Lisbon, Portugal’s thriving capital, has so much to offer. It’s Europe’s second oldest city, after Athens, and has an unmistakeable style that’s hard to replicate anywhere else in the world.
Its rich culture and history can be felt throughout the city, in its grand, eclectic architecture, its distinctive dishes and friendly locals.
The perfect place for a city break
So, what makes Lisbon the ideal destination for a city break? It’s one of the last major European capitals (outside Eastern Europe) where you can eat, drink and make the most of the nightlife without the eye-watering price tags attached.
It’s a brilliant city to experience on foot, or by tram, if you’re looking to experience the area like a local.
Lisbon is a veritable feast for lovers of design and architecture. One of the most notable features of Lisbon’s charming architecture is its vibrantly patterned ceramic tiles dotted throughout the city. Filled with labyrinthine alleyways, secret nooks and hidden gems.
The hardest thing about visiting Lisbon is knowing where to start, and what not to miss. We’ve put together a few must-haves for any first-time visitor.
Eat Pastel de Nata for Breakfast in Belém
Located to the West of Lisbon city centre is Belém, the historical heart of Portugal.
You can get to Belem very easily, via a 20-minute tram journey, departing from Praça da Figueira. There are also several riverboat services that can get you from the city centre to Belem in 45 minutes, with exceptional views of the waterfront architecture.
You don’t have to look too far to see evidence of Portugal’s colonial past, with buildings and monuments harking back to the 15th Century and Portugal’s Age of Discovery. It was in Belém where early Portuguese explorers set off to discover large parts of the globe, only to return with riches and bounty that would enrich the local area for centuries to follow.
It’s the birthplace of the Pastel de Nata, the egg tart pastry dusted in cinnamon, a source of Portuguese pride and certainly not to be missed! First made by the monks of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in the 18th century, in certain pastry shops, like Pastéis de Belém, you will find the same recipes are still being used.
If Belém were a country, the Torre de Belem is its emblem. Make sure you find time to visit this 16th-Century fortress and admire its intricate architecture.
Stroll through Lisbon’s Tropical Botanical Garden
Before leaving Belém, visit the historic gardens a short walk from Jeronimo’s Monastery. Designated a national monument in 2007, the gardens are the perfect way to escape the summer heat of the city, a tropical paradise overlooking the Atlantic ocean.
Find vintage, Victorian style terrariums and greenhouses nestled among towering great palms and banana trees. Sure to please the kids and provide the necessary respite from the lively city centre for everyone else.
Get lost in the lanes of Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo
Informally known as one of Lisbon’s most photogenic, Instagrammable streets. The Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo is filled with little shops, quaint cafés and bars. Take the Ascensor da Bica funicular up to the Bairro Alta and Bica neighbourhoods for sweeping views across the steep hills.
At the top, be sure to stop by the area’s best-known viewpoint, the Miradouro de Santa Catarina.
Stop by Oceanário, Lisbon’s impressive Oceanarium
The Oceanário de Lisboa is well worth a visit, for all manner of guests to the city, kids, families, single adults, big groups and small.
This vast aquarium is located in Parque das Nações, to the north-west of the city centre. Stroll down to the waterfront, taking in the contemporary art, green spaces and buildings along the way through this redeveloped quarter overlooking the Tagus river.
The Oceanário itself is an imposing building developed by American architect Peter Chermaeff for the Expo98 event. And when we describe it as vast, we really mean it. It’s the largest indoor aquarium in Europe and one of the biggest in the world, holding an impressive 5 million litres of sea water.
The permanent exhibition displays marine habitats from all four corners of the globe, from the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Antarctic. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see an out of this world exhibition, and to see otters, puffins and penguins in what comes very close to their natural habitat.
Listen to Fado music in one of Lisbon’s vibrant bars
Fado is one of Lisbon’s most proud heritages. This distinctive musical genre has been played in Lisbon since its birth in the early 1800s.
Listening to a live band play fado is a rite of passage for any far-flung visitors, even if you cannot understand the lyrics. Known for its distinguishing Portuguese guitar and dramatic, somewhat melancholic, vocals from both female and male fado singers. Fado was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in 2011.
Some of the best places to experience typical fado are in the streets, bars and restaurants, where singers and musicians perform among the tables.
Some great bars to experience fado music include Senhor Vinho (Yes, that’s Sir Wine to you), Clube de Fado and Tasca do Chico.
If you would like to find out more about this package and for prices, get in touch with a Camel Collection rep today.
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