Discovering a new destination is an unforgettable feeling. That’s why at Jet2holidays we’re all about bringing you fresh places to visit and exciting holidays to have. So what better place to introduce for 2020 than Portugal’s incredible capital city, Lisbon?
With its authentic Portuguese charm, Lisbon welcomes you with open arms. History lovers can travel through time as they witness the various changes to the city since the infamous earthquake of 1755. Beach fans can enjoy the gorgeous coastlines running from Cascais to Estoril. Adventurers can hike through Sintra’s dense woodlands, while foodies can taste delicious local delicacies. And as the night rolls in, get ready to lose yourself among the bustling bars of Bairro Alto.
There’s something for everyone in the Portuguese capital, so read on to find out all you need to know for your ideal Lisbon holiday…
Step back in time
Lisbon is any history buff’s ideal destination. As you walk through the narrow cobbled streets, it’s hard to believe that in 1755 the city was destroyed by three tremors, a city-wide tsunami and a week-long firestorm. But if you look closely you can see that the effects of these devastating events are still felt today – from the earthquake-resistant Pombaline architecture, which was some of the first in Europe, to the haunting ruins of Igreja do Carmo church.
One district not affected is Alfama. In fact, walking through this atmospheric district is like stepping back into traditional Portugal, with a maze of steep medieval streets, tiled plazas and washing lines hanging between houses. Visit the impressive 11th-century Castelo de Sao Jorge at the top of the hill and from this spectacular miradouro (viewpoint) admire the terracotta-topped houses of Alfama below.
If you fancy escaping the city and discovering sights along the River Tejo, then Belem is the place for you. Take tram 15 from Praça da Figueira to Jerónimos Monastery, a UNESCO-listed masterpiece from the 15th century. Examine the artfully-sculpted exterior before heading inside to see the spectacular cloisters and scalloped arches that rise above your head. Outside, enjoy the green open spaces and tree-lined plazas as you take snaps of the various landmarks along the river. Look out for the Torre de Belem and Padrão dos Descobrimentos – a monument to 15th-century Portuguese explorers. And why not finish with a trip to the MAAT museum for some ultra-modern art and rooftop views of the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge?
And you can’t visit Lisbon without a trip to Sintra. Tucked among forested mountains with whimsical palaces piercing the skyline, this UNESCO-listed village has all the trappings of a fairytale. You can take the bus to picturesque Palácio Nacional da Pena for incredible snaps of the colourful turrets and tiles. Or follow the hiking trail to the mystical grounds of Quinta da Regaleira where you can get lost in a maze of mythical creatures and even a spiralling well. It’s truly a sight to behold.
Lisbon isn’t just a city break destination, with beautiful beaches along its coastlines. Head to Cascais for a relaxing break in the Portuguese sun. With a trio of golden beaches, a shimmering marina and culture aplenty, this old fishing village is the perfect retreat for sun-worshippers. Lay down a towel at Praia da Conceição and chill on the Blue Flag sands. Or if you’re an avid surfer, head further afield to Praia do Guincho for world-famous waves and dramatic scenery.
You can also take a short train ride or walk along the coastline to the nearby beach resort of Estoril. Enjoy calm blue waters and golden sands at Praia do Tamariz – a less crowded alternative to Cascais’ beaches. Grab refreshments from the bars and restaurants lining the promenade. And as evening rolls in why not pay a visit to the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, Casino Estoril, for an international show.
Lisbon is famed for its delightful local delicacies. Seek out the Bairro Alto classic bacalhau – a dried and salted cod fish. Or enjoy the bounty of fresh seafood available by the waterfront. As for the iconic pastel de nata, there’s no better place to sample these glorious custard tarts than at Pasteis de Belém. You may have to queue, but the ancient secret recipe from Jerónimos Monastery makes them well worth the wait. So grab a box of three and prepare to indulge in a taste of heaven.
A must-visit for foodies, Time Out Market Lisboa is undoubtedly one of the best places to dine while in the city. Under one roof you can find 26 restaurants, eight bars, plenty of shops, stalls galore and even a live music venue. Join in the buzzing atmosphere as you enjoy dishes curated by Michelin-starred chefs or indulge in exquisite hams and Serra da Estrela cheese at the renowned Manteigaria Silva. And when it’s time for a tipple, why not grab a glass of freshly-made sangria or head to A Ginjinha for a shot of ginja cherry-liquer with the locals?
Seize the night
From hidden bars in Bairro Alto to buzzing clubs along Pink Street, Lisbon’s electric nightlife has something for everyone. For incredible rooftop views with a twist, head to Park in Bairro Alto. This laid-back bar is situated on the sixth floor of a car park offering 180-degree views of the city – from Santa Carina church to the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge. You can enjoy sangria and mojitos as you watch the sunset, before the dancefloor comes to life until the early hours.
And Lisbon’s selection of unique bars doesn’t end here! Get lost in a maze of quirky rooms and vintage cocktails at the brothel-turned-lounge bar, Pensao Amor. If you fancy partying until dawn, continue along Pink Street to one of Lisbon’s bigger nightclubs such as Music Box or Europa. Or for those after something more low-key, check out one of the Fado clubs in Alfama where you can dine and listen to this melancholy music style. It’s the ultimate taste of traditional Lisbon.
Posted: 18th Dec 2019.