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A citytrip to Lisbon in Portugal

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Travel Stories, a city trip to Lisbon in Portugal with a visite to the Gloria cable tram, Santa Justa lift, Torre de Belé, Padrao dos Descobrimentos, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Basilica da Estrela, Santa Catharina Church, Castelo Sao Jorge

Where in Portugal is Lisbon?

map lisbon portugal

Travel Stories, a city trip to Lisbon in Portugal

25 July 2013

From Antwerp via Zaventem to Lisbon - Portugal

At 8.00am, we get picked up at home by Budget Taxi (50 EUR), who will bring us to Zaventem. Despite the fact that the holiday period is in full swing, we get hold up by heavy traffic, here and there. After an hour's driving we arrive at the airport on time.

After a quick check-in, we buy the necessary lotions in the tax-free shops and subsequently relax with a snack and a drink in a nice bar.

The short flight of 2 hours and 45 minutes runs flawless and we land around 13.30pm in Lisbon. Even though the bus service between the airport and the city centre is quite well organized, we opt for a taxi to the hotel to waste as little time as possible. All the taxis drive with gauges, so fortunately we don't have to deal with hassling or negotiation about price agreements. After half an hour, we are dropped off right in front of Hotel Turim Suisso Atlantico and pay the driver 18 EUR.

At the check-in at the hotel desk, theclerk stares at her computer screen with a dubious look. It seems that our travel agency made an incorrect booking and we aren't registered in their system. Fortunately, the hotel isn't fully booked and based on proof of our voucher, we get a room allocated without any problems. Striking detail: on the persuaded price list of the hotel, the cost of a double room is 250 EUR per night, while we've only paid 83 EUR. Book in advance (e.g. via Jetair) really is a must!

Hotel Turim Suisso Atlantico is fairly central, near the large Avenida da Liberdade and the antique cable tram; Gloria. The hotel was recently fully renovated and robed with a modern interior, pleasant rooms with air conditioning and comfortable bathrooms. Price-quality of this hotel is highly recommended!

Portugal Lisbon Gloria tram

Pictures - Photos and info of cable tram Gloria in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

We dump our luggage in our room and leave immediately for a wander through Lisbon. Since it has been 15.00pm already, we limit ourselves to the vicinity of the lower situated Baixa district. We pass a number of beautiful squares (Restauradores, Figueira and Rossio) with statues, fountains and old buildings with impressive facades. Here you'll find terraces outside everywhere, where both locals and tourists enjoy a well-deserved cool drink. Everywhere you can order 'pasties', luscious sweet pastries of which the Portuguese apparently are fond of. And of course, we are too!

We stroll further through the lively streets of the Baixa District, to eventually come to the large square Praca do Comércio that borders on the bank of the Tagus River. This square as well is fully lined up with inviting terraces, so we pick one on which we can freshen up a little. Subsequently we make our way to the cathedral Sé, which doesn't bewitch us, in terms of both interior and exterior.

Portugal lisbon baixa district

Pictures - Photos and info about the Baixa district in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

Since we want to dine in the higher situated Chiado district, we have two options: either we put in some extra effort and walk and defy the steep hills on foot or we take the Santa Justa lift, which connects the Baixa district with Chiado. No surprise that we opt for the second! Although this seemed like the fastest way to top, we eventually still have to queue up for three quarters to get in this (still running) elevator from 1902. It isn't cheap either, because we pay 5 EUR per person for a trip of about 10 seconds. Once at the top, you get spoiled with a wonderful panoramic view over Lisbon, the Tagus River and the Castelo de Sao Jorge, which makes you forget the frustration of the long wait, straight away.

portugal lisbon santa justa elevator

Pictures - Photos and info about the Santa Justa Elevator in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

In the meantime we got extremely hungry and we quickly take place at a table on the Largo do Carmo, one of the most charming squares of the Chiado district. After we've made our choice and passed on the order, bread, olives, cheese, ham, pate;, etc. are put on the table. What many tourists don't know is that this 'stuffing' gets put on the bill when you've eaten from it. We therefore show our discipline and don't touch any of the food, not even with one finger! Fortunately, we don't have to wait long for our main dishes to come out (grilled octopus and a mixture based on white fish), which both, taste delicious.

When the sun has set in the inner city, it rapidly cools down, a fresh breeze comes up and a sweater becomes necessary. Since we didn't take any, we return to the hotel, where we after a long first day, jump in bed.

26 July 2013

City trip in Lisbon - Portugal

The alarm clock rings at 8.00am. After a refreshing shower and relaxing continental breakfast, we're going underground to the nearby metro station, where we purchase a day ticket (6,50 EUR), which allows us to travel by any means of public transport in Lisbon, all day. By metro and the 'fast' tram 15, we fairly easily get to the rather secluded area; Belém, where you can find some top sites of Lisbon.

Around 10.30am, we arrive at the Torre de Belém, an impressive tower which is built in the golden 16th century and radiates the grandeur of the superpower that Lisbon was. We buy a duo ticket (10 EUR) for the entrance of the Torre de Belém and the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, so we only have queue once.

After we briefly explored the ground floor of Torre the Belém, we start the climb to the top via a narrow spiral staircase. Since there's only one staircase, they have installed an ingenious system of red and green lights, so that groups either going up or down can alternate, without having to pass each other. From the top of the call Torre Belém, you get spoiled with a breath-taking view over the Tagus River and its banks. Therefore, everyone takes photos as if it's their last day.

portugal lisbon torre de belem

Pictures - Photos and info of Torre de Belém, in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

After we've explored each corner of the Torre the Belém, we walk along the water side to the Padrao dos Descobrimentos i.e. the Monument of the discoveries. This massive statue is a display of all major and important figures from the Portuguese history, with among others the large navigators Vasco da Gama and Magellaan. You can take a lift to the top of the monument, but due to lack of time we give it pass and move on.

portugal lisbon padrao dos descobrimentos

Pictures - Photos and info about the monument Padrao dos Descobrimentos in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

The following landmark and main attraction of BeléM is the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, what is a masterpiece of the Manueline architecture and could be indexed as the most impressive and beautiful building of Lisbon. Especially the main entrance on the right side of the monastery is a real work of art. To ensure to see all the details, you don't know where to start looking. After we've extensively photographed the outside, we enter the church which also possesses the tomb of Vasco da Gama. Finally, we arrive in the square cloister, which because of its perfect finishing touch, again is a delight for the eyes. Especially from the upper floor you get a great overview of the building, and chance to admire several gargoyles up close.

portugal lisbon mosteiro dos jeronimos

Pictures - Photos and info about the monastery Mosteiro dos Jeronimosde in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

In the meantime, noon has passed a little while ago, and we feel our stomach growling. Right next to the monastery we find a cute square, with a converted antique tram service that acts as an eatery. We go for a (healthy) meal, and after the inner man is strengthened, we take tram 15 back to the centre of Lisbon. There we transfer on line 25, which takes us to the higher situated Bairro Alto district (Upper Town).

First landmark in Bairro Alto is the Basilica da Estrela, which was built in the second half of the 18th century. This large basilica is characterized by a baroque white bubble. The interior of this imposing building is dominated by pink, grey and cream coloured marble. Unfortunately, when we want to visit the monument, the preparations for a wedding ceremony are in progress and we can only get a glimpse from the main entrance of the basilica.

Just opposite the basilica is a small but pleasant park, where we enjoy a well-deserved refreshing drink, with view over the pond.

portugal lisbon basilica da estrela

Pictures - Photos and info about the Bairro Alto district, the Basilica da Estrela in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

Then we descend to the lower Palacio De Sao Bento, an impressive white building in which the Portuguese parliament is housed. There are also two traditional guards put in front of the main entrance, which in contrast to their English colleagues, apparently are allowed to talk to each other during their service. Their walk to the corners of the building isn't synchronous, making it all look a little too casual and sloppy.

portugal lisbon palacio de sao bento

Pictures - Photos and info about Palacio de Sao Bento, parliament in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

Because we want to use the day ticket to its fullest extent, we take a last journey with tram 28 to the Santa Catharina church, dating back to the 17th century. The church is very unobtrusive between several townhouses, but the interior is all gilt, with a remarkable painted ceiling.

portugal lisbon santa catharina church

Pictures - Photos and info of the Santa Catharina Church in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

The last landmark of today is the church of Sao Roque which was built between 1565 and 1583. This church as well vices of marble, gold and ivory. There are also a lot of security agents walking around, to scare potential thieves.

portugal lisbon santa catharina church

Pictures - Photos and info about the church Sao Roque in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

After this loaded day, we search for a nice restaurant in one of the atmospheric streets of Bairro Alto, with a view of the castle of Sao Jorge. The crustaceans dish, that we've ordered, tastes a bit like paella, and is absolutely delicious. For the price, you don't have to leave it. In Lisbon you can get the most amazing dishes for little, to no money.

Because of our full stomachs and tired feet, we opt for the Gloria tramway to take us back to the hotel. The plan is thwarted due to a 'technical problem'. With our last energy, we walk back to the lower district, where we end this successful day at the Hard Rock Cafe and conclude with a well-deserved Bacardi Cola!

27 July 2013

From Lisbon in Portugal to Pico in the Azores

It's a painfully early morning as our flight from Lisbon to the island of Faial in the Azores, leaves at 8.00am. At 6.00am the taxi picks us up at our hotel, and within 15 minutes pedal to the metal, we reach the airport. Here again, we've got no trouble checking in and our luggage doesn't even get weight. We have plenty of time to quietly stroll around in the duty-free shops and have breakfast.

After a quick flight of ca 2 hours and 40 minutes, we land at the airport of Horta on the island Faial. Since it frequently happens that several suitcases get left behind, it's recommended to take out some necessary clothing and take this with you in the hand luggage. Fortunately, it wasn't the case with our flight and all luggage was taken on-board.

Then we take another taxi to the ferry terminal of Horta, where we'll take a boat transfer to the neighbouring island Pico. During the 20-minute ride to the terminal we get a taster of the views of the Azores and the green, well-kept nature of Faial appeals to us.

We're just too late for the ferry departing at 10.30am and normally the following ferry doesn't leave until 13.30pm, but for one reason or the other, today they choose for an extra service at 11.30am, so we fortunately don't have to wait too long. The transfer costs EUR 3.40 and takes approximately 20 minutes.

Once arrived in Madalena on Pico, we only need to cross the bumpy quay and road to get to Hotel Caravelas, which incidentally is the only hotel in Madalena. Please also read the travel story of Pico - the Azores - Atlantic Ocean.

06 August 2013

From Pico in the Azores in Portugal to Lisbon

The airport of Horta isn't very spectacular, there's nothing there and only small. Check-in therefore doesn't take endless and once through security, everyone can watch the planes taking-off and landing, on the first floor. There is one snack bar and one tax-free shop. That's all!

We leave around 18.45pm with only (negligible) delay towards European mainland. It's a short flight from 2 hours and 15 minutes to Lisbon. There we take a taxi (18 EUR) to Hotel Turim Suisso Atlantico. In contrast to our previous stay, we now get a smaller corner room on the fourth floor (probably due to our late check-in, after 22.00pm). Since the room only serves as a place to sleep and shower, we don't bother the staff asking for a different room. We take out most necessary luggage, to finally fall asleep like a baby.

07 August 2013

City trip in Lisbon - Portugal

The alarm clock sounds at 7.30am, so that we have plenty of time to take a shower and eat breakfast. Subsequently we take the metro to Parque das Nacoes, the new district in the east of Lisbon where the Expo took place in 1998.

After you get off the metro station, you immerse yourself in another Lisbon: the narrow streets and historic buildings of the old town are now replaced by wide promenades, modern apartment buildings, office complex and shopping centres.

portugal lisbon parque das nacoes

Pictures - Photos and info about Parque das Nacoes in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

After approximately a 10 minute-walk we arrive around 10.45am at the Oceanario, one of the largest aquariums in the world. There's already a long queue at the till, but fortunately the wait isn't too long. There's a temporary exhibition on sea turtles, so we buy a combi ticket (16 EUR).

First, we visit the exhibition on the sea turtles. We pass the educational part and especially look and admire the giant sea turtles, which literally swim by underneath your feet. The aquarium seems to be a favourable place for young Portuguese families, coming here with their whining offspring. Earplugs won't be a luxury here!

Subsequently we visit the aquarium itself, that has a huge central basin with very many different fish and shark swimming around: mobulas, guitar sharks, different types of rays, black and white point reef sharks, sandy sharks, zebra sharks, large groupers, snappers, trivulas, morays, barracudas, mola-mola moon fish, bonitos, jacks, etc. You will truly be short on eyes to be able to admire all fish. There are also countless other levels, where you can spot and admire this active population and constantly discover new things.

In addition, there are also separate Climate Regions with among others; puffins, magellan penguins and sea otters. Finally, the visitors get piloted through smaller aquariums, with Australian sea dragon, (luminous) jellyfish, brightly coloured tropical fish, amphibians, etc. We look and watch the thousands of fish for hours and are flabbergasted when we walk out the aquarium and see the time on our watch: 14.30pm! Time for some food and to get our hydration back up track!

portugal lisbon aquarium oceanario

Pictures - Photos and info about aquarium Oceanario in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

Since Parque das Nacoes is a fairly comprehensive area and our feet are feel reasonably painful, we decide to make it ourselves easy and take the teleferique (3,95 EUR) of Oceanario to the Torre Vasco da Gamma, which makes it available to admire the whole region fast as light.

From the Torre Vasco da Gamma, the eastern counterpart of the Torre de Belém is with its 145 meters, the highest building in Portugal. We walk on the wide and shady promenade to the modern shopping centre, hoping to find some bargains. The loot is unfortunately disappointing, as the shops (Zara, C and A, Springfield, H and M, e.a.) are mainly the same as in Belgium. The prices are significantly lower, so real bargain hunters can save their stroke.

Subsequently we take the metro back towards the old town, where we, in one of the side streets of the Rossio square are tempted by one of the cheaper menus. Ultimately the taste is very disappointing and when the bill shows the tax and service aren't included, this turns out the most expensive dinner of the entire holiday. We fell into a classic tourist trap!

We respond to our frustration with a nice pasty around the corner and a delicious glass of Porto in the surroundings of the hotel. All ends well!

08 August 2013

From Lisbon in Portugal via Zaventem Airport to Antwerp - Deurne:

On our last day of the holiday we visit the square Praša da Figueira, where we get by bus 737 (1,80 EUR), that stops close to the entrance of Castelo de Sao Jorge. According to the staff of the hotel, we could go here on foot, in 20 minutes, but the steep slopes are genuine calf crushers!

This morning it's reasonably busy, but fortunately not packed. We buy our entrance ticket (7,50 EUR) and walk along the entire rampart, which provide stunning views of the Tagus and the old town of Lisbon. Fortunately, there are a lot of trees, so you don't have to continuously walk in the sun.

Subsequently we head for the more central part of the castle with its squares and ten towers that can be climbed at heart. Each tower indicates a different view over the city, each time, which is why it takes some time to discover the area.

It's well after noon, when we take seat on the beautiful castle terrace and order a refreshing drink. In the meantime, we get company of various peacocks which stay high in the surrounding trees to relax or quietly walk past with their offspring. A little further you can take a picture with a screech owl or kestrel on your shoulder or hand (for EUR 6).

portugal lisbon castelo de sao jorge

Pictures - Photos and info about the Castelo de Sao Jorge in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

We walk back from the castle and try to find the road to the church of Sao Vicente de Fora. Through the maze of small winding streets, this is easier said than done and we walk in the wrong direction, so that we end up on the Graca square with an equally named church. From this point, you get a great view of the underground city and the castle on the other hill.

portugal lisbon graca church square

Pictures - Photos and info about the Graca square and church in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

From this location, the street plan is a little easier and we find the church Sao Vicente de Fora, without any trouble. Mission succeeded and it gradually became time to return back to the hotel and pick a restaurant somewhere nearby, so that we don't have to return to Belgium, with on empty stomach.

portugal lisbon church sao vicente de fora

Pictures - Photos and info about the church of Sao Vicente de Fora in Lisbon the capital of Portugal

Due to our less favourable experience yesterday, we try not to get tricked by the (seemingly) cheaper places and decisively choose for a slightly more expensive price class. We let our eye fall on restaurant Leao d'Ouro (i.e. the Golden Lion) that exists since 1842 and is right next to the beautiful station. As expected, our seafood is super yummy and the service excellent. At the end, the bill isn't too bad either, and pay approximately the same amount as yesterday.

We buy a last pasty as our dessert, around the corner on the Rossio Square and have to admit, it really is time to go back to the hotel, get our luggage, get changed and get a taxi (10 EUR) to the airport.

We leave according to plan at 20.05pm. Our flight runs smoothly, and after 2 hours and 25 minutes land back on Belgian soil, where the driver of Budget Taxi (50 EUR) awaits to drive us back home. After two weeks of hard mattresses, we finally return to our familiar soft bed!

Pictures - Photos a city trip to Lisbon in Portugal

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Pictures - Photos city trip to Lisbon - Portugal

Pictures - Photos city trip to Lisbon - Portugal Part 1

Pictures - Photos city trip to Lisbon - Portugal Part 2

Pictures - Photos city trip to Lisbon - Portugal Part 3

Pictures - Photos city trip to Lisbon - Portugal Part 4

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Useful Information:

Emergency Numbers Lisbon

Medical Information Lisbon in Portugal:

The time difference in the Lisbon vs. Belgium:

The time difference in Lisbon is 1 hour in relation to the Belgian time.

Language Use:

Portuguese is the mother tongue and main language in Lisbon. Some, certainly in restaurants, also speak English as a second language.


Lisbon is equipped with 220V everywhere. Belgian connectors are easily used.


If you've been served well and friendly, depending on the services operated, usually 10 percentage of the total amount is given as a tip.


Depending on the period, airy clothing would be the most appropriate, though showers occur from time to time.

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