Lisbon, the capital of laid back Portugal, has an undeniably likeable atmosphere. The warmth of the city making it feel intimate and cosy with a sense of history and culture that immediately draws you into its heart and lays its soul bare.
It’s position along the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the River Tagus and it’s heritage as one of the oldest cities in the world makes Lisbon a destination with added appeal, a city that remained intact throughout the world wars and as such has ancient architecture that has remained unscathed; nothing can prepare you for the beauty of Lisbon, the maze of cobbled streets and the red roofed buildings overlooking the deep waters below.
Lisbon lives up to its reputation of charm and romance when a stay is booked at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, the hotel is more like an exhibition with over 600 pieces of art throughout its beautiful buildings, the elevated position overlooking the Eduardo VII Park also has beautiful views of the River that can best be enjoyed from the rooftop fitness centre, this is a stand out hotel in a stand out city.
Those a little more budget conscious will enjoy the Metropole Hotel, this hotel also enjoys city views but with only 36 bedrooms is incredibly intimate, traditional furniture dominates the hotel and fits in perfectly with its history of over 100 years of serving guests. Comfortable and welcoming this hotel is a perfect base for your Lisbon city break.
Authentic Portuguese cuisine has a strong culture of ‘dish of the day’ and most restaurants will change the menu to reflect the best of the days supplies, the fish (particularly sardine) is plentiful and is at its best when simply grilled and served. Salt cod (Bacalhau) is a staple of the local diet and is incorporated into hundreds of recipes; those with a sweeter tooth cannot leave without trying the famed Portuguese custard tart, these are best served in the small pastry shops and enjoyed with a glass of port.
There are so many excellent places to eat in Lisbon that the best thing to do is to head to a specific area and to choose the restaurant with the daily menu that most appeals, the Campo de Ourique district is famed for its wide choice of traditional Portuguese restaurants, not only are there some great casual lunchtime restaurants but the evening brings the opportunity for fine dining in one of the high end establishments that open only for dinner.
To really appreciated the beauty and the history of Lisbon head up into the Alfama district, this is where you will find the ancient houses and churches that define the architecture of the city, with the maze of cobbled streets that wind around the hillside, this the oldest part of Lisbon lives up to every expectation that you have of the city.
The Christo-Rei stands on the banks of the River Tagus and this statue of Christ with arms wide open has much in common with the famed Rio De Janeiro monument, this beautiful statue is not only a crowd pleasing attraction but it is also a reminder of atrocities past as its true purpose is as a thanksgiving tribute for the escape that Lisbon had from the bombings and terror of World War II.
The nightlife in Lisbon is lively but for a more traditional night out visit a Fado Bar, Fado is the music of a historic Lisbon and the singers with their classical guitar accompaniment give a glimpse into the history of an ancient Portugal.
Lisbon enjoys mild winters and long hot summers, the close proximity to many coastal resorts makes it the perfect destination for a summer city break but it is equally beautiful during the spring and autumn months. Winter sunshine although not guaranteed is plentiful with even the month of December enjoying an average of over 4 hours sunshine a day.
Lisbon is at its liveliest during Festa do Santo Antonio (the festival for the Patron Saint of Lisbon) and the whole city celebrates, colourful decorations line the streets and the party continues throughout the night, but if you do miss this June celebration there are plenty more throughout the year in this happy go lucky city.