City of the Week: Lisbon
By Cristiana Dias
Named as one of the top cities in the world to visit in 2017, Lisbon is an enchanting European capital that can offer its visitors everything for a great vacation. With its Mediterranean climate, Lisbon is a year-round destination. Its winter temperatures range from 8 to 15 degrees Celsius, with otherwise warm, sunny days all year.
Lisbon also boasts historical importance, as it is where many of the Portuguese navigators departed from during the Age of Discovery in the 15th century. Bartolomeu Dias was the first explorer to go around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, who was succeeded by Vasco da Gama, who was the first explorer to reach India by sea. Lisbon pays homage to its explorers with its Padrão dos Descobrimentos monument, located right near the fortified Belém Tower and the Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge, which mimics that of the Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, due to its hilly geography, Lisbon is considered the San Francisco of Europe! This is particularly evident with the antique cable cars that move all around the city.
If you want to live the true Lisbon experience, you should start your travels in the bairro (neighborhood) of Alfama, the oldest district of Lisbon. This area is known for Fado, a Portuguese style of beautiful, melancholy music, often sung by a woman accompanied by a Portuguese guitar. From there you can visit the Castle of São Jorges, a Moorish, hilltop castle, that overlooks the entire city and the Tagus River.
Because of Lisbon’s proximity to the Atlantic, tourists can take trains from one of Lisbon’s main train station, Cais do Sodré, to nearby beaches and towns, like Cascais, which is the region’s most popular vacation spot. From Cascais, you can walk along the water to the beaches of Estoril, and then take the train back to Lisbon. You can also head to the Serra de Sintra for some great surfing, and visit the fairytale-like town of Sintra, and its famous castle, Palácio Nacional de Sintra.
When it comes to food, Lisbon has great seafood because of its location. Make sure you try some traditional Portuguese codfish, as well as some Pastéis da Nata, which are mini Portuguese flan pastries. A great place to eat would be Lisbon’s TimeOut Market, and to top off the night, grab some drinks in Bairro Alto, the center of nightlife in Lisbon. You won’t be able to miss the “Pink Street,” Rua Nova do Carvalho, where bars and clubs align the pink asphalt.