|Lisbon by night, Photo taken by Vitor Antunes|
Portugal, situated on the Iberian Peninsula, is a small nation in west Europe. Surrounded by sea in West and South and by Spain in North and East, the country offers outstanding landscape diversity. Being small in area, you can travel from the mountains in North, covered with wines and trees, to Highlands in central mainland, to almost desert kind landscape and finally to the stunning beach in South, all in one single day. If you are thinking where to go this holiday season, then you must consider spending your memorable time for Portugal holidays.
Established itself as an independent kingdom from León in 1139, Portugal is not a very old country on the world map. Though just 900 years old, Portugal has played a big role in world history. Colonizing major parts of Africa, South America and some islands in Asia and Oceania, Portugal is credited by the western world for exploring India via sea, which no other European country could do on Pope's high priority order Papal Bull.
Portugal has one of the warmest winters in Europe and temperature remains dry and pleasant rest of the year.
Best way to reach Portugal is by Air, unless you live in Spain or nearby country, you may think of travelling by convenient international trains. There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the Schengen Agreement (European Union - except UK, Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania; and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).
Minimum validity of travel documents in Portugal
- EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, as well as non-EU citizens who are visa-exempt (e.g. New Zealanders and Australians), need only produce a passport which is valid for the entirety of their stay in Portugal.
- Other nationals who are required to have a visa (e.g. South Africans), however, must produce a passport which has at least 3 months' validity beyond their period of stay in Portugal.
I took a taxi to the city center from the Airport. There is also Aerobus and regular bus services, but some taxi drivers, who will grab your bags and rush towards their taxi, are so convincing that you will make your mind, though this is something bad and you can say no to them.
Usual taxi metre fare from Airport to the city center should be €10.00. If you have luggage you will be charged additional €1.20 per item of luggage. It is usual that you might get overcharged and taxi drivers may gave vague reasons like metre has malfunctioned or was not working. For this reason, always ask before getting in the taxi if their metre is working fine or not. If you think you have been cheated just ask their name and receipt and complain to the police.
In Lisbon you have lots to see from attractive gardens, neighborhood to museum, galleries and even special transport.
I made my mind to travel in famous Tram 28. It is one of the oldest tram lines laid between 1936 to 47, which is still active in the city. It takes you by many of Lisbon's famous and interesting sites, including the old town, monuments, churches and gardens. The whole journey took nearly 30 minutes and can be called slight hilly and noisy, but it is worth it. The ticket costs €2,85, but it you have "Viva Viagem" card, which can be purchased on the station, then the ticket would cost €1.05.
|Tram 28, Photo taken by Franco Caruzzo|
Apart from the tram, there are some Funiculars (cable railway or vertical trams), which have been declared as national monument.
Lisbon is also famous for some marvelous architecture. Just up on the hill you might visit Castelo de Sao Jorge (Castle of St. George). Open mostly from morning 9 to evening, you can't resist admiring the architecture of this grande castle.
|Castelo de Sao Jorge, photo taken by Barbara|
Another interesting thing that I personally admired is Ponte 25 de Abril. It is something similar to the Oakland Bay Bridge of San Fransisco, as it was designed by the same architect in 1966. A rail line was added later in 1999.
|Ponte 25 de Abril, Photo taken by Morgaine|
Ponte Vasco da Gama is another mega structure that you would love to have a look on. With the total length of 17.2 Kms, it is the longest bridge in Europe and 9th longest in the world, named after the sailor who discovered India for the first time in 1492.
|Ponte Vasco da Gama, Photo taken by Endless Autumn|
You would have never thought that facilities and infrastructure that supply water in the different parts of the cities in older times will become one of the major attraction of the city. Aqueduto das Aguas Livres is one such example, one of the most remarkable example of engineering of the 18th century.
There are a number of Museums and galleries and a number of parks and gardens that adds to the attraction of the city, like Lisbon Botanical Garden, that is one of the oldest in Europe and considerable the first in Portugal, Oceanarium which is world's largest oceanariums and you may enter with admission fees of €12.00 (if I remember well there is student discount as well). Parque das Nações is another ttractive park developed for the 1998 World Expo.
Do not forget to plan a trip to the place full of monuments next to Lisbon, Belem. Most of the people who come to Lisbon visit Belem for sure. Go for Belem Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, Monument to the Discoveries, CCB, Coach Museum, and Statue to Afonso de Albuquerque.
So I conclude all this serious stuff and I come on the main topic, shopping and food.
Baxa and Chiado are one of the most popular shopping streets, but sometimes they can be high on tourists and upon that narrow street might turn you off. I would suggest Avenida da Liberdade, this market is beautiful, wide, fancy, with a number of good restaurants and hotels.
|Avenida da Liberdade, photo taken by|
There are modern shopping malls as well and one of the most popular is the Armazéns do Chiado mall. It is famous for its top floor restaurants and cafes that present a wonderful view of the city.
In Lisbon most of the restaurants are in budget. Most of the restaurants display their dish of the day on the doors "pratos do dia" (these dishes are cheaper, fresher, and indeed tastier). If you love music while munching, then you should go to some restaurant that plays traditional Fado music.
Find a pastelaria (pastry shop) and try pastéis de nata or visit Antiga Confeitaria de Belém (Casa Pasteis De Belem). They are served right out of the oven there, with the side of confectioner's sugar and cinnamon
Please feel free to share your views in the comments section.