Recently, a colleague asked me to suggest an exotic but safe destination. His underlying meaning of “safe” was a place in Europe (for health and government stability reasons). He also wanted to choose a country that his wife would count as a “real” vacation – she wants to feel far from home and explore another culture (and not just the beach).

So, I pondered…what’s slightly off the beaten path, fairly easy to get to, cultured, and accommodates the need to fulfill exotic desires?

PORTUGAL!

With Lisbon as your starting point you can jaunt throughout the country to see medieval cities, scour beautiful palaces, climb an old Moorish castle, relax at the beach, head to wine country, or simply stay in Lisbon and explore. Lisbon is a wonderful city with lots to see which remains high on my list of favorite destinations I’ve traveled to thus far.  Although there is no Coliseum, Parthenon, or Eiffel Tower that visitors flock to, I was surprised at how many sites could easily be deemed a “must-see.”

Here are a few of my favorite photos taken in Lisbon highlight things on my “must-see” list:

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Above is Terreiro de Paco, a beautiful square on the edge of Lisbon that has cafes, touristy vendors, and amazing gelato. It’s a pleasant place to sit down, pull out a good book, grab a coffee, and put on your sunglasses so you can do some hardcore people watching.

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We ferried across the bay to a statue that looks much like the one that adorns a hill overlooking Rio de Janeiro.  Once there, we got the million dollar view of Lisbon and, as an added bonus, we got to act goofy in front of the statue:

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A certain “must-see” while in Lisbon is the Torre de Belem:

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The Torre de Belem is an old defensive tower and a symbol of Lisbon’s past. You can explore inside and climb up the winding staircases to the top for an amazing view which lends itself to beautiful photos like the one below of Karisa.

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To get to the Torre de Belem, you walk along a narrow pathway surrounded by water.  The path starts with a giant compass engraved in stone and adorned with the statue “Padrão dos Descobrimentos,” an  intricate statue celebrating Portuguese explorers.

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Topping my list of “must sees” is the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a beautifully hand carved marble monastery. The artistry at this monastery is comparable to the carvings in the Egyptian palaces in Luxor and Aswan. It’s simply stunning (and there are so many nooks and crannies for great photo opportunities)!  Here are some of my favorites from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos:

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The final tourist stop for us in Lisbon was Castelo de São Jorge.

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I’d recommend that you climb to the top of the castle tower which offers sweeping views of Lisbon’s terracotta rooftops.

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Lastly, I’ll leave you with a couple photos of the streets of Lisbon.  The city streets themselves were beautiful to walk around and explore: marble sidewalks and tiled buildings wonderfully worn with decay.

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Would you like to visit Lisbon?  I’d be surprised if the city didn’t become a special place in your catalog of travels.

This post was written by FWTG contributor, Crystal Doro.

Related Posts: What NOT to do in Porto, Portugal

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