Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal is having a moment. Once a sleepy secret location with its back to Europe this sun-drenched capital has emerged as one of the world’s hottest destinations. The city which recently underwent an architectural renaissance has kept all its charm with vintage tram cars and outstanding views but most importantly it has retained its affordability.
Great weather all year-round, historically exquisite, great wine and great food. The secret is out, Lisbon is indisputably your next European city visit.
The oldest part of Lisbon, the Alfama neighbourhood, with its quaint cobbled streets and Moorish influenced tiled buildings, stretches from the Sao Jorge castle to the Tagus river. One of the only parts of Lisbon that wasn’t completely destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 1755, so an essential historical treat destination.
Castelo de Sao Jorge
Strategically perched upon one of Lisbon’s hills this imposing medieval fortress is a must see for anybody interested in the era. Stroll along the castle walls and catch the breath-taking views This is a huge tourist attraction, so it is best to get there within an hour of opening to avoid the queues.
If music is your passion, then add the Fado museum to your itinerary.
Fado music is considered the musical expression of the Portuguese people. Fado, meaning “fate” or “destiny”, is Lisbon’s version of the blues. Melancholy, haunting vocals are accompanied by the traditional 12-string Portuguese guitar cumulating in soulful ballads that evoke “saudade”, meaning yearning or longing for something lost. This music originated in the 19th century, has heavy Moorish influences and the museum will walk you through its evolution.
This will surely whet your appetite to try the real thing, there are no lack of Fado houses sprinkled throughout Lisbon’s cobblestoned streets. You can’t hear live Fado music anywhere else in the world, so it really is worth taking the time out for this experience.
Baixa – Chiado
Parque Eduardo VII
The park was created in the late 19th century and is the largest park in the centre of Lisbon.
There is plenty to see in the Sixty-four-acre park made up of a central grass area with geometrically patterned hedges, two landscape gardens on either side, numerous statues, The Carlos Lopez pavilion and the Monumento ao 25 de Abril created by João Cutileiro.
Azulejo and Explorers
National Azulejo Museum – The national tile museum
For centuries, azulejos have been a favourite decorative element in Portugal and can be found in houses, churches and shops all over the city.
The museum, is dedicated to collecting, preserving and studying the evolution of tiles in Portugal. The permanent collection covers the period from the 16th century to the present, showcasing everything from large murals to small ceramic tiles. The museum resides in an ancient monastery, the intricately tiled wall, the choir and the chapels of Saint Anthony and Queen Leonor are all on exhibit.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.
This extravagant masterpiece of Manueline and Gothic architecture built in 1502, miraculously survived the 1755 earthquake and is now a UNESCO listed World Heritage Monument.
This monastery is the most impressive symbol of Portugal’s power and wealth during the Age of Discovery. King Manuel built it in honour of Vasco Da Gama the great explorer on his successful voyage to India. His tomb lies just inside the entrance along with that of other great figures in Portuguese history.
Padrão dos Descobrimentos – Monument of the Discoveries
The Portuguese were excellent navigators and ship builders, the famous Christopher Columbus came to Lisbon to study navigation. They colonised many parts of the world from Brazil, India, Malaysia and Macau. This imposing and iconic monument in their honour is located on the banks of the River Tagus.
Torre de Belem
This small fort was constructed in the centre of the Tejo Estuary to guard Lisbon from seafaring raiders. Its lavished with beautiful and intricate details such as Moorish inspired watchtowers, shield shaped battlement and the first European carving of a Rhinoceros. This wonderful example of Manueline architecture would have been the last part of Portugal many sailors and navigators saw as they set out on new adventures.
Off the beaten path
Because Portugal’s wine culture developed in relative isolation, there are many grape varieties that do not grow anywhere else in the world. For this reason, wine experts consider Portugal the last frontier of wine in Western Europe. Our advice is be brave and immerse yourself in the indigenous unknown, challenge your senses and enjoy the unique.
The culinary scene in Lisbon has never been more exciting. New and cool concepts and sophisticated twists have brought about a burgeoning street food scene which is worth exploring if you are bored of the usual restaurant affair.
Mercado de Ribeira – Time Out Market
The concept of the Time out Market was to bring the best of the city under one roof, this is without a doubt one of the trendiest spots in Lisbon. 24 restaurants, 8 bars and many market stalls curated by the magazine’s food writers and editors, feature many of the magazines ‘best of’ list and some offerings from the countries Michelin star chefs.
Lisbon, built on seven hills, birthplace of the greatest seafarers the world has ever known, home to some of the architectural wonders of the world, city of light and saudade, the last great Western European frontier and the perfect city break holiday.
Discover the European treasure this summer!