Destination Spotlight: Lisbon

Explore Portugal’s delightful capital Lisbon, and discover the nearby escapes that are drawing the world’s most discerning – and high profile – travellers.


There is a buzz about Lisbon – one the locals have always known about – and over the last decade or so the city has grown to become a go-to destination, filling dinner party conversations with a growing band of loyal fans.


The distinctive Belem tower


Those who know it well will extol the virtues of its wonderful mingling of cobbled streets, dramatic views, fine dining and lively nightlife. From funky waterfront cafés and restaurants to Michelin-starred fine dining at Joachim Koerper’s Eleven or José Avillez’s Belcanto in Chiado, indulge in a wonderful mix of Portuguese and international dishes. For those who like things sweet, be sure to head to Belem to see the magnificent Jerónimos monastery, and savour a delicious Pasteis de Belem in the café close by.


São Jorge Castle overlooking Lisbon


To see the city in all its splendour São Jorge Castle is a must. Take the quaint tram 28 up the hill if you can for truly awe-inspiring views that reach over the rooftops for miles and stroll its pretty gardens dotted with wandering peacocks.


For many though, the real lure of the city is its buzzing yet relaxed nightlife, a wonderful mix of European cool, quirky touches, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.


Take your time to explore Lisbon


In Bairro Alto, a neighbourhood made up of a labyrinth of narrow streets that grew from the need for the city to expand in the 16th century, join locals and visitors who spill out from the plethora of bustling bars, find hidden restaurant gems or even shop in its tiny boutiques till the early hours. Although well-fuelled, the crowds remain friendly and easy to mingle with, and as the early hours come you’ll find yourself immersed in the good-natured carnival spirit. For a refined evening cocktail, and amazing views, head to the Bairro Alto Hotel’s roof terrace.


The vibrant nightlife in Lisbon


Escaping the lively city hum, just a short drive away are some stunning and sleepy beaches that have long been popular as a weekend retreat for locals. Though there are signs that the quasi-undiscovered air of some of the best beachside idylls might not last forever – with luxury resorts like Aman spotting an opportunity – the relaxed vibe is still there in full glory.


In Comporta on the Tróia Peninsula, an hour south of Lisbon, the small collection of fishing villages has recently welcomed Madonna and family as guests, who enjoyed horse-riding and playing on the white sand beaches. The beauty of Comporta is the lack of things to do apart from enjoy the beautiful landscape, meaning the emphasis is on pure relaxation against a stunning backdrop – and of course the chance to sample some incredible seafood.


Relax on the beaches in Comporta


Although an established retreat for the Lisbon elite for years, many others have followed, with Christian Louboutin and Anselm Kiefer among other famous names to set up home here. Even though the look of the place is pretty fishermen’s huts and sun-bleached rustic wood, the international set who are now flocking do have the option of something on a larger scale. An excellent choice is Almond Blossom villa rentals, who manage 3 villas and who also offer concierge services, which can include everything from ground transport to private staffing, boat charters and private tennis coaching.


Why not try your hand at surfing in Estoril


If the white sandy relaxation on offer at Comporta seems a little too quiet, another option is to head west of Lisbon to the Estoril and Cascais. Here a number of smart design-led boutique hotels like Villa Cascais and the Farol provide home comforts and views out to the bay and beach – plus a pretty town centre to explore and a marina to spot some fine yachts.


Whether it is the lure of a city break with food and drink and nightlife galore, secluded white sands, or something a little in between, Lisbon this summer is certain to offer everything you could want for the perfect European getaway. Fly into Lisboa Airport for easy access to Lisbon.


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