Neighborhood sights, Lisbon
There's a nice little garden next to the Igreja da Estrela, a famous church that tends to draw tourists. The garden is a fantastic place to eat lunch and people-watch. There's always groups of elderly men that come here to play cards or chess. Socializing is essential for longevity...
Cacilhas is a small town which is located on the southern bank of the river Tejo. It is home to a large dockyard and an historic city centre.
Most of the tourist activity takes place just around the Largo Alfredo Dinis square near the ferry port, where several fish restaurants can be found.
What I like about Cacilhas is the old and deserted quay which leads along the waterfront.
The oldest buildings on this quay date back to the late 17th century. The quay offers panoramic views of Lisbon on the other side of the river.
The quay ends at the lift "Elevador Panoramicoda Boca do Vento" which carries you up the cliff to Almada. Please read my "Off the beaten path tip - Trip to Almada" for more info about Almada.
Cacilhas can be reached with the orange Transtejo ferry from Cais Sodre. A single ticket is only 0,70 Euro (2006).
In a hill in the north entrance of Lisbon a park surrounds the museums of costumes (Museu do Traje) and theatre (Museu do Teatro).
It´s a large and refreshing park with lots of botanical species and a well conceived sequence of alleys and fountains, with statues composing harmonious sights. A good break, in the outskirts of town.
There are few conventional tourist sights in northern Lisbon and we would have ignored this area altogether had my girlfriend not being staying here for a work conference. This is a mostly resiential area which means you'll find some good value restaurants and bars and see some of the "real" Lisbon. The Moorish style bullring, Praca de Touros, our favourite building in this area.
What place is there left in our modern world without graffiti? Graffiti as we all know is something that sadly has become a fact of life everywhere especially in the technologically-advanced western societies. They're very much of an eyesore and many consider them a great assault on one's sense of order and decorum in terms of neatness in a civilized society.
Lisbon is not anymore immune to it. This beautiful city is plagued with graffiti. It is an unfortunate phenomenon which seemed to have taken a giant leap in vicious rapidity since the country joined the European Common Market in the mid-80's. The 'graffiti artists' (if we could call that to refer to some of them) may have been saying to the rest of us, "globalization?, well, here's more to that!."
But like any maligned and much misunderstood work...especially in matters of new creative expression, one would in no time find and discover a hidden message, artistic form and medium which after a well-intentioned search from one's capacity to be open enough the very key that could help bring a certain redemption to that something so easily dismissed.
So, when you're in Lisbon and during one of your leisurely walks especially around the old city wherein you very well noticed the graffitis, take a moment to stop and look to consider them slowly with an open mind and eye...because some and quite many of them actually approach a certain level of creative maturity and great artistry.
I dont know if this should be in off the beating path, but, If I was not directed by my guide, there is no way I could have located this place on my own. However, I found it to be the most interesting place of all.
I have visited Aquatopia in Belgium twice, but..the one in Lisbon is bigger and more practical. It is a must see if you are visiting this city.
A difficult to find garden in the streets above Avenida da Liberdade, Jardim do Torel is a quiet, relaxing place with good views over Lisbon. Take Elevador do Lvra at the northern end of Rua das Portas de Santo Antao. There is also an entrance to the park on the nearby Rue do Telhal.
If you are in Lisbon and you like the ocean, there's a day trip you may want to do: the south region of Lisbon, when you cross the bridge. If you are going to Costa da Caparica, a nice village, you should stop in Capuchos, a small village with a beautiful garden and a belvedere. From that belvedere you can look to the Atlantic Ocean, Costa da Caparica, Cabo Espichel, Lisboa, Sintra's Mount and many other places. It's really a worth visit, day and night.
The Sao Bento district sees few tourists but there are a couple of interesting sights as well as some excellent ethnic restaurants, many from Portugal's former colonies like Cape Verde, Mozambique, Brazil and Angola.
The house where Amalia Rodrigues, the famous Fado singer, lived is now a museum dedicated to her career. Following her death in 1999 there was three days of national mourning - clearly she was much loved by the portugese people. The museum is on Rua de Sao Bento and is open every day except Monday.
Furter south on the same street is the Palacio da Assembelia, once a monastery, but now home to the portugese parliament.
The Picoas Metro station is located on the Yellow line, one stop from the Marques de Pombal Station (with Saldanha station to the north.)
I would recommend you get off for a few minutes here at the Picoas Metro Station to enjoy the unique, colorful murals.
My travel mate and I stayed at Hotel Zenit, which was 1 block from the Saldanha station, but sometimes would get out at Picoas just to enjoy the murals and the short walk up Avenida de Melo to our hotel.
Though Estrela is not too far from Baixa and Bairro Alto, there were very few tourists in this district when we visited. We were returning from the Museo de Arte Antigua and we stopped at the church and gardens. Estrela is about 2km from central Lisbon and it lies on one of Lisbon’s seven hills. The 28 tram passes through the district though it's not too long a walk from town (but there are many hills).
The main sites in this district are the Basilica da Estrela and the nearby Jardim da Estrela. You can see the dome of the Basilica from all over the district. There in no entrance fee to the church though there was a mass beginning when we visited so we didn't get much opportunity to look around.
Lapa is the upscale neighbourhood in which you will find the Museu da Arte Antiga (see my tip on that museum). Its a bit out of the way, especially if you are coming from Baixa, but I suggest coming here from Estrela, north of Lapa. You have to walk along steep, narrow streets and you eventually emerge onto the Rua das Janelas Verdes, which runs parallel to the river. My particular favourite is the plaza in front of the Museu, which is crammed in between narrow, tall buildings and provides for great picture-taking.
One of the oldest traditions still in use in Lisbon is the "Volta Saloia" that consists in going out from Lisbon to the surrounding small towns and villages, from where the "saloios" - rural folks - used to feed Lisbon.
It's a search of nature, and culturally unspoilt people. Well, things are changing, and the landscape evidences the hand of progress and new energetic demands. But the volta saloia keeps on, always with a pretext for a meal in the "real country", and the good views of an old vulcanic area, with people progressively spreading across hills and valleys.
Estrela is a neighbourhood that is off the beaten track and far from the maddening crowds of the tourist sights. Indeed, to find it you will need a good map of the city, like the one you get at the information booth at the airport. Maps in books by Lonely Planet or Rough Guides may not even include Estrela. This is not just some neighbourhood park: it is a beaifully sculpted and huge garden that includes a carp pond, statues of famous Portuguese and ancient heroes, cacti, gifts of roses from the people of Galilee and a host of tropic plants and flowers. I'm not much a flora and fauna person but I was truly amazed by this unassuming spot of greenery in an otherwise grey city - hence the large numbers of photographs. Supposedly there are sometimes bands that come to serenade those who sit in the park.
Next to Saint George’s Castle there’s a neighborhood full of old houses which is still occupied. I think many people don’t go there but it’s an opportunity to see how the city was, its tradition, and how people (majorly elderly people) live there.
Actually my great grandparents lived there all their life and my grandmother some years too, so I grew up knowing this neighborhood pretty well :)