Published by Ryanair July 2016
Lisbon has been named as one of the top travel destinations for 2016. Here are the things you need to know before you visit this year…
1. It’s old. The second oldest capital city in Europe, actually, after Athens. The great earthquake in 1755 destroyed the town’s commercial centre of Chiado, which was rebuilt in a classical style with wide boulevards and mosaic cobblestones – a beautiful contrast to the surviving Moorish edifices and winding streets of Alfama.
2. It’s hilly. The city was built on seven steep hills so bring comfy shoes and avoid the hottest summer months so you can properly explore. Otherwise, jump on one of the antique wooden trams which happily rumble up the steepest and narrowest streets.
3. It’s cheap. Lisbon is one of Europe’s best value cities. You can find beautiful accommodation on Airbnb from £20 per night (see my wishlist here) and get change from a €5 note for a quick breakfast, sandwich lunch or stiff drink in the sun at one of the open-air kiosks. Scattered through the city, the wrought iron kiosks have long been a key part of the Lisboan community and way of life.
4. It’s sweet. Don’t leave Lisbon without having devoured a Pasteis de Nata: the most deliciously creamy, warm and flakey custard tarts. The best are to be found at the Pasteis de Belem, where they’ve been using the same recipe for 170 years.
5. The incredible views. Panoramic views over terracotta rooftops materialise at every turn from vantage points called miradouros. My favourite vista was from Teatro da Garagem; the theatre sits on an unassuming street, and only until you venture down two flights of stairs to the cafe does it reveal its extraordinary view.
6. The Tagus. The city sits of the estuary of the Tagus River, which is the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula. The reflections from the water are said to give the city its soft light.
7. The art. Lisbon has a wealth of incredible art collections from ancient treasures to the old masters and some remarkable collections of modern and contemporary art. Be sure to visit the Museu Gulbenkian, Museo do Chiado and the Museu Colecção Berardo.
8. The shopping. Lisbon would be a perfect place to do your Christmas shopping, with unusual trinkets for the home to be explored at A Vida Portuguesa and an incredible display of jewel-like tins of fish, each brightly illustrated and hand wrapped, at Conserveira de Lisboa.
9. The music. Fado music emerged from the streets of Lisbon in the 19th century and is now an essential part of Portuguese culture. The traditional combination of a melancholic female voice and melodic guitars can be found in restaurants and Fado houses across the city.
10. The food. The Timeout market (Mercado da Ribeira) is bit of a tourist honey pot but a good place to start for tasting dishes from the city’s leading chefs. For a more intimate atmosphere, head to the nearby Petiscaria Ideal for the most delicious seafood tapas before wandering diagonally upwards to Barrio Alto and its bar-hopping crowds.