For a destination that melds centuries-old charm with ultra-hip artistic credentials, it’s hard to beat the sunny Portuguese capital. Red-roofed buildings accentuated by traditional patterned tiles line winding cobbled streets, custard tarts and other old-fashioned delicacies are easy to come by, and imposing São Jorge castle overlooks it all. Yet youth culture rules in the riverside mega-clubs and in the sleek cafés that double as offices for freelance creative professionals.
Unsparingly, this nostalgia-tinged but utterly modern European capital hosts a great density of museums and galleries. These offer a broad survey of Europe’s past glories, as well as showcasing current work produced by the thriving community of artists who call Lisbon their home. Beyond the city boundaries, easily reachable daytrip destinations add to the area’s dizzying array of historic, cultural and natural attractions.
Ride the iconic yellow Tram 28 through the labyrinthine streets of the hilltop Alfama district
Marvel at how much art one very wealthy man can amass in a lifetime in the Museu Colecçao Berardo
Party until the break of day at Lux Frágil or one of the other pounding clubs that dominate the docklands
Tour picture-perfect historic sites such as colorful Pena Palace on a daytrip to Sintra
Bake on the golden sands at nearby beach towns such as Estoril
High-end hotels abound in Lisbon, but if it’s character as well as class that you’re after, the five-star Pousada de Lisboa on Praҁa do Comércio is a fine choice. The yellow exterior of this gorgeous old building is a perfect match for the city’s famous trams, and the delightful mix of quirk and tradition is carried through to the sleek, art-filled rooms within.
Lisbon’s dining scene has picked up quite the reputation lately, with Michelin-starred restaurants such as the Chiado district’s Alma garnering international acclaim. Look for celebrity chef Henrique Sá Pessoa among the staff at work in the open kitchen. Accompaniments such as pickled beetroot and pak choi add an Asian kick to Portuguese favorites.
Take a private helicopter tour of the city to see the twisting maze of streets laid out below you like a map.