• Alfama district, Lisbon, Portugal
    Alfama district


Lisbon, Portugal's capital, is ramshackle, trendy, and charming all at once — an endearing 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 Art Nouveau cafés are filled equally with well-worn and well-dressed locals — nursing their coffees side-by-side. It's a city of proud ironwork balconies, multicolored tiles, and mosaic sidewalks; of bougainvillea and red-tiled roofs with antique TV antennas; and of foodie haunts and designer boutiques. Enjoy all this world-class city has to offer: elegant outdoor cafés, exciting art, fun-to-browse shops, stunning vistas, delicious food, entertaining museums, and a salty sailors' quarter with a hill-capping castle.

At a Glance

In Lisbon

▲▲▲ Alfama Stroll and the Castle Tangled medieval streets topped by São Jorge Castle.

▲▲▲ Baixa Stroll The lower town — Lisbon's historic downtown — 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 Egypt to Impressionism 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, a modern mall, and the Expo '98 fairgrounds.

▲ Fado Museum The story of Portuguese folk music.

▲ São Roque Church and Museum Fine 16th-century Jesuit church with false dome ceiling, chapel made of precious stones, and a less interesting museum.

▲ Lisbon Cathedral From the outside, an impressive Romanesque fortress of God; inside, not much.

▲ Aljube Museum of Resistance and Freedom Exhibits documenting fascist António Salazar's rise to power, housed in a former prison building.

▲ Mouraria District Historic Moorish quarter turned buzzing international zone with inviting eateries.

▲ National Tile Museum Tons of artistic tiles, including a panorama of pre-earthquake Lisbon.

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 Aristocratic household richly decorated in 15th- to 18th-century styles.

Elevador de Santa Justa 150-foot-tall iron elevator offering a glittering city vista.

In Belém

▲▲▲ 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.

▲ Casa Pastéis de Belém Sprawling café and bakery where you can enjoy Lisbon's famous custard tarts where they were first created.

▲ Maritime Museum 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.