LISBON - PORTUGAL
Lisbon is Portugal's capital and the hub of a multifaceted area that appeals to different tastes and senses.
In a city that has been influenced by many different far-off cultures over time, there is still a village feel in each historic neighbourhood. Stroll through the Pombaline grid of streets in the Baixa district that opens on to the Tagus in Praça do Comércio, then follow the river to discover some of the city’s most beautiful parts: the monumental area of Belém with its World Heritage monuments, the medieval quarters and the latest contemporary leisure spaces, such as the Parque das Nações.
If you continue to the mouth of the river, you'll understand why we say that Lisbon is the centre of a vast resort. Along the coastal road you’ll find beaches and beach resorts that combine villas and hotels from the beginning of the 20th century with marinas, terraces and excellent golf courses. Further along the coast you’ll come across world-renowned surfing beaches, but also the palaces scattered across the cultural landscape of Sintra, a World Heritage Site.
The wide variety of landscapes and heritage is always close by, whether to the north or south of the capital. With beaches, natural parks, cultural routes and accommodation for all tastes, it is hard to escape the Lisbon region on a visit to Portugal.
Fado is another expression of what it is to be Portuguese that has also been awarded World Heritage status. You can hear it at night in a fado house or in a traditional neighbourhood. But go, as well, to the lively bars and nightclubs, to find other types of music. From reggae to African music, new wave, indie or electronic, there’s a great diversity of sounds and environments, but all are good excuses to have a drink and dance the night away.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE:
1. Climb to the Castle of São Jorge and stroll through Alfama.
Anyone coming to Lisbon and not going to the Castle of São Jorge will have surely missed an unforgettable moment. It is the highest point in the city, set amongst the most typical of neighbourhoods. A unique opportunity to feel and understand the city’s relationship with the river Tagus.
2. Listen to Fado.
Whether or not you like the style of music, dinner by candlelight listening to fado in Lisbon is unmissable. Consider yourself lucky and do stop, if you hear it sung while strolling through some street in Alfama, Mouraria or Madragoa. This style is the so-called fado vadio, or amateur, sung when someone gets the urge to sing, with the guitars simply joining in.
3. Go to Terreiro do Paço.
The largest square in Lisbon and also one of the most iconic symbols of the city and its rebuilding after the great earthquake of 1755. Currently, it mostly offers a very pleasant walk along the river in the late afternoon. It is also a very beautiful view from the river as you pass on a boat.
4. Go up in the Santa Justa elevator.
You cannot miss it when you pass it while ambling through the downtown district. It offers enviable views over this old part of Lisbon, and it is a privilege to travel in this elevator designed by Ponsard, a disciple of the great master of iron works, Gustave Eiffel, more than a hundred years ago.
5. Take a tram ride.
The tram is a common means of transport for Lisbonites, but also one of the best ways to travel through the historic neighbourhoods. It looks good on any photo, and the sound of the trams running on their rails is one of the most characteristic of the city.
9. Visit the National Tile Museum and the Coach Museum.
These two museums are unequalled anywhere in the world. One tells the story of the tile in Portugal from its first uses on 16th century walls to the present day; the other has an unrivalled collection of carriages, with fine examples from the 18th century, exuberantly decorated with paintings and gild work.
10. Dine in Bairro Alto.
Lisbon is also known for its very lively and busy nightlife. After an afternoon shopping in the elegant Chiado district, there’s nothing like a late afternoon at one of the viewpoints of Santa Catarina or São Pedro de Alcântara, then staying for dinner in the Bairro Alto. It’s the place to be for those who enjoy a night out having fun.