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Overview

For all the postmodern buildings at its newer edges, central Lisbon is a period piece, and you'll instantly feel as though you've stepped back half a century or a whole one. It has that romantic aura of between-the-wars Europe, although it's hard to explain just what makes it so. Narrow streets climb its hills so steeply that they sometimes break into stairways, then open into belvederes with sweeping views across the city to the broad Taugus River or to the castle that crowns the highest hill. Lisbon's cafés rival Paris and Vienna, their walls often decorated by blue and white azulejos glazed tiles (also found lining churches) ...

For all the postmodern buildings at its newer edges, central Lisbon is a period piece, and you'll instantly feel as though you've stepped back half a century or a whole one. It has that romantic aura of between-the-wars Europe, although it's hard to explain just what makes it so. Narrow streets climb its hills so steeply that they sometimes break into stairways, then open into belvederes with sweeping views across the city to the broad Taugus River or to the castle that crowns the highest hill. Lisbon's cafés rival Paris and Vienna, their walls often decorated by blue and white azulejos glazed tiles (also found lining churches) that are a reminder of Portugal's long Arab domination. The architecture is a wonderful mix of Belle Epoch, Neo-classical, and Baroque, the latter embellished in the intricate flourishes of Manueline, a decorative style found only in Portugal. The Taugus River gives the entire city a waterfront, and the old working docks are now lined with restaurants, cafes and clubs where the younger set spends summer evenings. Wander back streets off park-lined Avenida de Liberdade to find stunning Art Nouveau facades, and be sure to ride the tram up to explore the narrow streets of the Barrio Alto.

Barbara Rogers
About the Expert

Barbara Radcliffe Rogers has written or coauthored more than 30 guidebooks, including The Portugal Traveler, Drive Around Portugal, City Spots Munich, City Spots Helsinki, City Spots Stockholm, Eating New England, and the Maine section of Thomas Cook's Independent Traveller USA.

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Barbara Rogers for Triporati

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Now Happening in Lisbon

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Capital city of Portugal, located near the southwest coast alongside the Tagus River.
  • Language: Portuguese, Mirandese
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Lisbon | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring and fall are lovely, with temperate weather and fewer tourists, but winters are surprisingly mild and pleasant.