The Portuguese capital of Lisbon is one of the prettiest cities in the world, picturesque, the city holds on to its old world charm and with the sea air has a lovely fresh feel. Harbours, markets and a network of streets make exploring the city exciting and the sense of well being that comes from the warm welcome will leave you bathed in pleasure.
The charm of the medieval city of Lisbon lies with the cobbled streets and rows of traditional whitewashed buildings that line the hills and lead the way down to the old port but Lisbon also has a cheeky side. When the sun goes down the party begins, with excellent bars and restaurants you won’t be short of ways to enjoy the warm evenings in this, the most beautiful of cities.
Where to Stay
To make your break in Lisbon extra special opt to stay at the Palacio Belmonte, with only ten bedrooms this the oldest palace in the city feels intimate and almost like you have the palace to yourself. Opulent and elegant with staggering views over the city this is the hotel where you could find that your fellow guests are slightly better known than expected.
If you are looking for a more sensibly priced option then you could do far worse than the kitsch of the Hotel Florida, this is the fun option and although not to everyone’s tastes is certainly a talking point. Rooms are all themed around icons of the silver screen with the décor ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. If you want something frivolous set amongst all the history and culture then this is the hotel for you.
Where to Eat
The Portuguese love their food and they love entertaining, most restaurants combine the two to make every dining experience special. Seasonal local foods are the pride of Lisbon and the best way to experience the best of the wide choice available is to opt for the dish of the day. Neighbourhood cafés serve morning coffee but come alive after dark when those wanting to make the most of the warm evenings enjoy a relaxing drink under the moonlit sky.
For the best taste of the region do not miss Solar do Nunes,hearty stews and excellently cooked local fish are the staples of the menu but it is all cooked to perfection, the ideal way to enjoy the best of the local cuisine and hospitality.
Piri piri chicken is probably the best known dish to come out of Portugal and although not a regional dish you cannot really go to Lisbon and not try it at least once, Bon Jardim offers good quality spiced chicken and great chips in suitably vibrant surroundings.
What to Do
Hop on Hop off buses operate throughout the city and provide the perfect way to see Lisbon without the pressure of an escorted tour, allowing you to take in the sights at your own pace. Unmissable landmarks include the statue Cristo Rei which overlooks the city in all its magnificence and the ‘Ponte 25 de Abril’, not just any bridge this one is the sister bridge of the world famous Golden Gate in San Francisco.
Not short of culture Lisbon has many gems to show you, not least the Museu Coleccao Berado with its amazing collection of modern art. Monasteries and Churches are treasure troves of local architecture and are always worth taking the time to visit, notably the huge Jerinomos Monastery with its world heritage site status and beautiful shore side location.
Make sure you take the time for some shopping, the old district of Baixa has a wide range of well known high street names whereas the Chiado area has a far more traditional feel with its boutiques, quaint bookshops and pavement cafés. Both have a uniquely Portuguese feel beneath the designer names that adorn the shop fronts.
When to Visit
Hot and dry summers make Lisbon a perfect summer destination, the cooling breeze coming off the sea makes the sometimes intense heat bearable, although at times the midday sun can be too much. Winters tend to be mild but the evenings are not generally warm enough for outside dining.
The perfect time to visit Lisbon is during the autumn months, the weather is warm and sunny yet not unbearable, with the great pleasure of evening al fresco dining entirely possible.