THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND LISBON

Old Jan 20th, 2006, 09:34 AM
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THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND LISBON

THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND LISBON.

1 - Tourist tram around the old quarter. From Praça do Commercio. 15 euros or so pp. great views of the narrow cobbled streets no wider than the antique tram, past the castle and looking out over terraces and terra cotta tiled roofs. Makes 1 stop for 10 minutes or so at Basilica de Estrela. Huge Cathedral - free to enter, but don't catch the tram at lunch or it'll be closed.

2 - Catch the ferry from Cais do Sodre to Cacilhas. 65 cents each way. Great views to Lisbon itself from the southern bank. Take a cab to Christo Rei. Climb up to Christ's feet and admire the 360º view. Fantastic photography of the Ponte 25 de Abril.

3 - Saturdays - catch a cab to Feira de Ladra - a huge open air flea market in the old quarter. Watch out for pick pockets but brilliant photo ops.

4 - Go to Castelo S. Jorge for a calm afternoon in the shade. Not sure if you pay to enter now. Good views across old quarter.

5 - Take an elevator ride up Santa Justa downtown. A bit like the Eiffel tower, get off the lift climb the rickety spiral stairs to the bar on top. Very expensive to drink up there. Amazing if somewhat vertigo inducing views.

6 - EXPO - go to the Oceanarium. Amazing to see the sharks.

7 - Take a cab or tram to Belem. A MUST SEE is Mosteiro dos Geronimos. The resting place of Vasco da Gama. UNESCO world heritage site. Monument to the Discoveries across the park and Belem Tower. (Tor de Belem) Fill up with traditional pastries in "Pasteis de Belem." Just ask someone, everyone knows where it is.

8 - Take the train from Cais do Sodre to Cascais - about 1/2 hr along the coast. Great views to the sea. Lots of wonderful restaraunts in Cascais - and once there take a cab to "Boca do Inferno." Don't stand to close to the edge of the cliffs though.

9 - Bairro Alto. Daytime, nice old shopping area, steep hills cobbled roads charming shops and coffee shops. Lively at night - visit a Fado house for dinner wine and live fado music.

10 - Soccer fans should visit Benfica’s stadium. Estadio de Luz. Take the metro to Colegio/Luz. Great atmosphere matchday, museum and statues of Eusebio and club shop weekdays.

11 - Shopaholics – Columbo Shopping Mall. Just opposite the above stadium. Millions of shops in a covered mall, small theme park with rollercoaster for children.

12 - Costa da Caparica, across the river on south bank. (Close to where I live) Nice on weekends and summer days. See the fresh fish being brought up onto the beach. 7 miles of sand. Great surfing. A five mile narrow gauge railway through the sand dunes. (Summer) Many seafood restaraunts.

13 - Take the river cruise up and down the Tagus River, (Tejo.) Can be caught from the terminal at Praça do Commercio. (Summer only???)

14 - Open top bus rides around the city. Close to where you catch the tourist tram in Praca do Commercio. (But the old tram is better!)

15 – Centro Cultural do Belem. C.C.B. Various programs. Classical music. Jazz concerts. Art / photography exhibitions – recently had World Press Photo 2005 and a retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein.

16 – Meat eaters should go to the original Portugalia restaurant Avenida Almirante Reis. Bigs steaks in Portuguese styles. A bit touristy and packed.

17 – For a really good overview of Portuguese cuisine check out Trinidade in Bairro Alto. A famous eating place and one of my favourites. Good wine list and varied menu. Well priced. (For tourists most places are very cheap to eat!) Arrive early or wait for tables, has a bar where you queue so get a beer in!

18 – For surfers check out Guincho for the big waves and wild seas. 30 mins drive on a good day.

19 – Motor racing fans should go to Autodromo do Estoril. Has hosted Formula 1 in the past, I think Ayrton Senna was the last winner, but now moto GP and lesser formulas.

20 – Gamblers will like Casino Estoril, slots, tables etc. Posh, expensive, I think there is a dress code but my wife won’t let me go so I can’t check for you, sorry!

Many more things to do, I’ll list as I think of them.

DAY TRIPS.

No particular order.

1 - Sintra, for the Palace, (Which you can see from Lisbon on a clear day) Moorish Castle, gardens and beautiful village. Arrive early leave late to avoid the crowds esp weekends and summer. Try eating the Queijadinhas de Sintra, sweet little tartlets that you’ll find in the coffee shops. Home for a while of poet Byron who called it “A glorious Eden”

2 – Cascais, Boca do Inferno, Cabo de Roca as mentioned – take train from Cais do Sodre till end, cab to Boca do Inferno or drive to Cabo do Roca, most westerly point in Europe. But the restaurant is completely crap offering substandard menu of burgers etc and expensive. Shame for it has a wonderful view. (Was there last summer – walked in walked out and ate elsewhere!)

3 – Obidos. Two hours from Lisbon +/- depending on traffic. Medieval walled town pretty painted houses inside, possible to walk round the walls though somewhat vertigo inducing and a little narrow. Very touristic but wonderful food. Look esp as you go through the entrance gatehouse at the tiled murals. Photo opportunities abound. Be sure to try Ginjinha, sweet cherry brandy type tipple. Sometimes served in a chocolate cup which you eat afterwards. Arrive early, stay late. In the summer open air concerts in the castle ampitheatre, classical music, opera, Madre Deus a famous portuguese band in the style of Enya’s music do various candle lit concerts. Try to stay a night in the Castle Pousada, (Guesthouse) Very romantic setting.

4 – Marvão. Okay THIS IS MY FAVOURITE VILLAGE IN PORTUGAL. Okay, got that out the way. Marvão is an untouristy version of Obidos on the spanish border. A good 2 ½ hours +, especially in my Land Rover! Rarely visited by the crowds because of the distance. Well worth it. 360º views over Portugal and Spain, border is about 5 miles from it. Castle and medieval walls. The last time I was there (for I usually take cisitors to it) an eagle was flying about 2 metres from me. Charming little gift shop handful of restaurants. You get the feeling people actually live here because every house is a house not a tourist shop. Close by is Castelo da Vide about 4 miles another medieval town on that mountain range. Very picturesque to. Stay in a Pousada and spend 2 days between the two. If I could by a house in Marvão I would! Golf course nearby.

5 – Santarem. About ½ hours north. Pretty town with great views and lots of decent restaurants. Medieval capital of Portugal (at least that’s what the signs on the motorway say!) Close by are the Grutas da Mira D’aire. (Deep caves) Well worth a visit but a little difficult to find. Not to far from Santarem is Tomar, worth an afternoon if you are up that way.

6 – Ericeira. A charming fishing village situated high on the cliffs to the north of Lisbon. 1 hr out. +/-. Steep roads lead to the harbour at the bottom. Nice to stay in the square drinking coffee in the afternoon watching the old people.

7 – WINE LOVERS TAKE NOTE. Forget Porto for the day. Instead head south from Lisbon to Azeitão. Here is the home of José Maria Fonseca. (Those Americans amongst you may know Lancers, a sparkling pink wine very nice chilled) Okay actually in the village itself, the original Quinta (Farm) Here are vineyard tours conducted with a wine museum and tasting at the end. Tours are in English and the wine tasting at the end is great. Assign a driver!!! With a little wine shop selling their own products. A great tour, another one I take visitors on. Especially as a friend of mine was the commercial manager!

Oh and so many more – how many days do you have. I can post more ideas as they come to me.
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Old Jan 20th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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Sorry for the long post above: feel free to email me for any more ideas and advice - [email protected]

When I get time I'll post some favourite meals, wines, beers etc etc.

Take care and "Bom fim de semana" (Have a Good weekend)

Matt
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Old Jan 20th, 2006, 09:58 AM
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Matt, thanks for those great ideas of things to do in Lisbon. It's a destination I've been thinking about for a short while now.
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Old Jan 20th, 2006, 09:58 AM
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My favourite is #7: Fill up with traditional pastries in "Pasteis de Belem."
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Old Jan 20th, 2006, 10:33 AM
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Thanks very much for one of the bests postings I have read on this forum.
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Old Jan 20th, 2006, 11:53 AM
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Thanks BootsN, I aim to please.

Now start the day with a bica. Coffee in a cup not much bigger than a thimble. Small spoon of sugar, it's so strong the spoon stands up of its own accord. But creamy and smooth. Have it with a Queque simples - a plain cake and that is most people's breakfast. Mine anyway! A few minutes later the caffeine is appreciable and any more than one and you'll be grinding your teeth with that anxious caffeine buzz. Over the weekend I'll be posting thoughts on Portuguese cuisine and drinks, how badly vegetarians are catered for and the fact that very few restaurants have non-smoking areas. That is the only problem with eating out here!

Matt
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Old Jan 20th, 2006, 06:30 PM
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Matt,
Thanks for a wonderfully informative post - and at such a perfect time. We're just getting started on planning our summer hols and have decided on Lisbon. I know the high season is July and August, which we are hoping to avoid. We were thinking early to mid-June. In your opinion, would we be okay in avoiding much of the crowds then, or should we wait until September?
Thanks
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 03:13 AM
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Dear ElleD9

Visiting Lisbon in either June or September is fine. Good weather and less tourists yes. If I were to chose either then it has to be June. Why? Because of Festa de Stº Antonio. Lisbon's patron Saint. On the night of 12-13th June there are street parties in the centre of Lisbon with parades (somewhat in the style of a mini Rio carnival), but the place to be in Lisbon on this night is Alfama. (The old Quarter) Thousands gather together with song and music, up to the castle and down the narrow cobbled streets which are decorated. Hundreds of stalls selling beer and soft drinks. The meal to eat on this night, sat outside on pavement tables is grilled sardines: the smell and smoke rises from a thousand makeshift barbeques, you sit and waiters will bring over fresh plates filled with boiled potatoes, carrots and the sardines. Jars of white wine, fresh bread, watch the party pass your table, fado players strum their guitars and sing out. The best but busiest place to eat is close by Casa do Bicos, an old building decorated with tiles. But as you wind your way round the lanes there will be plenty of other tables set out less busy. Eat earlier to secure a place easily. This is when Lisbon is at it's best, and without doubt the best time to visit. Being during the world cup should Portugal be playing that day and win the partying will be double the intensity!

So should I be booking up that holiday then I would look for a week either side of this date, with the highlight being Festa da Stº Antonio in the middle. Be prepared to stay up all night and take a million photos!

Feel free to email me,

Take care

Matt
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 05:15 PM
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Matt, I have been trying to print your excellent summary of Things to do Around Lisbon. Somehow, I can't get past the first page of your posting. Is there any chance you can send it per e-mail to [email protected]? Would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 05:29 PM
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Hi there treplow,

I'll email it in the morning no probs. (2.25am here Lisbon time.) Another idea is just copy and paste the text into word and print it that way. Actually it's my intention to keep adding to this thread, (hey perhaps Fodors will pay me to be their "Man in Lisbon"? Moderators what do you think? ) inc food tips recipes etc etc, whatever I can think of amusing or otherwise as an Englishman married to a Portuguese girl living in the Lisbon area.

Thanks for your kind comments and stay tuned!

Take care

Matt
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Old Jan 21st, 2006, 05:55 PM
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Just noticed a mistake - Santarem should read 1 1/2 hours north of Lisbon, NOT 1/2. Sorry. Late night - too much wine not enough coffee.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 07:59 AM
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Treplow, check your inbox.

Matt
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Old Jan 22nd, 2006, 03:44 PM
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Hasn't gotten here yet. I'll try tomorrow. In any event, thanks much.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 04:48 AM
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Hi Matt,

Nice posting. Thanks.

Michi
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:45 AM
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what is the weather like in Lisbon in mid-March? If we went further south in portugal, are there any outdoors-type things we could do?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 01:25 PM
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Hi there lbw14.

Weather mid march should be early to mid seventies, I've lived here since 97 and have usually found that the weather hits a high point before easter, gets colder and wetter around late April/early May before climbing back up. In the past I've had sun tans by the end of March! What is your schedule and where are you staying? Let me know here and I'll come up with some things for you, otherwise please feel free to email.

Michi, thanks for your comment: I enjoyed making the post. As I say I'm looking to keep this thread current. I've found this resource so useful, I'd like to put something back in no matter that Lisbon isn't a top destination.

Take care all,

Matt
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 12:54 AM
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It might be raining or not. It might be cold or not. Snow is not expected.
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 02:03 AM
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lobo mau - you are indeed
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 02:14 AM
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Indeed ;-)
Why don't you show up for a coffee? I'll contact you for details.
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 03:26 AM
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Matt and lobo

Are you familiar with off-the-beaten tourist track things to do in the Algarve, or interesting areas/places to visit not too far north of the Praia da Rocha and Alburfeira areas? We will be arriving Feb. 11 for three weeks.

We have a car, are seniors, and are interested in day trips. Last year we discovered the wild beach and interesting landscape near Carapateira area, and Alte and the Roman bridge not far from it. We have been to many of the tourist locations over the years and are looking for some interesting suggestions.

If you have ideas and suggestion for the Algarve and off the beaten track places to visit (with car), could you start a similar type thread along the lines of:

ALGARVE: PLACES TO VISIT PLUS OFF-THE-BEATEN TRACK SUGGESTIONS.

Thanks.

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