When Jen and I decided to go to Lisbon, I didn't really know much about it other than photos of it looked beautiful, and it was a relatively warm spot to visit in October. I didn't expect there to be much to see, at least not in comparison to Madrid. And I felt like that expectation was confirmed by the fact that all the guidebooks were pocket guides, rather than full ones, Lonely Planet hadn't updated theirs since 2011, and the Rough Guides book I got raved about what a great city it was to sit at a cafe and people-watch.
Since Jen and I tend to end our trips with a city that is relatively slower and quieter rather than beginning our trips as such, I was a little bit worried that we would run out of things to do there. This is frankly a bizarre thing to be worried about, and as it turns out, there is a ton of shit to do and see in Lisbon, and it's all gorgeous.
In particular, I really liked the neighborhood of Belém. If I had to pick, I'd say it was my favorite part of Lisbon. For one thing, Belém is the home of the awesome Berardo Collection I told you about earlier this month. For another, it's by the water.
I love being by the water, whether it is the ocean, a river, a lake, whatever. We visited Belém on a crystal clear day, and from every spot in the area, we could see the 25 de Abril Bridge, which looks just like the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Christ the King Statue, which looks just like Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer Statue.
Coming from the center of town, our first stop along the water in Belém was the Padrão dos Decrobrimentos, an insanely beautiful sculptural monument in celebration of Portugal's 15th and 16th century explorers. Next, you see the Moorish Torre de Belém, and then you come upon the Combat Museum. If you want, you can take a quick drink break by the water like Jen and I did. Un-ironic hipsters sell cocktails and mocktails in mason jars by the water, and it's pretty damn perfect.
If you walk back along the other side of the street, you'll come upon the Cultural Center which houses the Museu Berardo. Following that, you can explore the massive and impressive Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (next to the National Palace of Belém, nbd), a Gothic-style monastery and UNESCO World Heritage site. Beyond that is the Jardim Botânico da Ajuda, a beautiful (and blissfully empty of tourists) botanical garden overrun by some crazy-ass peacocks. You can finish your trip to Belém on a sweet note, like we did, by nomming on some custard tarts (the Lisbon specialty pastel de nata) at a place known for them, the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém.
Check out gorgeous Belém!