Lisbon’s main attractions
Some of the less extreme azulejos tiles in Igreja/Monasterio de Sao Vicente de Fora, Lisbon’s Graça district.
The Oceanario de Lisboa
This huge aquarium houses an extensive collection of marine creatures, is well designed and covers the world’s oceans in some style, with plenty of activities to keep kids interested. Some of the favourite animals are Alaskan sea otters, turtles, puffins and rare sun fish. Get there by tram and go late or early or out of season, this monster aquarium gets busy! Alternatively buy your tickets in advance from your hotel/hostel.
n. b. Aquario Vasco da Gama is a different, much smaller and very much older aquarium on the other side of the city.
The Oceanario de Lisboa is in Parque das Nações, about 10km northeast of Praça do Comércio. .
Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Praça de Espanha displays style, taste and lots of money and includes painting by old masters of Europe, rugs from 15th century Middle East, incredible Islamic art, Chinese porcelain, antique French furniture and stunning Art Nouveau designs in glass and jewelry created by Lalique. Also known as Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, it’s open 6 days a week, free on Sundays, closed on Mondays.
Igreja de Sao Roque
San Roque church (photo below) in Bairro Alto is a rather plain church at first sight but go inside and find a world of Baroque bling! If you like gold and cherubs and apocolyptic paintings and mosaics and precious stones galore – many in side chapels – then this is the religious establishment for you, give dull Lisboa Cathedral a miss!
Igreja de Sao Roque (church), Capela de Nossa Senhora da Doutrina. Photo by Jose-Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro. The church is quite near to Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara (see below).
The chapel on the left when you enter Sao Roque church is the world’s most expensive, dedicated to John the Baptist it is a Rococo masterpiece built in Rome in 1742. When finished, the chapel was blessed by the Pope, taken apart and transported to Lisbon on three ships, where it was reassembled.
Miradouro da Senhora do Monte
This viewpoint in the Graça district is a bit of a climb but gives a great overview of Lisbon and fine spot for photography, especially around late afternoon/sunset time. Watch out for pickpockets.
Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara in Bairro Alto is another great viewpoint, accessible by funicular railway and brilliant at night. The relaxing and attractive gardens on a hill top look across to the Castelo Sao Jorge (photo below) Get there via a walk up from Chiado or take the Elevador da Gloria.
Miradouro do San Pedro Alcantara looking across to Castel San Jorge and the Tagus River.
Vasco da Gama Bridge
Stretching across the estuary of the Tagus River the Vasco da Gama span is a beauty, not unlike the Golden Gate bridge for elegance and an impressive way to enter – or exit – Lisbon. It was completed in 1998 and is Europe’s largest bridge at 17. 2 kms (11 miles) long. It’s northeast of Lisbon centre. Photo below.
Parque das Nacoes
A large 90’s World’s Fair park located on the riverside near the Vasco da Gama bridge, Parque das Nacoes encompasses pleasant riverside walks, fountains, gardens, shopping centre and an overload of dull 90’s archtecture. Not a must see and quite poorly maintained in some areas, it’s more of a might see if there’s nothing better to do. Take a metro there to Oriente Station and walk thru it to the park.
Ponte Vasco da Gama, supporting six lanes of road. Photo by Nazzareno Agostinelli.