Longing for a change of scene? Spending your evenings dreaming of the places you’ll go next year? Well, if you are thinking about taking a city break in one of Europe’s great capital cities you should definitely consider Portugal’s coastal capital, Lisbon.
Just a short hop from the U.K. Lisbon has become one of Europe’s top destination capitals and here’s why.
Here’s some stats to consider during those chilly winter months in the U.K. With its subtropical Mediterranean climate, Lisbon is one of the warmest capitals in Europe, enjoying around 290 days of sunshine a year. January, as you might expect, is the coldest month but with an average temperature of 11 degrees centigrade it’s not exactly wintery. Lisbon’s mild winters and warm summers make it a perfect all year destination.
Inhabited since Roman times, Lisbon has outstanding architecture, both ancient and modern. The dramatically sited Saint Jorge castle incorporates both Roman and Moorish building, while the Convento do Carmo is an evocative ruin of gothic vaults and arches. The Belem Tower, at the mouth of the Tagus, is Lisbon’s most well-known example of Manueline architecture, a style which incorporates both Venetian and Moorish influences. If your taste is more inclined to modernity, then be sure and visit the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, Lisbon’s very own Golden Gate, and the slender white pillars of the metal and glass Gare do Oriente.
There are plenty of great beaches just an hour’s drive from Lisbon. If your heart is set on the Algarve, you are looking at a two- and half-hour drive.
Lisbon has restaurants to rival those of Paris and London and if you go to the Time Out Market you’ll find scores of them all under one roof, together with bars, shops and some of the best vendors of meat and fish in the city. The city’s seafood is superb: try a fried soft-shell crab or roast octopus with black tapioca. Or perhaps you should try a bowl of the Portuguese classic, ‘Stone Soup’, so much nicer than it sounds. And of course, no visit to the city would be complete without trying the famous Pasteis de Nata, the custard pies, once made by nuns with the excess egg yolks which remained after starching their habits.
History and culture
One of the best ways to get to know this fabulous city is to take Tram 28 which, for under 3 euros, takes you on a perfect sight-seeing tour through Lisbon. En route, be sure to stop off and see the Ler Devagar bookshop, with its grand staircase and antique printing machines, it’s been named one of the ten most beautiful bookshops in the world. And if you’ve a doll in need of repair be sure to visit the exquisite Hospital de Bonecas, the oldest dolls’ hospital in the world.
Beautiful villas to rent
Whilst trying to rent self-catering accommodation in London or Paris is probably prohibitively expensive, you can hire beautiful accommodation in Lisbon or its environs at a very reasonable price.