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Don’t forget to pack your walking shoes because Lisbon is a glorious city to walk around, but you will face many hills. The capital of Portugal will win your heart and strengthen your heart, too, as you explore the quaint streets, cross many bridges and climb to the top of steep inclines to be rewarded with stunning views of the coastal city.
The old buildings in Lisbon are colorful with many soft yellows, orange and green tones that blend in beautifully with the blues of the skies and sea. You will constantly be reaching for your camera to take photos of the well-preserved ancient architecture, including churches, statues and old homes. There are endless things to see and do in this photogenic city with buzzing nightlife, modern shopping areas and great food.
There are buses, taxis, funiculars, trams and the metro to get around the city. All are affordable and easy to use, but many tourists love the ease and quaintness of traveling by tram. The yellow vintage streetcars are sure to take you on many journeys, with five routes around Lisbon to choose from.
The best time to visit Lisbon is from March to May or September to October when the weather is warm, accommodation rates are lower and there are fewer crowds than in summer. In those seasons, you could get some comfortable afternoons at the beach. June, July, and August are the hottest and busiest months. November and December is rainy season.
Keep this in mind when you book your flight to Lisbon. There are lots of great Air Canada and Transat flights from many major Canadian cities to Europe.
If you want to base yourself around the main tourist attractions and shopping areas, the Baixa or Chiado districts or by the Avenida da Liberdade are your best bet. The city is full of affordable, mid-range and luxury accommodation options with many iconic and unique hotels to choose from. Here is a sample of some places we think look extra awesome.
Lisboa Prata Boutique Hotel might look plain on the outside but step inside to find modern rooms and great service. The central Baixa location is great with the theatre, museums, restaurants and shopping all within a short walking distance.
Internacional Design Hotel is a trendy place to lay your head with urban, tribal, zen and pop room themes to choose from. Themes are tastefully executed and the decor all around the hotel is outstanding, including the restaurant, bar and business space.
Corpo Santo Lisbon Historical Hotel is a 5-star hotel with a bistro, bar, and ice cream shop. Rooms are beautifully decorated with an elegant nod to the history of Lisbon in the interior decor details. Exceptional service from the warm and knowledgeable staff makes your stay even more lovely.
For affordable digs, you can’t beat Selina’s Secret Garden Lisbon. The rooms are bright and arty as well as clean with everything you need. The rooftop pool and co-working space makes it a popular accommodation option for travelers.
Lisbon Cathedral is often called the Sé. This Roman Catholic cathedral is the oldest church in the city and the seat of the Patriarchate of Lisbon. This grand old beauty full of statues, ancient cloisters and gothic arches was built in 1147, has been rebuilt after many earthquakes, and is very important to Lisbon’s people.
Belém Tower, otherwise known as the Tower of Saint Vincent, is a 16th-century building once used by Portuguese explorers. It is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List and was built in honor of Lisbon’s patron saint, St. Vincent, by Portuguese architect and sculptor Francisco de Arruda.
The Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos, aka the Jeronimos Monastery, is an interesting UNESCO World Heritage site that is stunning on the inside and outside, so take your time to see it from all angles. There is a little chapel where the bodies of famous Portuguese heroes like Vasco de Gama are buried.
A ride on the Santa Justa Lift in the historic part of the city is unique. You might hear it being referred to as the Carmo Lift and it joins the lower streets of the Baixa with the higher Largo do Carmo. The vertical lift is the only one in the city. Similar are the Elevador da Glória and Elevador da Bica, which are classed as funicular railways.
The Alfama district, between the São Jorge Castle and the Tejo river, is Lisbon’s historic old town. Spend time in authentic cafes between tackling the steep cobblestoned hills. The charming building exteriors and shops with traditional crafts will motivate you to keep walking just a little longer before heading back to your hotel.
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