What to see in Portugal
Tourist attractions Lisbon
Spread across seven hills on the banks of the Tagus Estuary is the Portuguese capital of Lisbon. The westernmost capital in Europe and the only capital on the Atlantic coast, Lisbon has a unique character and appearance; a masterpiece, crafted over many centuries. Known for its colourful hill-climbing street trams and Ponte 25 Abril bridge, which connects the capital to the municipality of Almada, if you travel to Lisbon you’ll have the chance to explore one of the oldest cities in the world, with countless historic sights to discover.
Lisbon skillfully fuses bustling city life with laid-back beach culture, with a string of rugged and beautiful Atlantic beaches just a stone’s throw away from the city centre. An important centre of culture, finance, education and international trade, Lisbon’s total area covers more than 100 square kilometres, so there are limitless places to visit if you choose a Lisbon city break.
This vibrant capital boasts a gorgeous Mediterranean climate, so you can expect mild winters and very warm summers. The best time to visit Lisbon is during the spring when you can soak up the soft spring sunshine and do plenty of sightseeing!
Home to diverse neighbourhoods and atmospheric squares, Lisbon is the perfect choice for a city-break or even a longer vacation. Easy to navigate on foot, the city’s comprehensive metro system or by catching the iconic Lisbon trams, the best way to experience the city is to get out and explore.
You can’t travel to Lisbon without getting excited about the local cuisine. Lisbon is a nirvana for foodies and is at the cutting edge of Portuguese cuisine. The bounty of Atlantic seafood is put to good use in the city’s restaurants and you can find excellent eats in both high-end restaurants and down-to-earth food markets. Of course, a trip to Lisbon is incomplete without indulging in a Portuguese custard tart, known as pastéis de nata, or two! Apparently, the Pastéis de Belém sells the most authentic version.
Although beautiful in the daytime, Lisbon springs to life at night. Lisboetas love to enjoy the cities bars and terraces late into the evening, so be sure to venture out after dark to absorb the electric atmosphere if you visit Lisbon.
What to see in Lisbon
There are many things to see in Lisbon but a good place to start is in the old neighbourhood of Alfama, the most traditional Bairro in the city. The steep cobblestone streets are flanked by colourful buildings and charming local cafes, each street revealing, little by little, the stories of days gone by. Sat in the shadow of Sao Jorge Castle, Alfama is famously the birthplace of Fado, a traditional style of Portuguese music. A morning spent exploring Alfama is sure to be a highlight of any tour of Lisbon.
At the very top of Alfama, you’ll find Sao Jorge Castle, which has kept watch over the city since the 5th-century when it was constructed by the Visigoths. Modified and extended over the centuries, it remains an emblem of the city today. The best miradouro, or viewpoint, in the entire city, head there at nightfall for a truly spectacular view.
Lisbon is known for its grandiose city squares, and perhaps the most famous is Praca do Comercio, or Commerce Square, once a centre of maritime trade and part of Lisbon’s seafaring heritage. Built on the site of the old Royal Palace after it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755, the square is lined with vibrant yellow buildings and home to a number of monuments and landmarks such as the Rua Augusta Archa and a statue of King Joseph I.
Local life revolves around the city’s plazas, and Rossio Square in the Baixa neighbourhood is the best place to soak up Lisbon’s lively cafe culture. A meeting point for both locals and visitors, Rossio Square is packed with restaurants, cafes and bars. The square is filled with the hubbub of groups of friends and families on long summer nights and if you can bag yourself a table, its the perfect place to sit back and soak up of atmosphere whilst sipping on a glass of fine Portuguese port.
At the heart of any trip to Lisbon is the Tagus River, and along its banks are countless places to sit and admire the views out towards the Atlantic Ocean. The neighbourhood of Belém is the most closely linked to the river and the Belém Tower stands testament to this. Built in 1520 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, over the centuries this ornate fortified tower has served as a lighthouse, a customs house and as the ceremonial gateway to the city. Carved in limestone, the exterior is a fine example of Portuguese Manueline architecture and features the famous rhinoceros gargoyle, thought to be the first sculpture of such an animal in Western Europe. A real icon of the city, a vacation to Lisbon would be incomplete without taking in the details of Belém Tower and the nearby Jerónimos Monastery, which shares the same architectural style.