Destinations / City Breaks / Lisbon
Steep, narrow streets and magnificent architectural features are the hallmarks of Lisbon and the city is at the same time grand yet modest, ancient yet modern, but always warm and friendly.
The capital of Portugal, Lisbon is a glorious city to discover and first-time visitors will delight in the wonderful historical buildings, broad avenues and busy maritime port. Built on seven hills, Lisbon is located at the mouth of the river Tagus (Rio Tejo) and from the dizzy heights of Bairro Alto, walking the cobbled alleys, mosaic patterned pavements and tiled facades, is to see Lisbon at its best. The launch pad for voyages of the intrepid explorer Vasco da Gama, Prince Henry the Navigator and Ferdinand Magellan, who gave his name to the Magellan Straits, little wonder Lisbon is also known as the City of the Explorers.
Today, intersected by the brilliance of the local yellow trams which trundle along, everything in the city seems alive and vibrant. The medieval Alfama district, Gothic Cathedrals and Torre de Belem represent just a tiny proportion of the architectural treasures the city holds. The thrillingly shabby-chic area of Bairro Alto is home to hosts of trendy coffee houses, open air cafes and music bars, all clinging to the vertiginous streets and all the while, the haunting and melancholic strains of the traditional "Fado" music insinuate throughout.
For all shopping fiends, Lisbon is a paradise. Teeny gift shops, local artisan stores and modern malls will feed the frenzy of materialistic maidens. The most westerly European capital, Lisbon is unique in many ways. As the aristocracy moved to the seaside resorts of Cascais and Estoril in the hot summer months, royalty were already ensconced in magnificent palaces in the sweet village of Sintra.
Worthy of day trips from the city, Lisbon itself can hardly be bettered as a venue for strolling along atmospheric streets, people watching from a smart cafe, admiring fabulous architecture or just soaking up the delicious continental flavour that Lisbon imbues.