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Lisbon: Cliffside camping in Sintra Cascais

The mission is simply to go to sleep, but to sleep wild at the western tip of Europe on the cliffs of Sintra Cascais above the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The 417 bus from Lisbon takes just 45 minutes to Cascais. Then the bus to Sintra (403) will drop you off on the way. According to your preference, there's lush woodland to sleep in, or smoothy grassy heathland looking out over the sun setting into the Atlantic.

Next stop across that ocean lies New York - you'll really feel that you are at the edge of a continent. Take enough food and water for your visit, as it is pretty quiet out there. You can also visit the Cabo da Roca lighthouse for great views and nice cliftop walks.

Level of Difficulty: Easy - the activity is sleeping. What to pack: Suitable clothes (check the weather forecast, and remember it gets cold and windy by the sea!), woolly hat, headtorch, raingear, sleeping bag, mat and bivvy bag.

Best time to go: May

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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. 

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Shopping


Entre Tanto (Rua Escola Politécnica 42, 961 204 571) bills itself as an indoor market, and consists of a range of boutiques secreted inside a former seventeenth-century palace. Great for a browse, you can buy everything from a surf board to perfume, shoes and furniture. There's an appealing café at the back, too.


Tuk tuks have become very popular in Lisbon, their narrow frames able to negotiate some of Lisbon's steepest and narrowest streets. Tours depart from various points of the city, such as in front of the Sé cathedral.


Take a boat up the Tagus to see the main sights from the water, with the option to hop off at Cacilhas, the port opposite Lisbon famed for its fish restaurants. For more information visit www.yellowbustours.com.


Hilly Lisbon has several excellent "miradouros" (viewpoints) and has recently unveiled a new one: next to the ruined Convento do Carmo, with fine views over Chiado and the Old Town.

Sightseeing


The Peixe em Lisboa (Fish in Lisbon) festival brings together top chefs from around the world, who showcase their talents with fish and seafood dishes that you can sample in Pátio da Galé, Terreiro do Paço, Lisbon's main square. There are also dishes prepared by top local restaurants, all at affordable prices; 7-17 April.


During the Lisbon half marathon, an impressive mass of runners cross the towering 25 Abril bridge and end up at the lovely suburb of Belém. There's also a mini marathon of 7km taking a truncated version of the course. 20 March.


At this time of year, the seaside resort of Nazaré is where the world's bravest surfers gather in an attempt to ride the world's biggest waves. These can be up to 100 feet tall: watching the surfers is an awesome sight.


One of Australia's best jazz singers, Sarah Mckenzie, appears with up-and-coming US jazz star Hailey Tuck at the Centro Cultural de Belém Grande Auditório, 23 January.


A giant tree in Praça de Figueira is the centrepiece of the Baixa's alluring Christmas decorations in December. Look out, too, for cafés selling traditional Bolo Rei, a crown-shaped fruit cake with a bean secreted inside: tradition states you pay for the cake next year if you find it.


Those of a certain age will enjoy Supertramp's visit to the Atlantic Pavilion, Portugal's largest indoor venue, on 4 November. 11 November is the festival for São Martinho, celebrating the first of the year's wine tasting.

Day Trips


A little north of Lisbon, the walled town of


The Casa Museu Medeiros e Almeida is one of Lisbon's best though little known museums and is a perfect escape if you hit a rainy day. It contains the private collection of a wealthy industrialist: a mind-boggling assortment of priceless Chinese porcelain, eighteenth-century ceramics, English silverware and historic clocks.


Half way between Lisbon and Sintra lies the ornate eighteenth-century Palácio de Queluz, a summer residence for the royals and complete with a mirrored throne room and ornate garden, now looking even better after recent restoration.


The Jardim da Cerca da Graça is Lisbon's newest park, just below the church of Graça in the district of the same name. Take a stroll through the greenery for wonderful views across the city from its various miradouros (viewpoints).


Head south to the green hills of the Parque Natural da Arrábida, with lovely cove beaches and the chance to spot wild dolphins in a sheltered bay that avoids the largest Atlantic breakers. visitportugal.com


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

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