It was only a few years ago that I noticed only few articles about Lisbon and Portugal in general. Truly an under the radar destination. Fast forward to 2018 and Portugal is now high on the list of emerging destinations, with Lisbon quickly becoming a favorite city to visit.
Europe's westernmost and sunniest capital, Lisbon is a picturesque port city, charming, romantic and wonderfully historic (over 2700 years old!). Lisbon was home to a number of Portuguese explorers, including Vasco de Gama and Ferinand Magellan, but did you know that the inspiration of the James Bond 007 character can be traced back to the nearby town of Estoril?
I had the opportunity to visit Lisbon a number of years ago, and was pleasantly surprised by all the things to see and do. I would gladly go back to have every one of these experiences again.
Whether it's a pre or post stop on an ocean cruise, a Douro River cruise or part of a land tour, take some time to explore this exciting city. You won't be disappointed.
Top places to see:
One of the easiest ways to get introduced to Lisbon's major sites is on the Hop On Hop Off bus. Stops not to be missed: Belem Tower (built in 1515), the Monument of the Discoveries, Jeronimos Monastery (Vasco de Gama's final resting place), Pastel de Nata (delicious pastries), the Alfama district (Lisbon's oldest), and Castelo de Sao Jorge, a Moorish castle that sits on the hilltop that overlooks the historic center of Lisbon. The views from here are incredible. A very popular site that can get very crowded, so visit either early or later in the day.
EXPO WORLD FAIR
Lisbon hosted the 1998 World Fair The area now is one of the trendiest in the city, including modern apartment buildings, hotels, beautiful parks and good restaurants. Lisbon's Oceanarium is also located here.
SINTRA and CABO DA ROCA
Sintra is a small town that sits in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains. A longtime royal sanctuary, the area is well known for it's palaces and castles. Two iconic sites include the Pena National Palace and the Castle of the Moors, a hilltop Moorish castle built in the 10th century.
If you are going to Sintra, don't miss the opportunity to vist Europe's most western point, Cabo da Roca. The windswept cliffs were believed to be the edge of the earth up until the 14th century.
ESTORIL and CASCAIS
Estoril and Cascais are charming coastal resort towns just west of Lisbon. Surrounded by beautiful beaches and excellent cafes, a visit here makes for a wonderful day trip, easily reached by train. I recommend getting off the train in Estoril and walking the promenade (a little over a mile) to Cascais (weather and fitness permitting).
Ian Fleming, journalist and author, spent time in Estoril during WWII when he was a British Naval Officer. Casino Royale, his first book in his James Bond series, was inspired by the spies who were also guests at the same hotel he was staying at.
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