If you’d rather head inland, Sintra is an unmissable bucket list tick for any visit to Portugal. A 40-minute train ride from Lisbon will take you to the heart of this little town, most famous for the Pena Palace, or Palácio da Pena. This brightly coloured castle is incredibly well preserved due to it never having been in any recent battles or bombings and, having been functional in the 19th century, is one of the few palaces you’ll see that was operational long enough to contain a telephone and collect the porcelain living room brickabrack to rival your nan. Getting to the palace takes you up a very steep, winding road which isn’t often walked. Buses are available for a fee, but a much shorter Uber ride will cost you around the same price and save you money if you’re travelling in a group. You can easily spend a day in Sintra once you’ve made your way from Pena Palace, with sites like the Castle of the Moors and Sintra Palace, museums, quaint shops and wine bars all on the doorstep of this little town.
Lisbon isn’t short on high points for panoramic photo ops – a benefit of being built on 7 hills. St George’s Castle, while not being free with the Lisboa Card, is discounted and will set you back about €7. As the highest point in the city, it’s one of the best views in town.
If you have the Lisboa Card, the highway bridge-turned-museum, Ponte 25 de Abril, is free to climb and will take you inside the bridge supports and construction – a mechanical engineers dream. The elevator takes you to the top of the bridge, inaccessible to pedestrians, and allows you to stand on a glass floor 80m above the highway, overlooking the Tagus River and the more residential side of Lisbon.
Elevador de Santa Justa will get you beautiful panoramic views of Lisbon from the opposite side of the old town overlooking St George’s Castle. Again, it’s free to those with the Lisboa Card, but try arriving early enough to avoid the long queues.
If you don’t have the Lisboa Card and would like the second best thing for free, there’s a museum right beside the exit of the Santa Justa viewing platform, and if you find your way to Museu Arqueológico do Carmo, you’ll be able to take in the same skyline. Alternatively, some of the best rooftop bars are Chapitô à Mesa and Bella Lisa Elevador, which offer great views for the entry price of a drink.