LisbonLisbon's unique mixture of tradition and modernity, of small town and metropolis, captivates visitors from near and far. Excellent shopping, ornate architecture, late and safe nightlife, as well as restaurants with some of Europe’s best seafood are just a few of the reasons to visit this magnificent European capital.
The CityLisbon’s heart lies beside the river, even if the city has grown in all directions. Sit down at a pavement cafe on Rossio Square and you will see the Baiza, the flat city centre that dates from the 18th century, between yourself and the river bank. Look up in one direction and you will see the São Jorge castle 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 one 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. Wander north from Rossio, you will soon end up on a stately 19th century avenue, in the part of the city which is still called "Avenidas Novas". Further north, the buildings become really new, with the city’s two large football grounds, Luz and Alvalade, and, lastly, the airport which is twenty traffic-jam-free minutes in a car from Rossio. Most of the best sights, restaurants and nightlife are situated along the river. Shopping is good along the Avenidas Novas, but otherwise the rule is to keep close to the river to get the best out of your visit.
Do & See
A true modern metropolis that can compete with any world capital in the number of attractions, Lisbon is a city that is on the up and up. Best known for its colonialist history, rich architectural tradition and Fado music, the city is perfect for long walks — hike up the hills of Alfama or at St George's Castle to get the most spectacular views. Romans, Berber pirates, Moorish builders and brutal Reconquista knights left their mark on the urban fabric of the city. Most of the best sights, restaurants and nightlife spots are situated along the river. Dive headfirst into the bohemian atmosphere of Lisbon.
In Lisbon, you can find both modern and sophisticated restaurants as well as simple and very traditional ones. As you can expect, you will find the strongest Portuguese ambience in the simple and traditional places. Small and unpretentious restaurants can be found all over town and do not require booking. At most of the restaurants below, however, it is safest to book a table. Many restaurants are closed on Sundays or Mondays.
After a day of sightseeing, find a table at a pavement cafe on Rossio Square. Savour one (or two!) Portuguese custard tart and restore your energy. Take in the milling of the crowd with the backdrop of the Baixa neighbourhood — the flat city centre that dates from the 18th century.
Bars & Nightlife
Lisbon is a city that takes its nightlife quite seriously. Shortly after midnight, it is best to move down towards the river and the larger clubs along Avenida 24 de Julho, the Docas area and Alcântara, where the coolest dance floors are never packed before two in the morning.
A lot of the shopping in Lisbon is now housed in enormous shopping centres such as Colombo and Amoreiras, or in smaller gallerias. The city’s old centre, Baixa, retains its identity as a traditional shopping district, where you walk on the streets (some of them traffic-free) and drop into the shops. Go in for cork designs, gourmet food, crafts, soaps, shoes and if your wallet allows, gold. Chiado is close to Baixa, and has the reputation of being the city’s finest shopping district. Chiado successfully manages to combine the gallery model with open shopping, combining the best of both worlds.