I came to Lisbon on a cruise and I spend about half a day exploring the city, this article talks about my experience since my arrival to the city, what I did and what I saw during my time there. Find more about Lisbon shore excursions and Lisbon tours and what are the best option if you coming to lisbon on a cruise. One day in Lisbon is not enough to see all of the city, there’s a lot of monuments and history and great places to visit but I think I did a pretty good job for just one day!
All started at 09 a.m at the Lisbon cruise dock at Santa Apolonia, one of the main cruise dock in Lisbon I left the cruise with the usual my wallet and a camera ready to spend some time on land.
I have to admit the first few minutes were a bit attic, hundreds of passengers leaving the boat and at the doors of the cruise terminal another load of people trying to sell the usual tourist programs “hop on hop off” buses, “Tuk Tuk’s”, private drivers, excursions…but, for just for one day, spending money and time on the lines for this buses was not something I was willing to do. And for 20€ the main “hop on hop off” companies offers you two lines, you don’t have that much time to see all the thing in both lines and to hop off and see all the top attractions, and then wait again for the bus to go to another stop…it’s to much time consumed doing nothing!
I looked around to see if something would fit my desire, and I found it! A small Lisbon tour called Caravel on Wheels the stop it’s near the cruise dock and they offer you a complete tour of Lisbon in 1h45m. The small bus takes you to the city centre passing by the main historical neighbourhoods like Mouraria, Alfama, Baixa, Chiado, Príncipe Real, Rato, Estrela and after all that takes you all the way to Belém.
And this shore excursion was a plus, the bus it is so much fun, it was a shape of a “caravel”, a boat used at the time of the Portuguese discoveries, and “on board” you have an individual tablet installed on your seat, this tablet was the map of the tour and shows you videos along the way, talking about the history of Lisbon and of the main top atractions.
I felt like a true navigator of the seas sailing at the flavour of Portuguese history because the audio and the videos really take you to a different reality. I also loved the great playlist with fado and other traditional Portuguese songs.
The staff was great and helpful and it had no lines or huge amounts of tourist that can sometimes be really annoying. And for the same price of the normal “hop on hop off” buses I got a complete sightseeing tour, a different experience, great photos and secrets that I never would think knowing about Lisbon.
After that, they leave you back to the cruise dock, it was now around noon and I had already had a full Lisbon experience with Caravel on Wheels, the best shore excursion if you are just spending one day in Lisbon. I still had time to go for a walk starting for Santa Apolonia and exploring one of the 7 hills.
Following the Tagus river, I found “Largo de Alfama” and “Museu do Fado” from this place I saw two towers of a church so I went up. I found myself in the middle of Alfama seeing the little details of the small house, so very close to each other and so different from one another, until I reach de church of “S. Miguel” at Largo de São Miguel, one of the few churches that survived the 1755 earthquake.
Behind this church you can find “escadinhas” (stairs) of São Miguel, a local said to me that during the city celebration to Santo António, for all month of June, those stairs become one of the most visited “arraiais” in town.
Lisbon was several hills so the elevators that go from a part of the city to a higher or lower location are very frequent; one of this elevators is the elevator of Santa Lúzia that goes from the lower part of “Alfama” to “Portas do Sol”.
Pressed the button for the last floor and I landed in one beautiful viewpoint, a patio with a fountain and walls full of the traditional Portuguese tiles. If you go down this viewpoint you will find “Sé” but if you decide to go up there is another great and bigger viewpoint “Portas do Sol”. But in between, you can find a little gem two walls painted by the artist Nuno Saraiva, located at the arch of “Rua Norberto de Araújo”, named “História de Lisboa”( Lisbon History).
I stopped at the viewpoint bar call ” Miradouro Portas do Sol Drinks & Food” and at had “bica”, name given by the locals to an expresso, while I enjoyed the view to “Alfama” and the Tagus River.
Now the last run for my final goal! The pedestrian way to “São Jorge” Castle, in between buildings you can find a couple of stairs that will take you there. So I went up once again until I saw the entrance of the castle and I bought my ticket to one of the most beautiful views of Lisbon. The ticket for this monument is 8,5€ but it is worth the money because the view is breathtaking. Terreiro do Paço, Baixa, Convento do Carmo, Rossio, Martim Moniz, the bridge “25 de Abril”, even the statue of “Cristo Rei” on the other margin of Tagus River, everything in the same view.
Going down again I found myself back at Portas do Sol, but the discoveries are far from ending… at “rua de S. Mamede” I found the remaining of the great Roman city of “Olissipo”. The ruins of the ancient Roman Teather is right there, open to the public, behind a wall with a thousand faces.
I ended my journey passing by Baixa, the perfect thought reconstruction project by Marquês de Pombal where all the perpendicular streets go to Terreiro do Paço, the largest square I saw and right there along the margin of the river.
From there my history in Lisbon ended! In my memories, I took histories from a small but brave country and the understanding that why is Lisbon one of the most visited and popular capital right now, but Lisbon will never go out of fashion.
If you thinking about visiting Lisbon book in advance your tour for Caravel on Wheels!