Lisbon is Europe's second-oldest capital (after Athens), once home to the world's greatest explorers like Vasco da Gama, Magellan and Prince Henry the Navigator, becoming the first true world city, the capital of an empire spreading over all continents, from South America (Brazil) to Asia (Macao, China; Goa, India).
The former launch pad for many of the world's greatest voyages is now where modern travellers discover one of Europe's most soulful, captivating and picturesque capitals, built on a series of hills with scenic vistas from every angle.
The city of the oceans, the only European capital with sunsets on the sea, so close to sandy beaches and with one of the world's largest state-of-the-art aquariums.
One of the world's greatest natural harbours, which attracted different civilisations, now reflected in its architecture and culture recalling Phoenicians, Celts, Romans, Visigoths and Moors.
... a charming visual time-warp with vintage trams and medieval village-like neighbourhoods.
... a lively but serene and melancholic place with an insatiable appetite for long dinners, coffee breaks and nightlife.
World Heritage monuments and singular museum treasures, from international design and contemporary art, to treasures from when the East met West, to the ancient art of tile painting and gilding.
... a reminiscence of the romantic decay of Venice, the exoticism of Naples or Istanbul, the laid-backness of Rome.
With the beginning of the Portuguese Age of Discoveries, Lisboa was enriched as a spice and jewellery trade centre.
The breakthrough for Portuguese expansion came in 1498 when Vasco da Gama discovered the sea route to India. This was indeed the beginning of a golden age, characterised by the Manueline architectural style named after King Manuel I, with its typical decorative use of maritime motifs. Over the centuries Lisboa naturally grew and changed. When the city centre was almost completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1755, it was rebuilt by Marquise de Pombal, who thus created the Baixa Pombalina, a commercial area that still retains much of its original lay out.
Lisboa is a historic capital, a potpourri of unusual character and charm, where 800 years of cultural influences mingle with modern trends and lifestyles creating spectacular contrasts.
It’s so easy to get to Lisbon from wherever you may be and for travellers from the UK, our preferred airline TAP Portugal operates several direct flights a day. You can also build miles through their Victoria programme.
Car hire is one of the cheapest in the world, but make sure you’re aware of what you’re booking. Some companies charge for a full tank of fuel upfront, with no refund on the amount you don’t consume. However, as there have been complaints, these companies are few and far between. We do not have a preferred car hire company to recommend, but you will find most very competitive.
Roads are in good condition and toll roads around Lisbon do exist, so keep some coins and a credit card handy.
Taxis are very reasonable and if you’re just staying in Lisbon, perhaps this is the best form of transport. Sightseeing operates as another form of transport, but make sure you do not miss the trams, they are a great way of seeing the old city.
Your hotel will be able to advise you on the best tourism information, but below you’ll find some useful tips.
Where to go
Lisbon is famous for its unique light, atmosphere and climate – enabling wonderful trips to be made throughout various parts of the city, on foot or by tram.
Enjoy a bit of shopping in Lisbon’s wide variety of shops. You can buy anything in Lisbon - ranging from traditional shops to large shopping centres, and from Portuguese brands to international brands. There’s no need to hurry, time in Lisbon should be savoured with calm, in a park or belvedere, an esplanade or traditional café, where you can soak up the general atmosphere, in the midst of great company and plentiful sunshine.
The city is transformed at night, and zones such as the Bairro Alto, Santos, Docas and 24 de Julho, spring to life with a wide array of all restaurants, bars and discotheques where you can party until dawn. Afterwards, you’ll need to relax again on a tranquil esplanade or belvedere.
Seen in its European context, Lisboa is a unique city, with a wide variety of parks and nature reserves on its doorstep, places of undoubtable interest;
Mafra / Oeiras / Vila Franca de Xira
Parks and nature areas with an amazing variety of fauna and flora, ideal places to recreation and sports
Oeste / Ribatejo / Templários
Here you will find the only "Biosphere Reserve" classified by UNESCO, as well as other ecological areas
Setúbal / Tróia
The Parque Natural da Arrábida, at the most southern point of Península de Setúbal, Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado e do Tejo are some of the most beautiful nature landscapes of Setúbal / Tróia.
Sintra is classified by UNESCO as world heritage. Magnificent landscaped gardens, palaces and country mansions, which confirm a secular presence in the area, can be found here.
Leiria / Fátima
At Leiria/Fátima, the Parque Natural das Serras d'Aire e Candeeiros stretches over wild countryside, characterised by the presence of limestone and a diverse range of both animals and vegetation.
You’ll find a shop to suit everyone in Lisbon, which is not only be a pleasurable experience, but a diversified one too!
In certain locations, the shopping experience is much more than the product itself. In the centre of Lisbon, you’ll find different spaces tailored to a wide array of tastes, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, simply follow our suggestions. If you’d like to begin with traditional shops, there’s nothing better than a trip to the Baixa zone, with its unique shops which in certain cases have remained unaltered for decades. You’ll find picturesque, age-old shops that conserve and preserve elements of Pombaline architecture and some of which that house several ruins dating back to previous occupations. As you walk up to the Chiado zone you’ll find a more glamorous and diversified range of shops, including delightful design shops and bookshops, with a specific range of products that it’s hard to find anywhere else. In the Avenida da Liberdade, you’ll find the top international brands, in particular fashion labels, thus guaranteeing the diversity and quality of a major European capital.
In the Bairro Alto neighbourhood, there’s a wide range of alternative shops including clothes shops owned by national stylists, several second-hand clothes shops, and also interior decoration and design shops and music stores. In Santos, you’ll find a high number of large design shops, offering an alternative vision of interior decoration and objects. Nearby, you can buy fresh produce and flowers in the unforgettable Ribeira Market - one of the city’s ex-libris monuments - where your senses are sure to be awakened. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit the city’s most important “flea market” - the famous Feira da Ladra, - where in addition to a wide array of interesting trinkets, you can find some genuine collectors’ items.
The region’s shopping centres are also unique. The city has some of Europe’s largest and most diversified shopping centres. Even outside Lisbon itself, you’ll find excellent shopping centres where you can make purchases and buy presents to take home.
Visit Lisbon museums in these areas and get to know the main subjects of Portuguese cultural heritage.
Oeste / Ribatejo / Templários
Mafra / Oeiras / Vila Franca de Xira
Amadora / Loures / Odivelas
Bars & Night Life
Lisboa has a heart for revellers and the city’s nightlife is generally considered to be amongst the best in Europe. The night in Lisboa starts at sunset and goes on till dawn. Undoubtedly, a side of the city not to be missed.
As soon as the sun sets on the horizon, sinking into the Tagus, Lisboa transforms itself and its nocturnal atmosphere emerges: vibrant, exciting and contagious in its energy, that lasts till dawn. Lisboa’s nightlife is known as one of the longest and most vibrant in the whole of Europe and the world. According to the habits of Lisboa locals, the night never begins before 9pm and almost always starts with a dinner in the company of friends.
Cascais is the premier resort town of Lisbon and is the perfect holiday destination for those who want more than just a beach and great weather.
The coastline surrounding Cascais has a variety of beaches able to cater for all styles of visitors along with immaculate parks, lavish entertainment and fine food.
There is a wide variety of cultural activities to ensure that you are never bored. The Casino de Estoril, the largest in Europe, is the best example of this. One of the most important entertainment venues in Portugal, it offers visitors an extraordinary selection – from the many different forms of gaming to great moments of entertainment, with daily shows.
Nature is also an important attraction. Complementing the sea, green spaces are also fundamental for the ecological balance of the region. The Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais is a key example, representing not only a unique space for the protection of species, but also a key location for leisure activities connected with ecotourism, with a range of activities available to visitors.
Facing south, the beaches in the estuary of the Tagus offer visitors calm waters, fine sand and modern facilities, to provide all comfort. From Carcavelos beach, ideal for surfing, to Guincho, the paradise for windsurfers, you can discover many others, all different but all offering maximum pleasure.