It’s a truly vintage city
Old World tradition and history still play a part in the daily lives of every Lisboeta, who still live in a vintage era. Just witness the commuters trundling along to work in 100-year-old wooden trams, or wander the Baixa district, where age-old herbalists, haberdasheries and tailors rub shoulders in the city centre’s most ornate streets.
A laidback town
Some call it slow, lazy or lethargic, and Lisbon has often been derided for its age-old mannerisms, but who can really relax in a hurried, up-tempo town? Lisbon plods at its own pace, effortlessly cool and nonchalant to the outside world.
After work and at weekends, the city’s active folk don’t lock themselves up in urban gyms. They head to the city’s breaks to surf Europe’s best waves on the sparse Atlantic-swashed coastline that peels out around the fringes of the capital.
Despite being in the eurozone, prices are amongst the lowest in Europe. Food and drink are half the price of many other European capitals and five-star hotel rooms can go for as little as £100-a-night.
Lisbon’s a mishmash of cobbled historic charm. Spires, cathedral domes and marble statues underscore the ever-blue skyline, while the Moorish Alfama district is where sunset-amber walls and dusty cobbled lanes circle the Arabic-cum-Medieval St George’s Castle.
The hub of the city is concentrated around the Rio Tejo’s estuary. This ensures the city sprawl sticks to the river, keeping the nearby beaches almost untouched by human hand. There are dozens of wild rural stretches (Guincho, Maças, Adraga, to name a few) within 20-odd minutes drive of the city centre.
Sunshine and warm weather kick in any time from late February. And the sun doesn’t usually set on Lisbon’s summer until late November, when mild and crisp, blue-skied winter days prevail in the Atlantic-facing capital.
Lisbon is a social town. Dinner starts any time after 9.30pm and eating out a few nights a week is normal. Drinks in the bar-filled Bairro Alto district always follow. From there, clubs will get going around 4 am, and before you know it, a casual meal with friends has ended in a stumble home at sunrise.
It’s off the radar
Lisbon falls very much in the shadow of A-list cities such as Madrid, Paris and Barcelona, which adds to the charm. It’s never overrun with tourists, adding an authentic and easy feel to any weekend here.
It’s so small
This cuddly capital is comparatively very small, with most places reachable by foot from the city centre (save for the odd tram ride). Within the small capital, Lisbon is filled with defined and diverse neighbourhoods that are easy to cover and get to grips with in the space of a weekend.