phones, check out our emails, sip coffee, sink our teeth into crispy tart and watch the people go by! All good time had to end so after 30 minutes of coffee break we started walking again.
The street of Rua Augusta was a beautiful cobblestone street lined with upmarket shops and cafes and restauranst. At the end of the street (which might as well be the start) was a beautiful arch, Rua August Arch (Arco da Rua Augusta). Even from far the arch looked majestic and through the opening of of the arch we saw a statue. It was a conflicting feeling to want to go slow to explore the many shops around versus going quickly to the end to have a closer look of the arch.
The triumphal arch-like structure was built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after the terrible 1755 massive earthquake. It had six columns and at its top were statues of various historical figures. In front of the arch was a big square, Praca do Comercio, and in front of the square was Tagus River. In the center of the massive square was a statue of “King Jose I’ sitting on a horse. Interestingly at the hooves of the horse were snakes!
Parque eduardo VII
Parque Eduardo VII was a public park in Lisbon about 3 km from Praça do Comércio. We had been out walking since the morning and did not want to walk another 3 km. Lucky for us “Terreiro do Paco” subway station was just 200 m away. There we found an elevator that brought down to the subway level.
At the subway platform we bought two 24-hour day-tickets for unlimited travel on all subways, buses and trams within Zone 1. The cost per ticket was €6.40 plus €0.50. €6.40 was for the unlimited travel and €0.50 for the “Viva Viagem” card. We decided to purchase the day tickets rather than single trip tickets (€1.50) as we figured we would take at least four rides before the end of the day.
We alighted from the train at the 5th stop, “Parque” station which was directly outside the park. We walked toward a yellow building, Pavihao Carlos Lopes, and from a walkway by its side we entered into the ground of Parque Eduardo VII.
Parque Eduardo VII was huge, it occupied an area of 26 hectares. It was named after Edward VII of the United Kingdom who visited Portugal in 1902 to boost the relations of the two countries. The park was previous called Liberty Park (Parque da Liberdade) before being renamed in 1902.
The southward view at the observation deck (near the northern end of the park) was very lovely. We could see all the way to the Tagus river. There was a long maze running along the middle portion of the park till a “King Edward VII” statue standing on a white pedestal near the southern end of the park. It was a pity that a stage was built over the maze at mid-length which obstructed the view of this amazing “long” maze.
In the park at the northern end there was a unusual fountain . This fountain was constructed from the ruins that was left after a left-leaning miltary coup, that began on 25 April 1974 in Lisbon which effectively changed the Portugese regime from an authoritarian dictatorship into a democracy. We found the fountain assembly a bit “obsence”.
This part of Lisbon was very quiet, so unlike Lisbon downtown, there were not many people around. From Parque Eduardo VII we took a stroll, walking 1.3 km to Amoreiras Shopping Center. On the top of Amoreiras Shopping center was a cafe/restaurant with a panoromic view of Lisbon and we understood that its night view was “incredible”.
On the way we walked passed a small park/playground with trees covered with “tons” of beautiful purple flowers so we stopped to take more photographs.
Amoreiras Shopping Center was a modern shopping center. Though it was a Saturday there were not many people at this shopping center. The entrance fee to Amoreiras 360° was €5 per person. It was only 3 pm, too early to go up for a sunset/night view, we did some “window shopping” and after a while we left the shopping mall. The plan was to come back this evening at about 9 pm for a panoramic night view of Lisbon. Unfortunately when night came we were too comfortably resting at our stay and abandoned the night visit!
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara
We were on our way back from Amoreiras Shopping Center to our stay. The nearest bus stop to our stay was right smack at Miradouro de Sao de Alcantara. The moment we alighted we were swarmed by people everywhere.
This Miradouro was a park and its viewing platform provided a panoramic view of Lisbon. The view was stunning, we saw St. George’s Castle, we saw central Lisbon all the way to Tagus River. This was definitely a “must see” destination in Lisbon for tourists so it was no wonder that this place was crowded.
At the park there were many outdoor food stores selling “delicious smelling” local food. Locals and tourists were everywhere queuing for food, sitting at the picnic tables eating, drinking and chatting.. basically enjoying and celebrating lives!
From Miradouro de Sao de Alcantara was a short 400m walk to our stay. We moved to the southern tip of the park and as we crossed the road “Calcada da Gloria” we saw a tram/funicular coming up a steep slope. This funicular/tram “Elevador da Gloria” served those who did not want to walk up the steep slope between Baixa – Rossio square to Miradouro de Sao de Alcantara.
This time the tram/funicular was pink in color and like the other trains it was painted colorfully with graffiti.
25th April Bridge
On our last day in Lisbon after we checked out of our stay we drove across the 25th April Bridge to get to National Sanctuary of Christ the King. To cross the bridge there was a toll charge of €1.85. On the bridge we were able to see a statue of “Christ” standing on top of a pylon.
The bridge connected the city of Lisbon to Almada on the left southern bank of Tagus river. This bridge was often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco as both were suspension bridges of the same color. The length of the bridgge was 2277 m and it was the 38th longest suspension bridge in the world. The original name of the bridge was Salazar Bridge (Ponte Salaza) it was renamed to April 25th Bridge, the date of the Carnation Revolution that overthrew the remnants of Salazar’s dictatorship.
Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei
National Sanctuary of Christ the King (Santuário de Cristo Rei) was sited on Almada overlooking the city of Lisbon over Tagus river. It was most famous for its gigantic statue of Christ. Because of its proximity to the 25th April Bridge from the statue looked as ough it was sitting on the bridge pylon.
It was on driving nearer that we noted that the statue was not part of the bridge but on a site beside the bridge. We parked our car at a free parking at the National Sanctuary of Christ the King. The sanctuary also did not charge an entrance fee.
This was a Catholic monument and shrine dedicated the the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. It was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statute of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil after the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon viisted that monument. This giant statue was erected to express gratitude because the Portugese were spared the effect World War II.
Parque das Nações
Our next destination after National Sanctuary of Christ the King was Parque das Nações, the original plan was to drive through Almada and cross Tagus River back to Lisbon via another huge long bridge, Vasco da Gama Bridge. Unfortunately a wrong turn put back on 25th April Bridge and before knowing it we were crossing the bridge back to Lisbon.
At Parque das Nacoes we could not find any free parking so we parked our car at a paid carpark in Centro Vasco da Gama, a big shopping center. From there we took a walk along a promenade by the river. Along the same path was a cable car-route where visitors could enjoy the park at a higher view point. The cost of the ride was €4 for one-way and €6 for two-way ride.
It was about 2 pm in the afternoon when we were done with Parque das Nações, the weather was too hot to stay outdoor so we cut short our exploration of the park and went back into Centro Vasco da Gama which was air-conditioned. Just outside the shopping center was the train station “Estação do Oriente”. This was a very modern station built using many white color steel columns beams and structs. Standing right in front of it gave us the feeling that we were staring at a “white bee” with its wings spreaded wide.
We had over estimated the time needed to explore National Sanctuary of Christ the King and Parque das Nações and after both were done we still had about 5 hours to kill before leaving for Lisbon airport. So the next best thing we could do was had coffee break. We sat down at one of the many cafes in the shopping mall and ordered cafe latte and portugese tarts. Sadly this time round the portugese tarts was not as nice as the one we ate at Pau de Canela da Baixa.
The 5 hours of waiting did not pass fast enough. We surfed the net, read our emails, read our online newspapers, walked around but time just tick-tock by too slowly. At 5.30 pm we bought a pork knuckle for dinner> We were not really hungry yet, but eating helped to pass time. The set meal came up to €11.60, it tasted nice and the price was not too expensive. We supposed Centro Vasco da Gama was a good place to pass time. It was airconditioned, it had many cafes and restaurants, it had shops and also very important it was close to Lisbon airport!
Lisbon Airport & Parking
We flew from Lisbon to Ponte Delgada on São Miguel Island (largest of the Azores islands) at 10.20 pm where we would be staying for three nights. For our car we reserved a three-day parking at easyParking in Lisbon Airport. The cost of parking for three days (24hr x 3) was €25 and it included two-way transfer from “easyParking” to the terminal.
There was option to arrange for easyParking staff to pickup/deliver customer’s car from/to the terminal of choice for additional charges. As for us, we preferred to drive our car to easyParking premises ( co-ordinates : 38.787284, -9.128360) at Lisbon airport.
We had read online that there were customers made to wait for a long time for the easyParking staff to appear at the designated terminal to pickup/return the car. We would not like to be caught in the same situation, we rather delivered our car to easyParking premises at Lisbon. There we completed all the necessary paperwork, inform them that we were leaving our big luggage in the boot of the car, basically telling them to take care of our belongings.
We carried with us only two small bags for our three night stays in Azores. Once everything was ready we and our bags hopped onto an easyParking van that transfer us to terminal 2 in just five minutes.
At the terminal 2 we did not find an airport lounge so we went into McDonald for a meal. It was €10.40 for a fish burger, chicken burger and a salad. We knew that we would reached Ponta Delgada near midnight and at that time it would be too late for a meal.
At about 10pm we walked on the tarmac to board the plane. We were flying RyanAir and the return trip tickets were €173 for two.
Our stay in Lisbon
We booked “Bairro Alto” an studio apartment in Bairro Alto district from Agoda.com. The cost for the studio apartment for two nights was €106.22. We selected this apartment mainly for its location as it was within walking distance to all the destinations we wanted to visit in downtown Lisbon. Cost wise it was relatively less expensive for an entire apartment in the same area.
Our host Nuno was a wonderful and helpful guy. Knowing that we would arrive by car, he gave us the co-ordinates to the nearest secured car park which was about 400 m away.
The apartment was lovely and cosy, and as nice as the photographs showed in the listing.
The bedroom was a separate room. On the bed were two bath towels and we were so surprised to see our names printed on the banners tied around the towels. Our host Nuno also left a bag of chips and a bottle of wine for us to enjoy. Nuno was so sweet with all these “thoughtful touches” to make our stay enjoyable.
The kitchen was “longish” and it had everything we needed for preparing meals. There were stove, microwave, toaster, fridge, cooking utensils and crockery. This place had a washing machine too so we got to wash our clothes!
Cooking was easily done in the well equipped kitchen. We cooked two delicious breakfasts and two dinners. Grocery prices in Portugal were rather inexpensive so to cooked up a good meals didn’t cost much.
We liked our stay at Bairro Alto very much. It was 3C! Cosy, Clean and Comfortable! Though the studio apartment could take three persons we thought two persons was just right/nice. It was also in the right location to explore Lisbon downtown and was within walking distance to many attractions like Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Santa Justa Lift, Carmo Convent, Funicular da Bica, Funicalar da Gloria, Arco da Rua Augusta and more. We liked the completness of the studio with its equipped kitchen and a washing machine. It did not have a dryer so drying our clothes needed some “innovation”. Our host was also a great guy/guide and gave us great deal of information. We knew that
Accommodations – Bairro Alto