Lisbon is a city long associated with sailing ships and the sea. Gliding on an elegant clipper into this grand, graceful city, you’re literally sailing in the wake of the likes of Henry the Navigator. It’s an entirely apt entrée to a truly amazing sea city.

You should definitely check out the diminutive, pepper pot shape of the fourteenth century Belem Tower on the waterfront, a sight as welcoming and evocative as ever it was in the middle ages.

Ashore, just wander up and around the steep, winding cobbled lanes of the Alfama district for absolutely stunning views out over the city. Here, you will hear the authentic, mournful lilt of the local fado being sung. You can either take one of the evocative yellow trams back down to street level, or alternatively, you could ride the quirky, wrought iron elevator designed by Gustav Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame.

You should not miss elegant Rossio Square, with it’s ornate statuary and bustling café life. Nearby is Jeronimos Monastery and, dominating the skyline, the old castle is still a brooding presence, ideal for savouring magnificent vistas of this beautiful city.

The Tagus itself is spanned by the vast 25th of April suspension bridge, an identical copy of its twin sister in San Francisco. It’s an incredible sight, and sailing under its awesome span is a unique, one of a kind experience not soon forgotten.

Lovers of horticulture, or even those who simply enjoy a spot of big city tranquility, will want to visit the beautiful King Edward VII formal gardens. It’s a vast, serene expanse with views right down to the sea; a beautiful green lung in the midst of a dignified, vibrant city.

Lisbon is famous for its desserts, and the local little custard tartlets are a must sample while here. To those used to paying London prices, those in Lisbon will come as a very pleasant surprise, especially for retail goods.

You could even hit the beaches at nearby, elegant Estoril or smart, classy Cascais. The vibe has much in common with other Latin resorts, but Lisbon itself is actually located on the edge of the Atlantic.

All things considered, Lisbon is a charming, compact and dignified little dream of a city. Warm, welcoming and human in scale, it still looks and feels like the capital of what was once a world wide empire.

Getting around: Alcantara Cruise Terminal is 5 kilometres from the city centre, about an hours’ stroll. Buses, trams and underground links go into the city for around fifteen euros return. Apolonia terminal is more downtown, takes smaller ships, and is an easy, fifteen minute walk to the Alfama district.

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