The lists of the best things to do in Lisbon stretch on and on and on. We couldn’t do everything, and actually we could do very little since we had decided to limit our Lisbon outings to a total of four daytrips.
We took the lists and crossed off every place that was 1) difficult to reach, 2) crowded at this peak time of year (as we’d had enough standing in lines), and 3) not holding great interest for us. Four places rose to the top beginning with the….
Day 1: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
We’d never heard of the museum, but those who had visited were enthusiastic in their reviews. Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian (1869-1955) was an extraordinary and eclectic art collector, originally from the Cappadochia region of Turkey. The museum is actually in two buildings – one with the Founder’s Collection (international and mostly old works) and the Modern Collection (19th Century to the present). In between and around them are lovely grounds with water features.
We took a very pleasant lunch break, a block away, at Café Nepalesa. In the late afternoon, we celebrated a wonderful day of art at the museum café, sipping our drinks at a table on the outdoor terrace.
Why take the nearest metro train back and end the day so soon when we could further enjoy the late afternoon sun, taking a stroll through a nearby park?
Day 2: Wandering through Bairro Alto and Chiado
Instead of spending another day at a museum, we decided to stroll through some old neighborhoods in Lisbon to just see what we might see. We arrived at Cais Do Sodre train station on the Rio Tejo and wondered north. The streets turned to long flights of stairs upwards. We continued on. We didn’t check our map – we just kept walking.
We glanced up to see the sign “Rosa da Rua” and realized our wanderings had taken us – magically – straight to the restaurant where we had hoped to dine. What luck! Everything about the meal was quite splendid, and we left satisfied and happy.
We popped in to San Roque Church, visited a wonderful antique tile store on Rua Dom Pedro V, and then sat to rest in the Jardim do Principe Real in the shade of a great tree and listened to street musicians.
Day 3: Birdwatching with Birds & Nature Tours Portugal
Our guide, Bernardo, picked us up at the train station, and soon we were watching birds in the area near Alcochete, north of Lisbon. We explored places we never would have come to on our own, with birds just waiting to be seen.
A note about our day trips to Lisbon that you might have noticed: each day was quite different from the others. We don’t feel we really “saw” Lisbon as we might have, but really, who can in just a few days? But, we did get a favorable impression of the city, and we’re happy to say that there’s a lot more we’d like to see, worthy of a longer stay or return visit.
We’ll save the 4th day trip in Lisbon for the next post…stay tuned…..