Why You Need to Visit Lisbon
Georgina Willcox | 01 December 2023
Known as the 'city of the seven hills,' Lisbon has a unique look and personality, making it one of Europe's most attractive capitals. It's a must-see destination during any holiday to Portugal.
A city break in Lisbon is perfect if you're looking for a quick escape. Even on a rainy day the Portuguese capital has its charms; from the intricate mosaic-like footpaths to enjoying a night out listening to Fado, Portuguese folk music. You can even visit the Lisbon Coast on a Travel Department guided holiday.
4 Main Reasons to Visit Lisbon
Experience the Colourful Districts
In the heart of Lisbon is the lively Baixa district which extends to the riverbank of the “Tejo” (Praça do Comércio). Rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755, it has an elegant architectural style which is good for wandering, shopping and people watching.
It is in this part of the city that you’ll find the Santa Justa elevator which takes you up to “Largo do Carmo” (Carmo Square) and rewards you with an incredible view of the city. Nearby, you will also find one of the best museums in Lisbon: The Carmo Museum.
The district of the “Bairro Alto” is an old residential area filled with many small restaurants dotted along charming, cobbled streets. Somehow, this friendly and lively area also manages to have dozens of tiny bars and clubs, including Fado bars.
“Avenida da Liberdade” is a cosmopolitan area with many designer shops and restaurants. It also contains fine examples of traditional architecture, monuments and statues representing key events in Portuguese history.
The Abundance of Historical Sights
Another quarter worth noting is “Belem”, packed with attractions such as the “Torre de Belem” and Belém Tower, the city’s most photographed landmark. Constructed in the 16th century, it overlooks the Tagus River and is one of the symbols of the ‘Age of Exploration’ for Europeans. Along with the marvellous Jerónimos Monastery and Monument to the Discoveries, this should be on the top of your list of must-see attractions when you visit Lisbon.
Another highlight is to take the iconic Tram 28 between Campo do Orique and Martim, which passes through all the key tourist districts of Lisbon.
Taste the Amazing Cuisine
Lisbon is famous for inventing the Portguese Custard Tart or ‘Pastel de nata’ and you will find it in every pastry shop, such as Pastéis de Belém. Founded in 1837, they use a recipe from Jeronimos Monastery and claim to sell nearly 30,000 a day!
Portuguese cuisine is well-known for its cod (locally called Bacalhau) which is considered a delicacy. You can also savour the delights of locally produced wines; you can easily find good Porto, white and red wines, and what the Portuguese call “Vinho Verde” (green wine). The latter is a sparkling wine that derives its name from the fact that the grapes used are 'green' and slightly under-ripe, but still delicious.
Escape to the Estoril Coast
If you’re looking to experience a holiday on the Portuguese Riviera, roughly 30km outside Lisbon you will find the town of Estoril, well-known for its stunning beaches. With its proximity to Lisbon and other towns, like the historic fishing port of Cascais, Estoril is a great holiday destination that has all of the charms of Portugal with a slower pace of life.
If you’re staying in Estoril, it is also worth considering a day trip to Sintra. You can see where the Portuguese Royal Family formerly spent their summers at Sintra National Palace, a beautiful 16th century palace that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fairy-tale town is located in the hills of the Sintra Mountains and is full of wonderful architecture.
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