The 10 Best Instagrammable Sights you Must-See on Your First Trip to Lisbon
Lisbon is one of the most picturesque cities in the world. Steeped with history and painted with one of the most colourful palettes, there pretty much isn’t a single street you can walk down, without being wowed at all the fantastic hues and views along the way. For photographers and bloggers, this place is a dream! The “miradoures” (viewpoints) which you can find all over the city seem to open Lisbon up like a pop-up book. The intricate tiled walls and buildings are like a patchwork quilt across the city. Make sure you have a few extra batteries with you because you’re never going to be able to stop snapping!
Bertrand Livraria is the oldest bookstore in the world. It was opened in 1732 and survived both the fire, earthquake and tsunami of 1755 which levelled much of Lisbon. Today it is standing like a quiet landmark in the middle of the busy city. There is only a small sign out front announcing its historic status. The blue and white tiles, which are so popular across Lisbon, are some of the most iconic and their tiled wall, from the 1700s is an incredible place to take a snapshot. I love the way they appear to bloom like flowers.
#2. Alfama District
Alfama was one of the only neighbourhoods to entirely withstands the massive earthquake of 1755. This district is littered with historic houses as old as the city itself, cobblestone streets which are so worn down the stones are almost indistinguishable from each other as well as some of the most vibrant personalities the city has to offer. The squares of Alfama are alight with colourful banners and decorations as there always seems to be some sort of party or festival happening here. Mixed in with the ancient stones and tiles, the colours and breathtaking backdrops here are unreal.
#3. Rua da Rosa in Bairro Alto
Bairro Alto is a neighbourhood which absolutely silent during the day, and yet at night, it explodes with life! It’s where you’ll find all the trendiest bars and the hottest night life. But during the day time, it’s a fantastically peaceful place to explore and admire the iconic Portuguese tiles and bright coloured apartment buildings. Walking down the streets you’ll hear only the sound of your footsteps and the occasion resident sweeping off their front steps.
#4. Bica Elevator
The Bica Elevator is one of the most popular spots for a photo is Lisbon. And while it might seem overly touristy during the day, in the early morning this part of the Bica neighbourhood is absolutely stunning and provides incredible photography opportunities. The old tram began running 1892 to help the residents of Lisbon get up the steep hills upon which the city is built on top of. Although these trams and the surrounding neighbourhood are always heavily graffitied, this somehow only adds to the vibrant nature of the town and doesn’t detract from it.
#5. Rua da Condessa
At the end of the Rua da Condessa, in Bairro Alto, you’ll find a long staircase, flanked on either side by dazzling buildings. In between the two buildings is framed on the most magnificent vistas in Lisbon. In the distance, high atop the hill is one of Lisbon’s old ruins, like the old guard looking down over the new city.
#6. Miradouro de Santa Luzia
My favourite Miradouro is the Miradouro de Santa Luzia! Not only does it have one of the most spectacle views across Alfama and the Tagus river, but is also has a lush garden, incredible tile work veranda and lots of rich, blooming trees. No matter which way you’re looking, there is something absolutely magical to see here. This place gets mobbed during the day time, but if you arrive early enough (especially at sunset) you’ll be in for a real treat!
#7. Carmo Convent
The Carmo Convent was once Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a Catholic convent located in the heart of Barrio Alto. Fires, earthquakes, political and religious upheaval all resulted in the convent falling to ruins, but thankfully no one had the funds to demolish it. In the later 20th century, it was converted into a museum and what was left of the structure was given supports to prevent its further degeneration. The interior of the convent, with it’s roofless view of the sky is breathtaking. If you’re lucky enough to be there at night or when there is an event, the interior is lit up to highlight the architectural details while the open rooftop provides stunning views of the stars above.
The Jeronimos Monastery was built in the 15th century by King Manuel who used money the realm gained from explorations around the world to fund its construction. Portugal was known for its explorers and as such, made a lot of money from its imports. This meant the architect had a virtually unlimited budget for the construction and it’s for this reason that we find this opulent, renaissance building we see today. No matter where you turn or where you look, there are exquisitely framed shots. Hidden in the details throughout the building are oceanic elements, reflecting this strong seafaring country, and are a joy to discover as you explore.
#9. Tower of Belém
The Tower of Belém is located along the scenic Tagus river. It was once a defensive system for Lisbon to help the military see any incoming ships into their harbour. The tower is both a military structure but also an architectural gem of the city. Standing in low tide, on the shores of the river, looking up at this tower is a magnificent sight to see. There’s no need to wait in the super long line and pay six euros to get inside. The view from the exterior is much prettier anyways and exploring it from all angles along the banks of the river is much more fun than waiting in a line.
#10. Arco Da Rua Augusta
The entryway to Lisbon’s largest square can be found through the Arco Da Rua Augusta. The gateway opens up onto the Comercio Plaza which looks out over the Tagus River. This archway is located along one of the busiest streets in Lisbon and sometimes it can get annoyingly touristy. But if you arrive here early in the morning, you’ll be left only with the elegant scene of 18th century Lisbon.
Hopefully this helps you out in your quest for finding the best Lisbon has to offer! Let me know in the comment what your favourite part of the city was or what you’re most looking forward to seeing.