Lisbon has been touted as a modern metropolis that rivals London, packed with history from Roman imperialists to Berber pirates, Moorish builders to fierce Reconquista knights, all wrapped up in the grand palaces and heritage districts.
Now that Portugal has been added to the UK’s safe travel list, there’s no better time to explore this beauty. To list everything considered a ‘must-see’ in Lisbon would take forever, never mind finding time to see them, so here’s our brief list of the best things to do or see in Portugal’s capital.
1. Wonder at the Torre de Belém
If there’s just one landmark that simply can’t be missed, this is the one. The Torre de Belém soars above the seafront of the Lisbon, the great tower is a fusion of architectural styles from the Mudejar to the Moorish, the Gothic to the Romanesque.
It has become perhaps the most iconic feature of the city, famed as the last sight adventurers like the prodigal Vasco da Gama would have seen as they drifted out into the vast Atlantic Ocean.
2. Ride Tram 28
Much like San Francisco, Lisbon is a city famed for its historic, rattling tram lines. The most iconic is Tram 28, which for decades has been working its way up the steep, cobbled roads into the Alfama district.
It departs from the hills of Graça before weaving its way towards the hairpin alleys of Escolas Gerais, completing its journey beneath the domes of the gorgeous Basilica da Estrela. It’s excellent for people-watching, and you can discover years and years of history as it passes majestic castles and palaces along the way.
3. Discover the Basílica da Estrela
As you alight Tram 28, you’ll see the domes and spires of the Basilica da Estrela, and it’s worth lingering beneath the whitewashed facades on this church and convent that many visitors consider being one of the most beautiful in Lisbon.
Late Baroque design dominates the exterior, with a pair of carved spires towering into the skies above, while the interior is a kaleidoscope of coloured stone inlays, as well as the tomb of Queen Mary I of Portugal.
4. Go beach hopping on the Costa da Caparica
A holiday wouldn’t be a holiday without a beach, and just a short drive across the Ponte de Abril on the Tagus River will take you to the highly-acclaimed summer resort of Costa da Caparica.
The resort sits on the northern fringes of the Sétubal district, offering an incredible access to the best sandy beach spots close to Lisbon. Discover empty stretches of acacia-backed dunes and seagrasses swaying in the breeze, all washed over by waves to challenge the best surfers.
The busiest beaches are closest to the town, but a narrow-gauge railway will take travellers to more secluded coves and spots for sun worshippers further along the coast.
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