Put on your Explorer’s Hat
Consider yourself an explorer? Come to Lisbon. Portugal is the home of Magellan , who led five Spanish ships and 251 men in the first round-the-world voyage, and Vasco de Gama, who discovered an ocean route from Portugal to the east, a feat that seemed impossible at the time. With a Eurail Portugal Pass in hand, you'll find traveling much quicker and pleasurable.
Located on the westernmost point of Europe, you'll arrive into Lisbon's Santa Apolonia Station . On the bank of the Tagus River in the historical district of Alfama, it's the city's oldest rail terminus building in 1865.
Some say you just need a day in Lisbon before taking off for the coast's famous beaches and golf courses. Don't listen. This city begs to be discovered all its own. Just try navigating around the narrow alleys in quaint neighborhoods.
The aforementioned Alfama district is the city's historic soul, with a maze of medieval lanes in which to wander. Here lies the city's oldest church, the Lisbon Cathedral . Dating to the year 1147, the church has been modified several times after surviving many earthquakes. The result is architecture of many styles: Romanesque, Moorish and Gothic.
Contrasting against the old village's whitewashed houses and wrought-iron balconies adorned with drying laundry, you'll find an area coping with an up-and-coming modernity. Right across from the train station is a new development, home to designer shops, restaurants and nightlife. Much different than the traditional Fado cafes you'll find deep in the district.
Fado is a music genre characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics. One of the more authentic clubs to hear this sorrowful sound is Baiuca de Alfama on Rua de São Miguel . With less than ten tables, you'll not find a more intimate experience.
The heart of the city is the the Baixa, or city center . Decidedly different from the Alfama, there are broad, elegant squares and pedestrian streets. Cafes, shops, old streetcars and street performers all lend a special charm to the area. Sit down at a pastelaria for a taste of nata , the country's famed flaky pastry filled with custard and topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon.
Excited to get on your way? We'll help make it easy and cost effective. The Lisbon Card gives you free travel on Lisbon's poblic transportation and includes trains to Sintra, Cascais and funiculars. Plus over 70 free and discounted offers including admission to the palaces of Queluz, Sintra, Ajuda and Mafra. Visit museums that chronicle everything from archeology to antiquities to tile. See Vasco de Gama's final resting place at Jeronimos Monestery.
We don't just make it easy to see Lisbon, our Eurail Portugal Pass gives you access to the rest of the country. Try bird watching in Faro , where its Ria Formosa lagoon nature reserve attracts hundreds of species of migratory birds. Head north to Porto, home to the eponymous wine. And those glorious coasts: Estoril and Algarve, where duffers come to lose golf balls in the Atlantic, and European sybarites shake off winter under palm trees.
But don't rush off to some fancy resort town just yet. Stay in Lisbon a while where you'll find more hilly, cobblestone streets to climb, cable cars to ride and an abundance of faded colonial architecture to admire. In other words, do what locals have done for centuries – explore.
Contributed by: Mick, Rail Europe French Bilingual Staff, studied in France and became a nomad backpacker in Europe.