Portugal’s capital town of Lisbon offers spectacular ocean views, colorful architecture, rich history and charm to spare. From grand monuments and museums to quaint cafes and beaches, Lisbon offers some of the best European experiences without the massive crowds. Discover some of the highlights of this sparkling gem of a city.
Portugal shares the Iberian Peninsula with Spain on the Atlantic Ocean and is blessed with a sunny Mediterranean climate most of the year. One of the oldest nations in Europe, Portugal has a rich explorer history and colonized areas of Africa, South America, Asia and East Timor—creating an empire, where the Portuguese language is still spoken today. Enjoy a kaleidoscope of cultural influences of all these fascinating countries in modern day Portugal. The perfect way to start your exploration of this country is by spending a weekend in the exciting and charming capital city of Lisbon.
Begin by strolling through the meandering walkways of the Baixa—the town center—to Rossio Square. Sit and relax near this serene fountain surrounded by intricate patterned black and white mosaic tiles. This square offers outstanding people watching and thriving nightlife in its bustling restaurants, bars and outdoor cafes. Nearby, you have your pick of 40 museums. If you visit just one, you can’t go wrong at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, where a treasure trove of exquisite works from the centuries awaits you. After perusing classical masterpieces, take a relaxing stroll through the lush lovely gardens. If modern is more your style, the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) offers art and insights within and sweeping views of the river Tagus from the outside rooftop.
Just down the street is Lisbon’s most impressive church, the Jerónimos Monastery. King Manuel built this ornate medieval chapel to honor seafarers who set sail to explore and conquer. The 500-year-old Belém Tower overlooking the sea serves as a monument to the Golden Age of Discovery and pays tribute to Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, knights, poets and royalty—all who helped lead the way in the exploration of the world. Both the monastery and tower are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
This is Europe, so of course, there’s a castle. The ancient Saint George’s Castle is a must see and offers stunning 360-degree vistas across the city.
Although the beaches of the Algarve are famous here, there’s no need to travel hundreds of miles outside the city for soaking in the scenery and sunshine. Just a 15-minute bus or train ride away to the coast, you’ll find several beautiful white-sand beaches perfect for catching rays and dining on fresh-caught seafood at seaside restaurants. Try octopus, or if that’s too adventurous for you, pick from several traditional salty cod dishes or a variety of delicious white fish dishes, accompanied by vegetables or rice.
All around town, you’ll find Pastelarias (pastry cafés). The signature pastry of Portugal is an indulgent and sinful custard-filled pastry, topped with sugar and cinnamon. Be sure to enjoy yours with a cup of strong café.
To taste this country’s signature drink, Port wine, you don’t have to go to the town of Porto where the dessert wine originated. Instead, you can visit the Port Wine Institute, in Lisbon and sample 300 varieties. Port wine is a heavy, thick, sweet fortified wine made from grapes grown in northern Portugal’s Douro Valley region. Start with a white and dry variety, then work your way to a slightly spicy ruby and finish with a mellow aged tawny port, to see what your palate prefers.
With a rich heritage of maritime discovery, it’s only fitting that you explore the lovely town of Lisbon on your own voyage. On Crystal Cruises Iberian Images cruise, you can enjoy a highlights excursion that offers a one-hour introduction to this scenic seven-hilled city, before exploring more in-depth. Pass by the Romanesque and Gothic-style Sé Cathedral, the fascinating Old City called Alfama, Rossio Square, the House of Parliament, the Estrela Basilica, then drive to the Belém area with its Jerónimos Monastery, Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) and Monument of the Discoveries.
Contact one of our cruise experts for advice on cruises that visit the lovely and lively port town of Lisbon, along with other delightful destinations you’ve been dreaming about.