Europe’s second oldest capital, Lisbon is an effortlessly elegant city, full of old-world charm.

Portugal‘s capital was originally named Allis Ubbo by the Phoenicians, meaning ‘calm harbour’, thanks to its idyllic location on the banks of the Tagus River. The city subsequently fell under the rule of the Romans and the Moors before eventually being captured by European crusaders.

Each ruling dynasty left their mark and Lisbon’s neighbourhoods have their own unique character, from the grand 18th-century buildings of the lower town to the labyrinth-like streets of the oldest district, Alfama, that sits at the base of the Moorish Castelo de São Jorge. An earthquake in 1755 brought much of the city to its knees, and nowadays the city’s architecture is clearly defined as being pre- or post-quake.

Winding your way through the city, you’ll pass rows of houses in warm shades of orange, yellow and rust red. Washing is strung from wrought iron balconies and window boxes overflow with flowers. Weaving their way through this pretty patchwork are the city’s trams, the favoured mode of transport of Lisbonites and a great way to hop between the different districts.

Lisbon has plenty to offer, with a plethora of museums and galleries as well as beautiful buildings covered in iconic azelujo tiles. The city is built on seven hills, each one offering spectacular views over the city and the River Tajo. It is also known for its lively restaurant scene and there are plenty of places to stop, sip a coffee and savour a Portuguese custard tart while watching the world go by.

When to go

Late spring and early autumn are two of the most rewarding times to visit Lisbon, when temperatures aren't too high and the tourist crowds are slightly fewer than during the high season of July and August.


What to do

  • Explore the atmospheric old streets in Alfama
  • Hop between Lisbon's districts on the city's charming trams, including the wonderful Tram 28 route
  • Sample the delicious and authentic custard tart
  • Marvel at the historical gateway to Lisbon, the Tower of Belém
  • Head on a day trip to nearby Sintra, a longtime royal sanctuary
  • Visit the National Tile Museum for an insight into Portugal's ceramic tiles
  • Admire the ornate spires and grand carvings of the great Monastery of Jerónimos

Accommodation in Lisbon

Here are some of our travel designers' favourite options