Lisbon is Portugal’s hilly, coastal capital city.
Some of the best views of the Portuguese capital come as your ship cruises along the Tagus River. You pass the Belem Tower and the impressive Monument to the Discoveries with its statue of Henry the Navigator before arriving at the Lisbon cruise terminal.
Although small for a European capital, this city does sprawl a little so you would do best to concentrate on three districts – Baixa, Bairro Alto and Alfama, each with its own distinctive style, making Lisbon cruises a must see.
Baixa has busy streets of inviting shops, cafés and restaurants while Alfama is the atmospheric old town with narrow cobblestone streets, medieval and Moorish-style buildings, wrought-iron balconies with trailing flowers and a mix of small shops and bars. Bairro Alto is another historic district with narrow streets and is a steep climb from Baixa so look out for the 100-year-old lift (Elevador do Carmo) near Rossio Square. With such a variety of destinations to explore, cruises to Lisbon bring to your holiday a balance of both modern and historical grounds.
Get up early and get out on deck for the sail under the bridge. It is always a lovely arrival up the River Tagus past the Belem Tower, the Monument of the Discoveries and under the 25 April Bridge.
There are three positions for the ship to berth, two near the bridge & one further up just past Black Horse Square. If the ship docks by the bridge just walk outside the dock and across the road, there is a train station by the police station which will take you into the city or the other way to Estoril (see below) or Cascais. If you walk round the corner from the station there is a tram (cheap) which will take you into the city.
This is another easy DIY Destination. There are three shuttle drop of points that are known. One is Black Horse Square, one is Placa de Restauradores and the other is Figuera Square. If you are dropped off in Black Horse Square cross to the other side were the local tourist office is housed and you can collect a map of the city.
The city itself is well spread out and full of great architecture and it is very easy to find your way around.
There are lots of trips around the city; most of them go from the top corner of Black Horse Square, however there are other pick-up/drop-off points around the city. Have a look around where the shuttle drops you off for an information and ticket point. One of the trips is the ‘Tagus Tour’, this takes in all the main sights, including the Discovery monument on the river bank before dropping you back at the square, you can get on and off at leisure and just pick up the next tour bus, every 30 minutes. There is also the olde tram, don’t book the cruise lines tour you can easy DIY, it is an old wooden yellow tram and it is HOHO.
Try getting a taxi up to Parque Eduardo VII (Edward 7th Park), for the absolutely stunning views. It should only cost about €8, and it is well worth it. Make sure you get him to go to the very top. From there you can basically walk almost in a straight line back down to the Praca do Comercio. The first bit is park (on the right about half way down behind the trees there is a kids playground), then you are walking down a main street which is premium/designer brands e.g. Gucci (apparently one of the most expensive streets in Europe per square foot!). There’s a Hard Rock café there too. Then as you get further down you are in more of the little squares, branded shops, local shops etc.
A must see is the ‘Elevator de Santa Justa’ the trip to the top is worthwhile with fantastic views over the city. You could also try a visit to St George’s Castle, a short but steep climb to the ticket office and then spend a lovely couple of hours or so wandering round the castle site. The views from the top are spectacular!
You could try a Tuk Tuk’s these are good fun. The smaller ones charge about €30 for 4 people and there is one which carried 6 people that is €60, per Tuk Tuk not per person. (2016) The trip lasts 90 minutes. The drivers are very knowledgeable and friendly you stop a few times at some main points for you to get out and have a mini tour of these places and also for you to take pictures.
If dining, then a Portuguese custard tart is a must and totally delicious.
For Esteril, if you dock fairly central to the town the walk to the station Cais Do Sodre is around 25 minutes flat walking. The trains just go from The Station to Cascais with Estoril situated just before Cascais. It cost less than €10 for the return ticket for a couple. The journey is approx. 25 minutes with a view of the coast line most of the way.
If you want the beach then this is about 2 minutes’ walk from the station. The sandy beach is normally packed with holidaymakers, but remember the sea is the Atlantic Ocean, so could be a little chilly.
Try P&O excursion which was called Land and Sea or something similar. It is approx. 1.5 hour coach tour around Lisbon, then onto a luxury riverboat where you have an afternoon tea type meal. It is good value for money and it allows you to get your bearings around what is a huge city. There is so much to see from the river.
By Peter Dagnall
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