Lisbon Travel Guide
Lisbon Travel Guide
The capital of Portugal has experienced a renaissance in recent years and has reclaimed its rightful place as the 'golden city' of southern Europe:
After slumbering for decades, the city's modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan identity is today much similar to that which it enjoyed in the 15th and 16th centuries during the age of the great discoverers, when Lisbon was the centre of trade with the East and the starting point for maritime exploration of the globe.
While much is new, there is plenty of the old left to charm visitors, giving the metropolis a slightly provincial air. The medieval section of Alfama skirts the city's São Jorge castle, and historic wooden trams ply noisily up and down steep hills past art deco cafes and mosaic-decorated pavements. Many of the relics of the city's golden age were destroyed in an earthquake in 1755, but some survived and are popular tourist attractions, complemented now by modern sights like the futuristic Oceanarium.
Within easy reach of the city are the sandy beaches of several coastal resorts, such as Estoril and Cascais, as well as the forested areas of Sintra and attractions like the extraordinary Mafra monastery. The mood of Lisbon is light and bright, fresh and avante garde, ready to welcome the world to the doorstep as one of the great capitals of Europe.
Best time to visit Lisbon
High season for a holiday in Lisbon is a long one, the weather being inviting and clement from spring right through summer to the autumn months, with warm days often continuing right through to November. Even if you travel to Lisbon in winter you will find it mild, rather than cold, but there is often rain in winter. Read more on Lisbon's Climate and Weather.
What to see in Lisbon
-Roam the oldest part of Lisbon, the Alfama quarter.
-Spoil the kids at the amazing Oceanario de Lisboa.
-Have a peek at one of Lisbon's most photographed sites, the famous Tower of Belem.
-Stroll through the winding, romantic streets of the Bairro Alto district.
What to do in Lisbon
-Ride in style on the famous Tram 28.
-Take a tour of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.
-Listen to some live music at Lisbon's famous Fado Bars.
-Picnic in the peaceful castle grounds of Castelo de Sao Jorge.
Lisbon's city centre can keep you very busy, but be sure to save a few days for exploring its surroundings. In just an hour or two, you can discover completely different worlds, from palaces to fishing huts, beaches to vineyards, these day trips show off the many faces of Portugal. One favourite excursion, only 15 miles (25km) from Lisbon, is the one of Portugal's oldest cities, Setúbal, as well as the gorgeous old town of Evora, which is full of fascinating historical sights. As the transport hub of the country, it is easy to reach other Portuguese cities such as Porto and Madeira from Lisbon.
Flights to Lisbon land in Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS), situated in the municipality of Loures. Get more information on Airports in Lisbon.
DID YOU KNOW?
-Beneath the streets of Lisbon's downtown shopping area lies a hidden Roman Underworld with chambers, rooms, bridges and corridors. However, it is only open to the public two days a year due to the dangerous conditions lurking below.
-At one of Lisbon's classic cafés, Martinho da Arcada, there are two tables that are kept empty and are permanently 'reserved'. One is for Fernando Pessoa (possibly Portugal's most popular writer) and another for the Nobel laureate José Saramago (possibly Portugal's least popular writer).
-Lisbon was practically destroyed on 1st November 1755 by a massive earthquake which hit 8.9 on the Richer scale. It took the lives of 40,000 people and could be felt as far away as Scotland and Norway.
Lisbon Cathedral © ChromaticOrb
Lisbon has somewhat rediscovered itself in recent years, reclaiming its rightful place as the 'golden city' of southern Europe. Much of this is due to the officials of Lisbon having elected to rejuvenate the city during the 1990s. This ongoing focus on the future has meant making the most of the attractions, both old and new.
One day can span centuries as visitors move between the picturesque medieval section of the Alfama district and historic São Jorge castle to being amazed by the spectacle of the futuristic Oceanarium of Lisboa.
Infrastructure has also been improved, with additions like the impressive Vasco da Gama Bridge across the River Tagus, which links the city's airport to a network of national motorways and has facilitated access to other parts of Portugal. There is also a new showcase railway hub, the Gare de Oriente, which is the pride of a new modern suburb on the east bank of the Tagus, creating an even better link between Lisbon and the rest of Europe. But if tourists really want to see the city in style, they must be sure not to miss a ride on the famous Tram 28, which winds its way through the oldest parts of the city and give visitors a feel of the history and rich culture which Lisbon has to offer.