Streets of the city were so charming. Although steep and narrow, almost always on cobblestone, they often had elegant mosaics made out of dark stone cuts. Mosaics were frequent – what if I tell you that I went into various metro stations just to see the mosaics? They were so vibrant and colorful, genuine artwork on the walls!
And what about small “decorations” like ceramic tiles street and square names, advertisements for shops or cafes, colorful tiles embedded in building walls!
Local, but worldly
Don’t get me wrong, I love European cities, but Lisbon is special, not like any other metropolis in Europe. It contains that local vibe that sometimes makes you feel like being in some small fishermen town.
Especially if you are in one of those curvy, steep streets in Alfama Lisbon district and you cannot see where it goes or that there is a vast square at the other end.
All you see is laundry hanging from small windows, old buildings with plaster peeled off and maybe tram track that curves down along tiny cobbled street.
But then again, you keep walking and you get out to great big square with central statues of Portuguese poets, kings, explorers or generals, huge fountains, restaurants, metro stations, churches and theaters.
There are popular brands, banks, companies you recognize like everywhere in Europe, and it’s obvious that this is another European capital in the West.
Small shops and steep streets
One thing that I have noticed (and loved) is the fact that there are shopping malls in the center of the city, but they are often adapted to the city’s architecture. Modest entrances to typical Lisbon buildings with the name tag above the door, and not always those huge shopping centers with glassy walls and enormous revolving doors, stretching on five floors and who knows how many square meters etc.
Those are all the same – all glass, marble and brass, outside and in. Here, however, somewhat different scenery.
Loved the fact that you can come across small bakery or charming souvenir shop, those specialized in sweets, or bookstores, but also world famous brands and big stores.
Walking up those narrow streets you even feel isolated. But then again, there is that feeling that you do not know what is yet to come, behind that next curve going steeply up (so much so that you almost touch your chest with your knees). Suddenly, you can be thrown into crowd and the bustle of the city!
Cruising by the yellow tram
It is hard to overlook the famous yellow tram that cruises the city. There are lines very practical for tourists to go around, to see it all while the tram creaks and turns, hawking to passers on the street by ringing instead of using a horn.
By purchasing traffic ticket (all the city’s transport included) for few days or a week, you can hop on and off the tram whenever you see something interesting outside. I even bought a small touristy watercolor painting with yellow tram on it. Well, while in Lisbon, right!
From the square of Mirador of Santa Catarina you can take the so called Bica funicular, one of the area’s means of transport that you will need to use if you want to avoid steep hills. You can also use Elevador de Santa Justa in Ouro Street (the landmark that greeted me to the city, remember!).
Next: EVOKING JOSE SARAMAGO (5)
Full Barcelona/Lisbon SERIES
I felt like I wrote this post 🙂 Beautiful Lisbon made me feel absolutely the same way. For the first time in my life, a city made me say “I could live here” (other than Antalya). You have anything that you would possibly want.
I like your writing style so much. And travelling style of course 🙂 Thanks.
You’re so kind, Ozlem, thank you so much! 🙂 And I know for a fact that nobody leaves Lisbon indifferent, the city has such an impact, it’s incredible!
Lisbon is on our bucket list, so thanks for the free tour! I like how you said it has that vibe that makes you feel like being one of the local fishermen – I’ll most certainly remember that when we go visit. When do you reckon is the best month to go?
Was there in November, it was pleasant, sunny, a bit windy. But than again, it’s always windy! 😀 If you want to go to the beach, it’s probably best to go during summer, even though the Ocean is freezing all the time. 😀 Autumn is nice, spring is beautiful!
Agree that there really is something just so special about Lisbon. Beautiful blog and great post, thank you for sharing!
Oh, thank you so much, you’re very kind! 🙂
The Travel Ninjas
We’ve never been to Alfama, but we’d love to visit this lovely town now. The cobble stone streets, mosaics, quaint neighborhoods have a distinct european charm. Thanks for covering this.
When you do go, just remember those few sentences “you’ve read somewhere” and you’ll see that Lisbon is even more than I could have ever described! 🙂
Sandy N Vyjay
Lisbon is really a very charming city. Walking along its cobbled streets must indeed take one back in time. The place has an old world charm which is so endearing. Would love to experience this place.
Hope you do, it really is unique. 🙂
I love a place that retains its old world charm despite being modern. And it looks like Lisbon fits this list of places! I’m amazed by the fact that even malls are designed to go with the traditional architecture. And the yellow tram looks too cute. Thanks for sharing this wonderful side of this capital city.
Always loved that mixture of new and old, it ends up being so charming and distinctive! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Love it! Portugal has a very rich history and I am a big fan of how they incorporate it thru art!
Oh, yes, me too. That’s why I was so smitten by the city! 🙂
I’ll be honest, I didn’t like Lisbon that much, but your post made me want to give it a second chance 🙂
Really, how come? You should go back, definitely. 😉
IG: Iga Motylska (@IgaMotylska)
Last week I was staying with a friend in Warsaw, Poland who could not stop talking about how much he loved Lisbon. While I’d love to visit, it isn’t on the top of my list of must-see places, though with his stories and your pics (I love public art, architectural elements, mosaics etc.) I must read up some more about it and see if I can make it work on my next trip to Europe.
You wont regret it, that’s for sure! Feel free to brows a bit, I’ve posted a series on Lisbon in last couple of weeks. Have a great time if you do go! 🙂
Lisbon’s historic downtown area including Alfama, Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto and Cais do Sodre are amazing areas to enjoy Lisboa at its best, all within walking distance to each other. Could not agree more!
To visit Alfama in particular and get the fisherman feel, visit Lisboa during the festival of St. Antonio, the patron of our city. The main days are 12./13. of June but don’t worry if you just miss it. There is mini festivals to honour St. Antonio in the streets of Alfama throughout June.
Don’t forget to listen to some Fado or explore the Fado museum in Alfama to understand why Fado was created by woman waiting for their fisherman to return.
Cais do Sodre is on the other side of our Praca do Commercial and has an exquisite fish market at time out market and I nearly forgot in April Praca do Commercio hosts a seafood market with some cooking every year. Now I really want to have some seafood for lunch 😉
Thank you for your detailed info! 😀
Agness of aTukTuk
I love Portugal, especially the tiles! Lisboa is spectacular!
Oh yes, I agree! 😀