Lisbon. City in Portugal, Europe

Lisbon

City in Portugal, Europe

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Lisbon

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Lisbon at
	Night - Lisbon
Lisbon at Night - Lisbon. Photo by Werner Kunz
Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is one of the Europe's oldest capital cities and once home to some of the world's greatest explorers such as Vasco da Gama, Magellan, and Prince Henry the Navigator.

The city enjoys a wonderful setting. Spread over a string of seven hills north of the Rio Tagus, is a fascinating and inspiring place to spend a few days. It is the trams, steep hills, and the waterfront location that make Lisbon sound like San Francisco, the illusion is almost complete with a spectacular red suspension bridge spanning the Tagus (Wikipedia Article) River. In the oldest neighborhoods, stepped alleys, whose street pattern dates back to Moorish times, are lined with pastel-colored houses decked with laundry.

Much of Lisbon was rebuilt after 1755 when a powerful earthquake leveled nearly two-thirds of the city.

Wander through the Baixa district, where age-old herbalists and tailors rub shoulders in the Baroque streets of the ornate city center. To see the new face of the city, head for the suburb of Oriente.

Built for the Expo '98 World Fair on reclaimed riverside wasteland, this area is home to cozy waterside restaurants and bars, the impressive Oceanarium (Wikipedia Article) and some futuristic architecture.

The traditional center of Lisbon’s nightlife is the Bairro Alto. Bars and clubs in Alcântara and the docks tend to attract older visitors.

One of the great things about Lisbon is that you're only a short train ride away from magnificent beaches, green forests and amazing country views - the fishing port of Cascais, the golden sands of Sintra and the stunning views from Almada should not to be missed. Its mild climate makes Lisbon an ideal year-round destination.

Castle of Sao Jorge, Lisbon -
	Lisbon
Castle of Sao Jorge, Lisbon. Photo by Pedro Szekely

Attractions

Torre de Belém -
	Lisbon
Torre de Belém - Lisbon. Photo by Mário Tomé

Castelo de São Jorge

Towering above Lisbon, the hilltop fortifications of Castelo de São Jorge is one of the city's most popular attraction. Its oldest parts date from the 6th century, when it was fortified by the Romans, Visigoths, and eventually the Moors. The castle's name commemorates an Anglo-Portuguese pact dating from as early as 1371. The standout attraction is the panoramic view over the city’s red rooftops to the river from the well-preserved ramparts, as well as beautiful gardens where peacocks, geese and ducks strut around.

Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

This 16th-century monastery is one of the few surviving examples of medieval Manueline architecture - the style of architecture that bears the king's name, combines flamboyant Gothic and Moorish influences with elements of the nascent Renaissance - is listed, along with the Torre de Belém, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main attraction is the delicate Gothic chapel that opens up on to a grand monastery. This is also the resting place of bothexplorer, Vasco de Gama, and national poet, Luís de Camões.

Torre de Belém

The fortress of Torre de Belém epitomizes the Age of Discoveries. A symbol of maritime Lisbon was built between 1514 and 1520 on what was an island in the middle of the Rio Tagus, to defend the port entrance. The interior of the Torre de Belém is kept very plain. Store rooms for weapons and food were set up on the ground floor. The upper storeys housed the Governor's Chamber and, above that, the King's Chamber with a small chapel above. If you scale the steps leading to the ramparts, you'll be rewarded with superb views across the river and of the western part of Lisbon.

Oceanario -
	Lisbon
Oceanario - Lisbon. Photo by Nelson L.

Oceanário

Lisbon's Oceanarium is one of the world's largest aquariums constructed as a central feature for Expo ’98. The Oceanarium is divided into four large tanks that represent the four major oceanic ecosystems that are found throughout the world, with a massive central tank. About 100 species from around the world are kept in the central tank and include: Sharks, Rays, various species of Tuna, Barracudas, Groupers and Moray Eels, and one of the main attractions is a large Sunfish. To avoid the crowds, visit during the week or early in the day.

Parque das Nações

Park of Nations, the former Expo 98 site, lies on the northeastern riverfront. The main highlight is the Oceanário, though there are plenty of other attractions, from water gardens to a cable car, as well as bars, restaurants, and shops, overlooking Olivais docks and the 17-km long Vasco da Gama Bridge. The city’s tallest building, Torre Vasco de Gama, is also located here, providing spectacular views over the city and the Tagus River.

Sintra - Palacio da	Pena -
	Lisbon
Sintra - Palacio da Pena - Lisbon. Photo by Kačka a Ondra

Ponte 25 de Abril

The Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge, linking the Alcântara and Almada districts, is one of Lisbon’s most notable landmarks as it spans the River Tagus at the narrowest point. Reminiscent of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Ponte 25 de Abril was constructed by the same company in 1966. The bridge offers a very impressive view of the whole of Lisbon and across to the west over Belém to the Atlantic.

Sintra

A short train train ride outside of Lisbon is the town of Sintra, where a complex of long, uninhabited royal palaces perch majestically on jagged mountain tops. Its fairy tale palaces, exquisite villas, incredible vistas, and notable museum collections are worth a visit. The train to Sintra departs from Rossio station every 20 minutes, and takes about 40 minutes. Take bus 434 to the various attraction including Castelo dos Mouros and Palácio da Pena or make the long, but pleasant walk up from the center of Sintra.

Where to Stay

Lisbon has an array of boutique hotels, upmarket hostels, and both modern and old-fashioned guesthouses. If you can't afford to stay in Lisbon's world-class hotels, a good alternative is the city's reasonably priced residenciais and pensãos. The only difference between pensões and residenciais is that the pensions generally serve meals, whereas residenciais do not. Between June and September, rooms can be harder to find without a reservation and prices are at their highest, though August can be less expensive as many people head for the beach. If it's summer and you'd like to have a sea-resort vacation while experiencing Lisbon's cultural attractions, the neighboring towns of Estoril and Cascais might be a good idea.

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Food & Drink

Lisbon boasts a wide range of restaurants to suit most tastes and budgets, from traditional Portuguese to international cuisine. Famous specialties are sardinhas assadas (charcoal-grilled sardines), pastéis de bacalhau (cod fishcakes), and caldo verde (a soup of cabbage and potatoes). Codfish is prepared in many ways, and it is usually served as the most typical Portuguese dish. Be aware that appetizers typically brought out at the beginning of a meal are not free, even if you didn't ask for them, if you eat them, you have to pay. If you have a sweet-tooth, try cinnamon-flavored rice pudding, flan, or caramel custard. People tend to drink coffee in cafés rather than at home. It is served in small shots and very strong. The drink of choice is usually beer as it’s the cheapest, with Sagres being the most recognized brand in Lisbon. Portugal is also one of Europe's major wine-producing countries and there's more than Port Wine. If it’s white, try one from the sub-region of Bucelas, and if it’s red, you can’t go wrong with one from Colares.

Shopping

Tram 28; Lisbon - Lisbon
Tram 28; Lisbon - Lisbon. Photo by Christine Zenino
Chiado, with a small shopping complex as well as many stores with considerable cachet, particularly on and around Rua Garrett, has the reputation of being the city’s finest shopping district. Avenida da Liberdade is packed with high-end fashion stores including Prada, Dolce & Gabanna, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, and many more. Local fledgling designers often open up boutiques around the backstreets of Bairro Alto, where you’ll unearth more quirky and interesting clothes and jewelry. Several excellent shops in Baixa sell chocolates, marzipan, dried and crystallized fruits, pastries, and regional cheeses and wines. The biggest shopping center in the city is Colombo, although the most pleasant may be the light-filled Centro Vasco da Gama on the waterfront.

Getting Around

You can walk to most downtown attractions, just make sure you're equipped with a good pair of walking shoes. Riding the tram can be a great, leisurely way to familiarize yourself with the city. Line 15 departs from Praça da Figueira to Belém, and Line 28 passes through the Bairro Alto, Alfama and other ancient parts of Lisbon. The metro will take you conveniently from Baixa-Chiado or Rossio to the Oriente stop northeast of city center, which boasts the Oceanarium and the art-filled Parque das Nações. A smooth-running, modern electric train service connects Lisbon to all the towns and villages along the coast to Cascais. You can board the train at the waterfront Cais do Sodré Station.

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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Sep 13, 2014

Pictures of Lisbon

Lisbon
Lisbon.

Lisboa desde el Castelo de São Jorge - Lisbon
Lisboa desde el Castelo de São Jorge - Lisbon. Photo by Nathan Wind

Lisboa desde el Castelo de São Jorge - Lisbon
Lisboa desde el Castelo de São Jorge - Lisbon. Photo by Javier Díaz Barrera

Alfama and Castelo de São Jorge - Lisbon
Alfama and Castelo de São Jorge - Lisbon. Photo by Tobias Abel

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