Lisbon & The Coast Tourist Attractions
Attractions in Lisbon and the Lisbon Coast
Lisbon City And The Surrounding Areas
Lisbon is an exciting and vibrant city with an interesting history and the whole coastal area just west of Lisbon offers stunning nature and beautiful beaches as well as great opportunities for recreational activities. The coastline to the north of the river Tagus is the Estoril Coast also called the Lisbon coast and to the south of the river is the Blue Coast.
Castle of Sao Jorge
There are so many things to do and see in Portugal’s capital Lisbon. It is a city that offers numerous attractions including historic monuments, interesting museums, a lively waterfront with great bars and nightclubs and many restaurants and shops besides a fantastic mixture of historic and contemporary architecture. It also has a great public transport systems including one of the best metro systems in the world, so it is very easy to get around the city.
East of the city centre is the district of Alfama which is the oldest district of Lisbon and very picturesque with its narrow streets and small squares. It is beautifully located between the Tejo river and the Castle of Lisbon, and it has many historical attractions and many Fado bars and restaurants where you can enjoy the traditional music. Overlooking the Alfama is the mediaeval Castle of São Jorge from where you have one of the best views of the city, and in the west part of the district, you can find the Lisbon Cathedral which is the oldest church in the city. It is also in this area, you will find the amazing Tile Museum where you can see the fantastic collecting of the decorative and colourful azulejos.
The Belem area is the most historic area in Lisbon and offers, amongst many other amazing sites, the Jeronimos Monastery; a world heritage monument and the resting place of the great explorer Vasco da Gama and another World Heritage monument Belem Tower.
The Bairro Alto district and the neighbouring Chido is Lisbon’s bohemian area with a fantastic nightlife and a paradise for people who love shopping. According to a worldwide study this area has been voted one of the most prestigious shopping areas in the world.
Another interesting area is Baixa or downtown Lisbon that stretches from the riverfront to the main avenue Avenida da Liberdade. It is an elegant district with beautiful squares, pedestrian streets, street performers, stunning tiled shop fronts and impressive neoclassical buildings, and then it is also the main shopping district in Lisbon.
Bairro Alto nightlife
Uptown Lisbon is mainly a business and residential area dominated by apartment buildings and office blocks, but also many great museums like the Gulbenkian museum. It is also in this part of town you can find one of the biggest shopping malls in Europe Colombo as well as another great mall Amoreiras. A bit further away, but definitely worth a visit is the stunning Fronteira Palace with amazing gardens and beautiful tile work.
The eastern part of Lisbon, Parque das Nações, is a complete contrast to the city’s old districts with its contemporary architecture and futuristic look that mainly was built for the Expo 98 where the theme was “The Oceans; A heritage for the future”. It is here you will find the bustling new waterfront, the Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre and the most extraordinary aquarium in the world the Oceanarium.
To the west of Lisbon you find the fantastic Estoril coast, also called the Lisbon Coast. The main areas along the coast are the beautiful former fishing village of Cascais, the great resort town of Estoril, surfer’s paradise Carcavelos and the romantic town of Sintra. The Estoril coast starts in Carcavelos and stretches to the Guincho Beach which is 5 kilometres from the town Cascais, and the area offers fantastic beaches, interesting historic monuments and resort and outdoor activities to suit every taste, and if you love golf, the Estoril coast is also the perfect place with its many world-class golf courses; 7 different courses, all with their own individual characteristics.
Estoril has since early days attracted both the rich and the famous and the royals, and for a reason. It has Europe’s largest casino, some of the best golf courses in Europe, a Formula One Grand Prix race track and the beautiful sandy beach of Tamariz. Overlooking the beach is a castle owned by the royal family of Monaco and behind it is the Estoril Casino that offers gambling, games and top international shows and besides was the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond and Casino Royale.
A lovely beachfront promenade links Estoril to the striking Cascais where you can find the top modern Cascais Marina and the town plays host to world class sailing competitions. There are also some interesting markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays – both food and non-food markets, and every year Cascais Cultural Centre opens its doors to a diversity of cultural events like exhibits, shows, concerts etc. Not far from Cascais is the outstanding sandy beach of Guincho which is a true paradise for surfers and the host of World Surfing Championships.
The multinational seaside town of Carcavelos is especially popular for its beautiful long stretch of white sandy beach and great opportunities for surfing and other water sport activities. A huge fort called São Julião da Barra dominates the seafront and once served as a political prison and not far from there you will find the Bugio lighthouse.
The beautiful Sintra Mountains lie in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and is classified as a UNESCOWORLD Heritage site for both its historic architecture and natural beauty. Main attractions in this area include; the picturesque town itself, the remarkable Pena Palace from the 19th century and Castelo dos Mouros that has a breath-taking view of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. About 15 kilometres west of Sintra is the most westerly point of Continental Europe Cabo da Roca – a wild and windy place where “the land ends and the sea begins”
Pena Palace from the 19th century in Sintra
South of the Lisbon Coast is often called the Blue Coast or The Costa Azul. This wonderful region offers exceptional beaches, beautiful mountains and a mixture of colours that radiate a distinctive light that is characteristic for this region, and with its fantastic coastal line and diverse landscape and rich animal life, it is an ideal place for activities like water sports, fishing and hunting.
Sesimbra is a picturesque little fishing village that has become increasingly popular amongst tourist and weekenders from Lisbon especially due to its location at the foot of the hills of Arrabida and inside a beautiful blue bay. It has maintained the traditional fishing village atmosphere and if you plan to visit this charming village, be sure to try out the seafood in one of the local restaurants. Not far from Sesimbra, you find the stunning lagoon Lagoa de Albufeira that is separated from the sea by a line of sandbanks and depending on the tides it is both a fresh water lagoon and a lagoon with salt water.
The Blue Coast has two important natural reserves with unique ecosystem and fascinating nature to explore. The Arrabida Natural Park lies between Setubal and Sesimbra which is a beautiful protected area with rich Mediterranean vegetation and many rare species. A good way to explore this area is by taking a mini-cruise where you can see the dolphins jumping in the sea, the stunning coastline and the beach as well as the spectacular landscape, the hills and the beautiful historical buildings. Another fantastic area is the Natural Reserve of Sado Estuary which is a vast estuary with rich animal life. You will be able to see dozens of dolphins as well as other endangered spices like the otter and heron, white swans and flamingos are the symbol of the area.
The Blue Coast is also a great place for playing golf with five excellent courses; two courses on the Costa de Caparica, the most recent course of the area is situated in Azeitão, a course near Pamela surrounded by Moscatel vineyards and lastly a course south of Setubal situated on the Peninsula.