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A gracious city of steep hills and cobblestoned streets, Lisbon offers stunning views of the city and the immense Tagus River from various lookout points sprinkled all over the city. Beyond making for great photo opportunities for professional and amateur photographers alike, these scenic outlooks—some a part of tourist attractions, others simply places to stop and enjoy the view—are worthy destinations simply for relaxing and chatting with friends and passersby (an activity at whichlisboetas excel).

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Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon

Castelo de Sao Jorge, Lisbon

Castelo de Sao Jorge
Probably the most obvious destination for great views is the Castelo de Sao Jorge, the most-visited tourist site in Lisbon. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth checking out. Originally a Moorish castle, the sprawling complex was a royal residence, a prison, and an army barracks before being restored in the 1930s. Gardens, towers, and ramparts offer almost limitless perspectives of the city, the Tagus, and the landscape beyond.

Miradouro Santa Luzia

Miradouro Santa Luzia

Miradouro Santa Luzia
Lisbon has several miradouros, established public lookout points with terraces, parks, and often cafes. The sun-washed Miradouro Santa Luzia offers a view of the red-tiled roofs of the maze-like Alfama neighborhood, framed by a romantic flower-covered colonnade. Set into the ledges of the terrace are beautiful blue-and-white examples of the famous Portuguese tiles, or azulejos. The little garden by the Santa Luzia church just behind the terrace is also a good spot for photos, with its rectangular pool and flowering trees.

Miradouro Santa Catarina

Miradouro Santa Catarina | Flickr CC: 1ivia

Miradouro Santa Catarina
At the edge of the trendy Bairro Alto area, the Miradouro Santa Catarina attracts a young, bohemian crowd quietly drinking and smoking into the late hours and congregating on the steps leading to the wide, curved terrace. From here you can see down to the Port of Lisbon, but the people-watching is the real photo opportunity. This spot is also known as the Miradouro do Adamastor for the craggy sculpture of the giant in the Portuguese poet Luís de Camões’ “The Lusiads.”

Scene from Cafe de Garagem

Scene from Cafe de Garagem | Photo courtesy of Heather Kenny

Cafe da Garagem
The Cafe da Garagem is a good choice for photos when it’s too chilly to linger outside. A hidden gem, it’s located inside the Teatro da Garagem, a building perched on a hillside north of the Castelo in the Mourarianeighborhood. Grab one of the spots next to the wall-to-ceiling windows, order a drink or a snack, and snap away at the view of homes and buildings both old and new. Make sure to check out the props from past theater productions hung on the walls as well.

Elevador Santa Justa, Lisbon

Elevador Santa Justa, Lisbon

Elevador Santa Justa
You can access the elegant Elevador Santa Justa, a stories-tall cast-iron tower built in 1902 by a follower of Gustave Eiffel, from the ground floor in the bustling Baixa neighborhood, or you can cross over to its upper floors via a vertigo-inducing covered wrought iron bridge that connects it to the beautiful ruins of the Convento do Carmo across the street. Either way you will be awed by the 360-degree view from the platform on top, perfect for photos and videos.


Cachilhas | Flickr CC: Harold Navarro

Boca do Vento
For a day trip, catch the ferry across the river—a ten-minute trip—to Cacilhas, where a walk along the abandoned docks takes you to the base of the modern (and rather ugly) Boca do Vento elevator. For a small fee that covers both the up and down trip, you get a gorgeous stories-high view ofLisbon across the river from the viewing platform. But hang on tight to your camera: as the name suggests, it gets very windy here.

Cristo Rei monument, Portugal

Cristo Rei monument, Portugal

Cristo Rei
Also across the river is the dramatic Cristo Rei monument, a statue of Jesus Christ with outstretched arms that was inspired by Rio de Janeiro’s famous mountaintop sculpture—Christ the Redeemer. An elevator will whisk you up 269 feet to the viewing platform at the base, which offers grand vistas in all four directions. This is also a great opportunity for a good shot of the 25 de Abril bridge, aterra cotta-colored suspension bridgeoften compared to the Golden Gate.

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Tagged: Europe, Photo essay

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Heather Kenny

Heather Kenny

Heather is a Chicago writer with a serious travel jones. She draws comics occasionally, blogs sporadically, and tweets quite often at @heatherkenny.

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