Lisbonita III


The direct approach works!

This is how someone can spend 24 hours in Lisbon... (or how someone, getting older, can also cheat and put the activities of two days into one).

  • Wake up around 5am because of the heat, and then drift in and out till 8am as you realize, "Hey, I'm in Lisbon - I can chill."

  • Eat pasteis in the morning, small delicious pastries that you can find everywhere in Lisbon, and especially at the Pasteis de Belem, where lineups occur out the door every day.

(Not an original photo - I ate mine too fast)

  • Take a morning tram ride on the ubiquitous Tram 28, with all open windows and streets so narrow and winding that you get the sense you're on a slow-moving roller coaster. Tourists and local alike are here. In fact, most places in Lisbon seem to retain their authenticity by not being solely tourist-populated.

  • Make a trip to the Panteao Nacional, for some history lessons, spectacular rooftop views, culture, and cool respite from the mid-day heat.

Panteao Nacional

  • Go for a mid-afternoon stroll through the streets of Alfama, all winding and twisting with elderly ladies debating issues across the street from their neighbours, looking a little like happy prisoners taking to their cellmates.

An inmate at Alfama, making a point

  • Wade over to Oceanario, the sleek and impressive aquarium of Lisbon, with a big-time message of conservation that seems to have a little more weight behind it with the recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of fish and types of sea life here, including some impressive sharks and freaky-looking sea dragons.


  • Spend early evening at Miradorou do Adamastor, with families, friends, couples, classy older ladies and raving drunks all sitting atop a lookout over the city and the river. Here you can buy beer and other drinks and soak in the views.

Miradorou do Adamastor

  • Dinner follows in Bairro Alto, where it is about as touristy as Lisbon gets - that is to say, you'll see more foreigners here but it's not an over-the-top trap. Grilled sardines, the first non-meat meal I've had in 10 days. It was in Portugal that I was introduced to picanha by a friend - essentially four slabs of salty meat. On more than one occasion in recent weeks I happily had the meat sweats, barely discernible from the heat sweats.
  • At night you can stop at the Miradorou de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, with amazing views over the city amid statues and fountains. You could easily spend the whole evening here, drinking porto and watching the sunset. It's in the Bairro Alto area, a happening area with hundreds of restaurants and bars along twisting, hilly, narrow cobblestone streets.
From Miradorou de Sao Pedro de Alcantara

  • Late at night, it's off to Lux, a massive waterfront bar with a rooftop patio that overlooks the river, and two more levels including a thumping basement dancefloor. It's apparently partly-owned by John Malkovich, which for some reason made me feel cooler. But not younger.
  • Grab a cheap (and refreshingly scam-free) taxi back to Belem at 5am.