Lisbon has a wealth of attractions, so it’s important to be strategic. Here are some hints to help you get the most out of the city’s points of interest, both famous and lesser-known, as well as some candid advice about sights that are wastes of time.
Sé Catedral de Lisboa
The interior of Lisbon’s Romanesque Sé Catedral is worth a look. (Its most interesting sections require the purchase of an inexpensive ticket.) Be sure to visit the atmospheric cloister, which, unlike many of Europe’s cathedrals nowadays, remains reassuringly crumbly and blackened by time. Archaeologists have excavated the large courtyard surrounded by the cloister, revealing a range of structures dating from the eighth century B.C. to the 14th century.
Sé Cathedral is not the only church you should visit. The Igreja de São Vicente de Fora has a beautiful collection of azulejo tile murals in its cloister, and don’t miss the ornate sacristy, the sumptuous Sala da Portaria or the eerie pantheon. The ruined Convento da Orden do Carmo looks straight out of a Romanticist painting, and the blasted baroque walls of the earthquake- and fire-damaged Igreja de São Domingos contrast memorably with its new ceilings. And if you’re in the Bairro Alto neighborhood, the elaborate Igreja de São Roque has rich gilt flourishes and an impressive trompe l’oeil ceiling.