100 degrees in Lisbon

snapshots from lisbon

may 2019

Lisbon will be forever engrained in my mind as the land of stairs. I thought Croatia had a lot of stairs. I thought Porto was pretty hilly. But Lisbon is next level. In many ways, it’s similar to San Francisco: steep, charming, and complete with a bridge (Ponte 25 de Abril) that looks suspiciously similar to the Golden Gate.

But despite the brutal hills and the relentless sun beating down on us, Lisbon was undeniably photogenic. Annoyingly photogenic. Everywhere you look, every direction, every perspective. Miradouro after miradouro. Yet even with the heat we couldn’t get enough of the breathtaking views. Here are some of my favorites.

There’s a reason why photos of Lisbon are such a common occurrence in travel Instagram. From the colorful facades to the street lights to the panoramic views to the trams, Lisbon maintains old world charm in a distinct and memorable way.

We took a morning train from Porto, arriving midday to a very hot Lisbon. It took some navigating but we eventually made it to our Airbnb in Bairro Alto. After dropping off our bags, we set out to look for food. Which ended up being more challenging than anticipated. It was a Sunday, so many places were closed. 

One place that was open was Time Out Market. And judging by the state of chaos there, it might have been the only place open in the entirety of the city center. After a hasty meal, we got the hell out.

quick pit stop at Comoba for some cold caffeine then it was off to the races, or rather, the lengthy lines that came with all the tourist stops

We began by walking towards Praça do Comércio, a grandiose  public square that faces the river. The bright façade felt reminiscent of the riviera in Split. The panoramic view spans the Tagus River from the bridge to Almada and the opposite shore extending into the horizon.  

From there, we followed Rua Augusta back into the city, stopping by some shops as we leisurely made our way towards Elevador de Santa Justa. There’s something about these streets, these buildings, that make even the most mundane establishments feel special. Every path, every street light looked worthy of a post card.

The elevator. It’s pretty, I’ll give it that. But behind the scenes of every glamour shot up there is at least 40 sweaty minutes baking in the sun while waiting in line to go up said elevator. Then again, in a city that is all about elevation, perhaps even waiting in line serves as a nice break from the climb. 

Once you’re up there, it’s easy to forget the annoyance of the wait. Every direction you look is stunning, each side offering a new perspective on the city from churches perched on the hills to the warm tiled rooftops to the pure blue waters surrounding the city. 

Wherever I go, I always try to go to the highest point to get a good look at the city. Here, it’s not hard to do. Every other path leads to a miraduoro. Around every corner is a breathtaking view. Sure it’s a steep way up, but the reward at the top never disappoints.

Next up, a pit stop for cherry liquor before wandering further by foot and appreciating the details of the city at street level.

There’s no shortage of street art in the city, but my favorite is a quiet street with a photo gallery of the elderly residents of the neighborhood. It feels intimate, familiar, even to a foreigner wandering the street for the very first time.

Then it was back upwards. This time by tram. Photogenic as they may be, it’s a crowded and hot way of getting around (or should I say, up and down) the city. But considering the alternative (aka by foot), it was an appreciated if touristy ride up to Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. We got there right as the late afternoon light started to fade into a hazy glow over the city, lingering. 

And again, endless wonder in every direction. This city is relentless.

As we made our way down by foot, it seemed every turn brought new sights, each one bathed generously in golden hour light. The Pantheon and the streets surrounding were surprisingly tranquil, a few tourists and locals here and there but otherwise quiet. 

After a full day climbing stairs in the sun, we finished off back in the neighborhood with dinner and drinks near the Airbnb. 

Then it was time to rest up for another day in the sun…

see also

more snapshots from lisbon
day trip to sintra