FOUR HOURS IN LISBON
A brief jaunt in the Portuguese capital
1 MOSTEIRO SAO VICENTE DE FORA
The centre of Lisbon isn’t large – even including its suburbs, the city’s population is only 6,00,000 – but it is hilly, and can get crowded with visitors. To make the most of your time, consider booking a guide – insidelisbon. com is good, with tours ranging from two hours to day trips outside the capital.
Use public transport to save your feet – the metro is excellent but the trams are best, taking you to Belem (your third stop), or from Baixa all the way to Campo de Ourique, passing through the historic districts of Graca and Alfama and making light of the hills (tram 28). If you are staying longer, the Lisbon card (€18.5/`1,432 for 24 hours) offers discounts on attractions as well as covering your travel.
You can catch tram 28 after your first stop, the Mosteiro Sao Vicente de Fora. Founded in 1147, this monastery houses the remains of several Portuguese kings, as well as beautiful frescoed rooms, chapels and galleries. It also has a rooftop with a stunning view over the Tagus river and the city. Largo de Sao Vicente; entry €5/`387.
2 PRAÇA DO COMÉRCIO
Every visitor to Lisbon heads for the Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square). Built after the earthquake and flood of 1755 that devastated the city, it has been renovated over the past decade so that the yellow stucco buildings and heroic statues can stand proud against the onslaught of tourists and selfie sticks. Running north is the shopping street of Rua Augusta.
You can pick up the metro here, but for a more scenic route take tram 15E west to Belem – a 15-minute ride with good views of the Tagus and of the waterfront. Before you do, stop for a drink under the arcade at Martinho da Arcada (Praça do Comércio 3), dating from 1782 and once the favourite haunt of Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa. Depending on the time of day, or your constitution, have a coffee or a
Ginjinha – the local cherry brandy, served chilled.
You could spend four hours in Belem alone, taking in attractions such as the 16th-century Belem Tower, the outstanding UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Jeronimos Monastery, and the Discoveries Monument, built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator, promotor of the Discoveries. Take time to check out the art in the Museu Colecao Berardo (open 10am-7pm; free entry; en.museuberardo.pt).