With its warm climate, perfect location next to the sea and relaxed atmosphere, Lisbon is ideal for a short break. Sprawling neighbourhoods are ideal for exploring, there's no shortage of sights, and a day at the beach is only a short train ride away. We thoroughly enjoyed our five days in the Portuguese capital and I hope to return again one day - there's still plenty to see! Here's a few pieces of advice for visiting...
- Venture outside the central part of the city. Catching a tram or a train into the suburbs or a nearby town is quick and simple, revealing a new aspect to the region. We ventured west to a couple of the quiet little beach towns during our stay, although if I am fortunate enough to visit again I'd definitely stop in Belem to visit the monastery we glimpsed from the train.
- Lose the map. Lisbon's streets are winding and steep, but part of the fun is simply wandering around. Rather than keeping your nose and eyes attached to a map, accept that you will lost and look closely around - and above - you instead. There's so much to see.
- Seek out interesting restaurants to eat at. Fortunately, we knew a number of people who had already visited the city and were able to give us some tips on where to eat. Although most places seemed to serve fresh, delicious food, we found that wandering side and back streets offered the best value for money and more unique locations to re-fuel.
- Just look for hotels or hostels in the very centre of town. We stayed a twenty minutes walk from the main plazas, and not only was our neighbourhood interesting in itself, but the forced daily stroll helped us find some interesting sights (such as the Aqueduct) and a few local restaurants.
- Forget to check opening days and times when planning your visit. Like many other central European countries, shops and restaurants are often closed on Sundays and operate reduced hours on Saturdays. Many museums are closed on Mondays, but are free to visit on Sundays. Fortunately, we stayed from Monday to Friday, so were unaffected by closures, but although Lisbon is ideal for a weekend break, it's worth checking what will be open before travelling.