Lisbon is a popular tourist destination, thanks to its lovely weather, interesting mix of old and new cultures, and of course, its delicious traditional cuisine. What’s even better is that it has all the charms of a European capital, but without the hefty price tag – making a trip to Lisbon an affordable option for every budget. The city is bursting with shops, cafes, theatres, bars and restaurants. You’ll find the city is perfect for on-foot exploration, its beautiful cobbled streets, Romanesque and Moorish architecture is sure to delight.
Sitting on the west coast of Portugal, Lisbon is one of the rare European cities to face the ocean, and just a few miles out of the city limits you’ll find a string of spectacular beaches dotted along the Atlantic coastline. If you’re in search of sun, Lisbon is definitely the place to be – its annual average temperature is 21C but in summer it can reach well over 30C! In winter, Lisbon enjoys three times more sun than Northern Europe, and the thermometer rarely drops below 10C, even in January. Lisbon is great combination of city bustle and relaxation, with great connections to the beaches direct from the city you can escape the city life in no time. Whether it’s just for a weekend or a little longer a Lisbon holiday can offer something different. The city is divided into several distinct areas, all which come with their own personality.
Belem is one of the main neighbourhoods and is where you’ll find the most well-known attractions, such as the Belem Tower, the UNESCO-listed Jeronimos Monastery and the Belem Cultural Centre. Belem is also home to the Belem Palace and the Praça do Imperio, one of Europe’s largest city squares. Don’t leave without dropping by the famous Pasteis de Belem shop, which was founded in 1837 and sells the world’s best Portuguese tarts – a must-try for any tourist!To sample other Portuguese delights such as the national dish of bacalhau (salted cod), a green soup called caldo verde and several different varieties of pork, you’re best to head downtown to Chiado, or Rua das Portas de Santo Antao, which is known as the ‘seafood strip’ in the neighbouring Baixa area. Lisbon also rivals the likes of Berlin, Paris and Barcelona when it comes to nightlife – start the night in Bairro Alto with a glass of ginjinha liquor and enjoy to traditional Fado music. It’s an interesting and quirky quarter where you’ll find people from all walks of life. It’s also up high on a hill and boasts great views over the rest of the city. Most clubs don’t get started until around 2am, so you’ve got plenty of time for a leisurely dinner! Principe Real is the trendy district where you’ll find one-of-a-kind shops and upmarket boutiques. Chiado is also an elegant shopping district, and a nice place to relax and people-watch in a beautiful 1930s-style café. For the best views, head up the hill to Castelo de Sao Jorge. If you have the energy, walk through the old winding streets of Alfama, which still shows signs today of its Moorish history.
Lisbon has plenty of green parks, from the Ajuda Botanical Gardens, the first in Portugal, to the Afonso de Albuquerque Square, in front of the 18th century palace. A hidden gem however is the Jardim Botanico, a garden filled with rare plants and endangered seeds. It’s only a few Euros to enter and you can enjoy a picnic under the shade of tropical palms and giant oak trees. Lisbon itself doesn’t have any beaches, but sun and sand await you along the coast. Catch the train to Cascais to visit Praia de Conceicao and Praia da Rainha, as well as all the little spots in between. To the south of Lisbon, Praia da Adraga is a secluded stretch of sand, consistently voted as one of the best beaches in Europe.
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