Lisbon and Porto

Feel the sun, the sea air and the unique light that play across the 7 hills of Lisbon. Enjoy and be amazed by the incredible natural viewpoints, with their sweeping panoramic vistas of the city’s hidden treasures. Between the hills, wander the traditional Lisbon streets, delve into the historic quarters and, at night, listen to “Fado”, the Lisbon musical form that UNESCO has declared intangible cultural heritage. Explore the riverside, from the modern Park of Nations to the Belém Tower, via the imposing Terreiro do Paço square, the city’s equivalent of a drawing room. Feel the sunset over an Atlantic Ocean that bathes the whole Lisbon region – from Arrábida up to the waves of Ericeira, by way of Cascais and Sintra, with Mafra peeking over the horizon. Feel much more than a city. Keep this guide because, when you leave, you will definitely want to come back.

Lisbon

Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca, just north of Lisbon, is known for its dramatic views and scenic cliff-top walking path. The westernmost point in continental Europe and once believed by Europeans to be the edge of the world, today it is home to a defensive lighthouse that was built in the 16th century and serves as a haven for local birdlife.  
In the 16th-century glory days of worldwide maritime exploration, Portugal was one of the most important countries in the world, with interests in Brazil, India, China, and Africa. With riches arriving from far and wide, the country built a series of defensive outposts to guard Lisbon, the capital city, including at Cabo da Roca. Today you can walk around (but not inside) the current lighthouse, which was built in the 18th century; see the nearby church with its blue and white azuelo tiles; and stand on the windswept headland and imagine mariners heading out to the New World, more than 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) away. 
Cabo da Roca is a popular stop on guided tours of the region, which also take in the nearby hilltop town of Sintra and typically provide round-trip transportation from Lisbon.
Things to Know Before You Go
There’s no entrance fee to access Cabo da Roca.
Visit at sunset for great photo opportunities.
You’ll find a small souvenir store and café on site.
The area around the lighthouse and church is accessible to wheelchair users. 
How to Get There
Cabo da Roca is located 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Lisbon, between the towns of Cascais and Sintra. It’s accessible by car, guided tour, or public bus—403 runs from Cascais to Sintra and stops at Cabo da Roca.

Lisbon Cathedral

Lisbon Cathedral dates back to 1150 when it was built to celebrate the defeat of the Moors. Although the Romanesque building suffered earthquake damage over the years, it’s been carefully restored. Visitors can see excavated Roman ruins, the font where St. Anthony of Padua was christened, and relics of Lisbon’s patron saint, St. Vincent.
As one of Lisbon’s major landmarks, Sé Cathedral is included in most city sightseeing tours, along with other notable attractions like the Castle of São Jorge, St. Anthony of Padua Church, the Alfama district, and the Tower of Belem. While the cathedral itself is free, the cloister charges a small entrance fee.
Things to Know Before You Go
See the cathedral as part of a small-group or private city tour.
The cathedral is free to enter, but it’s worth paying the small fee to tour the Gothic cloister.
Remember to dress respectfully, as this remains a functioning religious site.
How to Get There
There are several ways to reach the cathedral, located in Baixa. Ride the metro to Rossio station, just a short walk away, or hop aboard Lisbon’s quaint yellow tram—Route 28 passes right in front of the cathedral.

Pena National Palace

The crown jewel of UNESCO-listed Sintra, Pena National Palace never fails to inspire. The fanciful red and yellow palace is an exotic mix of Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish, and Renaissance elements, commissioned by King Ferdinand II and completed in 1854 on a hilltop high above Sintra.
This Disney-like castle in the clouds is one of the most-visited attractions in Portugal and a popular day trip from nearby Lisbon. A shady, winding road leads travelers up through Parque das Merendas to the palace, perched 1,476 feet (450 meters) above sea level. Within the palace, it’s possible to walk the walls and see inside the turrets, marvel at the Victorian and Edwardian furnishings within, and explore the surrounding Pena Park and its spectacular landscaping. The most convenient and rewarding way to explore the complex is on a guided half- or full-day tour from Lisbon, which could include other stops such as Cascais, Quinta da Regaleira, Queluz Palace, or even a local winery for a tasting. 
 
Things to Know Before You
This site is a must-visit for history buffs.
Free WiFi is available at several locations on the grounds, including at the main entrance, restaurant, and cafeteria terrace.
Day trips from Lisbon can last anywhere from 5 to 8 hours.
Due to ongoing restoration, not all parts of the palace are always open.
Nearly the entire Pena complex is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get to the Pena National Palace
The town of Sintra is set about an hour from Lisbon by train or 40 minutes by road. From the train station, Bus 434 continues on to the main part of town and then ascends the hill to Pena Palace. From the Sintra town center, it’s also possible to make the hour-long climb to the palace on foot.

St. George’s Castle

The ocher-colored, imposing St George’s Castle is an iconic landmark standing high in Alfama with views over Lisbon and the Tagus waterfront from its turreted, fortified walls. With only a few Moorish wall fragments dating from the sixth century still remaining, the castle we see now was redeveloped over the centuries following King Afonso Henriques’ re-conquest of Lisbon in 1147.
There’s enough to see at the castle to keep everyone happy for several hours. Walks around the ramparts provide far-reaching views of the city below. As much of the medieval castle was given over to housing troops and resisting siege, the fortified ramparts were dotted with defense towers. Now only 11 of the original 18 are still standing and most interesting among these is the Torre de Ulísses (Tower of Ulysses) as it contains a gigantic periscope offering visitors a 360° view of Lisbon. 
The castle complex also harbors the partly excavated site of the original Moorish hilltop settlement and the gently crumbling, photogenic remains of the Royal Palace of the Alcácova – it was here that the royal family sought refuge in time of war. Today the Alcácova contains a small museum of archaeological artifacts found during the excavations as well as family-friendly café and the Casa do Leão, one of Lisbon’s top restaurants. The forested gardens surrounding the castle are planted with pine, cork, olive and oak trees, providing a serene respite from the clamor of the city below.

Practical Info

Tram 28 passes close to the castle and bus No 737 from Praça Figueira stops at the gate. Open Nov 1-Feb 28 9am-6pm; Mar 1-Oct 31 9am-9pm. The Periscope and Tower of Ulysses are sometimes closed due to weather conditions. Admission €7.50, students and over 65 €4, family €16; free with the Lisbon Card. For more info click here
Where
Address:Rua de Santa Cruz do Castelo, Lisbon 1100-129, Portugal

Palace Square

Still known locally as Terreiro do Paço (Palace Square) thanks to its being the former location of Lisbon’s Royal Palace until its destruction in the great earthquake of 1755, Praça do Comércio was completely rebuilt in the late 18th century and is today an elegant square hugging the banks of the River Tagus.
Thanks to the vision of Portuguese architect Eugénio dos Santos, this vast square was built in a sweeping ‘U’ shape and is full of ornate arches and overblown civic buildings. It is dominated by a massive equestrian statue of King Jose I, while sights around the square include Lisbon’s historic Café Martinho da Arcada, dating right back to 1782 and famous for its coffees, pastries and ports. Lisbon’s main tourist information office is on the north side of the arcaded square, which is largely lined with outdoor restaurants. Along the riverbanks great marble steps lead down to the Tagus and historically formed the main entry to the city.
The Praça do Comércio is close to other downtown Lisbon attractions, including the city’s main public piazza, Rossio Square, and its main shopping street, Rua Augusta, which is entered through a triumphal arch adorned with statues of Portuguese heroes including explorer Vasco da Gama. 

Practical Info

Located in Baixa (downtown Lisbon), Commerce Square can be reached by taking the metro to Terreiro do Paço.

Address:Avenida Infante Dom Henrique, Lisbon, Portugal

Miradouro

A sweeping viewpoint atop a hill in Lisbon’s Graça neighborhood, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte offers panoramic views across Lisbon, including stellar views of the castle atop a neighboring hill. As the highest lookout point in the city, it’s a fantastic spot for photographing – or simply appreciating –  the surrounding landscape. It’s particularly popular come sunset.
The name of the lookout translates to Our Lady of the Hill, and visitors will find a small chapel and statue of the Virgin Mary on the grounds of the miradouro. Dedicated to Saint Gens, Nossa Senhora do Monte Chapel attracts expectant mothers seeking divine protection during childbirth.

Practical Info

To reach Miradouro da Senhora do Monte, take Tram 28 to Rua da Graça and walk west along Rua da Senhora do Monte.

Address:R. da Sra. do Monte 50, Lisbon, Portugal

Bairro Alto

Home of Portugal’s mournful fado singing, Lisbon’s 500-hundred-year-old Bairro Alto (this translates as ‘upper district’) sits at the working-class heart of the city, a district of steep, narrow lanes lined with cramped townhouses and jumping with a quirky mix of stores, barbers’ shops, bars, restaurants and late-night clubs.

By day Bairro Alto’s attractions include the Port Wine Institute – the best place to taste and buy port in Lisbon – and it is accessible from the circular route taken by Lisbon’s famous touristy Tram 28. Don’t dismiss a visit to the Jesuit church of São Roque on Largo Trindade Coelho; built at the height of Jesuit power in Portugal in the 16th century, its bland, whitewashed exterior conceals an interior of breath-taking Baroque indulgence. The riot of ceiling paintings, gilded ornamentation and John the Baptist’s chapel, which is studded with mosaics of ivory, gold and silver, has earned it a reputation as the world’s most expensive church. Adjoining is a small art museum but São Roque really steals the thunder here. The nearby miradouro (viewing point) in the shady Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântara gives amazing panoramas across Lisbon’s rooftops towards the River Tagus.

By night a different character emerges in the bairro as the tattoo parlors, bars and cafés open although the weekend street party barely gets going before midnight. Music wafts from fado bars behind every graffiti-ed façade – if you want to experience authentic fado, ask a local to recommend a venue as places come and go with amazing rapidity – and edgy Lisboans bar hop from tavern to designer bar in remarkably laid-back high spirits.

Practical Info

Bairro Alto is accessible from Baixa-Chiado metro station or by the Glória funicular from Restaudores Square. Most of the area’s sights are free with the Lisbon Card. The Port wine Institute is open Mon-Fri 11am-12pm; Sat 3pm-12pm. São Roque is open Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm; Sat-Sun 9.30am-5pm. Admission free.

The 25th of April Bridge

This massive suspension bridge is an icon of Lisbon, connecting the city to the Almada area over the narrowest section of the River Tagus. Its color, size and structure draw close comparison to the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco, California, but the bridge was actually more structurally modeled to the Bay Bridge, also in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The 25th of April Bridge was completed in 1966 and was at the time named for the dictator Salazar. It was renamed following his displacement, with its new name given by the revolution that began on April 25. There are levels for both cars and trains, but unlike the Golden Gate Bridge, there is no passage for pedestrians. The bridge has the longest main span in Continental Europe and the world’s deepest bridge foundation.  Riding across presents one of the best aerial views of Lisbon.

Practical Info

Travel across the bridge either in a car, with a toll of €1.45, or for a slower journey, take a train toward Pragal departing from Oriente, Entrecampos or Sete Rios stations. A train ticket costs €1.80.

How To Visit Lisbon

Visit Lisbona it’s easy. There are so many Tuk Tuk (also electric) that can take you to an amazing tour for 50 Euro. If you want to save money you can buy the Lisboa Card (click here) and have free access to Museums, Monuments and Places of Interest. You can have also discounts for restaurants and shops. There is a card for 72/48/24 hours with prices from 19 Euro.

Porto

Porto is a fascinating and vibrant city that is rapidly becoming one of Western Europe’s most respected tourist destinations. The city boasts an extensive history, interesting tourist sights, buzzing nightlife, and outstanding tourist facilities. There is a lot to see and do in Porto, and the city will appeal to a wide range of different visitors.

Porto is a historic and varied city, from the warren of narrow streets that make up the ancient Ribeira district through to the grand plazas of the Avenida dos Aliados. The region is famed for the production of Port, which is still stored and matured in the vast cellars that stretch along the banks of the Douro River.

Porto is 310km to the north of Lisbon, and the journey takes approximately 2.5-3.5 hours by public transport. Driving is the fastest option, but the toll road network is comparatively expensive, and the toll roads use an overly complicated automated system for collecting fees. There is no need to hire a car to travel between Lisbon and Porto as there are excellent public transport services, and the cost of the road tolls is equivalent to the price of the bus or train ticket.
Advice: If renting a car in Portugal, always check with the hire company regarding their process for paying tolls, as fines can be very expensive.

Train travel is much faster than the bus, but it is more expensive. The Alfa Pendular express train takes 2h40min and costs €30.80 (single adult), the Intercidades (intercity) train is 3h10min and costs €24.70, whereas the express coach costs €19.00 but the journey can range from 3h30min to 4h25min.

Torre dos Clerigos

One of the symbols of Porto is the Torre dos Clerigos, the bell tower adjoining the Clerigos Church, a baroque church built between 1732 and 1750. The church was one of the first Baroque churches in Portugal. Its Baroque adornments reflect the city’s seaside way of life, as its façade is carved with shells and garlands.

More iconic than the church however, is its bell tower. Standing at 75 m (245 ft) high, the tower offers an amazing, panoramic view of the city, the Duoro River and the Atlantic coast.  Completed in 1763, this granite tower is based upon a Roman Baroque design scheme coupled with an unmistakably Tuscan bell tower design; visitors familiar with Italian architecture will be delighted to see a decidedly Roman Baroque masterpiece towering over a Portuguese port. Once you’ve ascended the 225 steps and reached the top of the sixth floor, the Torre dos Clerigos, you’ll be able to see the whole city.

Inside the church, you’ll enter into the Roman-influenced elliptic nave; in the main chapel, the altarpiece is a beautiful masterwork of polychrome marble, carved by famed sculptor Manuel dos Santos Porto, whose work can be found throughout Porto and Vila Real de Santo António in the Algarve.

Practical Info

The Igreja dos Clérigos, as it is known in Portuguese, was designed by an Italian architect and painter named Nicolau Nasoni, at the behest of the Brotherhood of the Clergy, for whom the church is named. Following his death in 1773, Nasoni was entombed in the church’s crypt, per his personal request.

Porto Cathedral

Watching over the city from its hilltop spot, the imposing fort-like Porto Cathedral is a reminder of Porto’s diverse history. Featuring Romanesque, Gothic, and baroque architecture, this is Porto’s oldest and largest church, a must-visit for architecture and history aficionados.
A visit to Porto Cathedral is essential to understand the history of Porto, one of Europe’s oldest populated centers. The church dates back to the 12th century and work continued into the 16th century (not counting later baroque and 20th-century additions), accounting for the varied architectural influences. Travelers can take a half-day river cruise tour stopping at the cathedral and many other main city monuments. A tuk tuk tour of Porto is another way to avoid uphill walks.
 
Things to Know Before You Go
Porto Cathedral is a must-visit attraction for history and art lovers.
Set aside an hour or two to explore the cathedral’s façade and remarkable interior.
It is free to visit the cathedral, but an entry ticket is required to visit the cloisters and the small Sacred Art museum.
The cathedral is one of the departure points for the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage in Spain.
How to Get There
Situated in the heart of the city, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed cathedral is in a great location near the Douro river. Porto Cathedral is in Terreiro da Sé, the oldest district in central Porto, which is a short walk to Sao Bento station. Using the city’s metro system, take Porto’s D (yellow) line and disembark at the Sao Bento stop.

Ribeira District

Set on the banks of the River Douro, the Ribeira District is Porto’s oldest quarter. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the district’s maze of alleyways and pastel-colored houses rises up on a hill above the bay. The Ribeira’s modern waterfront—lined with restaurants, bars, and cafés—is a popular leisure hub and nightlife destination. 
Porto’s Ribeira District is best explored on foot. Visitors can stroll down Cais da Ribeira, the district’s main street, toward Ribeira Square (Praca da Ribeira), a picturesque plaza dominated by two large fountains. Explore on a walking tour with a local guide to learn about the neighborhood’s history and visit popular landmarks such as Ponte de Dom Luis bridge and Elevador da Ribeira. For a more intimate experience, opt for a small-group or private tour. Visit on a full-day tour of Porto to see the Ribeira District and other city highlights such as Arrabida bridge and the Porto Se Cathedral. 
Things to Know Before You Go
The Ribeira District is a must-see for first time visitors to Porto.
Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
Come hungry; the neighborhood houses some of Porto’s best tascas (traditional restaurants) with spectacular river views.
 
How to Get There
The Ribeira is located in Porto’s southeast section, roughly 10 minutes by road from the city center. The district is easily accessible on foot or by bus. 

Liberdade Square

Lying at the southern end of Porto’s majestic Avenida dos Aliados, Liberdade Square (Praça da Liberdade) started its life in the late 18th century when the city began to expand beyond its medieval walls, which are now long gone. The geographical and social importance of the square grew in the early 19th century with the building of both the main railway station and the Ponte Dom Luís I across the Douro River.
The equestrian statue of King Pedro IV by French sculptor Anatole Calmels was placed in the center of Liberdade Square in 1866 and stands in direct eye-line of City Hall’s bell tower as the Avenida dos Aliados sweeps upwards. The wide promenade in the center of the avenue is a popular gathering place for evening strolls and was designed by Alvaro Siza Vieira, who also built the innovative Serralves Museum. The south side of Liberdade Square is punctuated by the gigantic façade of the Palácio das Cardosa, formerly a nunnery but now a luxury hotel.

Practical Info

Take the metro to Aliados or Trindade to reach Liberdade Square.

Serralves Museum

Situated in a magnificent garden just west of downtown Porto, the Serralves Museum has become a top city highlight and one of the most influential modern art museums in Portugal. Its permanent collection spans from the 1960s to the present day, with large sculptural pieces scattered throughout the grounds.
Inside the museum you’ll find works from both Portuguese and international artists, including South African painter Marlene Dumas, American Dara Birnbaum, and Portugal native Pedro  Barateiro. In the outdoor sculpture garden, keep an eye out a giant trowel embedded in the ground and a pair of enormous red pruning shears. 
There are several options for visiting. A basic admission ticket grants access to the museum and gardens, and Serralves Park is also featured on most Porto tours and day trips, whether you want to explore the city in a sidecar, by foot, or on a day trip from Lisbon. The Serralves Foundation is also included on many Porto architecture tours, giving visitors the chance to see prominent outdoor installations. Click here for more info
 
Things to Know Before You Go
The Serralves Museum is a must-see for art lovers and first-time visitors to Porto.
Bags and large packages must be checked in the museum’s cloakroom.
Video and photography are permitted within the museum, but remember to turn off your flash.
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the museum and grounds.
Most of the museum is wheelchair accessible. 
How to Get There
The museum is located roughly 10 minutes by road from downtown Porto. The easiest way to get there is by bus from Porto’s city center. Lines 201, 502, and 504 stop near the museum grounds. On-site car parking is also available for a fee. 

Casa da Música

The Casa da Música is as much of an architectural attraction as it is a musical attraction. The Casa da Música was completed in 2005, but is already considered an iconic structure of Porto. This 1,300-seat concert hall is home to three of Northern Portugal’s renowned classical musical groups — the National Orchestra of Porto, Orquestra Barroca and Remix Ensemble. The Casa da Música also hosts other musical performances like choir and visiting artists ranging in genre from jazz to solo piano to rock. 
The ultra-modern, sleek building is a rare example of modern architecture in historic Porto and it attracts visitors just for the sake of its unique design. Sharp angles, geometric patterns, sweeping staircases and massive glass windows, including two entire walls of floor-to-ceiling windows, are among the visual highlights.
On the top floor, there’s a swanky bar and restaurant, part of which is open-air and has incredible views of Porto. The wonderful food and modern décor make it an atmospheric place for a pre-concert drink or dinner. Click here for more info

Practical Info

The Casa da Música is located at Av. da Boavista 604-610 in Porto. It is open Monday–Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays and holidays from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. There are guided visits both in English and Portuguese every day at 11 a.m. and at 4 p.m. for 7.50 € for adults and free for children under 12.

Address:Av. da Boavista 604-610, Porto, Portugal

Hours:Monday–Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays and holidays, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission:7.50 € for guided tour

Porto Calem

Founded in 1859 by António Alves Cálem, Porto Calem is one of the most celebrated wineries in the Porto region. Located at the heart of the Douro Valley, the family-run winery produces some of Portugal’s finest port wines, using centuries-old production methods and offering a completely unique tasting experience for wine lovers.
Visitors can discover Porto’s history on a guided tour of the winery, peek into the wine cellars, and visit the winery museum. The highlight of a visit is a guided tasting at the wine bar, overlooking the Douro River, where you can sample varieties including white port and tawny port. For the full experience, sign up for a thrilling 5D wine tasting journey or enjoy a traditional live fado (local style of folk song) show, followed by wine tasting.
 
Things to Know Before You Go
Tours are available in English, Spanish, and French, and multiple departure times are available throughout the day.
The legal drinking age of 18 applies for all wine tasting at Porto Calem.
Porto Calem is wheelchair accessible.
 
How to Get There
Porto Calem is a 15-minute drive from central Porto, located on the riverside of Vila Nova de Gaia, where it is the closest cellar to the Dom Luiz I bridge. Vila Nova de Gaia is easily reached by metro from Porto—hop off at Jardim do Morro station and the wine cellar is just a few minutes’ walk west along the waterfront.