5 things You Must Do While in Lisbon

forget the tourist attractions. these are 5 essential experiences not to miss while visiting lisbon.

1. forget where you're going and 'get lost'

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these streets were made for wandering

the best way to see lisbon is on foot. the narrow streets wind and climb, presenting opportunities for discovery (and breathtaking views) at every turn. check out the neighborhoods of alfama, mouraria, graca, intendente and baixa for quintessential but authentic experiences.

2. hunt for azulejos

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art is literally on the walls

 

azulejos is the Portuguese word for tile. these painted works of art originally came to lisbon in the 15th century; you will find azulejos decorating buildings throughout the city. notice the patterns, the colors, and even the stories they tell. azulejos add to the beauty and charm of lisbon and are fun to 'collect' with your camera via photographs. but beware, don't buy any tiles that are being sold on the street or at markets--many of these are stolen from buildings. if you want to bring home your own, see shops like a vida portuguesa or cortico & necos that sell original tiles. learn more about the history of lisbon's azulejos here.

3. Soak in a magical sunset from one of the many miradouros

never a dull view

 

miradouros are viewpoints scattered across lisbon's seven hills. you're bound to stumble across them as you're wandering the city, but here are a few to seek out for their stunning views.

most popular/where the tourists are: Miradouro das Portas do Sol
high elevation: Miradouro da Graca (pictured above)
Where the locals go: Miradouro do Jardim do Torel (pictured at right)

 

4. cross the river

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go off-the-beaten path

catch a ferry to cacilhaus and stroll along the waterfront until you come upon a couple of restaurants at the end. dine on the water, eating fresh seafood and drinking vinho verde, with the 25th de abril bridge in full view. just past the restaurant, take the lift up and follow the streets to the christo rei statue where you also can get a bird's eye view of the golden gate's sister bridge. wander back through the town and admire the local scene, which is quieter and visually distinct from the other side of the Tejo.

5. eat, eat and eat some more

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prepare to feast

with its proximity to the ocean, indulging in as much seafood as possible is a must. another way to get your fill of portuguese flavors is to sign up for a food tour. not only will you sample traditional and popular foods in lisbon, you'll also get some additional sightseeing in as your guide takes you around the city. travel tip: Before you go, make a list of restaurants by neighborhood that you'd like to try, so that when you find yourself getting hangry while you're out exploring, you won't waste a meal at a crappy tourist restaurant.