From the top of the Sintra Mountains to the banks of the iconic Tagus River, Lisbon is one of the most romantic cities in the world.
You could truthfully spend a month, a year in Lisbon and not see it all. The city is a wellspring of sights and sounds, loads of fun and adventure, a history lesson waiting to be told, a Fado song sending you searching for a handkerchief.
You will find yourself drinking in the magnificent architecture on every street corner, bombarded by Gothic, Baroque and Neoclassical splendour. Look up at the facades, feel the mosaic tile beneath your feet, march through the massive central squares, read the monuments – historic charm is everywhere you look.
Lisbonites are wonderful company – hospitable and obliging, sensible and unassuming, without airs yet discerning when it comes to food and wine – and how they spend their quality time. You will spend your time walking the streets of storied neighbourhoods, poking your head into quaint shops and boutiques, languishing in the gardens, taking the sun on a side-street patio and soaking up a very proud heritage.
Where to wander.
Although you really can’t miss Lisbon’s black-and-white mosaic-tiled squares, nor the narrow streets surrounding the pedestrians-only Rua Augusta, the cool neighbourhoods are vivacious and distinct. Much of central Lisbon was rebuilt after the Great Earthquake of 1755, making many of its districts a study in Pombaline and Baroque architecture styles.
The Alfama neighbourhood, on the hillside between the river and the ancient São Jorge Castle, still lives and breathes its fishing history, along with that of the melancholic Fado music style, invented here in the early 1800s. Baixa is the lively part of town, where you’ll find the most shops and restaurants, along with important monuments and iconic streets. Chaido and Bairro Alto are the more alternative, bohemian districts – yet not without their elegance – replete with famous cafés, galleries and theatres. And farther north, the newly-gentrified Príncipe Real comes through with boutique shops and fine dining, threaded throughout the district’s affluent apartment blocks and scenic parks.
Belém in the southwest, at the mouth of the river, is famous for its tower and monastery, but equally noted for having the best custard tart – pastéis de nata – in the land. Make sure you stop in at the National Coach Museum here to see the largest collection of horse-drawn carriages in the world.
Where to stay.
An updated Louis XVI style washes over the iconic Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon on Parque Eduardo VII, where Tully Luxury Travel can reserve the perfect table for you at the Michelin-starred CURA restaurant. Guests disconnect in the spa and gardens – or recharge at the circular O Jardim Wine Bar – at The One Palácio da Anunciada, Lisbon’s newest five-star spot, resurrecting a 16th-century building. And the retro details, vintage furniture and local art at the rather hidden Valverde Hotel Relais & Châteaux could be your discreet home base on Avenida da Liberdade. Keep an eye out for A-listers.