A colourful and inviting city, Lisbon – Portugal’s capital city – is a great place to spend a long and inspiring weekend. Wander the seven steep hills that are the city’s defining feature and you’ll find yourself stumbling across many old historic cathedrals and charming museums that are dotted around this understated city.
Step into the old-fashioned backstreets of Lisbon and wait for the vintage, yellow trams to creep past, taking travellers to the neighbourhoods of Alfama, Castelo de Sao Jorge and Bairro Alto. You’ll find locals here going about their daily lives and relaxing among the white, limestone buildings, maybe enjoying some traditional Portuguese food.
Lisbon also enjoys a varied outdoor lifestyle, being sat on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus, you’re never far away from the water here in Portugal’s capital. Follow the locals on a weekend to one of the beautiful beaches or enjoy an afternoon by the natural harbour.
Things to Do
Lisbon is full of variety, from the enchanting coastline to the history filled hills of the capital. Explore the area of Alfama and you’ll find a more traditional side of Lisbon – a Lisbon where the cobblestone streets are steep and narrow and women sell fresh fish early in the morning. It’s also one of the only places in Lisbon the survived the 1755 earthquake, so you’ll definitely be seeing the past of Lisbon In this historic centre.
Towering over Alfama is Castelo de Sao Jorge, a striking building that guards the city. Dating back to 48 BC, this old castle is one of the most iconic buildings in Lisbon. All that remains is an old wall and 18 towers but that doesn’t stop it from being any less intriguing.
A bit further into the city, you’ll come across another of Lisbon’s iconic pieces of architecture – the Santa Justa Elevator. This landmark was originally powered by steam but now, thankfully, it is powered by electricity and transports passengers from downtown Lisbon up to the dizzy heights of Bairro Alto. Known for it’s wild nightlife this neighbourhood is the place to let your hair down on an evening!
To relax and properly chill out, find your way to Jardim Botanico, a 10 acre garden in the heart of the city full of tropical and exotic plants. Hidden away from the busy streets, this quiet oasis is a perfect place to bask in the Portuguese sun. For more outdoor fun in Lisbon, head down to the beachside town of Cascais where you can gain that holiday glow or go surfing, sailing and windsurfing on the Atlantic Ocean!
Food and Drink
Traditional Portuguese food dictates that grilled fish, casseroles, rice, potatoes and salad are commonly found on restaurant menus. Salted cod, an acquired taste for some, is a national favourite along with barbequed anchovies, bass and salmon and crispy suckling pig.
In Lisbon you’ll find all traditional food but with an exceptionally modern twist, as chefs across the capital vie for tourist custom. Expect to be eating sweet pastries for breakfast with delicious ham and cheese and then feasting on grilled meat and seafood or dinner.
In the evening, do as the Portuguese do and enjoy your meal with a local wine from the Douro region or maybe even try a small glass of port with dinner. They certainly know how to make these drinks in Portugal and there’s no doubt you’ll be wanting to take a sample back home with you! If you are inclined to have a few more drinks through the evening, head up to Bairro Alto for a night to remember!