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Vue sur Lisbonne et le château Saint-Georges, Portugal.

- © Sean Hsu / Shutterstock
Lisbon
Lisbon

Western escapade on the banks of the Tagus

Lisbon in short

With its steep streets, picturesque buildings, rich culture and pleasant climate, the city of Lisbon is an essential stop on a trip to Portugal. Located on the banks of the Tagus River, the city enjoys a beautiful environment and maintains its reputation for good living. It is guaranteed to be a good time. Whether as a family, a couple or with friends, the Portuguese capital has so much to offer in terms of culture and gastronomy.

The streetcars of Lisbon, Portugal.

- © Sean Pavone / 123RF

Located on the shores of the Straw Sea, the city of Lisbon is a shimmering, gold-tinged city. The city has seven hills offering visitors several viewpoints and a thousand sights to discover. The narrow streets that plunge towards the Tagus, which glows on the horizon, look like a postcard setting. The atmosphere of the Alfama, where the fado resounds day and night, invites us to the sweet melancholy that floats around. As for the artistic and bohemian Bairro Alto district, it becomes an essential place for your evenings in the city. Lisbon can be discovered on foot or on board its mythical public transport, such as the historic Tramway No. 28 or the various lifts (Santa Justa, da Bica or da Gloria).

Wander through the popular districts of Rossio, Chiado and Bairro Alto. In the evening, taste the Ginja (alcohol made from cherries) in the Ginjinhas, small typical Lisbon bars that are a real institution in the city. A place of exchange, where all the social classes of Lisbon mix with tourists. You can drink a glass of ginja on the pavement in a friendly atmosphere. Don't forget to try the gourmet version, in a tiny dark chocolate shell... a "Mon Chéri" only better!

Batch of bottles of Ginjinha, the traditional Portuguese liqueur.

- © Fotokon / Shutterstock

Overlook and admire the city from the top of its many lookout points (Santa Catarina, Santa Luzia or Portas do Sol lookouts). You can also discover Lisbon from the Tagus by taking a cruise. At nightfall, you can take a trip down Pink Street, in Cais do Sodré, which borders the sea. Bars, clubs and trendy restaurants attract Lisbon's youth. If you like Portuguese cuisine, don't hesitate to visit the gastronomic hall of the Time Out Market or sign up for a cooking class at LX Factory, the creative and trendy district. Once you've cooked up some good food, you can enjoy it with friends over a glass of wine or a Super Bock, the local beer.

Food Market Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon, Portugal.

- © tichr / Shutterstock

In terms of culture, the Portuguese capital has many monuments. The first thing to do is to walk around the various districts to get a feel for the city's atmosphere. Then you can visit the Sao Jorge castle (since August 2009, a lift has reached the castle and access is free). The Sé cathedral is also well worth a visit. Also worth seeing is the Belem Tower, an emblematic monument of Lisbon. Discover the Jeronimos Monastery, a jewel of Manueline art. It has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1983.

Rua Augusta Arch, located on the Praça do Comércio, is a real urban jewel overlooking the Tagus. At the top, you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the city. Finally, children will love 'swimming' amongst the penguins, rays and other fish in the enormous Oceanarium, one of the finest in Europe! The latter is located on the site of the 1998 World Expo. It is organised around 5 poles and 5 different ecosystems.

Arco da Rua Augusta on the Place du Commerce, Lisbon, Portugal.

- © Katvic / Shutterstock

Other areas close to Lisbon to discover if you have time, Sintra and Cascais. Sintra is a small town only 50 minutes away by train or car. A word of advice, opt for the smaller roads and not the motorway to better discover the peninsula. Popular with kings and the Lisbon bourgeoisie for its pleasant climate, Sintra offers visitors many architectural treasures to discover. Villas, palaces (such as the Pena Palace), 'Palacio Nacionaland', and 'Quinta de la Regaleria', where you can discover the Freemasonry rites.

Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Lisbon, Portugal.

- © essevu / Shutterstock

As for Cascais, it is mainly coveted for its magnificent beaches, also accessible by transport. Surfing enthusiasts can enjoy the coastline, where numerous surfing spots attract professionals every year. Beginners can learn to surf in one of the many surf schools along the coast. And for the non-sporty, the city offers other treasures such as the Santa Marta lighthouse museum, set on rocks at the water's edge. It takes about 30 minutes by train from Lisbon. The rails run along the coast... it's sublime!

The lighthouse at the Santa Marta Museum in Cascais, Lisbon, Portugal.

- © Bruno Pereira da Silva / Shutterstock

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The must-sees

All the must-sees

How to get there?

Lisbon is a very well connected destination. Many airlines offer flights from UK to this destination at very attractive prices. You are bound to find the city that suits you and the time that suits you best.

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Where to stay?

On the accommodation side, there's no shortage of that in Lisbon. The city is full of hotels and flats to rent for your holiday. For those on a tight budget, there is also the option of a youth hostel, where you can find very comfortable rooms at affordable prices. As a small alternative, if you already know the city and this is not your first visit, you can cross the Tagus and sleep on the other side, on the peninsula of Setubal, opposite the Belem Tower in the Quinta do Tagus Village in Almada. The location is beautiful, as are the views of Lisbon and the river. This 6-room Quinta offers a country atmosphere while being only a few kilometres from Lisbon.

Our selection of the 10 best accommodations by district in Lisbon
Lisbon
Our selection of the 10 best accommodations by district in Lisbon
Lisbon is a great city to live in practically all year round, which is why the capital attracts so many people every year. As well as the beauty it exudes, with its colourful alleyways...

Practical information

When should you go?

Lisbon is a year-round destination. For the more chilly, the periods to favour are spring (late April to June) and early autumn (late September to October). It can be very, very hot in the summer, but overall the city benefits from a refreshing breeze from the Atlantic that makes the atmosphere very pleasant. Beware of busy periods such as spring and autumn, it is better to plan ahead and book in advance.

Documentation

You must ensure that your passport is valid before departure. For unaccompanied minors, you must fill in an authorisation form to leave the country, which is available from the town hall or police station.

Health

Portugal holds the "Clean & Safe" label, which is a guarantee of compliance with health requirements. There are no particular risks to report when travelling to Lisbon. However, it is advisable to update the usual vaccinations, i.e. diphtheria-tetanus-poliomyelitis, but also rubella, mumps and measles. Remember to look into insurance to cover any health concerns. If not, you will need to keep the invoices and other receipts which will be used to reimburse the costs on your return.

Currency

As this is a European Union country, the local currency is the Euro. You can exchange money before you travel or upon arrival.

How do you get around?

The destination lends itself to escapades of a few days but also to longer stays. To make the most of this destination, don't hesitate to take to the sea once you're there; nearby destinations are accessible by train or ferry. It is advisable to use this mode of transport as parking is scarce in some towns, such as Sintra. If you prefer to travel on Portuguese roads and not be dependent on bus or train timetables, you can hire a car but remember to book early. July and August are particularly busy and prices soar (3 or 4 times the original price).

The Lisboa Card

To visit the city, consider theLisboa Card, which allows you to use all public transport and also to enter many of the city's museums and monuments for free. You can find all the information about Lisbon and its region on the tourist office's website.

What to bring back?

If you like alcoholic specialities, don't hesitate to taste and bring back the Ginja. It's a Lisbon aperitif, made from cherries. It is excellent. It is drunk in the many Ginjinhas. Another culinary speciality, and not the least: Pasteis de Nata. These are excellent flans sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar (to be eaten warm) that can be bought in the famous pastry shop located not far from the Jeronimos monastery. You can easily find it by seeing the people queuing on the pavement.
You can also bring back embroidery, lace, household linen, ceramics, jewellery or azulejos, those famous little blue tiles. Of course, Fado lovers will find a large selection of CDs. Don't forget that Lisbon is also the ideal city to find the right shoes! Many shoe shops are scattered around the city.

For sardine lovers, a stop at the Conserveira da Lisboa is a must. There are many tins of sardines, mackerel, etc., decorated with retro packaging. On the other hand, the prices are quite high. A more affordable alternative will make people happy. The sardine being the emblem of the city, many objects derived from the sardine (key rings, plush, ceramics...) can be brought back as souvenirs. You can find some very modern ones, particularly in the Avida Portugesa shops. 

Another unusual place to find some objects is the industrial sector of LX Factory. Numerous design and fashion boutiques and a magnificent bookshop have taken up residence in the city's old factories, near the docks, under the 25th April bridge.

To bring home some goodies, head to the Mantegaria e Bacoalharia Siva delicatessen in the Rossio district. It is one of the oldest and most famous in Lisbon. It is also the last one in the city, and you will come across many Lisboners who are regulars of the place and the owners. It is the same family since its creation. People come here to buy cold meats, cod, wine and other local specialities. Of course, the city's markets (Campo de Ourique, Da Ribeira, but also the market in Setubal) are ideal places to find good Portuguese products such as cheese (which will be vacuum-packed for you to take on the plane), pastries and cold cuts. It's enough to make your mouth water before your departure!

lightbulb_outline Editor's tip

Take good shoes as the city can be visited largely on foot but for that you have to go from one hill to another and it climbs!

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