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In 1200 BCE, the Phoenicians began to use the area of Lisbon as a trading post. This would be the first of many civilizations to take advantage of Lisbon’s strategic economic and political location, situated along the Atlantic and at the mouth of the Tagus River. Under the Roman Empire Lisbon was known as Olissipo, and grew into a city based on shipping. The Moors took over Lisbon in 711 ACE, building mosques and establishing Arabic as an official language and Islam as the official religion.
With help from the English crusaders, the first king of Portugal ousted the Moors in 1147. Christianity was imposed upon Lisbon and Muslims were converted by force or expelled. The city was eventually established as the capital of Portugal and its first university created. Though the onset of the Bubonic Plague and massive civil unrest and rioting weakened Lisbon, it bounced back during the colonial Age of Discovery. Vasco de Gama’s successful voyage to India meant prosperity for Lisbon, and the city entered a century of great wealth in which the Torre de Belem and the Jeronimos Monastery were built.
A devastating earthquake in 1755 killed a majority of Lisbon’s population and economically destabilized the city for decades, as it required massive reconstruction. The 20th century was coloured by the rule of the totalitarian dictator of Antonio Salazar, who both modernized and plunged Portugal into debt with expensive colonial wars in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea, in which many lives were lost. The peaceful Carnation Revolution restored democracy to Portugal in 1974. In recent decades Lisbon has seen a growth international investment and is now a thriving cultural and economic centre of Europe.
Spend holidays in Lisbon and immerse yourself in the old world charm of the Portuguese capital.
Nestled on hillside of Portugal’s Iberian coast, Lisbon manages to maintain an easy-going non-touristy vibe while offering all the historic sights and fantastic nightlife of Europe. With excellent museums, fine boutiques, and quaint outdoor restaurants and cafés, it is no wonder that Lisbon was named “Europe’s Leading City Break Destination” by the World Travel Awards.
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Explore the art of tile from the 15th century through modern times in this museum housed in a Renaissance-era building.
Get a feel for local culture at this popular 13th-century city square that is perfect for watching people.
This church houses the most expensive chapel in Europe. The adjoining museum of sacred art includes paintings of historic royal weddings.
Get a panoramic overview of the city from the top of 1,000-year-old St. George's Castle, then explore the archaeological museum inside.
Berardo Museum houses one of the best collections of modern art in Europe, with pieces by Picasso, Dali, and other contemporary masters.
This art museum traces the history of art in Portugal and includes plenty of Oriental art and pieces from elsewhere in Europe.
With world-class fish and turtle tanks, this oceanarium is a must-see for families visiting Lisbon.
Learn to surf or pick up advanced skills on the Mediterranean with Epic Surf School.
Kids can ride a bike on a tightrope or experience other fun science-based activities at this museum.
Swim in the Mediterranean sea or simply relax on the sand at Troia, a beach that combines natural beauty and modern amenities.
This massive and intricately detailed monastery mixes Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance architectural styles, creating a stunning structure with endless halls to explore. Built in 1501 and occupied by the Hieronymite monks, the monastery was King Manuel I’s way of thanking the Virgin Mary for protecting Vasco de Gama on his journey to India. The riches acquired from African, Asian, and South American colonial ventures are what largely funded the monastery’s construction. UNESCO dubbed the monastery a World Heritage monument, exemplifying Portuguese art “at its best".
Also named a World Heritage monument, the Tower of Belém is a product of Portugal’s Age of Discoveries. Built in 1515 on Lisbon’s harbour and featuring Moorish, Gothic, and Manueline architectural styles, the tower served as the point of departure for many explorers of the era. Throughout the ages it has served as a customs control point, a lighthouse, and even a prison.
Founded in 1884 and located inside of the former palace of the Count of Alvor, the National Museum of Ancient Art boasts a collection of Portuguese and European art from the 14th to the 20th centuries. The museum is also home to an array of Portuguese metalwork, pottery, silverware, textiles, and furniture. Check out the Japanese screens that depict the Japanese’s first encounter with and impressions of Europeans.
The private art collection of the Museu da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian is impressively expansive. It features Oriental and Classical works from Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian, Eastern Islamic, Armenian and Far Eastern art, as well as European decorative art, sculpture, and painting. Founded in 1969, the museum includes notable works by Rembrandt, Rubens, Cassatt, and Renoir.
Tip * Booking your Tours, Transfers & Airport Parking before you go will save your money & time and ensure a stress free start to your holiday
Local residents do their shopping here in Chiado, where chic boutiques, hot restaurants, and trendy cafes abound.
This station on the metro line displays some of the best modern tilework in Europe.
Bairro Alto's nightclubs are some of the best in Europe, and the party spills out onto the streets on weekend evenings.
Opened in 1837, this pastry shop's main claim to fame is its custard tarts, which are best consumed warm at the counter.
Healthy gourmet breakfasts, a quiet-yet-central location, and charming rooms characterize this boutique hotel.
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With its mild southern Mediterranean climate, Lisbon is a year-round destination. Summer lasts from May through October, and in the midsummer months of July and August, average temperatures can reach 29Â°C. If your holiday plans include a dip in the Mediterranean, this might be ideal, but you should also be prepared for crowds. Breezes from the Mediterranean help cool things off in the evenings, making outdoor dining and night-time activities popular. Winter daytime temperatures average in the mid-teens, so many people from more northerly climates enjoy a sunny Lisbon getaway during the winter months. Spring and fall tend to be short but pleasant, and these shoulder seasons sometimes offer cheaper prices on lodging and flights to Lisbon.
Discover Lisbon by bike for an unforgettable day of city and seaside sightseeing. The bike rental company Bikeiberia offers top quality bikes and an array of tours and routes tailored to all levels and interests. Ride along Lisbon’s waterfront and tour traditional neighbourhoods before exploring the wooded Monsanto Park. Some routes will take you to the charming towns of Sinta, Cascais, and Ericeira, while other mountain-biking trips last for days.
Hop on this antique tram that will take you from the city centre on up to the Castle St. George. Get your fill of people-watching and Lisbon street life as the tram winds through narrow streets. When you reach the castle, get off and take in a gorgeous view of the city. To explore the maze of alleyways first-hand, consider walking back down to the city centre. Tram 28 can get crowded and pickpockets are common, so be sure to keep an eye out.
Drive or catch a train at Cais do Sodré station to the enchanting beach village of Cascais. Traditionally a fishing community, eat seafood at one of the town’s many excellent restaurants, or enjoy a stroll along the sandy beaches and sea front promenade. Bikes in town are available free of charge, allowing visitors to continue on to the sandy Guincho and Estoril beaches. Water activities like surfing, windsurfing, boating, and sailing are also available.
Lisbon is known for its boutiques full of local designer’s finest collections in addition to international name brands. Check out the shops of the Chiado area, where you can also find an array of great second-hand stores. The main shopping area is Baixa in downtown, located between the Tagus River and the Rossio. Filled with cafés and restaurants, the shopping districts in Lisbon are wonderful places to rest and have a bite.
A short walk from the tourist and business centre is the stylish 4-star Turim Alameda Hotel. Located near the Alameda metro station, the hotel features a bar, snack bar, breakfast room, and a private garage. Guests will enjoy abundant natural light in each room, as well as amenities like air-conditioning, free wireless Internet access, and satellite TV.
This charming 5-star hotel puts you at the centre of Lisbon’s shopping district. The Altis Avenida Hotel features elegant rooms with spectacular views of the St. George Castle, all of which offer wireless Internet, HD TV, a minibar, air-conditioning, and a safe box. Distinctive and sophisticated, the Atlis Avenida also has a rooftop restaurant – Brasserie Gourmet Rossio – with an incredible panoramic view of the city.
The Sheraton Hotel & Spa is just a 15-minute ride from the Lisbon International Airport and easily accessible by all methods of transport. Fully refurbished and redesigned, the hotel boasts a gourmet restaurant and cocktail bar with stunning city views, as well as a 1,500 square metre spa. The hotel’s spacious rooms feature a signature sleeper bed, LCD TV, and wireless Internet access.
For a great price, the Brazilian-themed Amazonia Hotel offers a comfortable stay in one of its 192 contemporary guestrooms. Conveniently located one block from a subway station and five from the central boulevard, this hotel also features a pool, parking facilities, and airport transfer.
From the Aeroporto da Portela, Aerobus line 91 departing every 20 minutes or Aeroshuttle line 96 will transport you to the city centre. Alternatively, buses 5, 8, 22, 44, 45, and 83, or a €10 taxi ride will also get you into town. Buy a taxi voucher before getting into the vehicle and remember that each piece of luggage carries a small fee.
If taking a train into Lisbon, the stops Entrecampos and Sete Rios are the closest to the city centre. Buses coming into Lisbon will leave you at the Sete Rios bus terminal. If coming in by car, take the A2 motorway from the south and east. From the north or east, take the A12 from the A2 after Setúbul and along the Vasco da Gama Bridge. Take the A1 if coming directly from the north.
The nicest way to travel inside the city is by tram or funicular. Sightseeing trams are the 28 and 25, while the 15 runs from Praca da Figueira to Belém and Algés. Buses and the metro system are faster ways to get around. Tickets valid for all forms of transport can be bought on board or in advance, and a Viva Viagem is a rechargeable card good for multiple trips.
Taxis are cream coloured or black and green, and can be ordered by phone. Tourist taxis are available for hire and have green “A”s on their bumpers.
Travel more freely with Lisbon car hire. Roads are in good condition, though drivers can be undisciplined. Make sure headlights are turned on at all times. Cell phone use while driving is prohibited and all drivers must carry a reflective jacket and warning triangle in case of accidents.
International dialling code: 00 351 (21).
An intimate and exclusive dining experience awaits you at Casa da Comida (Travessa das Amoreiras 1), one of the finest Portuguese-French restaurants in town. The menu is full of delicious local fish and seafood like the crispy cod or the crab-stuffed baby squid, and meats include a thyme-roasted pork loin and the spiced apple farmyard chicken. With a wide selection of wines and attentive top-rate service, Casa da Comida ensures an unforgettable dining experience.
Taste classic Portuguese dishes at Restaurant Valle Flor (Rua Jau 54), located in the glamorous Pestana Carlton Palace Hotel in the Alto de Santo Amaro. Favourite dishes include the port-marinated smoked salmon, stifled rabbit leg in sour cherries, or stuffed roasted quail. Enjoy lunch or dinner with family or business associates in one of the lavish private dining rooms.
The award-winning Bocca Restaurant (Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca 87) boasts an informal yet sophisticated vibe in which to savour Portuguese and international cuisine. Start with the local oysters or smoked duck rolls, continue with a soft-shell crab risotto or the Iberian pork with padrón peppers and a baked nectarine. For dessert try the chilled São Miguel pineapple soup with coconut and coriander.
A favourite among locals and tourists alike is the hospitable and down-to-earth Café Sao Bento (Rua de São Bento 212). Choose from a selection of great wines to accompany their famous Portuguese steak topped with a fried egg and served with crispy chips.
The health infrastructure in Portugal varies, however in the city of Lisbon it is quite good. Ask your local Social Security centre for a European Health Card. For travellers coming from endemic yellow fever areas, a yellow fever vaccine is required. Recommended vaccinations include tetanus, polio, diphtheria, and pertussis.
The water in Lisbon is safe to drink but tastes of chlorine, therefore bottled water Luso or Pedra may be preferred. There are also many well-stocked pharmacies in the city.
For medical, police, and fire emergencies dial 112.
Police department: (21)814 97 16
Fire department: (21)342 22 22
Alameda Pharmacy: (21)759 09 42
Clinics: Santa Maria Hospital, av. Professor Egas Moniz, (21)780 50 00
Assaults in Lisbon are on the rise. Be careful particularly in the districts of Alfama, Baixa, Bairro Alto, St. George’s castle, and on public transport. Do not walk alone at night or in poorly lit areas. Try to keep valuable objects such as electronics and jewellery concealed as much as possible. Do not accept food or beverages offered by strangers. Do not walk on the beaches at night and do not leave personal belongings in parked vehicles.
Take a mobile phone, write down emergency numbers, and keep photocopies of all your travel documents on your person. Store originals in your hotel in Lisbon place with some money.