The beauty of Lisboa is really in walking the streets and discovering something at every turn. There's no better way to know the city than wandering about, finding its hidden corners, and breathing its life, without any need to pay for a ticket. All you need is a map! Here's just one suggestion for a day well spent around the center of Lisboa!
If you have no worries waking up early, this is a great spot to start! Every tuesday and saturday morning, sellers gather in the area of Campo de Santa Clara, in Alfama, to present everything they have to sell to the passer-by: clothes, books, records, antiques, furniture, new or second-hand objects of every kind. Its name means 'thief's market', and it's been held Lisbon since the XIII century. Should you find something insteresting don't be shy and bargain with the sellers! If you need a morning coffe, going up the street you'll find the Jardim Botto Machado, a small public garden with it's own cafe-kiosk and several other cafes around. Very close by is also the National Pantheon (also known as the church of Santa Engrácia), the resting place of great portuguese personalities, that overwatches the area.
When going down the streets of Alfama, take your time. It is one of the oldest, most distinctive districts in Lisboa, evidence of the medieval origins of the city. Besides the more obvious places to visit, the labirinthic, narrow streets hide many viewpoints of the city, remains of the castle walls, and old fountains (that gave it its moorish name). A good place to stop by is Portas do Sol, a viewpoint over the city and the Tejo river. If you decide to get closer to the castle of São Jorge, you can find one of its entrances, an arch simply called Arco do Castelo. If you take the other way, be sure to pass near the church of Santa Maria Maior or, as its known by the locals, the Sé de Lisboa. Going further down, closer to the river, and when the hunger kicks in, there are plenty of taverns and restaurants to be found.
From Alfama we arrive to Praça do Comércio (also known as Terreiro do Paço), an ample square, centered by the statue of D.José I, a monarch of Portugal, with a great view of the Tejo and the south side of the river. The Arco da Rua Augusta marks the passage to the well-known Baixa Pombalina, but after lunch there's nothing like sitting down for a while and enjoying the afternoon. The Cais das Colunas, ('columns' quay') is perfect for this, and it even has a small beach on the right side. Following the avenue on the right, called Ribeira das Naus, another great spot. Over the centuries it was transformed from regular quay, to royal navy shipyards, to the walkway it is now. Extending a few hundreds of meters, you can sit with your feet in the water or, if you prefer, lie down on the grass for a rest. There's also a kiosk cafe nearby for some drinks.
Walking past Cais do Sodré you can find a large building with and incredible offer of gastronomy, arts and crafts, culture and leisure: it's called Mercado da Ribeira. There's a traditional market, with fresh products in the morning, but also arts, books, handicraft and even collectibles markets, on different days. There's also a more comercial zone with plenty of restaurants and drink stores, and there's even space for workshops and live shows. Be sure to check the opening hours, because they're very different. For a more traditional approach, you can have dinner in one of the many pubs and traditional restaurants around the area. When the night starts approaching, there's options for everyone. For those who like to party, the area of Bairro Alto offers a number of bars, nightclubs big or small, with a variety of music styles. Just be prepared for the crowds! Or, if you prefer a calmer evening watching the sunset, go up the also lively Bica neighbourhood to the beautiful Miradouro de Santa Catarina and enjoy!
I am Vasco and I come from Portugal. Alongside playing guitar and working on animation films, I like to discover and let you discover places, such as Portugal!
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