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Lisbon travel guide

So you’ve got 48 hours in Portugal’s capital city. With a waterfront, castles and a nightlife scene that’s very much alive and well, where do you start?

Stashed right along the coast of the Atlantic and peppered with buildings lined with colourful tiles, Lisbon is one of those postcard-worthy cities with an energy you can feel down every busy street. Lisbon is a city that can’t be pinned down. You’re just as likely to find a vegan pizza restaurant as you are a medieval monastery and elaborately-decorated arches. And with a hot, Mediterranean climate that sees barely-there winters and very-there summers, you’ll be hard pressed to find a day in Lisbon that’s not to your liking.

Lisbon might be Portugal’s biggest city, but we’ll help you tackle this tile-lined town, no sweat. Here’s our guide to making the most of your two days along this slice of the Med.

Where to stay

Pensao Elegante

This budget-friendly guest house will give you your own bedroom with some shared bathroom facilities, but some rooms afford views of the castle in the distance. It also puts you right in the thick of Lisbon’s downtown.

Gloria Design Suites

The no-fuss apartment-style rooms at the Gloria Design Suites not only offer an optimal location near to the Bairro Alto neighbourhood, but fully-equipped kitchenettes and living rooms too. There are one-bedroom options, as well as two. Plus, Wifi here is free.

Olissippo Lapa Palace
Olissippo Lapa Palace

Yes, it’s an actual palace, and yes, staying here will make you feel like royalty. The Olissippo Lapa Palace is a 19th-century palace converted into a hotel, offering guests antique-filled rooms, private turrets and views of the river.

What to see

Sao Jorge Castle
Look to one of the highest points in downtown Lisbon and you’ll see the Sao Jorge Castle – or, the Castelo Sao Jorge – keeping a watchful eye – it’s a Moorish castle that was built in the 10th century, whose stone walls cut into the hillside.

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum
After Calouste Gulbenkian died, it was in his last will and testament that his extensive art collection be made into a museum – voila, thus came the museum of the same name, featuring a wide range of ancient artwork from the Greco-Roman era, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Persian art, as well as some modern pieces.

Jeronimos Monastery
The Jeronimos Monastery is an insanely staggering museum whose elaborate architecture and lush gardens date back to the 16th century. Within its grounds are a number of Renaissance statues and ornate architectural details, plus royal tombs.

Where to eat

Time Out Market Lisboa
The first of the Time Out markets, Lisbon’s isn’t far off from the waterfront, and features a huge range of street food made gourmet that can be eaten at the picnic-like tables scattered in the middle of the cavernous market.

Estamine Art Food Drink
Visiting Estamine Art Food Drink means you’re not only privy to quality tapas but some seriously quality views. Run by a husband and wife duo, this little café sits high up into the hillside and gapes down at the city and serves authentic Portuguese dishes and lighter bites.

Casa da Comida
Dining in Casa da Comida will have you wondering whether you’re dining in an upscale restaurant or a very stylish living room. The comfort and chic factor here are palpable. As for the menu, you can expect six-course meals of the Mediterranean variety and expert wine pairings.

Where to drink

Bairro Alto
The Bairro Alto neighbourhood was once the headquarters for Lisbon’s bohemian scene, but is now a haven for bars and parties that spill into the streets. You’ll still find an array of artsy wine and rooftop bars reminiscent of the neighbourhood’s boho past, but you’ll also encounter some of the noisy, neon variety.

Standout: Park
Park is a picturesque rooftop bar whose views are second to none. It opens for drinks at sunset and keeps things laid-back into the evening with live music and a DJ as the Lisbon glitters below.

Where to dance

Lux is one of the biggest and best known clubs in Lisbon, comprised of a massive dance floor that stays buzzing well into the morning. There are frequent live shows and DJs performing here, with drinks that fall well into affordable territory.

Pensao Amor
Think part speakeasy, part 1970s dance den and you’ve got Pensao Amor. It boasts the best of both night-out worlds, with an elaborate sitting room for semi-quiet conversations and a dark dance floor.

Insider tip

Lisbon is an incredibly hilly city that can give even the fittest holidaymakers a run for their money. The streets are cut with a network of cable cars that’ll help you get from A to B without inducing a heart attack, and costs 2.85 euros per trip, or 6.00 euros for a 24-hour pass.

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