Not only is Lisbon the capital of Portugal, its largest city, and a major tourist destination in Europe, it's also a great location for cityscape photography. Its hilly profile offers beautiful views of the narrow streets and Mediterranean architecture. All across the city, you'll find interesting photo spots, and in this article, I show you three of the best in Lisbon's center.
Getting Around Lisbon
If you're planning a visit to Lisbon, you'll most likely arrive at Humberto Delgado International Airport. From there, you can either head into the city via public transport or take a cab, which will cost you around $15 USD. To avoid additional costs, it's best to stay right where most of the photo spots are located, and that's in Alfama or one of the adjacent districts. From there, you can walk the entire center without the need to get a cab or Uber. The photo spots I show below can all be reached within a half-hour walk from any hotel in Alfama.
Miradouro das Portas do Sol
The arguably best viewpoint in Lisbon for sunrise is Miradouro das Portas do Sol. It's right next to the famous Santa Luzia viewpoint, which is nice, if you're interested in framing your shot with some columns. For an unobstructed view, though, head to the Portas do Sol and be there early in the morning. You'll then have plenty of space to set up your tripod and enjoy this wonderful view nearly by yourself. During daytime and in the evening, it gets very crowded there.
This viewpoint provides both opportunities to photograph with a wide and a long lens. With the latter, you can pick out many little details in Alfama, and it's the perfect option, if you don't have an interesting sky.
Miradouro da Graça
What the Portas do Sol viewpoint is for sunrise, the Miradouro da Graça is for sunset. From there, you can see the Castelo de S. Jorge, the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, and most of the city center. With a long lens, you can take wide panoramas from there. The only problem with it being a sunset location, you'll not be the only visitor up there. To secure a spot at the front, you should be there at least an hour before sunset.
Be aware that depending on the weather, you might stand shoulder to shoulder with other visitors up at this viewpoint, which, during a global pandemic, might not be the best thing to do. That's why after taking the panorama above, I quickly got out of there.
Tram Line 28
A great way to flee the masses is to photograph along the famous tram line 28 early in the morning. The length of this line offers several very photogenic views, and my advice to anybody who wants to photograph the historic tram is to spend a few hours walking along the line from the Baixa to the Alfama district. Just follow the rails and let your gaze wander, and you'll find views like the one below, which I photographed during blue hour in the morning.
Because there are many little bends along the tram line, you'll also find plenty of places where you can set up your tripod next to the street and still take photos that look as if you are standing right in the middle of it. For long exposures, find locations where the tram either has a regular stop or where it might stop at a traffic light. Otherwise, use higher ISOs and try to keep the exposure times at less than 1/60th of a second to properly freeze its motion.
Behind the Scenes
In the video above, I offer you a glimpse over my shoulder as I photograph Lisbon's center. I give tips on cityscape photography and show you how I photograph the historic tram.