Besides the sunshine, blue skies, and light-coloured buildings – yellow and pink are the city’s traditional colours, but there’s plenty of white too – Lisbon’s main charm is its authenticity. What’s left of it, that is. Characterful traditional shops still line the streets of the Baixa and Chiado neighbourhoods, but more and more of them are giving way to impersonal international brands. In the winding alleys of the Alfama and Mouraria neighbourhoods, decades-long residents were evicted from their old whitewashed buildings to make way for a nameless crowd of Airbnbs. Luckily, for now Lisbon is still very much Lisbon, and discerning travellers hope the tide of damaging tourism can be stemmed. But they also know that if there’s a good time to visit Lisbon, it’s right now.

Explore Lisbon

Lisbon International Airport is large and well connected, receiving flights from a huge number of European cities, and from the Americas, Africa and Asia. If you want to avoid traffic when moving about the city, the underground network is extensive and works well. In some areas, you can also use the iconic trams, which allow you to sightsee as you move. Uber is another option, or else private transfers, which we will be happy to arrange for you. The best way to explore the old Lisbon neighbourhoods is on foot – if you are fit, you can climb the steep streets of Alfama, Mouraria and Graça all the way to hilltop Castelo de São Jorge. If you get easily out of breath, just stroll in the flat Baixa and Chiado.

Climate & seasons

Lisbon is lovely at all times of the year, but if you prefer doing without huge crowds, you should visit in spring or fall – avoid summer and the winter holidays. If however you are willing to put up with queues and a lot of tourists around, the peak seasons give you the opportunity to attend festivals, and in summer you can bask on the shores of the Tejo or the Atlantic beaches. If you do come in winter, temperatures are nothing to worry about – the lowest average is 9°C, the highest 16°C. In spring and fall temperatures hover around 22°C to 24°C, while in summer they can go up to 30°C.

Where to go

Castelo de São Jorge has great views over the city and the Tagus estuary, but if you like history, there’s much more to it – an expert guide will tell you for instance why the castle stones are cut sharp and square, and why the statue of Affonso Henriques is there. Coming down from the castle, get pleasantly lost in the maze of steep winding streets of the whitewashed medieval neighbourhoods of Alfama and Mouraria. Once you are on flat ground, stroll along the Baixa and Chiado, taking in the 19th-century façades of traditional shops. Go towards the river and you will get to Praça do Commércio, a vast riverside square of capital historical importance – this is where the ships sailed from that officially discovered Brazil. If you like religious architecture, visit the Cathedral and the half-ruinous Carmo Convent, where archaeological excavations are still in progress. For the Manueline style – the unique Portuguese Gothic – go to Torre de Belém and the Jerónimos Monastery. You can also do day trips to Sintra, where manors and palaces hide among wooded hills, and to Cascais, famous for its beaches, belle époque elegance and golf courses.

What to do

Just roam around in the sunshine and see the city’s old neighbourhoods. When you are tired, hop on a tram and see some more of them. Stroll in the Parque das Nações along the Tagus, and visit the oceanarium. Get a local to recommend you an authentic casa de fado – a restaurant where you will watch a live performance of traditional Portuguese singing – or experience the nightlife in Bairro Alto. Foodie? Lisbon has Michelin-starred restaurants, but you should also take a food tour to discover petiscos. If you are into art, attend an azulejo workshop, and visit the Gulbenkian Museum, one of Lisbon's most important private art collections. Leave the city behind to stand at the westernmost European point at Cabo Roca and seek nature in the Serra da Arrábida Natural Park – if you like castles, stop on the way at the hilltop Castle of Sesimbra. Play golf in the Cascais courses, visit the palaces of Sintra, and sail along the coast and up the Tagus.

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