Weekends Options for Expats in Lisbon
It’s the weekend and the perfect time to explore this enchanting city. In Lisbon, you can never be bored. There are numerous world-class museums and art galleries to visit. There are palaces and parks. There are historical landmarks and sites. There are traditional markets and classy shopping areas. There is so much to keep you entertained that your weekend will be over before you know it.
Visit the Tower of Belem
This historic 16th-century fortress sits in the middle of the Tagus River. It once guarded the entrance to the port and protected Lisbon. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and worth a visit. While you are in the district, head to the Pasteis de Belem and stand in line to buy the original Pastel de Belem, also known as Pastel de Nata. How many can you eat?
Alfama is one of the oldest districts of Lisbon, and you can spend a few hours exploring the enchanting maze of cobbled lanes and ancient houses. The photogenic streets are lined with craft shops and cafes. As this neighborhood is steep, you may prefer to take the historic Tram 28 that winds its way up to the 11th century São Jorge Castle. In the evenings, this is the place to head to experience traditional Fado music.
Miradouro de Santa Catarina
Visit this marbled terrace with scenic views over the River Tagus and the 25 de April Bridge. Enjoy a beverage while watching a spectacular sunset. Facing the river is a stone figure called the Adamastor. It is a mythical sea creature from the epic poem ‘The Lusiads’.
Enjoy the terraces
Head to one of Lisbon’s charming terraces to soak up some sun and enjoy a coffee with a Pasteis de Nata. There are many beautiful parks and terraces throughout Lisbon to take a rest and absorb your surrounding. Praça do Comércio is the most popular and faces the harbor. It’s south-facing, so you can always be assured a sunny seat.
Head twenty-five kilometers north of Lisbon to visit the magical Sintra. The majestic Pena Palace is perched there among the Sintra hills. This stunning Romanticist palace was built in the 16th century and then refurbished by King Ferdinand II in the 1800s. There is a regular train service linking Lisbon and Sintra. Bus 434 will take you from the train station to the Pena Palace, as well as Castelo dos Mouros, an 8th-century Moorish castle. A visit to Sintra makes for a great day out.
Twenty-five kilometers west of Lisbon is the pretty coastal town of Cascais. This town is conveniently reached by train. Enjoy a great day out exploring its busy port and winding cobbled streets of its old town area. A popular retirement area with opulent homes and top-class hotels gives Cascais a luxurious and glamorous reputation.
This fairy-tale walled town is eighty kilometers north of Lisbon. Medieval Obidos dates back to the 12th century and exudes charm and romance. A massive castle looms over this pretty conglomeration of white-washed cottages, shops, cafes, and winding cobble-stoned lanes.
One-hour drive east of Lisbon will bring you to this ancient town. Evora is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to many historical monuments and ruins. You can enjoy a full day exploring the impressive 12th-century cathedral and the Roman temple.
Museums and Art Galleries
There are sixty-two museums in Lisbon, and it is doubtful that you will visit all of them. Here is a list of the main ones.
Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga-MNAA is home to European and Asian paintings as well as, decorative arts from the 14th century to the present day. It also has a lovely garden terrace restaurant with views over the River Tejo.
Museu Berardo is a blend of modern and contemporary paintings and installations. Here you find works by Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Salvador Dali.
Museu do Design e da Moda is a must-see for lovers of fashion and design. This museum features haute couture from the 1930s and 1940s as well as fashions of the 1960s. Famous brands by Vivienne Westwood, Paco Rabanne, and many more are on display here.
Museu Nacional do Azulejo is a glorious museum dedicated to the iconic blue tiles seen throughout the city. Learn all about the history of the hand-made azulejo from the 15th century Moorish styles to the present day.
Museu do Fado is a museum dedicated to the magic of Fado music. Learn about the history from its origins in the Alfama to receiving international recognition.
Museu de Marinha is a museum dedicated to the maritime exploits of the Portuguese explorers. There are many model ships, charts and maps, naval uniforms, and all kinds of navigational instruments.
Museu Nacional de Arqueologia was founded in 1893, and it has the largest archaeological collection in Portugal. It has artifacts from the Paleolithic to the Middle Ages. Temporarily closed due to Covid-19, but expected to open its doors again shortly.
For more information on the above-listed attractions as well as opening times and entry fees, visit Lisbon’s official Tourist Information site.