A bit of clutter, but a whole lot of personality characterises Portugal’s medieval capital. There's nothing orderly or predictable about Lisbon, set on seven hills overlooking the Tagus River on the western edge of the Iberian Peninsula. Impossibly narrow cobblestone alleyways lead ever upwards into the sprawl of sometimes dilapidated, but always charming, pastel-coloured buildings with Lisbon’s signature brick-red roofs. A sea of dirty white, light pinks and yellows, and azulejo-clad (blue-tiled) buildings, punctuated by imposing, pristinely white Manueline landmarks, is visible from the city’s most popular viewpoints. Wander through the charming alleyways of the Bairro Alto, Chiado and Alfama bairros (districts), kick back in a pastelaria (patisseries) for a quick bica (espresso) and a pasteis de nata (custard tart) or spend the evening experiencing dinner and a fado performance.
Highlights include the Rossio city square, Gustav Eiffel’s Saint Justa Elevator offering some of the best views of the city and the funicular, Elevador da Glória, that runs from the bottom of the hill to the heart of Bairro Alto for those who would prefer not to tackle the steep cobblestone staircase connecting this charming neighbourhood to the CBD. Two of the city’s greatest landmarks, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (Hieronymites Monastery) and the Torre de Belém (Belém Tower) are located along the river to the west of Bairro Alto. Linking the two sides of the Tagus River at this point is the imposing 2.2km Ponte do 25 de Abril (25th April Bridge) with Cristo Rei, a Catholic monument inspired by Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue located on the river’s left bank overlooking the hilly capital.
The city is easily accessed on foot, although there is an extensive metro, tram, bus and taxi service.