Occupying the hills around the estuary of the mighty Tagus River, the Portuguese capital of Lisbon is a city where its ancient past has been perfectly matched with its modern vibrancy. Reputedly the second-oldest capital in Europe (beaten only by Athens), Lisbon offers a full plate of sights, tastes and plenty of things to experience.
A classic yellow tram makes its way slowly up a steep, winding street of Lisbon, for a second it seems like you have somehow travelled back a hundred years to a belle époque of Iberian chic, complete with pastel-coloured houses and cobbled comeliness. The tram turns around a corner, and you suddenly find yourself back in a contemporary city, where art, fashionable shops and delightful restaurants populate the streets.
Lisbon, like few other cities in the world have successfully managed to merge the past so elegantly with a feel of modern style, without losing its emphasis on either. Along the banks of the Tagus, visitors can see how times gone by and the present beautifully complement each other in the city. From the stunning UNESCO Heritage-listed Jeronimos Monastery and the Belem Tower to the longest bridge in Europe, the sleek Vasco da Gama Bridge. Each new part of Lisbon offers something not quite like the last, and as you indulge your curiosity you’ll find that you’ve become a veteran urban explorer before the day is over, trawl through quaint markets like Feira da Ladra and the Mercado da Ribeira next to the Cais do Sodre station, before strolling up and down the narrow streets of the Bairro Alto and Alfama areas. Here you can check out the Lisbon Cathedral and entertain a fair bit of shopping in the linear and old-fashioned Baixa Pombalina-area.
For more artistic outlets in the city, head further north to the Museu Gulbenkian museum, where you’ll find artwork and paintings that cover numerous centuries and a multitude of different styles, before concluding the day by retreating to a restaurant. In Alfama you can enjoy some freshly-caught seafood and a glass of wine, while being entertained by a rendition of a traditional fado – Lisbon’s iconic romantic music. These classic songs are aimed at the heart strings and you’ll find yourself being carried on an emotional journey through the music, regardless of how rusty your Portuguese may be.
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