I spent more time in Lisbon that I did in any other city over the summer, and I absolutely fell in love. The sidewalks are paved in intricate designs, the buildings are painted in brilliant colors, the sun shines brightly and a lovely breeze is never far away.
One of the most central places to start your day is in Rossio Square. The square is surrounded by cafes, patisseries, and the swankiest Starbucks I’ve ever come across. There are also convenient ATM’s and currency exchanges.
Meandering past Rossio Square and down Rua Augusta, the small side streets are well-worth exploring. The Elevador de Santa Justa will take you to see the old town and a panoramic view of the city. Novelty stores line the main walkway, such as the “My Life Could be a Sardine.” On the whole, sardines seem to be a city-wide staple, produced in cute containers and chocolate or biscuit form.
At the end of Rua Augusta, you reach the Museum of Fashion and Design on your left, filled with fashion masterpieces from throughout the ages. It’s free, and well worth a visit. The outside of the building is adorned with detailed stone carvings. Just past the museum is the triumphal arch, painted in a vibrant yellow, and forming the gateway to Commercio Square and the “urban beach” consisting of concrete and ocean.
Walking away from the square and back into the old town of Lisbon, you can visit Livraria Bertrand, one of the oldest bookstores in Europe, which still has some original walls. The books are thoroughly stocked and up to date, however! Check out the section on mandalas, there are some great design books to flip through.
A short walk down the street from Livraria Bertrand is Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo, one of the most photographed streets in the city. It is scenic, but to be honest, I think many of the other streets are just a much so. Nonetheless, the historic funicular is a nice touch to give a hint at the charm of old Lisbon. For 3.50 euros, you can even ride the funicular down to the coast.
Walking back towards the coast, in the newer area of Lisbon, you can find Rua Nova do Carvalho with only a bit of searching. Being an aficionado of all things pink, I was particularly ecstatic about this find (which happens to be one of the nine most amazing streets in the world). I’d recommend taking a break at a cafe at the end of the street, so you can stay longer. If you come at midday, you might even get to see a very attractive, muscled man power washing the street to keep it nice and vibrant!
Further into old town and up the hilly streets, you will reach Praca de Principe Real. The square is an attractive green space, but the best part is the windy, incredibly old tree shaped something like an umbrella. Across the street is a must-see concept store called Embaixada, which features a red carpeted staircase, grand paintings, ornate crown moulding and a courtyard, not to mention adorable (yet pricey!) boutiques to browse through.
My final destination that I absolutely recommend is the Castelo Sao Jorge. This castle requires a bit of a climb up some steep streets, but the panoramic view is incredible. With a student card, entrance is only 5 euros. You can climb all over the ramparts of the castle and explore the grounds. The best part, however, are the peacocks! These majestic creatures are roaming all over, but especially near the cafes. If you’re lucky, you might even see a mama with her babies.
I left a little piece of my heart in Lisbon. I hope you get to visit, and leave a little piece of your heart there with mine someday!