From £34 pp
A patchwork of dusty terracotta-tiled roofs, scattered elegantly over seven hills that offer unique, breathtaking views over the Tagus estuary and the city that climbs and crawls towards each summit, Lisbon is a city ripe for exploration.
Wander the mazes of cobbled alleyways, the winding, creeping staircases past postcard-perfect pastel houses with washing lines spanning the shaded lanes in the warm, heavy air, as cats snooze in mossy corners and go padding away through narrow nooks and crannies.
Stumble upon Gothic towers and gleaming white cathedrals as trams go rattling by through the narrow lanes and the solemn melodies of fado float from secret courtyards and the smells of grilled sardines and freshly baked Pastel de Natas rise in the breeze.
As night falls and the city lights up in its magical orange glow, settle into a cosy tavern filled with chatter, or head to Bairro Alto for a raucous night in the heaving alleyways as the city is transformed from sleepy to vibrant in the blink of an eye.
When dusk settles over the picturesque hillsides and the quiet alleys, Lisbon transforms into a bustling, vibrant patchwork of wine bars, cosy taverns, student dives and glitzy clubs all crackling with energy.
Hop from bar to bar on an adventure through the narrow, cobbled lanes of Bairro Alto, mixing with the locals on a raucous night of merriment, or head out towards Cais do Sodré for overflowing cocktail bars. Wherever you head you’re sure to find a heady mix of wine and beer and excited locals – Lisbon is a city that loves a night out.
This is the real, gritty Lisbon, and a peek into what the city was like before any gentrification and, more importantly, before the 1755 earthquake. Because of all this, a trip to Alfama is a trip back in time.
Narrow lanes, quaint backstreet cafes and a unique, rural feel, old women sitting on doorsteps selling the catch of the day… Alfama is the perfect place for those who want to see the real side to a city and dig down beneath the surface of the tourist facade.
Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
This monastery is the quietly chiming spiritual centre of the Belém district. With beautiful gardens, a stunningly intricate interior and a golden, honeylike light washing through the cloisters and alcoves, it’s a beautiful gem right in the heart of the city.
Still standing 500 odd years after it’s construction, you can feel the weight of history as you quietly step from magical chamber to magical chamber, and cast your mind back to the monks who inhabited the church all those years ago.
When is the best time to go?
The high season (June-August) serves up stunningly bright days and the best weather for the beach, for festivals and dining on picturesque patios and terraces, although it can get a little hot for exploring.
For the best weather when it comes to climbing the many staircases and hilly slopes, try visiting in the spring (March-May).