Our Travels: Lisbon, Portugal

Here at World Words, it’s not just writing about travel that gets our pulses racing – we’re pretty keen on actually travelling, as well. At least one of us is always on the go, exploring a new (to us) and exciting corner of the globe.

As travel writers, we love to share our adventures with the wider world, which is what this Our Travels blog series is all about. We’ve covered plenty of places already, from Tallinn in Estonia to Vancouver Island in Canada to the Finger Lakes in the United States. And those are just a few of our most recent posts – here’s the full OT archive.

This month, our intrepid staff content editor Eilidh shares the highlights from her recent summer trip to the pretty Portuguese capital of Lisbon. For Eilidh, it’s a city that benefits from repeat visits. Scroll on down to find out why…

Eilidh on the roof of Évora's cathedral.

Eilidh on the roof of the UNESCO-listed Cathedral of Évora.

Why I went to Lisbon
I had been to Lisbon briefly a few years ago, but as I was working I didn’t have the time to explore properly. Going back was always a matter of when, not if. Lisbon’s beautiful tiled buildings, bubbling creative energy and almost guaranteed good weather were all appealing, but my partner and I were keen to explore outside the city too. We found an apartment that would make a perfect base, in the historic Alfama neighbourhood, so booked our flights.

My highlight of the trip
The trip was full of highlights, but among the brightest were our two visits to the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, known as MAAT. Yes, we liked it so much we went twice. Located in the Belém neighbourhood, the main MAAT building is a pristine white structure that curves upwards from the edge of the Rio Tejo, its cliff-like shape meaning you can walk right over the roof. Next door, the industrial labyrinth that is the former Tejo Power Station offers art and science exhibits in a drastically different environment. The riverside cycle path that runs all the way from the Praça do Comércio (Lisbon’s enormous main square, and the largest in Europe) to Belém meant getting to the museum was a pleasure. And of course, we made time to stop for obligatory custard tarts en route.

What else I love about Lisbon
Lisbon is an amazing city to explore on foot. It might seem like a strange comparison, as it’s less compact, more colourful and an awful lot warmer, but Lisbon reminds me of another old European capital: Edinburgh. In Lisbon, too, the unpredictable topography, narrow lanes and inviting staircases make just walking around an adventure.

There were too many promising museums for us to visit them all. However, the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, an art museum set in a beautiful garden, and the weirdly compelling Puppet Museum were among my favourites.

Lisbon is also well-placed for day trips, and we went on several great ones. We visited Sintra, best known for the multicoloured Pena Palace, but also filled with a remarkably high density of historic sites besides; quieter Évora, where attractions included a cathedral with a view and a 16th-century chapel decorated with human bones; and the coastal town of Cascais, where a heavy mist made our bike ride to Guincho Beach feel especially mysterious.

After close to two weeks in Lisbon, I still felt I’d only skimmed the surface. It’s a city that demands repeat visits.

A view of the colourful painted and tiles houses of Lisbon.

A view of the colourful painted and tiled houses of Lisbon.

Why you should go
While Lisbon is a great base for exploring the west coast of Portugal, you could equally spend your whole holiday within the city boundaries and not run out of things to do. It’s a destination with layer upon layer of personality. Of course, there are the tourist-pleasing sights – such as the iconic yellow Tram 28 – everywhere you turn, but this modern city is far more than just a shrine to quaint tradition.

How you can visit
Lisbon Airport is served by many different budget airlines, including easyJet, Ryanair and KLM, among others. If you’re coming from Europe, cheap flights are plentiful, especially if you’re able to book well in advance. Once in Lisbon, it’s easy to get around the city by tram, bus and Metro… but, where possible, I’d always suggest walking.

You can read some examples of the recent work we’ve done on European destinations, including Lisbon, on our projects page. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest travel news.

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