‘Uma ginjinha em copo de chocolate por favor!’
Did you know that Portuguese is the 6th most spoken language in the world? Brazil, Portugal, Capo Verde, Mozambique and many other countries communicate through the romantic language, that might change in accents and ‘girías’ (jargon), but it does not change in substance. The Portuguese language is the official language of various beautiful lands and one of them is definitely more accessible to us Europeans, Portugal.
However, if there is one thing that I have noticed while studying Portuguese it’s that Portugal is known all around the world, but nobody truly knows it for real. And me neither.
Apart from the Portuguese themselves of course, travelers usually go surfing, visit Lisbon and eat ‘bacalhau assado’, which is totally fine and a must to do in Lisbon, but there is so much more to do.
I suggest exploring places other than just Lisbon. Porto is a seaside place of outstanding beauty. You should also try its famous dish ‘francesinha’. Visit Braga and Cascais, Faro, Almada and Lago. I could continue for lines and lines, but then I have a confession to make… I haven’t been to all those breathtaking places yet.. In the meantime, I can only advise you with my top 10 things to categorically do in Lisbon, where for the record I have been already.
- Take a tour on the ‘Tram amarelo (yellow) 28’
One of the most traditional thing you will ever see in Portugal is not the ‘francesinha’ (Porto’s specialty), it is not the word ‘saudade’; it is indeed the yellow tram that cross the city of Lisbon and it is also pictured in thousands of post cards as it cannot go more folklorist than that.
- Visit the São Jorge’s Castle and one or more ‘miradouros’
If from the city centre you can enjoy an amazing view of a medieval castle up the hill and surrounded by an outstanding nature, wait to go up the castle to be literally astonished by the incredible view of the city of Lisbon, from the Castle terrace. Also, the city offers many panoramic viewpoints (mirador, in its plural form miradouros) to take the chance and amaze your eyes and feel like life couldn’t get better.
- Visit the ‘bairro de Belém’ and eat ‘Pastéis de Belém’
Belém is not just a borough. It is ‘The Borough’.
Quick 5 things to see:
- Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Jerónimo’s Monastery)
- Torre de Belém (Belem’s Tower)
- Monumento os descubritores or Padrão dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the discoveries)
- Ponte 25 de Abril (25th of April bridge)
- Museu dos coches (Cars’ Museum)
And of course do not forget to eat a Pastél de Belém!
- Eat at the ‘Doca de Santos’
Near Belém there is a river that is crossed by many bridges, these connecting Lisbon to Almada which is the other part of the Portugal peninsula. From the dock a ‘Cristo – Rei’ (famous monument of the Portuguese culture) appears just in front of you and it feels like you just landed in Brazil, but it has only been a 1 hour flight. The river area is crowded with bars, restaurants and a marvellous landscape, I suggest to have lunch here and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of this amazing city that ‘apaixona’.
- Visit the ‘Oceanario’
Any lovers of nature or/and animals, any scientists interested in sea species should go and visit the ‘Oceanario’ – Lisbon Acquarium. I will spend only few words for this place because there are no words my eyes can explain, the only thing I can say it is that the place is brilliant and it is one of the world’s aquarium that hosts a wide range of species.
You cannot and I repeat ‘cannot’ leave Lisbon without having visited Sintra first.
Rocks, sea, monuments, history and a lot more. Not far from Lisbon live in a fairy tale visiting Sintra.
- Discover, listen and enjoy the ‘Fado’
‘O fado’ is a traditional Portuguese music. It usually combines a sole voice with the Spanish or Portuguese guitar to communicate that nostalgia, melancholy and life’s malaise to the listeners. Although it might sound a little bit sad in its rhythms, and to be fair it is glum, listen to fado as it’s an absolutely touching and a must to do. Lisbon has dedicated a museum to their folklorist music, you can therefore go and get to know the history, the rhythm and the voices of the fado music. If you are already craving for listen fado you have to know that one of the most known fado’s artist is Amália Rodrigues.
- Drink one (but even 2) ‘ginjinha’
Even though I am not a drink lover, I must admit it has been love at first sip with the ginjinha. It is a cherry liquor shot served in shot’s glass made of chocolate, just yum.
- Scavenger hunt of ‘azulejo’
The street art in Lisbon is everywhere. Azulejo is one of its best expression of art and there is no doubt that you absolutely have to look for at least one of these amazing pieces all around the city.
- Take a stroll from the ‘Bairro Alto’ to the ‘Baixa’ Lisbon
Transports are comfortable, but you would never feel, hear and smell the city as much as walking from the upper side of the city to the bottom part of it. Get into the culture communicating with the Portuguese (pretty outgoing people) and go out in the bairro alto at night which is where the nightlife happens.
Eat under the sun, enjoy the views and the monuments of the city, also learn about its history and live the atmosphere that Lisbon offers.
Finally, get ready to cry when you are about to leave the city and go back home, waving your hand to the land you will hear fado playing as background music and you will feel like you already want to go back for another, your last ginjinha.