Lisbon is the westernmost capital city in Europe and the hub of Portugal, situated on the Atlantic Ocean. It is a lively, fun city with beautiful tiled buildings and great shopping. The nightlife and music scene are excellent, and there is a real feeling of creativity in the city from the azulejos tiled buildings to street art to the artist-run shops in the Barrio Alto district.
Most of the city’s buildings date from after 1775 when a devastating earthquake hit Lisbon. Roaming from the riverfront along the Tagus through the Belem area, along into the city center of the Baixa and up into the hills of the Alfama and Barrio Alto districts, Lisbon is one of those feel good cities that make you want to return even before you’ve left.
How to Get to Lisbon
There are a few different docks for cruise ships coming into Lisbon – it is one of the busiest hubs for cruising all year round. None of these docks is particularly close to the city center and most will offer a shuttle service to the Praca do Comercio, a large square and transport hub at the end of the pedestrianized main shopping street, Rua Augusta, in the downtown Baixa district. There is also a good tram, bus and taxi network. Some of the maritime-oriented attractions are within walking distance of some docks.
One Day in Lisbon
One thing you must do is catch one of Lisbon’s iconic narrow yellow trams. Route number 28 passes many of the city’s major attractions and is a cheap hop-on, hop-off option for exploring the city. On the riverfront near Vasco da Gama Bridge is Parque das Nacoes, where the popular aquarium is located.
Some of the main attractions of Lisbon are located in Belem stretching along the river Tagus: Jeronimos Monastery, the Maritime Museum and the wonderful stone fortress the Torre de Belem. This area is a few miles from the city center, so from here catch a tram (number 15), bus or taxi to the city center and explore the lovely Moorish architecture and winding streets of hilly Alfama leading up to the Castle of St George from which you’ll get great city views.
On the opposite hill are Barrio Alto and Chiado, Lisbon’s bohemian and cultural heart and excellent for restaurants and shopping. Lisbon has wonderful quirky transport options with the Santa Justa elevator going from Baixa to Barrio Alto, and various funicular railways to get you up the steep hills.
Alternately, you may want to get out of Lisbon and take a day trip to the beautiful town of Sintra with its castles, palaces and gardens, or to the pilgrimage town of Fátima where the Virgin Mary appeared three times to three children in the early 20th century.
The language in Lisbon is Portuguese but English is widely spoken. The currency is the euro and ATMs are easy to find throughout the city.