Lisbon, Portugal (June, 2014) – Traveling without a plan is what I do best. Free from pesky travel companions, an willing to get lost without a map, I find that I am my own best guide when it comes to exploring an unfamiliar city. So when my ticket to France included a 17 hour layover in Lisbon, I saw this as an opportunity to explore a place I had never seen, and perhaps get lost in Lisbon’s charm.
To be fair, the city has much more to appreciate than a short layover could offer, but at least I got a good taste of Lisbon’s vibe, and know that I need to plan for a more leisurely return visit. That said, if strapped for time, Lisbon is an easy city to see on a tight schedule.
I began my day at 6am. After a quick breakfast, I took the morning bus into the center of the city, the Praca do Commercio. This giant plaza is located at the base of the city, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. From here you can admire the wide streets, beautiful architecture, and reach most of the city’s sights on foot. If you like to walk, you’ll notice that Lisbon is a photographer’s dream. The city is surrounded by steep hills (much like Lyon), and a traveler can wander for hours up and down the steps of its steep hills.
If you are undaunted by steps like I am, and have a couple of hours to spare, the Castelo Sao Jorge is a Moorish castle that sits atop the hill which overlooks the city, and is a medieval citadel whose earliest walls were built in the 2nd century. The castle is also a great spot to take in the panoramic view of Lisbon.
The hills are also the location of Se de Lisboa, a Roman Catholic cathedral dating back to the 12th century.
Overall, my time in Lisbon was too short. From what I could see in my limited time there, it is a city to explore. I wish I had time to take in a bull fight, and stroll down Avenida da Liberdade. With no time to shop, I settled for the city’s most important sights, but I will be back soon.