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Lisboa, the capital of Portugal
Lisboa also known as Lisbon is the capital and most important city of Portugal. The city is located on the banks of the Tagus River on the western coast of Portugal which faces the Atlantic Ocean. Once a rich spice and jewellery trade centre at the beginning of the Portuguese Age of Discoveries, the city is nowadays a major tourism, financial and international trade hub.
The prevailing mild weather, top quality hotels, the variety of sightseeing tours, the historical and monumental highlights, all contribute in making Lisboa an ideal city-break holiday. Known as the white city, thanks to its unique light and kind climate, Lisboa is ideal for marvelous walks all over the city. The city has a beauty that extends beyond its famed monuments that can be experienced in the streets and embraced by all the senses. With over 2 million inhabitants and one of the largest seaports in Europe, Lisboa has all the natural resources and the adequate facilities for staging either a leisure journey or incentive events all year round.
Standing as the gateway to discover Portugal by train, Lisboa is 2h30 away from Porto located in the north or 3h from Faro in the south. The perfect starting point to discover the Iberic peninsula, travellers can take the comfortable Lusitania overnight train from Lisboa Estação Oriente (Lisbon Orient Station) to reach Madrid a 9h trip.
Lisboa has many historic quarters that add to its charm. All these old quarters with medieval origins have a characteristic and familiar environment with small houses and narrow streets that gives a unique dimension to the city.
Start your journey at the Praça Dom Pedro (near Metro Rossio) by taking the nº 28 tram, along the narrow lanes to the top of the Alfama hill where you can admire Alfama, the oldest district of Lisboa. Overlooking the Alfama is the mediaeval Castle of São Jorge which was a royal residence until the early 16th century. We promise that the view around the corners will surprise you... Indeed, the Castle of São Jorge offers the best views of the city.
Take time to wander slowly down the narrow lanes of the hill to reach the Alfama district which houses the freguesias (parishes) of São Miguel, Santo Estêvão and São Vicente de Fora. It contains many important historical attractions, with many Fado bars and restaurants. The name Alfama is derived from the Arabic Al-hamma, which means fountains or baths. This was the first inhabited part of Lisboa and it still enjoys a very special atmosphere. And just when you are off guard through the labyrinth lanes, steps and alleys you will hear the sound of the 12 stringed Portuguese guitar playing the Portuguese blues accompanied by the voice of the singer in the melancholic melodies about love, far away love, lost love. This is Fado!
This enchanting melody will invite you to drink a glass of Ginginha, a typical Lisboa drink made from Cherry Liquor, in one of the taverns or restaurants. Pay a visit to the Casa do Fado e Guitarra Portuguesa – Fado Museum on the foothill of Alfama, a journey through the history of Fado. When in the Alfama district, don’t miss the Lisboa Cathedral, the oldest of the city and the baroque Church of Santa Engrácia.
Not far away is the Bairro Alto district, a fashionable area known for its unique architecture, restaurants and traditional shops. The area is also one of the best places for the nightlife lovers. Bairro Alto with Riverside area, Docas and Avenida 24 de Julho are one of the most crowded nightlife areas in Europe.
Our tip: The Lisboa trams are the best way to visit the old districts of the city.
Lisboa was particularly important in the 15th and 16th centuries as the starting point for maritime discoveries, and for centuries it was a major trading port. In 1755, a massive earthquake almost completely destroyed the city, in particular the area now known as Baixa Pombalina, named in honour of the Marquis of Pombal who ordered its reconstruction.
Visit this district, located near the seafront to discover its two distinctive features - its gridiron street layout and its street names, recalling the crafts and trades of this part of town. Near to this quarter there is Chiado square where locals and tourists alike go to buy books, garments or pottery. You can have a cup of coffee in A Brasileira, one of the most famous cafés of Chiado, where the poet Fernando Pessoa used to come. The square is also an important cultural area, with several museums and theaters. One of the main attractions of the Chiado area is the Santa Justa Elevator, an elevator built by a disciple of Eiffel to avoid climbing the steep streets of the city. Located on the corner of Santa Justa and Aurea, it consists of a 45m high tower built in 1902. From the top, you can enjoy the wonderful views unfolding in front of you while enjoying a drink in the top floor cafeteria.
The best is yet to come! Hop on the n° 15 tram at the Praça do Comércio for a ride alongside the Tagus estuary. On the way you will be able to admire all the splendor of the 25 de Abril Bridge connecting the North and South banks of the Tagus River. The bridge has a similar design to that of the San Francisco-Golden Gate Bridge, and is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. On the other side of the bridge is the Santuario De Cristo Rei, a giant statue overlooking Lisboa and inspired by Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.
After approximately 25 minutes, get off at the Praça do Império, where you will discover the Hieronymites Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos). It stands as one of the most prominent monuments of the Manueline style architecture and is classified as a World Heritage site, just as the Tower of Belém which is located nearby. Built in the 16th century, this fortified tower on the very bank of the Tagus River is one of the seven wonders of Portugal!
All the history of the Portuguese golden era can be sensed here. A couple of metres away is found the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, a monument which celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery. This imposing monument, conveived in 1939, features prominent navigators, mathematicians and explorers on its side.
Take the bus to return to Praça do Comércio. Get off the beaten tracks and try a river cruise to see Lisboa from the calm waters of the Tagus River. Hop on board an old ferry at Praça do Comércio, with stops in Belém and Parque das Nações. You will be able to enjoy the beauty of the Tagus estuary and Lisboa itself, from the river banks to the old quarters perched atop the city’s seven hills, while enjoying a delicious cup of tea or coffee. You will be told of its history, forged by its immortal navigators and seamen.
Lunch time or dinner time is always a treat in Lisboa - the ideal destination for good food lovers! You will find restaurants with typical food and excellent service - which is no wonder, since good food is widely appreciated by the Portuguese themselves. Lisboa offers a wide range of typical dishes and excellent wines like the Vinho Verde and the Porto. Because of its location which is very close to the sea, Lisboa is ideal to try delicious fish dishes.
Dedicate a day to indulge in some shopping. Lisboa offers a wide variety of shops to visitors, with its combination of elegant high street shops, flea markets and modern shopping centres. The main shopping areas are in Baixa especially the pedestrian’s Rua Augusta for clothes and shoes, and Rua Áurea for jewelry, the Chiado and Bairro Alto disctrict for clothes and linen and neighbouring streets for ceramics and haute couture. For high class label clothes and shoes, go to Avenida da Liberdade.
In all these shopping areas the prices are considered to be among the lowest in Europe, especially for shoes and leather items. And if you’re into haute couture, this is definitely the place to find all the latest bank-breaking fashions by leading Portuguese and Italian designers. Concerning shopping, this makes the city of Lisboa one of the best great value destinations in Europe.
Turismo de Lisboa
Rua do Arsenal, 23 1100-038 Lisboa
Tel: +351 210 312 700
The city’s tourist office has a helpful personnel, insider information and tips as well as handy maps and brochures. The city’s tourist office also arranges tours and excursions and is a focal point for local accommodation.
Getting to and from Lisbon
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Trains are a convenient way of reaching many towns and cities throughout Europe. The majority of cities in Europe have a minimum of one train station, while larger, more populated cities have two or more stations. Train stations, in general, are located in the heart of the city. Review the map below to get an idea of where the train station(s) in Lisbon can be found.
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