Top 5 Reasons to Visit Lisbon

1. Superb Seafood, Meat, and Wines

Lisbon is a wonderful city for gourmet food fans, especially those who have a taste for seafood. Clams, lobster, salt cod, shrimp, and monkfish are fixtures on menus across the city. Head to places like Ti-Natercia and wash your meal down with a glass of wine from the nearby Douro Valley.

2. Fascinating Historical Sights

Lisbon has quite a history. For years it was a Moorish city, and the citadel and Alfama are a legacy of this period. Then it became the capital of Portugal as the nation explored the world. If you are into history, São Jorge Castle is a must, as is the City Museum. There are more offbeat historical attractions too, like the unique Puppet Museum in the Convento Das Bernardas.

3. Atmospheric Streets to Explore by Foot

Part of the fun of visiting Lisbon is exploring the ancient neighborhoods on foot. Sure, some areas may be hilly, but the Bairro Alto, Chiado, and Alfama reward anyone with the energy to venture into their dense networks of cobbled streets, where you’ll find hidden restaurants, souvenir stores, and lively bars that are frequented by locals.

4. Coastal Resorts within Easy Reach

One of the great things about Lisbon is that you can be at the beach in a flash. Resorts like Estoril and Cascais can be reached by train in around 20 minutes. Further afield, the Silver Coast offers some of the world’s best surfing beaches and beautiful scenery, and is just an hour from central Lisbon.

5. A Thriving Art and Design Scene

Recent years have seen Lisbon surge into the top ranks of European art destinations. New galleries have popped up like the Museu Coleção Berardo with its focus on pop art and minimalism, the collection at the Centro de Arte Moderna keeps expanding, and areas like Belém are a hotbed of street art.

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Facts about Lisbon…

Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal, with an estimated population of 544,851 within its administrative limits in an area of 100.05 km2. Lisbon’s urban area extends beyond the city’s administrative limits with a population of around 2.7 million people, being the 10th-most populous urban area in the European Union. About 3 million people live in the Lisbon metropolitan area, which represents approximately 27% of the country’s population. It is mainland Europe’s westernmost capital city and the only one along the Atlantic coast. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost portions of its metro area, the Portuguese Riviera, form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, culminating at Cabo da Roca.

Lisbon is recognised as an alpha-level global city because of its importance in finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education and tourism. Lisbon is one of two Portuguese cities (alongside Porto) to be recognised as a global city. Lisbon is home to three companies in the Global 2000. It is one of the major economic centres in Europe, with a growing financial sector and one of the largest container ports on Europe’s Atlantic coast. Additionally, Humberto Delgado Airport served 29 million passengers in 2018, being the busiest airport in Portugal, the third busiest in the Iberian Peninsula and the 20th busiest in Europe. The motorway network and the high-speed rail system of Alfa Pendular links the main cities of Portugal to Lisbon. The city is the ninth-most-visited city in Southern Europe, after Istanbul, Rome, Barcelona, Milan, Athens, Venice, Madrid and Florence with 3,539,400 tourists in 2018. The Lisbon region has a higher GDP PPP per capita than any other region in Portugal. Its GDP amounts to US$110.3 billion and thus $32,434 per capita. The city occupies the 40th place of highest gross earnings in the world. Most of the headquarters of multinational corporations in Portugal are located in the Lisbon area. It is also the political centre of the country, as its seat of government and residence of the head of state.

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the second-oldest European capital city (after Athens), predating other modern European capitals by centuries. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. After the fall of the Roman Empire it was ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century; later it was captured by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1147 Afonso Henriques conquered the city and since then it has been the political, economic and cultural centre of Portugal.

Although today it is quite central, it was once a mere suburb of Lisbon, comprising mostly farms and country estates of the nobility with their palaces. In the 16th century, there was a brook there which the nobles used to promenade in their boats. During the late 19th century, Alcântara became a popular industrial area, with many small factories and warehouses.

In the early 1990s, Alcântara began to attract youth because of the number of pubs and discothèques. This was mainly due to its outer area of mostly commercial buildings, which acted as barriers to the noise-generating nightlife (which acted as a buffer to the residential communities surrounding it). In the meantime, some of these areas began to become gentrified, attracting loft developments and new flats, which have profited from its river views and central location.

The riverfront of Alcântara is known for its nightclubs and bars. The area is commonly known as docas (docks), since most of the clubs and bars are housed in converted dock warehouses.

The oldest district of Lisbon, it spreads down the southern slope from the Castle of São Jorge to the River Tagus. Its name, derived from the Arabic Al-hamma, means fountains or baths. During the Islamic invasion of Iberia, the Alfama constituted the largest part of the city, extending west to the Baixa neighbourhood. Increasingly, the Alfama became inhabited by fishermen and the poor: its fame as a poor neighbourhood continues to this day. While the 1755 Lisbon earthquake caused considerable damage throughout the capital, the Alfama survived with little damage, thanks to its compact labyrinth of narrow streets and small squares.View from the São Jorge Castle, including the Praça do Comércio on the waterfront

It is a historical quarter of mixed-use buildings occupied by Fado bars, restaurants, and homes with small shops downstairs. Modernising trends have invigorated the district: old houses have been re-purposed or remodelled, while new buildings have been constructed. Fado, the typically Portuguese style of melancholy music, is common (but not obligatory) in the restaurants of the district.

The Mouraria, or Moorish quarter, is one of the most traditional neighbourhoods of Lisbon, although most of its old buildings were demolished by the Estado Novo between the 1930s and the 1970s. It takes its name from the fact that after the reconquest of Lisbon, the Muslims who remained were confined to this part of the city. In turn, the Jews were confined to three neighbourhoods called “Judiarias”.

Bairro Alto (literally the upper quarter in Portuguese) is an area of central Lisbon that functions as a residential, shopping and entertainment district; it is the center of the Portuguese capital’s nightlife, attracting hipster youth and members of various music subcultures. Lisbon’s punk, gay, metal, goth, hip hop and reggae scenes all find a home in the Bairro with its many clubs and bars that cater to them. The crowds in the Bairro Alto are a multicultural mix of people representing a broad cross-section of modern Portuguese society, many of them being entertainment seekers and devotees of various music genres outside the mainstream, Fado, Portugal’s national music, still survives in the midst of the new nightlife.

Best wishes.

Jordanas Pavtel

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