With a flight-time from London Gatwick of around two hours, Lisbon is ideal for a short city break or a longer stay. Jacob White discovers a lively café culture and nightlife in one of the most vibrant cities in Europe
Lisbon © Céline Colin
Blessed with a warm Mediterranean climate despite facing the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon is a historical city with characteristic and surprising sights around each corner and an array of cultural treasures.
Europe’s second oldest capital after Athens, it exudes a faded charm with medieval village-like neighbourhoods while also embracing a buzzing creative scene, which continues to grow.
Lisbon is a compact and intimate city with a small-town feel, meaning it’s easily accessible and exploring will only take a few days – the Praça do Comércio is a good place to start – and look out for the city’s spectacular suspension bridge.
For a fun party vibe head for the narrow bar-filled cobbled lanes of the bohemian hilltop district Barrio Alto, which is buzzing with the sounds of jazz, reggae and fado filling the air and revellers partying until sunrise.
Lisbon is a great base to explore some of Portugal‘s picturesque towns and villages. Just outside of Lisbon, you’ll discover the magical setting of Sintra and the glorious beach of Cascais.
A short tram ride to the west of Lisbon lies Belem, where you can visit the Belem Tower, Explorers Monument and the Belem Culture Centre, which features artworks by Dali, Picasso and Warhol.
The imperial Belem waterfront celebrates Portugal’s ‘Age of Discoveries’ in the form of a lavish monastery and river-facing statues reminding visitors of today of voyages of the past.
Lisbon is renowned for its seafood, which is available in abundance throughout city, and don’t leave without trying a pastel da nata, a melt-in-the-mouth custard tart first baked just outside of the city in the 18th century.
Contrary to the guidebooks, there is much more to the cuisine of Lisbon than seafood and custard tarts. The best place to experience authentic Portuguese cuisine is the premier cookery school of the city, Cooking Lisbon, where they are passionate about their city and local food.