Portugal’s vibrant, hilly capital

Portugal’s coastal capital Lisbon, known as the City of Seven Hills, is a place of ornate beauty and charm combined with a thoroughly hip, modern sensibility that’s seen its fashion cred and tech scenes explode over the last few years. Blessed with scenic vistas, pretty pastel-coloured houses, nearby beaches and a global reputation for its traditional Fado music, Lisbon holidays are delightfully diverse.

The city’s architecture reflects its complicated history, with Portugal invading, and being invaded by, many different cultures over the centuries. There are examples of Moorish, Gothic, Pombaline and Baroque styles, among others, around Lisbon’s well-preserved streets, and you can even still see its imposing medieval city walls. The various neighbourhoods each have a distinct character – try drinking in the view from the top of the Alfama district, with its vistas over the city and traditional home-cooked meals in characterful bars and restaurants.

Down in the bohemian Bairro Alto quarter, tapas-style menus and crisp local wines lead into evenings of traditional music and dancing. The shopping is excellent, with lots of markets selling everything from gourmet produce to art and antiques, including the world-famous colourful ceramic tiles. Whatever your reason for visiting, holidays to Lisbon take place against a backdrop of centuries of history and are sure to include excellent cuisine and welcoming people.

All resorts in Lisbon

Three tips for a top trip

Take a trip on a tram
For a fun way to see the city, take the number 28 tram through the heart of Lisbon’s old town. Enjoy the ride as it rattles through narrow streets, just as it did 100 years ago.
Hear Fado for free
Rather than signing up for a Fado package deal – dinner with entertainment – seek out local cafés and restaurants where you can hear talented, authentic musicians independently.
Enjoy a local sweet treat
Start your day the Portuguese way, with a coffee and a ‘pastel de nata’ custard tart in a café – they have them for breakfast or an 11am coffee break.

Best attractions to see in Lisbon

Praça do Comércio

Lisbon’s grandest square is an ideal first stop for sightseers. Stare out to sea, imagining the ships bearing exotic treasures arriving centuries ago, and marvel at the yellow buildings.

Alfama district

Full of quirky architecture, the Alfama district is one of the oldest and most intriguing neighbourhoods. Climb to the top to enjoy drinks with a gorgeous view over the city.

Torre de Belém

A Unesco World Heritage Site, this imposing 16th-century fortress and sometime ceremonial gateway to the city sits proudly on an island in the Tagus river.

Your Lisbon questions, answered

If you want to take home a classic piece of Lisbon’s history, the pretty local ‘azulejos’ – painted ceramic tiles – are widely available. Sardines, cork products and port are also local specialities.

There’s a tiny beach right by the main square in Lisbon, but for swimming and sunbathing, take a 15-minute train ride to nearby Caxias Beach to the west.

Between March and May is a great time to visit, as it’s warm but still comfortable for walking around. Beat the crowds then, and from mid-September onwards.