Portugal has vacation itineraries, which fit every taste and budget. In addition to its capital city’s many worthwhile attractions, several wonderful destinations are within one or two hours of downtown Lisbon.
Lisbon has a long and distinctive history and culture. Among the many gems to discover during your exploration of the city center are attractions such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Art Museum near the American Embassy, St. George’s Castle in the Alfama and the gigantic greenhouse gardens in Prince Edward VII Park. The Sete Rios area of Lisbon has a unique historic pet cemetery adjacent to the zoo.
There are many palaces in Lisbon including the Belem National Palace which is the official residence of Portugal’s president, the Pena National Palace which is a UNESCO site and one of the world’s finest examples of 19th century Romanticism, the Mateus Palace in Vila Real is a Baroque masterpiece with many artworks and carvings, and the 15th century Palace of the Dukes of Braganca which has been restored and is a National Monument.
Rebuilding began in 1782 of the Roman Catholic Matriz Church that was destroyed in 1755 by an earthquake. There are four side chapels where the altars were coated with gold in 1868. The bell tower dates from 1869 and has eight bells that are reached by 72 steps up a spiral staircase.
Two of the most interesting museums are the National Coach Museum with its huge collection of royal and nobility carriages and the Biscainhos Museum located in a 16th century manor house with its display of furniture, glass, ceramics, clocks, and other decor.
If you fancy a seaside vacation, base yourself in Cascais or Estoril, both of which are short train rides away from downtown Lisbon. Ride into town on the commuter train and enjoy the views of the Marginal, which is the coastal road alongside the Tagus River. On your way back, take a detour at the Belem stop and visit the National Coach Museum. Next to the museum you can treat yourself to a coffee and sample exquisite custard tarts at the Casa de Pasteis de Belem.
From Cascais it is a short bus trip to the rugged cliffsides of Cabo da Rocha, the westernmost point of Europe. Nearby is Guincho Beach where Lisbonites come to fly kites and parasail. One of Portugal’s most well known castles is situated nearby in the idyllic forests of Sintra.
Take a ferry from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre to the other side of the Tagus River. Caparica is a delightful stretch of sandy beaches nestled off rustic treelined roadways. Before heading back across the river to Lisbon, stop at the Redeemer statue.
On your next visit, venture further afield to see the historic castle of Queluz, the medieval city of Obidos and the monastery of Batalha. The Forest of Bucaco, the mineral springs of Luso, the pilgrimage site of Fatima, and the Roman ruins in Evora all lend themselves to long weekend jaunts from Lisbon. Many of Portugal’s most interesting destinations also have been denominated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means that these national treasures receive funding to ensure they are well maintained for present and future generations.
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- I Did It (And So Can You!) Thoughts From Lisbon. (youvegotnae.com)
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