JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH BRUNO GOMES FROM LISBON, PORTUGAL !
Bruno Gomes along with his wife and their 7 years old son from Lisbon travel as a family. They have travelled around the world but only recently they decided to share their experiences on their family blog. When they are not traveling, they plan and dream of their next trip and they are very happy to know that they could instil the same love for travel in their son too. They love sharing their bitter-sweet experiences in and out of Portugal as well as encouraging people to start traveling with family.
Lisbon is the second oldest capital city of Europe after Athens. It has a warm Mediterranean climate. It’s built on seven hills and is stunningly beautiful with its Atlantic beaches, cobbled-stone paths, creative ceramic tiles, sound of Portuguese fado music in the air and variety of cod-fish dishes. Expect a lot of people in Lisbon no matter when you plan to visit it.
What is the best time to visit your city?
It is very difficult to tell the best time to visit Lisbon, it also depends a lot on what you are looking for. Lisbon is an old city, full of history and also with a wonderful climate, with around 300 days of sunshine all year round. Strolling through its streets can be done at any time of the year. In autumn and winter the town is filled with the smell of the chestnuts roasted by street vendors, and the city with romance and history. In spring and summer Lisbon acquires the most beautiful light in the world, with a blue sky that shines and gives charm to its historical streets, and that contrasts perfectly with the river Tagus, on the banks of which Lisbon is located, at its entrance the Atlantic Ocean.
Those who visit us in the summer also get the opportunity to laze on the local beaches, especially Cascais and Costa da Caparica, the most used by Lisboetas to enjoy the good weather of the city.
Which is the most convenient and favored transport of your city?
Lisbon is not the ideal city to drive. The locals, although correct in their driving, are not the most patient ones with those who do not know where they are going, so we always recommend the use of public transport, especially the metro, which can take us to practically all the places. We also have a good bus network.
For those arriving at Lisbon airport, life is easy because it’s located right in the city, which allows you to reach your destination quickly. Possible transport options are metro and buses that quickly and easily take you to your final destination. For those who will be putting up in the center of the city, taxi too is not an expensive option because it is a short distance from the airport.
Of course we have to recommend you to use tram in your stay at the city, especially the nº28 Tram, which is a perfect way to get to know the city. It passes through many of the best known places in the city.
What are the top three must visit places in Lisbon?
Lisbon is a city full of history but, unlike other cities, it has no attractions that are world famous. It is the whole set of small things that make it special, so we highly recommend you to let yourself loose in it’s streets. Each one has a bit of history and a lot of beauty. Of course we can give our top 3, but there is so much more to explore in Lisbon.
As for our Top 3, we would have to say that you can not miss:
Jerónimos Monastery, in Belém is most stunning symbol of Portuguese architecture, built during the Age of Discovery. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will find the world-renowned sailor, Vasco da Gama’s tomb inside it. Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route from Lisbon to India. Admire the Manuelino style in which the monument is built, or explore the cloisters of the monastery or the motifs and statues of Saint Jerome and Saint Mary of Bethlehem.
São Jorge Castle is located on the highest hill of Lisbon in Alfama. The hill is of the same name as that of the castle. This citadel is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon and can be reached by the popular tram no.28. The castle served as a fortification for the Romans, Visigoths and the Moors, who later turned it into a royal palace before it was undertaken by Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques. You can find a number of canons and a statue of King Afonso there. Though the castle got destroyed over the years, visitors can still climb its towers for the most breathtaking views of Lisbon.
Parque das Nações is the newly developed area on the Tagus River of Lisbon. You can spend all day here visiting Camões Theatre, Lisbon Oceanarium or the glass-roofed Centro Vasco da Gama. The Telecabine Lisbon Cable Car gives a bird’s eye view over over Parque das Nações. It is the perfect place to visit with your family. The Pavilion of Knowledge which is an interactive science and technology museum, attracts a lot of kids. There are also a number of cafes, restaurants and shopping centres there to keep yourself busy.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Lisbon?
We recommend at least 3 days to get to know the city of Lisbon, but if you can afford to stay more then even a week is less. Lisbon is a great base to know a great number of attractions that surround us.
The most visited attraction which one must visit without fail is the beautiful and historic town of Sintra, which is about 30 kms from the city center and is easily accessible by public transports.
For those who visit Lisbon and want beaches, you can easily reach them by public transport from the city center. The beach of Cascais, with its beautiful historic town and Costa da Caparica beach are the most popular ones. Cascais which was once a tiny fishing village is now known for it’s beautiful natural scenery, hiking paths and rugged surfing beaches. If you are not a beach fan you can spend time walking in the old town of Cascais, visit museums or explore the many historic buildings which add charm to the diversity of Cascais.
You can rent a car or arrange with tourist operators day trips to other areas of Portugal. We strongly recommend visiting the town of Évora, which will surely leave you enchanted with its historic buildings and its gastronomy. Also a visit to the West of Portugal is must. About 100 kms from Lisbon, you can visit the historic cities of Óbidos and Alcobaça, as well as visit the beautiful beaches of Nazaré, São Martinho do Porto and Foz do Arelho. For those who love surfing, we recommend the beach of Peniche, also located in the West of Portugal, only 100 kms from Lisbon.
What is the most celebrated holiday in Lisbon?
Lisbon is always celebrating, we are also known for our taste for nightlife, good food and good wine but there is a particular night on which the whole city feasts i.e. the Feast of Saint Anthony on the night of 12th and 13th June. The best is not to say that it is a night, because the celebrations are on for the whole week before and after the day of feast. This is when all the typical neighborhoods have their own parties, in which they try to be better than their neighbours. Together the whole city becomes one immense party, and it’s the ideal time to walk and experience the city on your own.
Also in one of the main avenues of the city there is a parade of dance schools, one from each typical neighborhood of the city, that compete for the title of winner every year. The party has a “queen”, that is the sardine roasted in the top of the bread, accompanied for the typical soup “Caldo Verde” and lots of beer and wine.
What is the most popular local food, savory and sweet of Lisbon? Is it a vegetarian friendly city?
The Portuguese love food, love talking about food and recommending their favorite dishes and the best places to eat. In fact, if you are invited to go and eat in an Portuguese’s house, and you want to be well received by them, you have to ensure that you eat all the food they offer you and say that you loved it. If you happen to ask for more, you will be so loved by everyone around you.
As for the dishes, Portugal is a country that is by the sea, and is perhaps one of the best place to eat fresh fish, especially the traditional Portuguese sardines, which have always been known as the fish of the poor but, are delicious to eat. It is especially eaten in the summer accompanied by boiled potatoes, a good salad and, of course, a good wine.
In addition to the fresh fish, we also have the famous cod that, although not fresh because it comes salted from the North European seas, is the number one ingredient of Portuguese cuisine. It is traditionally said that in Portugal there are more than 1000 cod recipes, and this is true, so we highly recommend it to anyone who visits us. Octopus is also widely used here. Personally, I highly recommend Octopus “À Lagareiro” and “Octopus Rice”.
However, it’s not only fish that we live on, you will find here many meat offerings too. We recommend especially the “Portuguese Cozido”, with several meats and typical Portuguese sausages. It is one of the best street food you will find in Lisbon along with a sandwich of Pork that we call “Bifana”, which goes perfectly well with a beer.
As for vegetarian food, this has never been one of the specialities of our gastronomy but, more and more vegetarian restaurants are appearing in the city and, almost all of our traditional restaurants now have vegetarian options.
Where to head for shopping in Lisbon? Are there any popular weekend markets which tourists should visit?
Lisbon has so much to offer when it comes to shopping compared to other places in Europe. Of course there is everything here, for all the price ranges. For those who want to visit the most famous shops, we recommend a walk along Avenida da Liberdade. The popular names in the fashion world can be found there.
However, we have to recommend an unforgettable experience in Lisbon, which goes through visiting the Feira da Ladra. This is the most famous street market in Portugal, where everything from antiques, to new and used articles are sold. You can find everything here from small articles such as toothbrushes, to large as refrigerators. It is held on every Tuesday and Saturday in the Campo de Santa Clara, next to the National Pantheon and your visit will be a unique experience.
For those who enjoy big shopping malls, the most famous in Lisbon are Colombo, Vasco da Gama, Amoreiras and Dolce Vita Tejo. But, for real bargains we recommend that you leave the center a little. Instead go to the Strada Outlet or Freeport, on the surroundings of Lisbon.
What is the local souvenir or specialty of Lisbon?
The best souvenir of Lisbon has to be the local handicrafts, especially tiles. It’s a part of our identity and can be seen while strolling through the streets.
Which are the best streets of Lisbon worthy of taking a stroll on?
Getting lost in the streets of Lisbon is the ideal way to spend time in the city. Of course there is so much to recommend, namely walking through the Alfama district. You can also explore the Chiado area until you reach Bairro Alto. Or descend into Avenida da Liberdade until you reach the Terreiro do Paço. If you still have time, walk along the Tagus River from the Paço terreiro to Belém. Walking up Lisbon’s hilly streets is a good exercise for your calf muscles but it’s worth the effort.
In case you get lost, let yourself free to discover the beauty of the streets around you. Do not worry at all, we assure you that Lisbon is one of the safest capitals of the world.
Can you suggest a place where one can get the best view of the city?
I would recommend three.
You can get the most traditional but extraordinary view by climbing the beautiful and historic Elevador de Santa Justa. You can also take advantage of the terraces that were recently inaugurated.
Alternatively you can go to the Castle of São Jorge to see Lisbon, especially the Tagus River.
Lastly, the most recent of all, which is the Amoreiras 360º Panoramic View. From the top of the highest building in Lisbon you can see the whole city. It won’t fail to marvel you.
Would you suggest any shows in Lisbon to drama, music or art lovers? Where can one spot street art in the city?
Lisbon is awakening to street art. Much thanks to Vhils, a Portuguese artist who is one of the biggest names in the world in street art. Street art is also one of Lisboa’s greatest attractions because of the way it mixes history with modernism. We advise you to visit Bairro Alto and walk through the neighborhoods of Graça and Chiado. To admire the best street art of Lisbon this is where you should be.
Also from an artistic level, Lisbon is enroute to the greatest musical spectacles. There are numerous visitors who come to our city to attend international concerts and festivals. Some festivals of excellence are Nos. Alive, Super Bock Super Rock and Rock In Rio Lisbon.
How difficult is it to travel in Lisbon without knowing the local language?
Younger strata of the population speaks fluent English. Besides Portuguese people are known for their helpful nature and hospitality. If you are planning a visit to Portugal you have nothing to worry about knowing Portuguese.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Lisbon?
Nowadays it is increasingly difficult to travel without the help of our smartphone. For taxi we recommend Uber or Mytaxi, but for those who walk underground Metro Lisboa will help you discover the route to reach your destination.
If you wont have internet, we recommend that you download the the map of Portugal from MAPS.ME so you can use it freely during your walk .
To find out what’s best in the city, we recommend using the Viral Agenda App.
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