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Lisbon is the second oldest capital in Europe and one of the first true cities of the world, therefore it is a delight to wander through its streets and appreciate its World Heritage monuments.
Located next to the Atlantic ocean, the Portuguese capital is blessed with sandy beaches and a milder climate so the weather is good all year around. Its seven hills surrounding the city guarantee scenic views wherever you are.
There is a variety of things to see and do – from visiting the beautiful churches to relaxing by the river – but the best way to gain an authentic experience is sipping a coffee in one of the many cafés by the water’s edge.
Visit Belem Tower – an iconic 16th century symbol of the Age of Discovery and Jeronimos Monastery – a magnificent monastery is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, with cloisters and a 16th century church – both have been listed as World Heritage sites.
For panoramic views of Lisbon, you have two options: visit Sao Jorge Castle (Saint George’s Castle), from atop the old battlements, you may feel like you have travelled back in time to Medieval Europe with the view over Alfama, the medieval neighbourhood. Or Basilica da Estrela where large white domes top this church so if you climb onto the roof you are guaranteed a panoramic view of Lisbon.
Lisbon is known for mixing the old and the new, nowhere is this more evident than in the futuristic neighbourhood of Parque das Nacoes, which is home to Europe’s longest bridge, a state-of-the-art aquarium and a casino.
If you want to be inspired by more historic beauty, Madre de Deus Convent has been turned into a museum showcasing the ancient decorative ceramic tiles inside the beautiful church. Whilst Sao Roque Church has a simple exterior facade that masks the golden masterpiece hidden inside. Decorated with the most luxurious materials, even the paintings around the chapel are actually finely detailed mosaics.
For a general stroll around Lisbon, the Parça do Comércio is a golden square on the riverfront which has witnessed a lot of history. Afterwards, head towards the nearby cafes with a view of the water to truly relax and appreciate the Lisbon way of life.
FOOD AND DRINK
One of the least expensive European capitals, Lisbon offers you a range of different neighbourhoods where you can experience their own unique culinary culture and nightlife.
The ‘bacalhau’ (dried, salted cod fish) is Portugal’s favourite dish, but there is a more than just seafood dishes, try Taberna Tosca (Praça de Sao Paulo 21) where you will find locals snacking on ‘pataniscas’ or cod fish fritters. Visit the neighbourhoods of Chiado and Principe Real for some good restaurants, such as Terra (Rue da Palmeira 15) which serves meat-free traditional dishes. If you have a sweet tooth, then you must visit the famous patisseries – Antiga Confeitaria de Belém (Rua de Belém 84-92) – which produces the delightful ‘pastéis de belém’ all day long.
Meanwhile, Bairro Alto is the bohemian quarter of Lisbon and home to its vibrant nightlife, infused with the soulful sound of Fado music – the traditional music of Portugal and particularly Lisbon. In Alfama, there is Clube do Fado (Rua S. Joao Praça 86-94) with the best live performance to be experienced with traditional dishes. The neighbourhoods of Cais do Sodre and Santos also offer for the best cocktail bars and trendiest superclubs to fit your tastes, try MusicBox (Rue Nova do Carvalho 21) – a club, bar and concert venue – or down the road there is Sol e Pesca (Rue Nova do Carvalho 44) – a bar with a fishy theme and snacks!