Portugal is often overshadowed by its flamboyant Spanish neighbour, but don’t be fooled, this too is a destination rich in history and colourful culture. Lisbon is one of Europe’s best value capital cities and there’s so much to love about its attractions and outgoing personality!
You could spend weeks, or longer, getting to know Lisbon intimately, but if you need to pack all that into a few days, here’s our Top 3: Must See, Do and Eat in this captivating city.
High on a Hill:
To really get an appreciation for the landscape surrounding Portugal’s capital city, you should start walking up, and up! Climbing up to the Castlo de São Jorge will definitely get the heart pumping, but the views from the top are worth it. The hilltop castle dates back to the Moorish occupation of Portugal in the 11th and 12th centuries, but the existing citadel is mainly medieval and contains the ruins of the royal palace and the gardens. While exploring the shaded courtyards and visiting the galleries with ancient relics is well worth your time, the real star of the show here is the view!
Once where Lisbon’s elite lived to escape the less salubrious surrounds of the inner city, today Belem is open to everyone to enjoy the picturesque riverside district in Lisbon’s west. Located here are many of the capital’s most notable attractions, such as the 16th century Belem Tower and extravagant Jeronimos Monastery. There’s also the Museu Colecção Berardo, with an impressive collection of modern art including works by Warhol, Man Ray and Pollock. There are many other museums to discover or you can enjoy relaxing in Jardim da Praca do Imperio, Europe’s largest plaza filled with decorative gardens and water features.
Food, Glorious Food:
From street stalls to fancy restaurants, you can enjoy so many wonderful local flavours in Lisbon. At Mercado da Ribeira you can choose from kiosks serving a delicious selection of snacks or more substantial meals and Mercado de Fusao also has great sidewalk food stalls. If you’re in Lisbon over winter, then November to January is when you MUST try castanhas – Portugal’s famous roasted chestnuts, found at mobile vendors on street corners around the city. Of course the other must-try treat is Pasteis de Nata, a creamy custard tart that originated at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem. Entering this tile-decorated bakery is an experience to be savoured almost as much as the sweet pastries. Pasteis de Belem are made from a secret recipe that’s been carefully guarded for over 200 years. An oven-warm tart with a cup of coffee is the ideal way to start your day, but we dare you to try to stop at one!
Want to savour more of Portugal’s wonderful highlights? Click here to see Gate 1 Travel’s tantalising selection of escorted tours.
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