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.
Summers in Lisbon are glorious. The clear skies and long days make it a dream holiday destination. But this popular location does get busy during June and July. It means the beaches are packed and hotel prices are higher. And you might struggle to find a table for lunch or dinner at the best restaurants. A March/May or September/October break can be a better option, especially if you want to do some sightseeing. The weather is warm and pleasant, creating ideal conditions for relaxed walking tours around the city or invigorating hikes along the coast.
Lisbon is a popular city break destination for couples and younger travellers, but there's still plenty to do for families. The city has a large zoo, aquarium, and a science museum with interactive exhibitions and a circus-themed play area. Weekends are the best time to visit. The kids can join workshops where they'll learn how to build their own inventions. Several family-friendly beaches are within a 30-minute drive of Lisbon city centre. Try Sao Joao beach. It has clean sands, changing facilities, loads of restaurants and a soft play area with bouncy castles.
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.
Lisbon is well-known for its thriving nightlife. In fact, it's one of Europe's most famous party cities. Bairro Alto is Lisbon's liveliest district. This cute, bohemian neighbourhood has over 100 bars, restaurants, and live music venues. A popular spot with the locals and younger crowd, this is the place to go if you want to see how the people of Lisbon like to party. The bars in Largo de Santos and Docas attract a large number of tourists, and drinks are usually cheap. If you like your beats loud, head to the pumping nightclubs on Cais do Sodre.
Lisbon is a two-and-a-half-hour flight from London. You can book direct flights from Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, and Manchester. There's also a direct flight from Edinburgh, but it takes a little longer. The average journey time is three hours. Lisbon airport is less than five miles from the city. A taxi or Uber will cost around €10. Or you could take the metro or bus. The pick-up spots are just a short distance from the arrivals terminal. Tickets are €1.50, and it takes about 35 minutes.
Couples or friends on a city break won't need a car when staying in Lisbon. Most of the famous landmarks are within walking distance of the centre. Lisbon also has an excellent public transport network should you want to venture a little further. The metro and train services are clean, reliable, and well-priced. The taxis are relatively cheap and there's always lots waiting near the party districts at the end of the night. Families and parents with younger children might appreciate a rental car, especially if you're planning day trips to the beaches or nearby towns.
The food in Lisbon is based around fresh meat, grilled fish, and lots of peppers and tomatoes. Caldo verde is Portugal's national dish. Perfect as a starter or light lunch, Caldo verde is a healthy soup made with kale, sausage, and collard greens. You'll find it in most of Lisbon's restaurants. For something more hearty, try the cozido – a classic Portuguese stew of beef, pork, and seasonal veg. Fish-lovers should look out for bacalhau. This is a gorgeous salt-cod dish served with red bliss potatoes and Kalamata olives. Bacalhau also comes with a boiled egg. Sounds weird, but it works.