"The capital of Portugal, Lisbon has experienced a renaissance in recent years, with a contemporary culture that is alive and thriving and making its mark in today's Europe. Perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon is one of the rare Western European cities that face the ocean and uses water as an element that defines the city. Lisbon enchants travelers with its white bleached limestone buildings, intimate alleyways, and an easy going charm that makes it a popular year round destination."
In this post I am going to give you an exciting travel guide on what to do and where to stay in Lisbon!
*Why a trip to Lisboa is definitely worth it*
In the summer months, Lisbon swelters under a cerulean blue dome. ‘A praia’ (to the beach) sings out from the city’s sun-kissed, begonia blossomed streets as surf boards are stacked on top of cars and everyone makes for the beachy ‘burbs of Cascais and Estoril – 20 minutes drive from the city-centre. The aim being to cool off in the frosty Atlantic, get some sand between their toes, and tuck into the seaside classic of a plate of garlicky ameijoas (clams) washed down with a tumbler of brain-freeze cold lager.
Set against the ever-present backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean, this dainty sun-kissed city lives in a Latin fairytale of timeworn manners and traditions.
Just check out the century-old wooden trams and iron funiculars that still lurch and rumble their way among the seven steep hills over which this city lies. Or witness the best of this bygone heritage by wandering through the Baixa district, where age-old herbalists, haberdashers and tailors rub shoulders in the baroque streets of the ornate city centre.
*When to go*
Rarely too hot or cold, Lisbon is a year-round destination. The first buds of spring usually appear around late February while the last puffs of the Sahara-warmed winds keep the mercury high well into November. Much of the city shuts down in August, when many restaurants and bars close and locals escape the steamy city for the cooler Atlantic shores.
British Airways flies from Heathrow, EasyJet from Gatwick and Luton, and TAP Portugal from Heathrow, Manchester and Gatwick.
From the airport, taxis to the city centre take 25 minutes and should cost about 12 Euro. The Aerobus 91 (3 Euro, 8am-8pm) departs every 20 minutes from outside arrivals, takes 30 minutes and stops and picks up from Pombal, Avenida da Liberdade and Praça do Comércio – all in the city centre. Public buses 44, 45 and 43 (about 1.15 Euro, 7am-9.30pm) depart from outside, go to the city centre and take around 40 minutes.
The city has a pretty comprehensive network of metro services, buses and funiculars cost about 1 Euro. The tram service has recently been hiked up to 2.40 Euro, making it a largely tourist-only experience these days. One-day travel passes allow unlimited travel on all the above. They cost around 3 Euro and can be bought at any metro station.
These are very useful for getting around the suburbs and out to the city’s fantastic beaches. The train to Cascais and Estoril departs from Cais do Sodré, the train to Sintra from Rossio station. Both servoces depart every 20 minutes, take 40 minutes and cost about 1.50 Euro.
The undisputed highlight of the waterfront Belém district is its 16th-century monastery, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. It was commissioned to trumpet the discovery of a sea route to India by Vasco da Gama, now interred in the lower chancel.
Nova Pombalina invariably fills up around midday for its leitao – a suckling-pig sandwich, served at lightning-fast speed. Other popular fillings include prosciutto and roast chicken.
*Eat and drink*
Stone walls, low lighting and twisting corridors are the hallmarks of Fabulas, a cavern-like café preparing imaginative salads, pasta, burritos and hamburgers. It’s a worthwhile place to linger with a coffee or bottle of wine.
Located near Teatro São Luiz, Café no Chiado is a laid-back café specialising in Portuguese classics, such as bacalhau à brás (cod, scrambled eggs and julienne potatoes) and arroz de pato (oven-cooked duck with rice). Tram 28 rattles past the terrace.
A lively bistro, Santo António de Alfama wins the award for Lisbon’s loveliest courtyard – all creeping vines, twittering budgies and fluttering laundry. The menu includes gorgonzola-stuffed mushrooms, and roasted aubergines with yoghurt.
Olivier sees chef Olivier da Costa prepare French-inspired dishes amid gilded banquettes and low-hanging chandeliers. Favourites include duck magret with port-wine sauce, and fish, prawns and spinach in puff pastry.
Overlooking São Domingos Square, Lisbon Story is a small, welcoming guesthouse where rooms have Portuguese themes: one celebrates azulejos, while another pays homage to the country’s greatest writers, and comes complete with a typewriter. The shoe-free lounge, with throw pillows and low tables, is a nice touch.
The family-run Casa de São Mamede is an 18th-century villa with stylish flourishes – a red carpet graces the stone staircase, while tinkling chandeliers crown the exquisitely tiled dining room. Large, serene rooms also sport period furnishings.