Lisbon, a city which seems to love looking at itself! Or should I say being looked at? And why shouldn’t it? Its beautiful!
Positioned on the banks of the Tagus River, Lisbon rises up the side of seven incredibly steep hills, providing sweeping views in every direction. These magnificent views were the common thread in every guidebook, blog, or source I consulted prior to our visit, and with good reason! We visited no less than three official view sites on the very first day and while that definitely isn’t necessary I will say that picking at least one of them as your first “to do” is a great way to get an overview of the city.
If paying for a view doesn’t suit you, not to worry, there are very few places in Lisbon that don’t offer spectacular vistas! All you have to do is walk down the street!!
Castelo de São Jorge
The Castelo de Sao Jorge is a medieval Moorish castle which overlooks the historic centre of the city and the river. I do love a castle and this one offers fantastic views, so it was our first stop! We decided to walk there from our hotel, but if you’re not up for climbing the steep hills you can hire a Tuk Tuk to take you there. Walking along the castle walls and going up into the towers was pretty neat, but other than that there isn’t a whole lot going on. There are some archeological sites, a small museum with artifacts and a cafe, but the main attraction are the views. Allow about an hour.
The Rua Augusta Arch
The Rua Augusta Arch is located at the end of a pedestrian street of the same name in one of Lisbon’s busiest areas and is just across from the Praça do Comércio. It was built to commemorate the city’s reconstruction after a devastating earthquake in 1755. The Arch is 100 feet tall and if you decide to take the elevator up to the top you’ll be treated to amazing 360 degree views. I’d say it was well worth the cost of 2.5€ per visitor.
The Santa Justa Lift
Not only does The Santa Justa Lift provide amazing 360 degree views from 138 feet above the city, but it actually serves an official purpose. Due to the steep hills in Lisbon getting from the lower portion of the city to the upper is no easy task. Operated by the city’s Transportation Department The Santa Justa Lift has been making life easier for residents and tourists since 1902 and It was made a national monument in 2002!
Of all the view points we saw that first day I think this was my favorite, it was centrally located allowing us views of the city in every direction and our visit took place at sunset! The cost to go up is minimal and don’t worry if you see a line it moves quite quickly!
The hills in Lisbon are steep, the roads are narrow and the staircases are plentiful. Keep this in mind when planning your day and do consider taking advantage of the many unique modes of transportation offered! With its multitude of twists and turns Lisbon can at times feel a lot like a labyrinth and although we loved wandering aimlessly up and down the hills and through the streets and neighborhoods, we definitely felt it after a day or two!
*Full disclosure: While almost every photo on hilarystyle.me was taken personally by me, occasionally I do use other photos. The Santa Justa Lift was undergoing renovations during our visit, so I’ve used a photo from wikipedia to show you the lift at night.