Lisbon… a thing of beauty

Funicular railway, Lisbon, Portugal

IT’S hard to imagine a more stunning city than Lisbon.

Paris has its Tower, New York its skyline and London its Royal heritage, but just for sheer beauty, Lisbon is hard to beat.
Indeed, you’ll be reminded of Paris in some places – there’s a rich artistic heritage here and street artists on the Avenida da Liberdade are ready to paint your portrait just as their counterparts are on the streets of Montmartre.

What makes Lisbon extra special is that it simply looks so beautiful, full of old charm and white-walled terracotta-topped buildings laid out as if from scratch.

The starting point is the River Tejo which runs into the Atlantic on the city’s coastline. Everything in Lisbon spreads out from the river – it’s the moving, beating heart of everything which goes on around here.

Rossio Square is the perfect place to sit and take in the Baiza, the flat city centre, that dates from the 18th century. Look up in one direction and you will see the Sao Jorge on the top of a hill. Look in the other direction and you will see the ruin of the Carmo Church on another hill.

Walk, or take a tram to either of them and you will discover the quarters of old Lisbon, most of them with a magnificent view of the rest of the city and the river.

To the north of the city, the buildings are more modern, where the city’s two large football grounds are located. Most of the best sights, restaurants and nightlife are situated along the river.

Stay close to the river and you’ll get the most of Lisbon. And it’s worth visiting any time of the year. Its location means it has a hot summers cooled by an Atlantic breeze and mild winters. The best time is probably in spring or autumn – the weather is perfect and the city is less crowded than at the height of summer.

TAKE A GUIDED TOUR

TO get the full effect of the cultural diversity of this historically rich city, guided walking tours – which also give you the chance to sample some of the city’s tasty local specialities including pastries, cheese, seafood, wine, and coffee. The tours are available four days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

SHOPPING IN LISBON

Pombaline Baixa, Rossio and Chiado are the major shopping streets and there is late-night shopping in the Bairro Alto, where boutiques stock vintage fashion and the latest collections of Portuguese designers. Avenida da Liberdade is Lisbon’s catwalk of big-name designers.

EATING OUT IN LISBON

Arrive before the crowds at the famous Antiga Confeitaria de Belem to devour crisp, cinnamon-dusted custard tarts hot from the oven. Locals like to eat alfresco on fresh fish in the Alfama’s lantern-lit lanes on warm nights. The impressive monastery-turned-beer hall Cervejaria da Trindade pairs cold beers with local traditional food, while connoisseurs might want to head to the north of the city to visit the stylish Michelin-starred restaurant Eleven.

NIGHTLIFE IN LISBON

LISBON’S unrivalled hotspot is the bar-lined Bairro Alto, before heading to riverside mega club Lux. The mood is more relaxed in the lantern-lit Alfama, where fado songs recalling lost love and destiny fill the atmospheric vaults of Clube de Fado.

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