Lisbon holidays from
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Explore Portugal’s scenic capital
From its postcard-pretty streets to its nostalgic charm, heavenly custard tarts to its wonderfully fresh seafood, Lisbon is ideal for a weekend break or a city meets beach fly-drive. Squeeze in the cultural highlights of this charming metropolis, from architectural castle marvels, rolling hills and waterfronts, to tantalising foodie bites.
As you’ll soon realise, Lisbon is a hilly city – and every rooftop offers a complex, multi-layered view of hilltop castles, hidden churches and twisting alleyways. Easily the most charming, picture-perfect part of Lisbon is Alfama a maze of steep narrow, cobbled streets that wind up the hill from the Tejo estuary to the castle at the top. Of course, you could hop on the number 28 bus all the way – the streets are quite the workout – but you’ll miss the joy of getting lost in the backstreets and stopping to admire the view from Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Go with a charged camera in hand because there’s no shortage of photo opportunities around here.
Find a view to catch a fiery sunset and listen out for soulful fado music as darkness falls. Venture to historical São Jorge Castle, then make tracks to the futuristic Parque das Nações. Learn about the Monastery of Jerónimos and gaze up at its beautiful architecture. Listen to live fado music in the evenings and sip on local cherry liqueur, before tucking in at one of our Lisbon hotels. Book flights to Lisbon and discover a city brimming with pastel-coloured baroque palaces and grandiose squares – then venture along Lisbon’s scenic coast.
Carefully selected Lisbon city breaks
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Best hotels in Lisbon for all types of traveller
There are plenty of options for those seeking some five-star luxury. Located in a restored 19th century palace, the Pestana Palace Lisboa is one of the Leading Hotels of the World, recognised for extraordinary service. This five-star hotel is close to Belem’s main attractions, such as the Tower of Belém, the Belém Cultural Centre and the Jerónimos Monastery, Alternatively try the Altis Grand Hotel which offers a central Lisbon setting, chic accommodation, a choice of dining venues and a spa. Another luxe option is The PortoBay Liberdade. This five-star hotel is situated right by Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon’s most luxurious street. The boutique property, set within a historic façade of a Lisbon palace, provides an indoor swimming pool, gym and spa, making it an urban resort but with a great city centre location. Then there’s the One Palacio Da Anunciada. This city centre hotel with a pool is set in a 16th-century palace that maintains its essence and majesty with an interior design that emphasises the building’s original beauty. Another city centre hotel with a pool is the Iberostar Selection Lisboa. Here you can enjoy the pleasures of outdoor life by spending the afternoon sipping a delicious cocktail on the pool terrace. Completing our luxe round up is the Altis Avenida Hotel. This has an outstanding location in the city centre, with views of the Sao Jorge Castle and is set near iconic attractions, including Rossio and Restauradores squares.
Looking for a more budget friendly choice? Plump for the Hotel Mundial. This timeless four-star hotel boasts a stunning rooftop bar, where you can drink in incredible views of Lisbon and the River Tagus. Alternatively pick boutique hotel H10 Duque de Loule. Set in a historic building in the city centre, the H10 Duque de Loulé is a four-star superior hotel that fuses traditional Portuguese décor with a modern and elegant touch.
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Make the most of your Lisbon holiday
Wander the city’s picture-perfect hilly streets, taking in Moorish castles, intriguing museums and lush secret gardens, stopping off for a tasty plate of salted cod fishcakes washed down with a crisp local glass of white.
What are the best things to do in Lisbon?
1. Visit the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga. A 17th Century palace houses one of the city’s best art collections of European and Asian masterpieces. Look out for highlights such as Durer’s St Jerome, Nuno Gonçalves’ naturalistic Panels of St Vincent and Lucas Cranach’s spooky Salome. The decorative arts are well represented too, including items such as King Afonso V's ceremonial 1470s armchair.
2. Call in at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Built in 1498 to celebrate Vasco de Gama’s discovery of the sea route to India this UNESCO-rated monastery is an ornate feast for the eyes. De Gama is buried here alongside poet Luís Vaz de Camões. Wander through the honey-hued cloisters dripping with finely honed details and look out for gargoyles and fantastical beasts on the upper balustrade.
3. Scale the Tower of Belem. This imposing 16th Century fortress juts out dramatically over the Rio Tejo guarding over the city’s harbour. It’s a powerful landmark symbolising the Portuguese renaissance and the Age of Discovery since many a maritime explorer set sail from here. Climb the narrow spiral staircase for prime views of Belem and the Tagus and look out for details such as meringue-shaped cupolas and a stone rhinoceros.
4. Gawp at tile art in the Museu Nacional do Azulejo. This fascinating museum charts the phenomenon of Azulejo, the intricate hand painted tiles that adorn many a wall across the city. King Manuel I imported the tradition from a trip to Seville in 1498 kickstarting a national ceramics movement. Key exhibits include a 36-metre long panel showing pre-earthquake Lisbon and a Manueline cloister with web-shaped vaults and stunning blue and white Azulejos.
5. Head underground for art. Many of Lisbon’s best examples of public art can actually be found underground in the city’s Metro stations. Minimalist artist Maria Keil was among the first to exhibit her work underground, joined by the abstract works of Nadir Afonso. Each station has its own unique character. Stop off at Restauradores, Aeroporto, Olaias and Oriente to catch some of the most inventive examples.
Which holiday type in Lisbon is right for me?
There are several great hotels for keen golfers we’d recommend. Penha Longa Resort offers a beautiful championship golf course designed by the renowned Robert Trent Jones II and ranked in the top 100 courses in Continental Europe. In addition, Penha Longa Spa offers a wealth of treatments with products by Natura Bissé, nine treatment rooms and a garden with gazebos, a Jacuzzi and a private pool. Alternatively try the Sheraton Cascais Resort, which is perfect for golfers, families and couples looking to hit the greens, explore Cascais or frequent the nearby Atlantic Ocean. At Serenity Spa there are a range of treatments and a thermal circuit, which includes a sauna, a Turkish bath and a hot tub.
Check in at the Vila Gale Cascais which is located over the sea and a few metres from the renowned Boca do Inferno, the Cascais Marina and the town’s historic centre. Another Cascais option is the Pestana Cidadela Cascais - Pousada & Art District. This offers a prime location in the centre of Cascais, boasting rooms with incredible views over the marina. Take a dip at the indoor swimming pool with marina views or the outdoor swimming pool surrounded by the Fortaleza Gardens.
Where are the best places to visit in Lisbon and the Lisbon coast?
Get lost in the beautiful and traditional area of Alfama, in a maze of winding streets and alleyways nestled between the hills and coastline. Admire the blends of Roman, Moorish and medieval architecture in this historical part of the city. Visit the São Jorge Castle perched on top of the hill, then amble along to the enchanting Sè Cathedral. When you’re feeling peckish, break at a traditional tavern and tuck into barbecued sardines on toast, covered in lemon citrus drips.
Explore the boulevards, plazas, arcades and avenues of Baixa. Sit beside the glistening fountain in Rossio Square, unwind in a café and nibble on crumbling egg custard tarts or enjoy a spot of shopping in this eye-catching area. Wander alongside the mosaic cobbles and pastel-yellow walls of Praça do Comércio – check out the selection of exhibitions and outdoor concerts held here throughout the year.
The bohemian district of Bairro Alto is a contrasting area. By day, it’s a laid-back place to be, but come sundown the neighbourhood comes alive with hip bars and sophisticated fado clubs. Enjoy the lively atmosphere as locals and tourists mingle, as restaurants serve up a variety of mouthwatering seafood and bars open their doors. The incline is pretty high around here, but you can hop on the famous Gloria Funicular to make your journey that bit easier. A top tip – catch a glowing sunset from panoramic viewpoint The Miradouro de Santa Catarina.
Discover the beauty of Belém – a neighbourhood situated alongside the Atlantic Ocean, bursting with maritime history, striking museums and attractive riverfront. Meander beside the banks of the Tagus River and marvel at the Monument of Discoveries, before visiting the mesmerising 16th century Belém Tower, on the water’s edge. Make a move to see the Jerónimos Monastery, then pop along to the world-famous Pastéis de Belém for the very best egg custard pastries in Portugal.
Make your way to Parque das Nações, the Park of Nations – created for the Lisbon Expo. It’s a popular place for weekend excursions, just outside of Lisbon. With its abundance of parks, water gardens, cafes and a cable car that glides above the Tagus River, it’s easy to spend a day unwinding here. If you’re looking for a little adventure, stroll along to the marina and take part in windsurfing, sailing and canoeing. Prefer to stay dry? Hire a bike and cycle around.
Jump on a train or hire a car and travel west along the coast to the alluring towns of Estoril and Cascais. Recline on one of Estoril’s golden beaches, perhaps Praia da Torre or Praia de Carcavelos, and explore the town’s balance of tourist hot spots and Portuguese tradition. A little further along, the dazzling red-tiled town of Cascais is a top pick for sandy beaches, a glistening marina and pedestrianised old town complete with upmarket boutiques
Visit Sintra, a captivating Portuguese landscape. With its verdant valleys, emerald forests, rolling mist-soaked peaks and fairy-tale architecture, it’s easy to see why day trippers make the journey here. Start by exploring the Palácio da Pena, it’s bursting with beauty. Then wander through the palace gardens of the quirky Quinta da Regaleira, which was created by Italian architect Luigi Manini – where you will also find the mystical Initiation Wells. Alternatively, head to the coast and see the Moorish hilltop fortress, Castelo dos Mouros and make tracks to the coastal viewpoint of Cabo da Roca.