Lisbon, surprisingly accessible

If Barcelona is my favourite city in the world, Lisbon, the Portuguese capital city,  follows it closely. I visited it a few years ago and I was totally enchanted by its magic and its breath-taking landscapes, as well as by the friendliness of local people.

Sure, when you think about Lisbon, with its tight and steep streets, with cobblestones and, often, without any sidewalk, the last thing you’d link to it is the concept of accessibility for who has motoric issues due to disability, age or anything else.

Yet, in these last years, also Portugal committed a lot to make this and other cities accessible to tourists and, first of all, citizens. Of course, there’s no way to change orography, but they’re acting where they can, starting from the public transport network. In addition to surface transit (including the unmissable tram no. 28) equipped with a platform to ease the access of people with motoric issues, Lisbon has one of the most accessible subway networks in Europe (luckily, since to go from the entrance to the platforms you’d often have to walk various flights of stairs…).

“To me, there are no flowers that can match the Lisbon chromatism under the sun” 

Fernando Pessoa

As regards monuments and attractions, indeed, if you must use a wheelchair, it could be tricky visiting the typical Alfama district, but Lisbon offers so much more to see!

  • São Jorge’s Castle, not that accessible for people with motoric issues, has ad hoc itineraries (and various resting areas to catch your breath), as well as the chance to access with guide-dogs for blind people.
  • Things go better in another “must see” for whoever visits Lisbon: the Belém district, fully flat and well paved, with the suggestive Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, where the church and the lower part of the cloister are fully accessible and there’s a tactile path for blind people. And, since you’re there, don’t miss the Confeiteria de Belém, to taste one of the symbols of the (excellent!) Portuguese patisserie: pastéis de nata (literally: “cream patisserie”)!
  • Another totally accessible part of the city is the area that hosted the Expo back in 1998. On the occasion of the global expo, the Parque das Nações district was built, reclaiming an ancient landfill on the Tagus. Here you can also get lost among gardens, museums (all of them are 100% accessible) and visit the Oceanário, the largest aquarium in Europe.
  • Also the main part of the city center can be visited without many issues: from Campo de Ourique, with its liberty architectures, to the congested Praça Marquês de Pombal, to reach Avenida Libertade and Parco Eduardo VII.
  • Do you want to take breath-taking pictures of the city panorama? Go to the Miradouro da Graça, fully accessible 24/7.
  • But you can’t leave Lisbon without doing at least two other things: a flying visit to the House of Fernando Pessoa, the poet and writer symbolizing Portugal, who also wrote one of the most beautiful city guides, and a night listening to fado, the Portuguese people sing which had in Amália Rodrigues its most famous interpreter. You can enjoy it “live” in many city places and restaurants.

Do you want to visit this wonderful city? Keep a check on the Portugal Acessível website by Associação Salvador, a “directory” of accessible places all over Portugal, constantly updated also through the users contribution. And beware of saudade!

Lisbon - Belem

Lisbon, Belém

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