Lisbon is the stunning Portugal’s capital and is one of the most charismatic and vibrant cities of Western Europe and because of that it’s the hub of a multifaceted area that appeals to different tastes and senses.
With a population of 552,700, within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km² and with a Mediterranean climate with mild, rainy winters and warm, dry summers, Lisbon it’s the perfect place to travel to.
It has a privileged geographical location, located on the estuary of the Tejo (Tagus) river, on the European Atlantic Coast, and it owns a complement modern communication network. It’s the country’s biggest city.
Near Tejo, there’s one of the most magnificent aquariums in the world. The Oceanario is Lisbon’s biggest attraction. An aquarium like no other, its 180,000 cubic feet main tank holds more than 100 species of big fish, including tuna, rays and sharks. Located in the ultra-modern Parque das Nações, the landmark building’s myriad displays also include penguins living in a re-created Antarctic icescape, sea turtles gliding through the water and darkened tanks lit by fluorescent jellyfish.
Next to the Oceanario it’s the Casino, there are four stylishly-designed bars, three restaurants, close to 1100 slot machines, and 28 gaming tables (from the classic American Roulette to Blackjack, Baccarat, and Poker), all distributed across three floors.
In Belem there’s one of Lisbon’s most interesting cultural centers with one of the best modern art collections, Centro Cultural de Belem (CCB). Its modern architecture contrasts gently with some of the most iconic buildings of old Lisbon. The CCB is one of the most popular places amongst Lisbonites and visitors for its closeness to the river, its gardens and cafés offering some of the best public spaces in the city. With auditoriums, museums, temporary shows and major events, the CCB is a cultural hub with something for everyone.
After visiting CCB you should go to the Jerónimos Monastery, a National Monument that was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. This notable 16th century work of architecture became part of Portuguese identity and culture.
You can also visit Castelo de São Jorge. Located on Lisbon’s highest hill, with an intoxicating view of the city, the São Jorge Castle invites us to take a trip back in time, where all the stones speak, telling us Lisbon’s story.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was created in 1956 and aims to improve people’s lives through art, charity, science and education. There you can visit the museum and the gardens, and take some rest and enjoy the ambient and the art.
Its surroundings also offer an incredible variety of tourist attractions, from fairytale palaces in one of Europe’s most romantic towns (Sintra): where you can visit Palacio da Pena, a romantic bolthole built by a German prince who married into Portugal’s royal family or the. The whole place is a UNESCO heritage site. to world-class golf and fun in Europe’s largest. To surfing in Cascais or escaping to a natural park in Arrábida, to dolphin-watching in Setúbal.
Lisbon is a wonderful place to go, because this city is the place where you feel safe wandering around day or night, where the cuisine is dedicated to creating over a thousand ways to cook the beloved bacalhau (salted cod), and where you’ll find hotels and restaurants to suit every taste, budget and requirement, where every corner it’s fulfill with art and history.
Lisbon will keep shopaholics and bargain-hunters happy with everything from exclusive brand-label stores to hundreds of gift shops to investigate. The main hub is the Baixa district, where you’ll find department stores, delis and gold and silver jewellers galore, whilst in the Bairro Alto, funky boutiques rule the roost. If you feel like splashing out, the Chiado area hosts prestigious designer stores and classy interior shops. And when it comes to traditional souvenirs, best buys include Portugal’s pretty azulejo tiles, intricate lacework, colourful ceramics and of course, rich Oporto wines.
The center of nighttime fun and dining is the Bairro Alto district. This web of cobbled streets overflows with drinking-dens, jazz bars and music clubs pumping out everything from African to Latino beats. You’ll also find authentic fado clubs – playing Portugal’s evocative native music – as well as gourmet restaurants to settle in if you’re set on quieter times. And to raise the rafters, stick around – Bairro Alto is home to some hi-tech nightclubs where you can dance till you drop, till dawn.
Lisbon offers a multitude of culinary delights, with everything from Indian and Japanese eateries to fast-food chains. It’d be a shame to miss out on true Portuguese food while you’re here though and for the best, head for the Chiado, Alfama and Bairro Alto districts. Fish and seafood are specialities and favourites include bacalhau – salted cod – char-grilled sardines and octopus rice. If you’re feeling peckish, Lisbon’s old-fashioned tascas bars serve up tasty snacks like spicy cured sausage and hearty cabbage soup. Drinks-wise, help yourself to some fine Portuguese wines and shots of ‘bica’ – the much loved, super-strong espresso.
Like the Italian capital, Lisbon is supposed to have been built on seven hills. Almost every one offers a fabulous view, from across the rooftops of the old city to the shimmering waters of the Tagus beyond. For the full panoramic experience head for the terrace bars at the viewpoints of Portas do Sol, Sao Pedro de Alcantara, Graca or Santa Catarina.
From all the cities of Portugal, Lisbon is the most hectic in the country, even though is nothing compared to the chaos of the other European big cities. But there’s something about this place that makes you feel like home. But after all, Lisbon is famous for its hospitality and the family-like way it welcomes visitors. So, give it a try and visit Lisboa, I assure you that you will not regret and will fall in love with this city, like many celebrities did.