Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, is a ramshackle but charming mix of now and then. Vintage trolleys shiver up and down its hills, bird-stained statues mark grand squares, taxis rattle and screech through cobbled lanes, and well-worn people sip coffee in Art Nouveau cafés. It’s a city of faded ironwork balconies, multicolored tiles, and mosaic sidewalks, of bougainvillea and red-tiled roofs with antique TV antennas. Enjoy all this world-class city has to offer, from its elegant outdoor cafés, exciting art, stunning vistas, and entertaining museums, to the salty sailors’ quarter with its hill-capping castle.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Alfama Stroll and the Castle Tangled medieval streets topped by São Jorge Castle.
▲▲▲ Baixa Stroll: Lisbon’s Historic Downtown The lower town, gridded with streets and dotted with major squares.
▲▲▲ Bairro Alto and Chiado Stroll The high town’s views, churches, and Chiado fashion district.
▲▲▲ Gulbenkian Museum Lisbon’s best museum, featuring an art collection spanning 5,000 years, from ancient Egyptian to Impressionist to Art Nouveau.
▲▲ Museum of Ancient Art Portuguese paintings from the 15th- and 16th-century glory days.
▲▲ Parque das Nações Inviting waterfront park with a long promenade (and rental bikes), a modern mall, the Expo ’98 fairgrounds, and an aquarium.
▲ Fado Museum The story of Portuguese folk music.
▲ National Tile Museum Tons of artistic tiles, including a panorama of pre-earthquake Lisbon.
▲ São Roque Church and Museum Fine 16th-century Jesuit church with false dome ceiling, chapel made of precious stones, and a less interesting museum.
Port Wine Institute Plush place selling tastes of the world’s greatest selection of ports.
São Jorge Castle Originally an eighth-century bastion, first built by the Moors, with kingly views at the highest point in town.
Museum and School of Portuguese Decorative Arts A stroll through aristocratic households richly decorated in 16th- to 19th-century styles.
Elevador de Santa Justa A 150-foot-tall iron elevator offering a glittering city vista.
Cathedral (Sé) From the outside, an impressive Romanesque fortress of God; inside, not much.
▲▲▲ Monastery of Jerónimos King Manuel’s giant 16th-century, white limestone church and monastery, with remarkable cloister and the explorer Vasco da Gama’s tomb.
▲▲ National Coach Museum Dozens of carriages, from simple to opulent, displaying the evolution of coaches from 1600 on.
▲ Maritime Museum A salty selection of exhibits on the ships and navigational tools of the Age of Discovery.
▲ Monument to the Discoveries Giant riverside monument honoring the explorers who brought Portugal great power and riches centuries ago.
▲ Belém Tower Consummate Manueline building with a worthwhile view up 120 steps.