Short Breaks to Lisbon
A short break to Lisbon is the ideal way of getting to know this interesting and varied city. Sitting on the north bank of the River Tagus, surrounded by hills, and packed with churches, monasteries, and museums, Lisbon is a city of many parts. The elegant central area contrasts with the older hilltop settlements, while the refurbished port area contributes a modern touch.
The 18th century city centre has wide streets and impressive neoclassical buildings. Here you can visit a museum, walk around the imposing squares, or take a ride up the hillside in the Gothic-style Santa Justa elevator. Alternatively, you can do as the locals do, and sit in one of the many cafés or restaurants and watch the world go by.
Many visitors to Lisbon like to spend their time soaking up the atmosphere in the historic districts. Wander the steep narrow alleyways of the Alfama, with its fortified castle, and cafés with panoramic views over the estuary. In the evening the hilltop area of Bairro Alto comes into its own, with lively nightlife, and friendly restaurants lining its cobbled streets.
Lisbon is notable for its culture and sport. It has theatre, classical and rock concerts, and fado, the traditional Portuguese songs accompanied by guitar. Sports lovers can tour the Sporting Lisbon stadium (home to many sports as well as football, and a concert venue), or watch football, motor-racing and other sports depending on the time of the year.
Things to Do and See
Bairro Alto (Upper District/Neighbourhood), as the name implies, is situated at a higher altitude than many other areas of the city, and as such offers great views out over the river and the 25 de Abril bridge – along with being home to a number of Lisbon’s steeper streets! At night this area becomes one of Lisbon’s prime spots, with most of the lisboetas congregating in the streets outside the bars with their drinks in hand.
Taking a tour is an excellent way to get a general overview of a city while also providing the opportunity to glean from the tour guides information about the things to see and do that are of personal interest to you. Lisbon offers a number of tour options including walking tours and those by open top bus and tram.
Lisbon is home to several structures and landmarks which bear more than a passing resemblance to others that are synonymous with an alternative worldwide destination. For example, the 25 de Abril Bridge – which spans the Tejo river connecting the city of Lisbon with Almada – looks just like San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge, while the Almada side of the Tejo river is home to the Cristo-Rei statue, which overlooks the city and is based on Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue.
Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos)
The Jerónimos Monastery is a stunning example of Renaissance architecture and one of Lisbon’s top attractions to visit. Receiving World Heritage status in 1983, it is also the final resting place of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. Please visit the official website Click here for details about opening hours and available tours.
Lisbon Oceanarium (Oceanário de Lisboa)
The Lisbon Oceanarium features a huge main tank which is seamlessly subdivided into 4 sections, enabling species of marine life accustomed to different water conditions to seemingly share the same water. Larger marine species on display include sharks, rays and moray eels. Visitors can explore the Oceanarium or take advantage of the guided tours, details of which can be found at Click here
Luís de Camões Square
The Chiado district is popular for its shopping, which means many people on a short break to Lisbon tend to find themselves here at some point, often stumbling upon the Luís de Camões Praça before heading back down one of the many side streets that spring out from this central location.
Praça do Comércio
Located close to the river in the town centre, excellent views are to be had at the Praça do Comércio no matter which way you turn – whether out over the water, or towards the grand archway and statue of King José I on horseback. The square itself is surrounded by the charmingly yellow painted and red roofed building and is an idyllic spot to sit down at soaking up the atmosphere.
Restaurants and Cafés
With Lisbon enjoying such fantastic weather most of the year, its cafés, bars and restaurants are great places to sit outside for a spot of refreshment while enjoying the sunshine. Pictured here is the Doca de Santo Amaro area which is very close to the 25 de Abril Bridge. It features a number of trendy bars and restaurants and is a lively area to visit at night while providing a relaxing ambience during the day.
If you have more than a couple of days spare or have already seen much of Lisbon on a previous visit, the historic town of Sintra on the edge of the Greater Lisbon district can be reached by train within 40 minutes. The town itself is set amongst forest covered hills which are interspersed with luxury villas, fairytale-esque castles and a medieval castle. Please visit Click here for further information about Sintra including a virtual tour.
Where to Go
- Take a day trip to the picturesque town of Sintra
- Ride the Santa Justa Elevator for great city views
- Wander at night through the bustling Bairro Alto
- Spend the afternoon in Doca de Santo Amaro sipping on your favourite drink
- Experience some of Europe’s finest plazas