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.
The Retro Shop (103 Rua Rodrigues de Faria, Alcantara, tel: 96 514 8062) is an interesting mix of restaurant and antique shop in the buzzing LX Factory in Alcântara, a former warehouse now filled with shops, galleries and eateries. It specialises in furniture and bric-a-brac from the 60s and 70s. There's good grub, too. The nearest station is Alcântara, or get there by tram No.15 or No.18.
Explore the vertiginous but vibrant neighbourhood of Madragoa, just across the tramline from the more famous Bairro Alto. Replete with interesting little bars and restaurants, it also enjoys some of the most thrilling views over the Lisbon rooftops to the River Tagus. Start at the Adamastor statue at Santa Catarina. Tram No.28 or Metro Baixa-Chiado.
The waterfront district of Belém is packed with attractions, from the Manueline-style Jerónimos Monastery to the Berardo Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. There's also a planetarium, a coach museum and the famous tower that saw the departure of the 15th-century mariners for the four corners of the world. Don't miss the best cakes in town at the Pasteís de Belém Cake factory (tram 15 or 18, tel: 21 363 7423).
Setubal and the Arrábida mountains are hardly an hour south of Lisbon but seem a world away. The city is principally an industrial centre and port but it's the Troia peninsula, a short ferry ride across the Sado River, and the Arrábida Natural Park, with its secluded beaches and winding tracks, that will enchant the visitor.