Some cities resonate more in us than others, and we feel that special connection, that compels us to return again and again. Like a powerful magnet, that directs our internal travel compass needle to its true north, some foreign cities just feels like home. Lisbon keeps Jocelyn Garwood coming back, and every time she discovers something new. What constitutes quintessential Lisbon? Are Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora and Estufa Fria worth visiting? Find out, when Jocelyn shows us the best of Lisbon, and why she’s in love with the capital of Portugal.
By Jocelyn Garwood
No matter what time of the year I visit Lisbon, I always discover something new and exciting!
My last visit was in summer 2021, and I again discovered new ‘favourites’: the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora and the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.
However, my greatest discovery occurred when I inadvertently happened upon Estufa Fria, tucked away in the northwest corner of Parque Eduardo VII. Despite having strolled through this park countless times, I discovered the Estufa Fria Botanical Complex only last year! I wondered how I could have possibly missed it on so many previous visits to Lisbon. But that just proves that there continues to be places worth discovering again and again.
Here are my favourite places in Lisbon, caught on camera. From the essentials to the undiscovered, in the hope that you discover something new, too.
Some cities give me cold pricklies; other cities give me warm fuzzies; and still others give me nothing at all. ‘Quintessential Lisbon’ is my ultimate collection of warm fuzzies, and includes many things.
There are the cobblestone lanes, the clothes drying on an outside line; the sidewalk cafés; and the old electric trams that still clank up, down, and around Alfama’s steep hills. There’s a wonderful simplicity to all these things.
In addition, there is the vivid street art – both above and below the street. It gifts me with creative images to appreciate, and new ideas to contemplate. And Lisbon just wouldn’t look the same without its Coffee kiosks, azulejo tiles, and skiffs on the Tagus.
The Monastery of São Vicente de Fora
The Monastery was founded in 1174 by Portugal’s first king, D.A. Henriques (1110-1185). Its founding was the result of a vow made to the martyr St. Vicente in thanksgiving for the successful recovery of Lisbon from the Moors.
Over the centuries, the monastery has undergone many transformations, resulting in the stunning structure we see today. And, stunning it is, as are the panoramic views from the rooftop!
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
This museum was established by Armenian philanthropist Calouste Gulbenkian (1869-1955). It houses one of the finest private art collections in all of Europe! (Gulbenkian’s biography makes for fascinating reading.)
The massive collection includes objects from antiquity to the 20th century: ancient Egyptian statues, Greek coins, porcelains from China, lacquers and prints from Japan, a wealth of Eastern Islamic Art, European paintings by great painters from the 15th to 19th century, and exquisite European decorative arts.
The artefacts in the Gulbenkian Museum are simply breathtaking!
Estufa Fria, within Parque Eduardo
I loved this place so much, I went back several times!
The Estufa Fria is a very interesting complex. It actually consists of three greenhouses: Estufa Fria (Cold Greenhouse) – the largest; Estufa Quente (Warm Greenhouse) – medium size; and Estufa Doce (Sweet Greenhouse) – the smallest.
Nested within a wider garden setting, the greenhouse complex is covered by special wood lathing roofing. It’s quite easy to forget you’re actually in a greenhouse. Some of the pathways give the impression of one actually being out there ‘in the wild’.
Want to find out more about Portugal?
Parque Eduardo VII
Named after King Edward VII of the UK., this park features a wide grassy slope and symmetrical box hedging. Located at the northern end of Avenida da Liberdade, it is very easy to find.
It’s always wonderful to stroll through this park, as there’s always something beautiful to see. It’s a particularly good location to catch a sunset. Took me a while to find out that the yellow building with the rather ornate façade is actually a sports pavilion.
I fell in love with Lisbon years ago, and nothing has changed! It’s been warm fuzzies all the way!
About Jocelyn Garwood
Jos is a female nomad (also a senior citizen who travels solo), born in Canada but citizen of the world. When she was on the morning side of the mountain, she just slung her backpack over her shoulders and set about hitchhiking. Now that she’s on the evening side of the mountain, she still slings her backpack over her shoulder, but no longer hitchhikes – too dangerous.
Follow this inspirational nomad as she proves that curiosity and a sense of adventure doesn’t have an expiration date nor a price tag.
If you want to discover more exciting places near Lisbon, check out Palaces of Portugal: Sintra or A Real Jurassic Park in Center of Portugal – only an hours’ drive from Lisbon.