Centuries of reinvention and restoration pile on top of one another in Portugal’s dazzling, sun-blessed capital.
Here, time-worn trams trundle through medieval streets and the scent of freshly baked custard tarts permeates the air. Modern Portugal has emerged in this historic city, too, offering nightlife, shopping and business to rival Europe’s major capitals.
Arriving at Lisbon Portela Airport
Your journey into Lisbon’s history begins at Portugal’s busiest airport, a key connection point to Southern Europe. Getting from the airport to the city is easy, with several different bus operators running services. Taxis to the centre take around 20 minutes and cost from €15, but do agree on your fare before departing. Metro trains also link the airport to Saldanha City, one of the financial centres of Lisbon.
You can pick up a variety of tickets from the airport, including inclusive cards that cover numerous forms of transport for the duration of your stay.
For anyone wanting to travel outside of the city, it’s best to book car hire in advance.
Food and drink
Everywhere you go in Lisbon, you’ll have the opportunity to taste a variant of bacalhau, a salted cod that has been a local staple since the 14th century. Cod isn’t even a local fish – it was just easy to preserve for long sailing excursions in the age of exploration. The key is to find your favourite version of it, as some say it can be prepared in about 365 different ways. If you’re looking for a way into trying it, sample bacalhau à brás, a Bairro Alto recipe with potatoes and scrambled egg.
Cod isn’t the only seafood on offer: much fresher catches are available all around the city. Prawns, lobsters and oysters all come fresh from the Atlantic to your plate in highly acclaimed restaurants around the city.
The classic Lisbon dessert is the pastel de nata, a small flaky tart filled with custard, sold in pastelarias throughout the city – simply follow your nose. For a truly authentic experience, look for tarts that are fabric próprio – made in-house at the bakery.