Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, lies across seven hills and overlooks the River Tagus. It’s a charming old city, from Alfama, the Moorish-influenced part of town that survived the earthquake in 1755, to the lower town (or Baixa), that was flattened by it and later rebuilt in elegant 18th-century style.
Belem, the historic quarter, is beside the river. It is from here that many of the explorers headed off on their voyages of discovery. The beautiful Belem Tower, awesome Jerónimos Monastery and the Monument to the Discoveries are all here. It’s also the place to sample Lisbon’s delicacy – the custard tart. The Antiga Confeitaria de Belem has held the secret recipe to the cinnamon-dusted treat since 1837.
Bairro Alto, the high neighbourhood, is the cultural centre, a lively district with fado singing clubs, restaurants and bars.
One of the best things about Lisbon though is getting around it. There are funiculars and a fantastic elevator connecting lower Lisbon to the upper parts. The number 28 tram trundles from Baixa to Campo Orique, taking in the Alfama and Graca districts. Getting to Lisbon is easy too. As Portugal’s main international airport, there are plenty of cheap flights to Lisbon Airport.
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Lisbon has warm summers with temperatures often in the high 20s (Celsius), and wet, windy winters with temperatures around 10 degrees. Even in the coldest months of December and January the city rarely sees freezing temperatures, although the rain can make it feel colder. The hottest months are July and August, and the coolest are December through February.
Tourists start arriving in the spring and the flow continues through the autumn. The highest point of peak season is mid-June to August when prices also peak. During the European Football Championship (EFC) games, the city is mobbed with supporters, so check the schedule or join the party. Another drawing card is Carnaval in February or March, when prices are as high as those in summer.
Early spring, late autumn, and winter visitors can often find cheaper Lisbon flights and reduced hotel rates. The Indian summer of late September into early October is a particularly pleasant time to visit.