Prague’s Old Town is awash with an array of colorful and intricately-detailed buildings, many of which are centuries old. We strolled the streets wide-eyed; we were in awe at every turn. However, as stunningly beautiful as Prague is up close, leaving the curving cobblestone lanes of the Old Town to seek out vantage points offered breathtaking landscapes. The rust orange rooftops, towering church spires and grand castle are spectacular from afar – perhaps even more so than up close. We found several scenic viewpoints in Prague – some natural, some manmade, some elvated, some at ground level – that provided sweeping vistas of the ornate city.
We have been enamored with the historic cities – Lecce, Kotor, Dubrovnik and Mostar – that we’ve visited in the past three months. While they are each unique in their architecture and culture, they are – to a degree – similar in their setting: the cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways and wide squares…and not a whole lot of green space. We’ve been smitten with these quaint towns, but have been craving some time in nature. Luckily, in Split, Croatia, we can reach an area lush with trees, scenic viewpoints and dirt trails by hiking Marjan Hill.
Not wanting to waste any time during our short one-week stay in Dubrovnik, on our first day – which was clear and sunny – we took the cable car to the summit of Mount Srd for a look at the sensational views of the Old City and Adriatic Sea. Rather than taking the cable car back down, we made the hike and were treated to even more spectacular views. But, instead of satisfying our urge for taking in the beautiful scenic outlooks, it only piqued our interest in finding another Dubrovnik viewpoint.
There are three miles of protective walls that wrap around Kotor, Montenegro, completely fortifying the triangular, medieval town from the sea-facing entrance up into the hills above it. Building the ramparts took more than 1000 years and include lookout towers and a castle. Looking up from the harbor, we could see the outline of the walls, a series of paths, a church that clings to the side of the mountain and the expansive castle at the top.
We were anxious to hike up into the hills tracing the path that follows the walls, but with a forecast of grey skies, we were holding off in hopes of better weather. By the afternoon of our third day, however, our curiosity got the better of us. The stairs that lead to our apartment are part of the walls; short flights, like switchbacks, pass several homes before passing under a gate and connecting to the main walking path that leads all the way up to the fort.
The hills of Lisbon are giving us a workout, but our reward (besides burning up all the calories from the wine and custard tarts) are the scenic viewpoints in Lisbon showing us the brightly colored city from different angles. Miradouros – lookout points – with shady terraces, sometimes accompanied by a small café, can be found all over the city and both tourists and locals frequent the spots.
In addition to the hillside views, many of the monuments and churches allow visitors to take a lift or hike to the top for rooftop views, but usually for a small fee. To keep our budget in check we often skipped on paying for the views, but indulged at a few places. With the hillside and tower views combined, we discovered 10 scenic viewpoints in Lisbon.