Lisbon is a gem of a city yet Portugal’s capital is still considered a hidden secret compared to popular Portugal regions such as the Algarve. Cosmopolitan Lisbon offers many cultural delights and historic attractions but it’s also a city that exudes a youthful and vibrant atmosphere.
Lisbon offers a frankly stunning location on the banks of the River Tagus on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The city’s gothic architecture, antique trams and leafy, narrow winding lanes offer a charming atmosphere rarely found in other destinations. A Lisbon short break may be ideal for sightseeing and relaxation but it also has plenty to offer lovers of nightlife and food. If you are still looking for your favorite European city then this enchanting city definitely deserves a visit.
Getting around Lisbon
Lisbon is Portugal’s largest city but the center is fairly compact and easily traversed by foot. However, one of the best ways to enjoy the sights is to take one of the city’s traditional trams. Using the tram system means you can jump on and off wherever you like and in the process you can view some of the best Lisbon sights such as the city’s historic quarter, the Alfama, with its medieval streets and the majestic St George’s Castle. If you’re looking to view Lisbon from a different perspective then take a River Tagus cruise and see the city illuminated at night.
A city of museums
As you would expect from a capital city, Lisbon offers many museums most of which are the opposite of the sedate artefact houses found in other capitals. Head to the Belem district to enjoy modern and contemporary art in the Berardo Collection Museum or learn about the history of Portuguese exploration at the Museum of the Orient located at the Alcântara waterfront. Although not actually a museum, the well-preserved medieval Carmo Convent, which was almost ruined during the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, is worth a visit. Sunday is one of the best days to visit Lisbon’s museums if you are on a budget as many are free to enter.
Lisbon for food lovers
Unlike many other major cities, Lisbon has managed to avoid the tourist trap restaurants. This is a city where the locals dine out frequently and this is reflected in the low prices found in most restaurants. It’s hard to go hungry in Lisbon although you will usually have to wait until around 9pm or later until dinner is served. Traditional Portuguese cuisine is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean so expect plenty of spicy meats, poultry and seafood dishes washed down by some delicious Portuguese wine.
Lisbon may be a relaxing destination by day but at night the city does come alive and this is a destination where people love to party. For the most vibrant nightlife atmosphere head to the Bairro Alto region which, with its narrow streets, colourful buildings and buzzing nightlife, is reminiscent of party-loving Havana. During the weekday evenings and especially at the weekends, this area becomes a street party with the locals moving from restaurants to bars to nightclubs. Do as the locals do and sip the ubiquitous cherry liqueur known as ginjinha and spend some time listening to live bands playing traditional Fado music.
About the author: Travel writer Carrie Lincoln has been travelling through Europe for nearly all year.
Images by Chris Yunker and Ullisan used under creative commons license.