City Guide – Lisbon


The capital of Portugal; legend has it that Lisbon was founded by the Greek king, Odysseus. Able to trace their ancestors back thousands of years, Lisbon locals are a proud bunch, more than happy to show you around the stunning sites of the beautiful city.

As one of the oldest cities in the world, there are plenty of stunning ancient sites to enjoy during a visit to Lisbon. Rich with Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Modern and Postmodern architecture, a walk through the various districts of the city is like taking a trip through time – exploring Lisbon’s heritage. And as home to some of the world’s most famous and important nautical explorers, there is no better way to visit Lisbon that from the seas.

Additionally, Lisbon is the perfect place for a European city break during the winter months. Benefitting from a Mediterranean climate, Lisbon enjoys the warmest winters of any major city in Europe – ideal for spending a few days exploring a new city.


Whilst Lisbon might not have the same attention-grabbing sights as Paris or Vienna; the Portuguese capital still offers plenty for even regular visitors to get excited about. The considerable number of castles and churches provide plenty for history buffs to sink their teeth into.


The 16th century Belém Tower is a wonderful example of Middle Ages fortifications. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the tower originally was built as an important defence system at the gateway into Lisbon. The tower was a pivotal structure during the Age of Discoveries, and the Portuguese contribution to exploring the wider world.


If you think Portugal’s contribution to the culinary world starts and ends with a cheeky Nando’s, then you’re massively mistaken. From fresh fish and lamb stews to delectable desserts and gorgeous wines, Portugal remains Europe’s biggest hidden gem for foodies. One dish you have to try during a trip to Lisbon is Bacalhau – the salt cod dish which is prepared in over 300 different ways throughout the city.


Unsurprisingly, A Casa do Bacalhau (the house of Bacalhau) is well up the list of venues when you’re looking for a delicious plate of the Portuguese national dish.


Stroll through Lisbon, and you’ll undoubtedly find a huge selection of Ginjinha vendors dotted throughout the streets. Ginjinha is a wonderful liquor made from ginja berries (sour cherries) infused in alcohol, served with a small cherry in the bottom of the measure. The Ginjinha vendors are often nothing more than a small hole in the wall, serving just the famous drink.


Many Portuguese like to spend an evening having a slow stroll around the city’s streets, navigating between their favourite Ginjinha joints. And we reckon this is probably the best way to enjoy the sweet cherry liquor.


Despite having a population of little over half a million, Lisbon has a huge selection of accommodation options. With more than 200 hotels within the city limits, there is something for every budget and taste within Lisbon.

But for a truly unique and unforgettable experience, we’d suggest the As Janelas Verdes – a small boutique hotel located in a historic palace next to the National Art Museum. Found on the banks of the River Tagus, within the historic neighbourhood of Lapa, the surrounding area retains a sense of a small, charming village rather than a thriving cultural capital city.


A traditional Lisbon breakfast tends to include a small pastry and a bica (espresso), and sometimes a small glass of brandy. The Portuguese love to breakfast with their friends, sitting chatting in cafes over the small feed.


The Pastelaria Suica is the perfect place to breakfast like a local – a surprisingly spacey café which has been an institution since it opened in 1922.

At Cruise1st, we offer a huge selection of great cruises calling in at Lisbon – aboard some of the world’s most sensational cruise ships. For the full selection, visit our homepage or call us today on 0808 2746 777.


Image credits: Jeremy Keith, Marg, BineHerzog, Filipe Fortes


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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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