The charm of a city break to Portugal's capital city, Lisbon, is its combination of an incredible heritage with a wonderful, laid-back atmosphere. Once the centre of a great maritime empire, the modern city has re-emerged as one of Europe's most attractive destinations. During the Age of Exploration, Lisbon was one of the starting points for ships making their way into the unknown world. Discover this dynamic,
welcoming city and its coastline steeped in history, from the imposing Castelo de Sao Jorge – captured from the Moors in the 12th century – to the Manueline-era Jeronimos Monastery. Peek inside the baroque church of Sao Roque, and wander along the streets of the old Baixa district. After a tour of the city, Lisbon holidays offer quiet moments of relaxation in between surfing and swimming on the coast. If you’re in need of a nature-filled detox, breathe the fresh air at the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park on the Portuguese Riviera, or follow the banks of the Tagus estuary as it flows into the Port of Lisbon.
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What can you expect on Lisbon holidays that you won’t find elsewhere?
Lisbon's history has been marked by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and tragedy. The Great Earthquake of 1755 was felt as far away as Scotland, and devastated the city. Fortunately it was rebuilt with flair, centred on wide boulevards and numerous squares with fountains. Locals affectionately call the city of Lisbon ‘Lisa’, and it’s worth making the trip to the region just to see it. The Moorish style of the Alfama district will make you feel as though you’re strolling through the streets of North Africa, while the Manueline architecture of the Jeronimos Monastery will take you back to the prosperous years of the Age of Exploration. During the day, ride the canary-yellow, wooden interior trams that conquer the city's steep hills, and enjoy a bird's eye view of the city from one of its many viewpoints. Come night, head to the bohemian Bairro Alto neighbourhood that comes alive after dark, buzzing with rooftop bars and lively restaurants. Lisbon isn’t just an urban metropolis – it’s also a city of water. The Tagus flows through into the Atlantic Ocean around nine miles away. You can follow it to the coastline, discovering wild beaches, Mediterranean forests and plunging cliffs along the way.
Who is Lisbon best for?
City-goers who love places full of soul and life, as well as night owls who will revel in the joyous bars and restaurants of Bairro Alto. Art lovers can choose between contemporary galleries and older architectural masterpieces, while foodies will be at home with a sweet treat in one of the many pastelarias.
The best ways to discover Lisbon
- Jet to Lisbon for a long weekend and pick a boutique hotel in the heart of the city within walking distance of the city's top sites. Lisbon is set in a natural amphitheatre, surrounded by hills, and the harmonious blend of old and new has made it one of the most attractive cities in the world. Cable cars and traditional lift-towers link the upper and lower parts of the city. From vantage points such as the Castelo de São Jorge, perched on one of the hilltops, there are spectacular views over the tiled rooftops and the river Tagus.
- Walking the famous black-and-white mosaic pavements or catching a tram are the best ways to see the many treasures of Lisbon, from its churches and museums to the narrow backstreets of the Alfama - Lisbon's oldest district - and the great Praça do Comércio, the riverfront square.
- Fuel your city-break sightseeing at Lisbon's fantastic seafood restaurants, before enjoying the nightlife of this rejuvenated and atmospheric city.
- Plan a family getaway to Lisbon and consider staying around 30 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the capital – close enough to enjoy Lisbon, but far enough to combine cultural experiences with beach sports and fresh sea air for the little ones.
- Stay a little longer in Lisbon and you’ll be able to experience both the city and its surroundings. Visit Sintra and Obidos where you can stay in rustic, authentic mansions or pair your Lisbon adventure with a trip to Porto for a snapshot of two of the most beautiful cities in Portugal.
Special things to do in Lisbon
From honeymoons to surprise getaways a deux, Portugal - with its intimate spots that would inspire anyone’s inner romantic - is perfect for devoting quality time to a loved one. Along the Tagus, from Douro to the Atlantic, discover Porto, Lisbon, Coimbra and Bussaco. Stay in the heart of rolling sand dunes, or in the scenic countryside, complete with spa facilities and golf courses. Rose petals in the bath, a massage for two, wine-tasting, a picnic by the river or a secret swim in a secluded cove… Lisbon holidays are a lover’s dream.