Lisbon is the city for funiculars, feasting and frolicking.
Lisbon is ideally situated on seven low hills by a river side and has attracted traders and settlers throughout the ages. It is still a stunning beauty. The diversity in culture, the lazy atmosphere and the architectural time warp combine to yield a city that’s most enjoyable and economical.
At the centre of Lisbon are avenues marked by Art Nouveau buildings, mosaic pavements and street cafes. Seen from the river – Lisbon is a perfect postcard picture of low-rise ochre and pastel, accentuated by church towers and domes.
If you are a beach bum, any month is an ideal month to visit Portugal. If you would want to see the Carnaval then February/March is a good time to visit. Mid-June to August is the peak tourist season. Portugal lies in between the Atlantic and Mediterrenean climate zones and enjoys a pleasant climate all year around.
What do you do in a city that has Roman ruins? Well, do as the locals do: eat, laugh and be merry. Catholic Portugal celebrates festas (festivals), feiras (fairs) and romarias (religious pilgrimages) like there’s no tomorrow. When you add a worship of soccer and a vibrant arts calendar, Lisbon is buzzing with action all through the year.
Lisbon is the kind of place where you would like to sit lazily in a street cafe – sampling food or fado – and watch life. But for those who want to get up and get going there are plenty of cultural activities. In addition to architectural marvels at Belm, Lisbon has over 50 museums to visit. The most notable are Museu de Artes Decorativas Portuguesas, Museu do Palcio Nacional da Ajuda and Museu Nacional do Teatro. The Casa dos Bicos is a significant castle and is a must visit. The Ponte de Vasco da Gama is another attraction. Other notable attractions are Belem Tower, Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, Alfama, St George’s Castle, Lisbon Cathedral and Terreiro do Paco.
Belem Tower looks more like a small castle. It is situated near the bank of the River Tagus. The Mosteiro dos Jeronimos started in 1502 was aimed to emphasize Portugal as a world power at the time and more to celebrate Vasco Da Gama’s discovery of a sea route to India.
Alfama is the old part of Lisbon, is still picture perfect with narrow, winding streets and old, overhanging buildings.
Majestic St George’s Castle was the palace of the kings and queens of Portugal until the 16th century. The fortress here offers a spectacular view of Lisbon.
Terreiro do Paco was the royal palace until it was demolished by the disastrous earthquake of 1755. This is now Lisbon’s largest open space with government buildings along its periphery.
Just like any other city allowing the influx of modern style, Lisbon also has a number of modern shopping centres but the real pleasure is the shops that line the street and since life in Lisbon moves at such a comfortable and humane speed, browsing the street lined traditional and specialist shops is such a pleasure.
Portuguese food is less expensive than Spanish, delicious and ample in quantiy. Classic Portuguese meals include sardinhas assadas (charcoal-grilled sardines) and pastis de bacalhau (cod fishcakes). One can wash down the meals with Portugal’s good-quality vinhos (wines) or port – the traditional Portugese drink.