The City of Lisbon
Lisbon is Europe's second-oldest capital and one of the world's great historical cities- with cultural treasures and a beautiful setting that make it a paradise for visitors. Located just a 2 hour flight from the UK and other major European cities, Lisbon is one of Europe’s most soulful, captivating and picturesque capitals, built on a series of hills with scenic vistas from every angle and a place where you can combine fun with culture- it is the only European capital with sunsets on the sea, being situated so close to beautiful sandy beaches. The mild climate makes the area an ideal year-round destination. Even in winter, when most other European cities are freezing, in Lisbon the high temperatures rarely go below 10°C.
The city was the former launch pad for many of the world’s greatest voyages and once home to great explorers like Vasco da Gama, Magellan and Prince Henry the Navigator. Today’s visitors will discover a charming visual time-warp with medieval neighbourhoods; vintage trams; World heritage monuments and museums- from international design and contemporary art to the ancient art of tile painting and gilding; and treasures from when the East met the West.
Lisbon is officially Europe’s least expensive capital and the great value makes the city the perfect destination for those visitors with an insatiable appetite for long dinners in the excellent restaurants, and for those who enjoy coffee breaks and nightlife, Lisbon has a lively café culture and a nightlife that is one of the most vibrant in Europe. Gastronomy, wine, the simple act of sharing a meal or having a drink with friends are regular activities in Lisbon’s daily routine. Due to the city’s proximity to the sea, the local gastronomy includes delicious fish and shellfish dishes, celebrated in the annual “Lisbon Fish Flavours” festival.
Enjoy a bit of shopping in Lisbon’s wide variety of shops - 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.
There are many 'Must-see highlights' of the city of Lisbon, including- Baixa & Chiado:- Chiado is a sophisticated hub for the city’s young people, artists and intellectuals it’s an area of iconic cafés including “A Brasileira”, art schools, theatres and of living history. The intrinsic beauty of Chiado, and it’s people – going about their daily lives -, makes the area what it is. The Carmo area, next to the Chiado, has some of the most fascinating historical sites in the city, such as the Convent and Church of Carmo, which maintain their elegance and grandeur. Carmo is connected to the Baixa by the Elevador de Santa Justa, another of Lisbon’s icons. The Elevador, designed by a disciple of Gustave Eiffel, is open to the public and boasts impressive views over the Baixa Pombalina and the rest of Lisbon. Baixa is the city's traditional shopping district where visitors can stroll around the streets and find dozens of shops offering a wide range of temptations.
Bairro Alto:- Bairro Alto is one of the most characteristic and attractive neighbourhoods in the city. Bairro Alto boasts boutiques and bars and is a place where people meet in an eclectic and multicultural atmosphere. Traditional restaurants nestle alongside cosy bookshops; tea rooms serving signature cakes vie for attention with funky design shops and the boutiques of the most respected Portuguese fashion designers. 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.
Belém is linked to Portugal’s Golden Age of Discoveries as the site where the famous navigators set sail to discover the world. It is the neighbourhood with the largest number of heritage sites connected with the Portuguese voyages of discovery- it was from the beach in Belém that Vasco da Gama set sail to discover the sea route to India and the grandiosity of the former empire can be sensed throughout the area. Today it is a spacious green suburb with many gardens, parks and monuments that are well worth a visit. Amongst Belém’s attractions is the Jerónimos Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries, Torre de Belém and Belém Cultural Centre.
The Parque das Nações is ideal for all ages. Located in the eastern part of Lisbon, this area is a focus of the city's cultural life. The gardens along the river, frame the facilities at the Parque, including the Pavilhão Atlântico, venue for live music events, and the new Casino Lisboa. The Oceanário is not to be missed, amazing young and old alike with the diversity of its collections. The Pavilhão do Conhecimento and the Vasco da Gama tower are other attractions in this unique park. Take a ride on the cable car offering breathtaking views of the river and the city.
The Lisbon surroundings offer an incredible variety of tourist attractions, from dolphin-watching in Setubal, to surfing in Cascais, to fairy tale palaces in the one of Europe’s most romantic towns (Sintra), to world class golf with more than 20 value for money golf courses in the region, to fun in Europe’s largest casino in Estoril, to escaping to a natural park in Arrabida, to exploring the many outstanding towns and villages from Evora to Obidos.
Diversity is the region’s principal hallmark, with extensive beaches ideal for sunbathing or water sports, luxurious and protected landscapes, picturesque rural landscapes and monuments classified as World Heritage sites by UNESCO. Sintra, also a World Heritage site, is one of Portugal’s most luxurious and romantic towns that has served as a great source of inspiration for poets and writers over the years. Estoril and Cascais is a privileged zone for lovers of the sea, golf and charm. Further north, is the world-famous pilgrimage site of Fátima and in this region are the three key monuments of the Monastery of Alcobaça, the Monastery of Batalha and the Convent of Christ, the former home of the Knights Templar. Other key sites in the region, include the medieval town of Óbidos, and Santarém, which in addition to its fine architectural heritage, is the centre of horse and bull-breeding in Portugal. Travelling south we reach the River Sado and discover the beauty of its riverbanks. Its unique estuary, bordered by the beaches of Tróia, the Arrábida mountains and Setúbal, is one of the most beautiful in Portugal.
West and North of Lisbon
Estoril is where Lisbon meets the sea. Considered to be the Portuguese Riviera, Estoril and Cascais are full of glamour and charisma. They offer a great diversity of attractions and experiences all in a setting that is exceptional in terms of nature, culture and heritage along the whole of this marvellous coastline, The Casino of Estoril is the largest in Europe however nature is also an important attraction, complementing the sea, green spaces are also fundamental for the ecological balance of the region.
Facing the south, the beaches in the estuary of the Tagus offer visitors calm waters, fine sand and modern facilities. From Carcavelos beach, ideal for surfing, to Guincho, the paradise for windsurfers, you can discover many others, all different but all offering maximum pleasure. One of the particular attractions of the Costa do Estoril is its numerous restaurants. Try some of the most typical dishes of the region, including fish and shellfish, such as steamed lobster, sea bass, white bream or the memorable Cascais sole.
Sintra is an inexhaustible attraction. The town has been adored over the years by artists and writers from all over the world. The passion for the town reached its peak in the 19th century, in the heart of the romantic era. Poets such as Lord Byron, who called it a "a Garden of the Earthly Paradise’’ helped create a special aura of the town. The monuments that are part of the area classified by UNESCO are numerous and all deserve to be visited. But it is a walk through the town and up into the Serra that shows its unique charm and magical atmosphere.
The proximity of the sea also makes the region a unique destination, since it has some of the most beautiful Atlantic beaches, including Praia Grande and Praia das Maçãs. To travel from Sintra to this beach, you can take a typical tram along an unforgettable track. Further south is Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point in mainland Europe, immortalised by Camões as the place "where the earth finishes and the sea starts".
In Mafra you will find one of the most magnificent monuments in the whole world: the Palácio Nacional de Mafra, also known as the Convento de Mafra. This monumental complex contains a basilica, a monastery and a palace, and is the most important masterpiece of Portuguese Baroque. Its 40,000 m2 took 27 years to be built, work being concluded in 1744. The two carillons and six organs are quite unique and the Library is considered the most beautiful in the country, containing more than 38,000 books, many of which are rare works. In Mafra you can also visit the Tapada Nacional, created in the mid- 18th century as a park for King João V and his court.
Ericeira is a favourite destination for seaside holidays. This coastal town, founded eight centuries ago, is 50 kilometres north of Lisbon. With clear water rich in minerals salts and an iodine-rich climate, the area of Ericeira has beaches of excellent quality such as Praia da Foz do Lizandro, Praia de São Lourenço, Praia de São Sebastião or Praia da Ribeira d`Ilhas, which is internationally renowned for surfing, body-boarding and skimming. If you like smaller, more intimate beaches, visit the Praia da Orelheira. With a long fishing tradition, Ericeira also has the Praia do Peixe and the large Praia do Sul. The importance of the fishing in the area makes it a perfect place to eat marvellous fish and shellfish.
South Of Lisbon
The Setúbal/Tróia Region has a wide natural diversity of landscapes and environments, favoured by the presence of the sea, and is a wonderful region to discover. It has a wealth of natural and cultural attractions and comprehensive modern infrastructures to ensure that you thoroughly enjoy your holidays. In Almada is one of the most emblematic monuments of the 20th century: the statue of the Santuário do Cristo- Rei. Built in 1959, it is 110 metres high and offers a unique view over the capital and the estuary of the Tagus. Inspired by the Cristo Redentor monument in Rio de Janeiro, the figure of Christ opens its arms to Lisbon and receives hundreds of tourists, as well as pilgrims.
On what is known by the people of Lisbon as "the other side" or the "south bank" is also one of the most popular beach destinations in the region: the Costa de Caparica. More than 13 kilometres of excellent beaches, waiting to receive all those who love the sun and the sea. In Sesimbra, discover its beaches and enjoy some of the most exciting food in Portugal, based on the very best fish and shellfish. Closer to the city of Lisbon, on the other side of the fantastic Vasco da Gama Bridge, is the Reserva Natural do Estuário do Tejo, a protected area of more than 45 thousand hectares, considered the largest wetland in Portugal and one of the most important in Europe.
Arrábida, with its hills, Natural Park, beaches and historical buildings is a spectacular landscape, in which human activity has been carefully integrated into the beautiful backdrop of nature; and the Costa Azul is an exceptional location for playing golf, with five courses offering excellent conditions. Surrounded by nature and offering pristine beauty, the Troia Peninsula has a seemingly endless coastline of sandy beaches and dolphins can often be seen in these waters in their natural habitat. Two thousand years ago this was an important Roman settlement, as revealed by the archaeological excavations and ruins nearby.
Serras de Aire e Candeeiros- It seems like this area has already been a park for millions of years, as proven by the dinosaur footprints that you can see and touch at the edge of the Serra de Aire. A hundred footprints were discovered in 1994 that have been dated back 175 million years, and are probably the best preserved in the world. This park has more natural wonders with hundreds of limestone caves on the surface and as many underground, formed by the action of underground streams, probably the largest salt water reserves in the country, all littered with stalactites and stalagmites. About twenty-five species of orchids decorate the landscape of the park that is home to all types of reptiles, birds, mammals and invertebrates.
Santarém is known as the country's bullfighting capital, and surrounding the town are rich pastures grazing bulls and horses. In June there is a huge agricultural fair, when it is the best time to catch a bullfight and horse races. Other bullfighting festivals take place nearby in Vila Franca da Xira, known as "the Pamplona of Portugal," where there's the running of the bulls during the first weeks of July and October.
Everywhere you turn in Obidos is like seeing a picture postcard. This medieval village was a wedding gift King Dinis gave to his bride Isabel in 1282, with whitewashed houses inside the walls of the castle. It remained property of Portugal's queens until the 19th century, and today is one of Europe's best preserved walled villages. Throughout the village you'll see gothic doorways, potted plants and lots of bougainvillea, while the castle is now a pousada. You can walk around its ramparts for the best views and photos. At the end of your sightseeing, try the famous local drink, the ginjinha (cherry liqueur), often served in a chocolate glass. Obidos is also the stage of some of Portugal's most popular festivals. Its chocolate festival, medieval market and "Christmas Village" attract thousands to its cobbled streets throughout the year.
As if it were an amphitheatre, the slopes bordering Foz do Arelho beach, littered with villas and beautiful houses, watch the onslaughts of the sea every day, a sea that has created a unique natural spectacle in the Óbidos saltwater lagoon. Lovers of water sports can take advantage of this momentum to ride the sea, while others come here simply to enjoy the beauty of the Portuguese coastal landscape. If you arrive by car, be sure to take the road that connects Foz do Arelho to São Martinho do Porto, a route with spectacular views of the cliffs.