Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and one of the oldest and most important cities in Europe. The city is Portugal's financial and political hub, housing a large proportion of the entire country's populace. Lisbon seems to be emerging as 'city of choice' for European tourists embarking on short breaks, and has previously been awarded the title of European Capital of Culture.
Lisbon is of great strategic prominence due to its position looking out to the Atlantic, and it is for this reason that Portugal has such a prestigious history in maritime exploration. Lisbon's port remains one of the busiest cargo ports in Europe, and the breezes from this Atlantic gateway tend to temper the strong summer sun, with the average daily maximum temperature peaking at 29 °C in August.
Visitors to Lisbon will grow to understand the highly individual personalities of each of the city's districts. Baixa and the Praca do Comercio are at the heart of the city, whilst Chiado and Cascais Old Town give a real sense of authenticity and tradition, with the small whitewashed houses cascading down towards the beach. The cobbled streets of Biarro Alto are wonderfully atmospheric and positively vibrant in the evening. Alfama is home to St George's Castle and the views from the castle's unique vantage point are essential. Finally the Parque das Nações gives a taste of the modern side of Portuguese life.
The UNESCO listed Torre de Belem is one of the most renowned sites in Portugal and a true symbol of Lisbon's heritage. The tower is built in the mouth of the Tagus and appears as a kind of medieval fort built in the water - a powerfully evocative statement of Portugal's ambitious maritime intentions.
Lisbon naturally slopes down towards the Tagus and this makes the trams undoubtedly handy for any visitors not so keen on scaling the steep banks in the warm weather. The ornate yellow trams have become something of a symbol of Lisbon.
Last updated: 14 March 2014