Welcome to Lisbon, Portugal! Or as the locals say: Bem Vindo!
Some believe that Portugal is the oldest country in Europe; regardless of whether that is true or not, this country is one of the most beautiful places on our planet and has one of the most eventful histories. You may have heard of the famous explorer Magellan, the man believed to be the first to literally travel around the world or Vasco da Gama, their journeys started here, in Portugal!
In this article, we will go on an expedition to explore Lisbon, home of the Pastéis de Nata. We will explore its beaches, streets, and castles. We will savor its food and get to know its people. We will also learn about just what makes Lisbon a very attractive travel destination, and certainly a place to live in!
If you're looking for something to listen to as you read, check out The Halal Travel Podcast hosted by Hazirah, Nurul and Raudha as they talk candidly about travel, food, life and everything else in between and sometimes with awesome guests! Listen now!
Belém Tower, Torre de Belém in Portuguese, is perhaps the most iconic landmark in Lisbon. Built on a riverbank to defend the city and later turned into a lighthouse, this tower is a remarkable architectural construction that offers wonderful views over the sea and is open to visitors. Torre de Belém has five floors connected by a dazzling spiral stairway and several holes where prisoners were kept. Since its construction in the 16th century, this tower has witnessed the coming and going of famous explorers, merchants, and sailors over the years.
In the style of the San Francisco tramways, Tram 28 of Lisbon enjoys great popularity because it connects many of the best tourist districts of the city such as Graca, Alfama, and Estrela Basilica thus offering great tours for visitors!
When you have had your share of walking uphill, hop in a trolley to comfortably discover the long vibrant history of Lisbon as you climb up to the old Alfama. Your wanderlust shall be satisfied here! You’d find it quite amusing to see visitors being taken on tours around the place completely blindfolded! A truly unique way of discovering old Alfama, an exciting sensory experience.
Sintra is an ideal place for a day trip from Lisbon. Within a half-hour drive from Lisbon, you would find yourself in a most enchanting town, home to amazing historic Moorish castles, gardens, and villas. You would not fail to see the Pena National Palace, a beautiful fairy-tale-like castle that was reserved for royalty. Other amazing landmarks here include Azenhas do Mar, Quinta da Regaleira, Seteais Palace, and Monserrate Palace, all of which certainly make Sintra a place worth visiting!
While in Lisbon, it is very recommended that you visit one of its many museums where many more stories of its culture and history are told. There are over 60 museums in Lisbon! Each and every one of them is a remarkable display of different sorts of art, crafts, archaeology and so much more…Here is our pick of some of the best museums in Lisbon:
The National Museum of Ancient Art exhibits plenty of major works of art that are centuries old, and which depict Lisbon during the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery, and some of the biggest events that marked its history.
The National Tile Museum is a magnificent exposé of the Portuguese art of ceramics. Portugal has a widespread reputation for ceramics, this reputation is displayed in this museum in the form of history and the technology used to make the famous Portuguese azulejos.
This museum is all about Asia! The far-reaching stretch of the Portuguese empire and much of what the Portuguese explorers have discovered in their travels to the east is documented and displayed here in a very spacious facility.
It should be no surprise that Lisbon is home to a whole lot of castles and palaces. Yes! They are just like how you might have imagined: towers standing tall, large gates, big walls, and perhaps, princesses waiting impatiently in their towers!
St George castle made it into our list because of its great importance as one of Lisbon’s most remarkable landmarks. It was built more than 2000 years ago by the Romans and has been standing tall in the old district of Alfama ever since. Photos of this castle would be a special addition to your Instagram gallery!
Not so far from Belém Tower is the marvelous Monastery of Jeronimos, one of the most valued UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Lisbon. You need no more than a single glance at it to realize why this monument is worth protecting. The monastery was built during the early 16th century in an astonishing fusion of styles of architecture, most notably the Renaissance and the Manueline architecture. It is here where the remains of the legendary explorer Vasco da Gama are kept as a commemoration of his achievements.
The Oceanarium of Lisbon is the largest of its kind in the world and is certainly a must-visit! This gigantic saltwater aquarium simulates different oceanic ecosystems and houses 450 different species from all over the world. A visit to Lisbon’s oceanarium is like a dive deep in the ocean!
If you are looking to feel the pulse of Lisbon and get in touch with its liveliest area, then Rossio Square is the best place to be! Around the square are many cafes and restaurants that attract both locals and tourists, and which gives this place a very friendly atmosphere.
Lisbon is blessed with many beautiful beaches that stretch along the Iberian coastline. If your visit is in the summertime, why not hit the beach of Praia de Carcavelos, the largest and most popular beach in Lisbon. The beaches of Santo Amaro de Oeiras and Sao Pedro are also worth the visit!
Both the palace of the Marquises of Fronteira and its gardens offer stunning views to visitors. Surrounded by beautiful baroque gardens and eye-popping fountains decorated with medieval statues, this palace itself is an impressive piece of art, and the walk around the place is a delightful experience.
The Portuguese not only discovered the world, but they also discovered some of the most delicious foods! There are several must-eat foods in here, just make sure you have enough space for all! Try out the famous chicken Piri-Piri (you may also know it as Peri-Peri), a very delicious dish that consists mainly of chicken, but what is special is the seasoning, the spice called Piri-Piri, a treasure brought back to Portugal by its explorers.
Do not miss a chance to try grilled sardines, especially if you happen to be in Lisbon in June, during the festival of sardines! You may as well want to try the traditional Portuguese canned sardines!
Do try Polvo à la lagaleiro, a very attractive and tasty traditional dish made of roasted octopus and boiled potatoes, all flavored with olive oil. This dish is very popular and is served everywhere across the country.
Portugal’s most iconic food is Pastéis de Nata, also known as Pastéis de Belém, a crispy sweet egg tart that will simply make you drool! This delightful dessert is made almost in every pastry shop as it is the most loved delicacy in Portugal.
Once you have tried out authentic Portuguese cuisine, you’d wish you could take some of that food back home with you! But you can always look for recipes. There is really no reason why you should worry about finding halal food in Lisbon, people here are generally accustomed to the food preferences of Muslim tourists.