As one of the oldest cities in the world, Lisbon was ruled by Germanic tribes as far back as the 5th century then captured by Moors in the 8th century. In the 12th century it was reconquered by the crusaders and since then the city has been a centre of politics, culture and economics. Always maintaining its interesting blend of old and new, Lisbon is a city to be explored.
Beautiful architecture can be found throughout the city of Lisbon due to its rich history with displays of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque construction. The older architectural style in the outer districts was elaborate and is mixed with the elegant 18th century style seen in the town area. Its seven hills mixed with both ancient and modern, run down to the Tagus River shores and it is a city with museums, shopping and great dining. The pretentious palaces and ancient churches merge with the contemporary buildings making it a city interesting to everyone.
In the heart of the city are three interesting and eclectic districts to explore. Baixa is a grid of squares and streets where you can find street vendors, cafes and traditional buildings. Up the steep hill to the west are the districts of Chiado, an elegant shopping area and Bairro Alto, a district full of unique boutiques, restaurants and excellent viewpoints. The city has many other interesting districts as well, each one telling its own story, making for a fun, exciting and picturesque city to visit.
Throughout Lisbon you will find many museums of modern and ancient art including the Carmo Archaeological Museum and the Nationla Museum of Contemporary Art. Although Lisbon is full of sights to see, one of the best things about this city are the steep streets that are great to walk and explore especially with the use of the funiculars, a service provided to make for easy access to the upper and lower sections of the city.
For some relaxing, Lisbon has miles of sandy beaches nearby, including the secluded Adraga to the south, ranked as one of the best beaches.
- Getting around
The public transport systems in Lisbon are very reliable and far-reaching if you plan to travel out of the city on your own. The Metro is one of the better ways to get around greater Lisbon, and is cheap and quick. Beige taxis are readily available throughout the city and are metered. Although cars can be easily hired, the city of Lisbon is steep making driving difficult at times and parking can be awkward.
A great way to discover the city is by walking its narrow streets and getting immersed in the different stories that each road tells. Since the historical part of the city is built on seven hills, it can be too steep for cars and bicycles and therefore you can use the convenient funicular services that transport you to different levels from the lower part of the city to the upper.
- Beyond Lisbon
A visit to the fairytale town of Sintra makes for a delightful day with its old Moorish castles perched high on craggy cliffs and richly hued palaces and towers coloured in pinks and yellows. Often found in a mist to add to its magical beauty, you can enjoy a walk through the countryside and view the monasteries or visit the Heritage Site with numerous archaeological remains, mostly from the Roman period.
The riverside area of Belem, located about 5 miles west of Lisbon has many historical architectural structures such as the 16th century limestone Tower of Belem, which sits on the Tagus River. While in this town a visit to the Pasteis de Belem will not disappoint with its tearoom known for their spectacular custard tarts.
- Local activities
Gaze into the past from Evora
A visit to the town of Evora, located about 2 hours drive from Lisbon, won’t leave you disappointed. It is full of very well preserved prehistoric monuments from every age throughout history including The Temple of Diana, which dates to the 2nd century. The main square, which has its own dark history is now a place filled with shops and beautiful townhouses while cathedrals and museums are dotted throughout the town. Nearby are caves with Cro-Magnon work dating 15,000 years ago and massive Neolithic stone circles.
Romance and castles
Obidos is known especially for being a romantic medieval town that was a wedding gift from King Dinis to his queen in 1282. Today it is filled with cobbled streets, whitewashed buildings and colourful houses covered in bright bougainvillea. The picturesque town is nestled inside 45-foot high protective castle walls. If you arrive in July, the town recreates a medieval fair complete with costumes, music and drama and in November is the International Chocolate Festival.
From Cascais to Estoril
For a bit of elegance, visit the beach town of Cascais, which was enjoyed by European nobility in the early 20th century; the Castro Guimaraes Museum demonstrates the upper class ambience that was once here. Now a cosmopolitan city with designer shops, restaurants and chic pedestrian streets, the once quaint fishing village can still be felt at the daily fish auction. A boardwalk connects Cascais to its similar neighbouring town of Estoril making for a beautiful walk.
- Local cuisine and drinks
The food is full of flavour and a wide variety of spices are used in most dishes the fiery chilli peppers, piri piri. As it is located on the sea, fish and seafood is common fare including the salted cod that can be prepared hundreds of ways. Chicken and pork is often found in stews and the Portuguese like their sweets and desserts after a meal.
- Where you are docked
The port of Lisbon had three cruise ship docks. Alcantara and Rocha Conde de Obidos are located less than 2 miles to the west of the city centre and the other dock, Santa Apolonia, is located in the other direction less than one mile. As you are based in the centre of the bustle, you can walk in any direction as a perfect start to explore this intimate, compact and friendly city.
- Regional weather
The climate in Lisbon is very appealing experiencing very mild winters, plenty of sunshine and warmth for the majority of the year, earning Lisbon the title of most popular Portuguese holiday destination.