Postcards from Portugal: Lisbon, Cascais & Sintra

I traveled to Portugal in the last week of March and first week of April this year. It was my second time visiting Portugal. On this trip, I explored eight cities and towns and had a wonderful time with many new experiences.

Today’s post is the first of three in my Postcards from Portugal series. As usual, when you see an image gallery, click on an image to get a better view and use the arrows to move through the gallery.


I began my adventures in captivating Lisbon, one of the oldest cities in Europe, and known as the city of seven hills. Since it was my second time in Lisbon, I chose to revisit a few favourites at a leisurely pace. On Day 1, I took the metro to Rossio Square which is the liveliest area in Lisbon and the meeting place for the people of Lisbon and visitors.

Rossio Square with its Fountain (foreground), Statue of Don Pedro IV, the Soldier King of Portugal (centre) and Doña Maria II National Theatre built in 1842 (background).

On the perimeter of Rossio Square and its surrounding streets, there are many shops, bars and restaurants. I walked past Rossio railway station, to Restorers Square and all the way to the top of Edward VII’s Park to enjoy a magnificent view over the hills of Lisbon and the Tagus River.

Rossio railway station with its impressive façade, built in 1887

On Day 2, I headed to Commerce Square and the riverfront to see the Belém Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On my first visit to Portugal I had toured the interior of Belém Tower so this time I just admired its Portuguese Gothic (Manueline) exterior and the river views.

Belém Tower, built between 1515 and 1519

Near the Belém Tower is the 52-metre (170 ft) tall Monument to the Discoveries. It’s shaped like a ship, with 32 figures lined up on a stylized prow, representing personalities from the 15th and 16th centuries following Prince Henry, the Navigator. Only one of them is a woman, Queen Phillipa of Lancaster, who was Prince Henry’s mother.

My next stop is the Monastery of the Hieronymites or Jerónimos Monastery, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also in Portuguese Gothic (Manueline) style. I toured the monastery’s main church, the Church of Santa Maria. Its unique nave has six columns which are perfectly sculpted. The tombs of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama and poet Luis de Camões are in the church.

Jerónimos Monastery South Portal


On Day 3, from Lisbon, I headed to Cascais, a seaside town located on the Atlantic coast, about 25 km west of Lisbon. Historically, Cascais was the summer retreat of the Portuguese nobility. The trip from Lisbon to Cascais offers beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean, especially from Estoril to Cascais.

I got a good stroll around Cascais, along its palmetto tree-lined main street that leads to the beachfront promenade. There are many eateries and shops on the main street and food and souvenir stalls by the beachfront. The promenade has beautiful cream and black wave design as this is a seaside town. The beach and the main square started filling up with people by mid-day.

Tile mural (azulejos) showing Cascais beachfront promenade and villas


From Cascais, I continued north to Sintra, the ancient summer retreat of the royal court, highlighted by lavish romantic castles and stunning monuments. Since I had visited Pena Palace on my first trip to Portugal, on this trip I chose to visit Sintra National Palace, a 15th-century royal residence and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace contains one of the largest tile collections in Portugal.

Sintra National Palace

On Day 4, I headed to Évora, 140 km from Lisbon. More to follow.

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