The sound of the sea is the sound of Lisbon’s history brought to life. Referred to by sailors of old as the Queen of the Sea, its ports have been busy for centuries with trade, seafaring folklore, taverns, fish markets and other maritime hustle and bustle, some of which is still present today. Modern day Lisbon is a hub of oceanic import that has certainly made its mark on the culture and customs of the area. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore this heritage in its cuisine, historical sites and the cosmopolitanism of its inhabitants.
Everywhere you go during a Lisbon holiday you’ll discover markets overflowing with decadent dishes, shop fronts bursting with tempting treats and restaurants full of the smell of mouth-watering meals. The dining scene in Lisbon is dynamic and delicious with its fresh seafood, local recipes and worldwide influences. Whether you’re looking for a lavish date night in an upper class eatery or a taste of something truly Portuguese in a seaside tascas (tavern), there’s bound to be the perfect place, and perfect menu item, for you.
Since there is an abundance of locally brewed, stewed and fermented vintages available for remarkably reasonable prices throughout the city, it’s unsurprising that Lisbon has become known as the place to go if you want to indulge in a party scene that is a little more refined than other European clubbing destinations.
The city of Lisbon is home to seven gorgeous hills which have become the area’s signature sight and, if local folklore is to be believed, Lisbon was born like Rome, between these seven hills. Each hill has its own myths, legends and origin story and each has simply superb views from its summit, known as miradouros (viewpoints). So, grab your hiking boots and your camera; there’s an espresso and a little piece of paradise waiting for you in the natural guardians of Lisbon city.
For a taste of old-world charm and quintessential Portuguese tradition, a visit to the Alfama district is a must, particularly to first time travellers to Lisbon. The most ancient part of the capital, it may at first seem as though you’ve time travelled to a much earlier century with its delightfully cobbled streets, dainty shops and rust coloured roofs. One of the best places in the city to soak up some local vibes, visitors will be treated to authentic cuisine, fado music and charming Portuguese hospitality.
The São Jorge Castle is an impressive monument to the stunningly elegant yet deceptively strong architecture of the Moorish civilisation. Criss-crossed with walkways overhung by trees and with views that will take your breath away, you’d think that this castle was more of a palace and yet its stern exterior of perfectly carved stone and high walls show that it was a site of battles and wars as much as a royal resting place. More than just an architectural delight, however, the castle is also home to an archaeological museum and an underground excavation site where treasures are still being unearthed.
A UNESCO World Heritage site that should be on everyone’s itinerary when on a holiday to Lisbon, Jerónimos Monastery, also known as the Hieronymites Monastery, is a truly beautiful building. Taking almost an entire century to complete, the building of the monastery began in the 16th century, and was constructed as a monument to Portugal’s role in the Age of Discoveries. Its decorated archways, soaring pillars, loft ceilings and stunning artwork are just a few of the attractions this site holds for locals and visitors alike. Along with Belem Tower, the monastery paints to fascinating history of the capital and the country of Portugal itself.
If you’re planning to visit Lisbon, the best time to go is either in the late spring from mid-April to mid-May or early autumn between September and October. During these periods you’ll be able to see the sights, soak up the sun, enjoy the festivals and still avoid the majority of the crowds. Both of these periods experience mild weather of around 22 to 24 degrees and see temperatures of around 20 degrees.
If you hold a British Citizen passport or an EU National passport, you don’t need a visa to enter Portugal and are visa exempt for 90 days. For the latest information on travel regulations, visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/portugal/entry-requirements.
The currency in Lisbon is the Euro (EUR).
Portuguese is the main language spoken.