Stretched across its seven trademark hills overlooking the River Tagus estuary, Portugal’s hilly, coastal capital city of Lisbon, is a cinematic collection of cobbled alleyways, pastel-coloured buildings, ancient ruins and white-domed cathedrals. Decimated by an earthquake in 1755, modern Lisbon has been shaped by that eventful day. The Pombaline architecture that now defines the city represents some of the first seismically-protected buildings in Europe.
The city’s bridges include the Ponte 25 de Abril – similar to the Golden Gate in San Francisco – and the Ponte Vasco da Gama, which includes over 11km of viaducts. Lisbon’s many fascinating museums, include the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Coach Museum and the Carmo Archaeological Museum. [ReadMore]
Lisbon is also a shopper’s paradise, with the Centro Commercial Colombo – the biggest shopping mall on the Iberian peninsula – and the elegant Avenidas Novas, full of upmarket shops. Alternatively, there bargains to be had in the local flea market, Campo de Santa Clara. Don't miss the chance to sample iconic egg tarts at Pasteis de Belém too.
Fado is the traditional folk music popular in Lisbon. Born around the 19th century, this mournful yet beguiling musical expression is an integral part of Portuguese culture and was recently added to the UNESCO’s list of World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. Listen to and enjoy this musical style, a combination of soulful voice and melodic guitars.
Built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbour, the Belém Tower was the starting point for many of the voyages of discovery, and for the sailors it was the last sight of their homeland. It is a monument, which often serves as a symbol of the country, and is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage monument.
Pasteis de Belém
The Casa Pasteis de Belém is the traditional home of the delicious Pastel de Nata, the staple food of the sweet-toothed Portuguese. The namesake pastries consist of paper-thin layers of buttery crisp pastry, filled with a rich, yet balanced, custard of sugar and egg. Be sure to sample some of these delicious pastries while in Lisbon.