Lisbon is one of the oldest and grandest cities in the world. Facing the sea, visitors can travel on the iconic yellow trams climbing up the seven hills to get a better view of the Atlantic Ocean, or wander among the historic narrow backstreets and listen to Fado in quaint bars over an espresso and a pasteis de belem, the famous Portuguese custard tarts. They can also pay a visit to Lisbon’s many majestic buildings or Gothic cathedrals.
Lisbon is a charming city, and unlike any other in Europe, so how do you choose what you do?
Where to stay
There’s the Bairro Alto Hotel, a 5 star boutique hotel situated between the picturesque and bohemian district of Bairro Alto and the elegant Chiado area. Another 5 star offering is the Merci Hotel similarly located between the two historic neighbourhoods.
If you want to be based a little out of town, you could try Cascais. The former fishing village on the Estorial coast about 30 km west of Lisbon is a popular resort which still retains the charm of old with its cobbled streets huddled around the bay. There you’ll find the Farol Design Hotel located on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic. Situated between Cascais and Estoril with great views of the Atlantic is the Cascais Miragem five star beach hotel.
Where to visit
Let’s start with the city’s two UNESCO World Heritage sites – Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) and Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos).
Belem Tower is an iconic 16th century tower and a prominent gateway into Lisbon. Jerónimos Monastery is a spectacular 15th century building that is one of Lisbon’s main tourist attractions and symbolises Portugal’s Age of Discovery. Then there’s Castelo São Jorge, a 9th century Moorish castle set above the winding streets of Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, Alfama.
Try the Tivoli Lisbon SkyBar located on the top floor of the Tivoli Lisboa hotel with a superb view over the city.
Perhaps some music
Café Luso, a Fado House established in the 1920s where you can listen to Fado – Portugal’s famous music genre being played by local musicians and artists.
Time to dine
Restaurant Eleven is truly world class. It is Lisbon’s number one destination for gourmet dining with a Michelin starred Chef offering sophisticated Mediterranean cuisine and provides views of the entire city and the river Tagus. Olivier Avenida meanwhile is one of Lisbon’s most luxurious dining experiences and is a popular choice for local celebs.
What to do
Fancy a flutter, well there are casinos in Lisbon and Estoril. With water all around, you could take advantage of the warm climate and have some surf lessons in Carcavelos or take a sailboat ride on the Tagus river.
Another idea is to take an aerial city tour and have lunch at the fabulous Comporta beach. There are also many vineyards around Lisbon where you can visit and taste the local produce and even eat in their restaurants.
What else is happening in Lisbon?
On Saturday 24th May 2014, the Estádio da Luz (The Stadium of Light) in Lisbon will play host to the 2014 UEFA Champions League final. Try and get a ticket for the game and experience Lisbon at the same time – the grand final in a grand old city.
Bruno Pires is Global Director at 360Experience.