Lisbon hotels and tourist guide
Europe’s westernmost capital was constructed on seven hills beside a natural port where the Tagus River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. Many of Lisbon's streets are too steep for cars and it still relies on three funicular trams as well as a giant elevator (elevador). Lisbon can also boast some stunning feats of civil engineering, such as Ponte 25 de Abril (a bridge named after the 1974 Carnation Revolution), and Ponte Vasco da Gama, which was completed in 1998 and spans more than 17 km.
Much of the charm of Lisbon lies in its strong links to its golden past and the evidence thereof, such as its wide black and white mosaic calçada pavements, narrow cobbled streets full of Art Nouveau cafes, lovingly restored palaces and magnificent churches, not to mention the crowning glory of its Moorish castle, which dominates the old town. It is the blend of historical bairros (neighbourhoods), architecture and culture that distinguishes this capital city from all others.
Downtown, you’ll discover the vibrant Baixa district located around the central squares of Rossio and Praça do Comércio. Higher up, around Castelo de São Jorge, you find the oldest quarters: Alfama and Mouraria, famous for their Fado. Bairro Alto and Santos are also timeless, but have created their own upbeat and trendy vibe thanks to a generation of up and coming designers, restaurateurs, musicians and artists. In 1988 a devastating fire ripped through a large section of the Chiado district, and over the last 20 years it has been restored to its former glory, thanks to some of Portugal’s top architects, such as Álvaro Siza Vieira. Further west, the Tagus River leads to Belém, which proudly shows off the country’s nautical past and adventurous explorers in a series of fairy tale monuments, such as the Jerónimos Monastery and the Belém Tower.
But Lisbon isn't all about history and is fast becoming one of Europe’s hottest destinations, characterized by large and vibrant immigrant communities from Portugal’s former colonies, such as Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Angola and Mozambique. In fact, the total metropolitan area of the city counts almost 3 million people, but wandering around the narrow cobbled streets of the old Moorish quarters of Alfama and Mouraria, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in a quaint provincial town. This is what makes the city so special: on the one hand a modern European capital, and, on the other, a place that time seems to have forgotten, with smells, sights and sounds of slow-paced everyday life, like an old woman in black hanging out her washing, or a huddle of workmen grilling sardines on the pavement.
Lisbon voted Top Destination!
With charms such as these, it comes as no surprise that Lisbon was recently accorded top position in a comparative study of the world’s 20 most visited cities. As UK holidaymakers confirm what Strawberry World has long been advocating, the study reveals that Lisbon surpasses all other city break destinations based on key travel criteria. So... if good climate, easy access, flight & accommodation costs, security, food quality, local affordability, cultural attractions and exchange rates are also important to you, why not hop on a plane and decide for yourself?