One really cool thing to do while in Lisbon is taking a Yellow Boat Tour on the Tejo river. It guarantees you amazing views which you otherwise won’t be able to see.
The Yellow Boat Tour in Lisbon
Starting point at Praca do Comércio
Go on board at the starting point close to the city’s main square Praca do Comércio. You can’t miss it. The tour signs are all yellow. It operates everyday between May 1st and October 31st.
Try being well toward the front of the queue, it garantees you a seat at one of the tables along the sides. Even though feeling the fresh breeze in your hair can be extremly fantstic, nothing is more annoying than freezing while trying to enjoy yourself so bring one or two extra sweaters.
After setting sail the boat crossing the Tejo before making its first stop in Cacilhas. Depart here to climb to the Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei. I haven’t done that due to time issues but I’ve heard that from up there you have a glorious view on Lisbon’s skyline and the Ponte 25 de Aprile.
A glimpse of Lisbon’s harbor
During the 13th century the first regular boats sailed from the Mediterranean to Northern Europe via the Strait of Gibraltar. Due to its remarkable geographic position along the Portuguese coast all of them made a stop at Lisbon. Over time the port became part of the international maritime routes.
In the 17th century the harbor of Lisbon gained fundamental importance as a port of call and for example wood, sugar and gold from Brazil were unloaded in the Portuguese capitol. The following photos show the section between the Belém Tower and Santa Apolónia that has been inauguriated on 31st October 1887.
Today he port of Lisbon is the biggest one in Portugal and both a commercially and a tourist oriented venue. The activities are carried out on both banks of the river but all the recreational docks and cruise terminals (Alcantra, Santa Apolonia and Jardim do Tobaco) are located on the north bank of the Tejo River.
San Francisco feeling below Ponte 25 de Aprile
One of the highlights of the Yellow Boat Tour is the ride below Ponte 25 de Aprile. Put your camera away and close your eyes for a moment. Breathe in the salty air and then breath out again. Open your eyes and enjoy the scenary.Its architecture may look familiar to you and indeed, for a second, even I thought I had been in a parallel universe on the west coast of the United States.
But the closer I came the more I noticed some obvious differences in the design. The Golden Gate Bridge has horizontal, Ponte 25 de Aprfile cross-shaped red pillars. Take a look at the landscape proportions and pay specific attention to the painted ocean animals on the bridge’s pedestal.
The bridge connects Lisbon and Almada on the other side of the Tejo river. With a length of 3,2 kilometers it’s the world’s second longest suspension bridge for road and railway traffic. On the upper deck there are six car lanes, the lower one carries two train tracks. Only the Tsing-Ma-Bridge in Hong Kong can top that.
Arriving in Belém
The second stop on the tour is Belém. This quarter of Lisbon is most famous for its custard tarts but it also hosts two amazing monuments: The first one is Padrão dos Descobrimentos, the Monument to the Discoveries, celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16the centuries and is located where ships departed to explore and trade with India and Orient. This 50 meter high but narow monument is much higher in real life than what it looks like on pictures.
Imagine the Portuguese navigator statues being three times the size of an average adult height. The discoveries by the local navigators increased the boarders of the known world – the earth wasn’t flat after all – and made Lisbon a key port for global commerce.In 1487 Bartolomeu Dias reached and passed the Cape of Good Hope. In 1497 Vasco da Gama set sail from Lisbon and returned two years later after having discovered the maritime route to India. This trip and others helped Lisbon become a rich country and placed Portugal in the limelight.
If you get off at Belém, don’t miss the opportunity to overview the area from on top the Padrão dos Descobrimentos. Close nearby stands Torre de Belém, a boot-shaped defensive tower from the 15th century. It’s one of Lisbon’s emblems and it also offers you have a pretty nice view over the bay, even though the sight from the Monument to the Discoveries in my opinion is much sweeter.
After stopping at Belém the Yellow Boat Tour is doing a u-turn and without further interruptions on its way back to Praca do Comércio. Driving below Ponte 25 de Aprile for a second time is even better than the first time. You can also see some of Almadas nature on the other side of the river, which is refreshingly nice in comparison to the narrow streets in old town Lisbon. Maybe even some sailing ships cross your sight.
Glorious views on Lisbon’s skyline
One of the main reasons I booked this tour were the terrific views on Lisbon’s skyline. The colorfulness of the houses, the different architectural styles and the terracing of some of the seven hills. If you haven’t already thought Lisbon was pretty beautiful now the city will truly tantalize you. There is so much to see the following pictures can’t even do the city justice. One and a half hour after setting sail the Yellow Boat Tour drops you off at the starting point.