Cheap flights to Lisbon
As cities go you can’t get much more original than Lisbon. Portugal’s capital is an ancient city with a very modern vibe and a perfect destination for that city break you’ve been longing for.
Lisbon is full of contrasts with activities for every kind of traveller, from tourist guide wielding culture buffs, to beach bums and families. But the first thing you’ll notice about Lisbon is its outstanding architecture, which is hardly surprising given the legacy of this place – it was the capital of the once mighty Portuguese Empire after all. A surviving array of Moorish, Romanesque and Neoclassical buildings will simply blow you away. As will the city’s hills – all seven of them!
But before you start to think about packing some hiking gear, don’t worry, as Lisbon’s charming old-style trams will get you to the peaks with the minimum of effort. Make sure you take a camera though, because the panoramic view from the top will take your breath away. And the narrow, winding and cobbled streets and lanes below will do the same, so put those feet up and grab a beer at one of Lisbon’s many grand squares.
There's more to Lisbon's cuisine than grilled sardines, as you'll find at the Lisbon Fish and Flavours festival. Sample fish and seafood from some of the world's leading chefs including Hélio Loureiro (chef for the Portuguese national football team) and Leandro Carreira of London's Viajante. Catch it on 9-19 April (Pátio da Galé, Terreiro do Paço, visitportugal.com).
Super Bock Super Rock moves to a new venue this year, at the old Expo site, the Parque das Nações. Headline acts at the popular rockfest include Florence and the Machine, Sting, Noel Gallagher's Flying Birds and The Vaccines. Catch it on 16-18 July. visitportugal.com
June is party time in Lisbon thanks to a series of concerts and events known as the Festas de Lisboa. The highlight is on 12-13 June, when the city becomes a giant street party to celebrate its adopted saint, Santo António. Alfama is the heart of the action.
The Torre de Belém is to Lisbon what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. Lisbon's iconic building celebrates its 500th birthday this year with a series of atmospheric May concerts inside this impressive tower that juts into the Tagus (Avenida Brasilia, Belém).
Lisbon's iconic Belém Tower celebrates its 500th anniversary this year. From April, an exhibition of paintings, prints and information about the tower's history takes place in the similarly aged refectory of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Praça do Império, Belém, mosteirojeronimos.pt).
Lisbon's version of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Ponte 25 Abril is the spectacular backdrop for the start of the Lisbon half marathon on 22 March, with around 35,000 runners taking to the city's streets, with a finish at the historic Jerónimos Monastery in Belém. meiamaratonadelisboa.com
Portugal doesn't take its Carnival as seriously as Brazil, but there are still entertaining parades around town, with the main ones by the River Tagus in the Parque das Nacões, on 19 February. Also worth catching, in the beautiful Teatro São Carlos, is Verdi's opera Macbeth, from 21 February to 1 March ((9 Rua Serpa Pinto, tnsc.pt).
Some of Portugal's most beautiful handicrafts can be found at A Arte da Terra, inside the former stables of a bishop's palace and opposite Sé Cathedral. Jewellery, embroidery, clothes and kids toys would all make great Christmas gifts (40 Rua Augusto Rosa).
Do as the royals did in summer and head to the cool hills of Sintra, packed with stunning palaces and ornate buildings. In July there is the added bonus of classical music concerts for the annual Sintra Music Festival, held in many of the grand buildings themselves. festivaldesintra.pt
The swimming season is officially open in June, which means beaches are manned and ready for visitors. Head out to Caparica for some of the best sand, from where you can take a titchy toy train south to the unspoilt beaches of Fonte da Tehla.
May is a great time to visit the Sintra hills, which are a short ride from central Lisbon. Visit on the second or fourth Sunday of the month and you can catch the fantastic Feira de São Pedro de Sintra, a bustling market packed with food stalls and crafts.
Just a short drive from Lisbon, the formerly sleepy fishing village of Cascais has in recent years become a playground for pleasure seekers from the city. There are three sandy bays, which tend to get packed in the summer months, but spring is a perfect time to explore the pretty coastline and stop for lunch and drinks when your legs get tired.
For a romantic Valentine's escape, head north of Lisbon to
Head north of Lisbon to the seaside resort of Nazaré. This is where in recent years the world's top surfers have smashed records for the largest waves ever surfed, and January is the time when monster breakers get funnelled ashore thanks to the coast's unique underwater geography.