One of Europe’s best loved city break destinations
Lisbon doesn’t need to work too hard to advertise its many charms. With ancient cobbled alleys, whitewashed townhouses, rustic cuisine and an easygoing reputation, Lisbon is a place to come and lose yourself (and treat yourself) for a long, long, long weekend.
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Goods from all over Portugal and its former empire find their way into Lisbon boutiques. Rua Áurea, Rua da Prata and Rua Augusta are the most important shopping streets, while Centro Colombo (Avenida Lusíada) is one of Europe’s biggest shopping centres. Feira da Ladra (Campo de Santa Clara), known as ‘The Thieves Market’, is a twice-weekly flea market on Tuesday and Saturday selling all manner of clothes, baskets and curiosities. Antique hunters will find much to pique their curiosity at the shops in Rua Dom Pedro V. For an unusual treat, canned fish might not sound very exotic, but the characterful old family shop Conserveira de Lisboa (Rua dos Bacalhoeiros 34) is a delight to explore.
Food & Drink
Cinnamon-sprinkled custard tarts, piri-piri chicken, fresh seafood and salted cod: there are many reasons to love Lisbon’s cuisine. Of the city’s multitude of cafés and pastelarias (cake shops), none gets more rave reviews than Casa Pastéis De Belém (Rua de Belém 84-92), which started making its famous tarts in 1837. Even older is the colonnaded Café Martinho da Arcada (Praça do Comercio 3), a favourite spot of poet Fernando Pessoa for whom a table still stands empty. To really blow the budget, the Michelin-starred chef at Feitoria (Doca do Bom Sucesso) fuses Portuguese cuisine with the flavours of its former colonies.
While a dress code of sequins, feathers and mad headdresses is optional, fun is inevitable. Lisbon’s carnival is spread over several days, but the climax is Entrudo, when Parque das Nações is filled with street theatre, parades and other festivities.
Festas de Lisboa
This all-encompassing festival includes three weeks of street parties, marches, barbecues, music and other fun at various lively venues throughout the city. The festivities culminate in a parade along Avenida da Liberdade on the night of 12 June, the eve of Saint Anthony’s Day.
Super Bock Super Rock
This mammoth music festival brings a multitude of rock and metal fans together on Meco Beach, in south Lisbon. All sorts of big-name headliners take to the stage, from the Arctic Monkeys to Queens of the Stone Age.
Portugal is intensely proud of its seafaring past, and this pride is palpable during Lisbon’s Oceans Festival. This two-week nautical extravaganza sees parades, concerts, shows and food fairs set to a nautical theme.
New Year’s Eve
Fireworks and their reflections in the Tagus River illuminate the city centre, while street entertainers and concerts keep the masses entertained in this colourful celebration of the New Year.
Lisbon has an ever-growing choice of places to stay, from city centre piles to family-run pensãos (guest houses) and nearby beachside resorts. As Janelas Verdes (Rua das Janelas Verdes 47) is a lovely quirky little guest house with spiral staircase, complimentary wine on arrival and mid-range room rates. For luxury coupled with character, hotel-cum-mansion Olissippo Lapa Palace (Rua do Pau da Bandeira 4) is hard to beat. Alternatively, if you like to be beside the seaside and you don’t mind a short commute to the city centre, Cascais has a good range of beach hotels, such as the Cascais Miragem (Avenida Marginal 8554).