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If you’re on a cruise ship that stops for a shore excursion in Lisbon, then you’re guaranteed to find plenty of things to do. Cultural, interesting and fortunate enough to benefit from mild weather that ensures comfort throughout the year, the city is favoured by regulars and those on their first ever cruise.
Lisbon’s white buildings and narrow streets are charming, and its pedestrian precincts are ideal if you’re exploring the city on foot, though there are numerous options for public transport including 24-hour tickets for unlimited local travel.
The people of Lisbon are welcoming, friendly and happy to help. The city has invested in tourist information points, and staffed kiosks, to make it easy for visitors to find their way around. Many of the streets are fairly steep, but the views from higher points of the parks and rivers are exceptional. You’ll be able to enjoy a variety of historic buildings, of all shapes and sizes, as well as museums that give an insight into Lisbon’s past. This is an old-fashioned city, and is not heavily influenced by modern and commercial attractions:
Trams: Lisbon’s trams are an attraction in their own right, taking you on a sightseeing trip along some of the city’s steepest roads. From your seat, you’ll be able to admire historic houses and interesting shops without using all of your energy.
Castelo de Sao Jorge: The Castle of St. George, first built in the 10th Century, has been expanded to become an impressive royal palace. From the church, you’ll be able to enjoy exceptional views out to the Tagus River. On-site, there’s also a museum displaying historic artefacts found in and around Lisbon.
Lisbon Botanical Gardens: Perhaps the most beautiful thing about the Botanical Gardens is the fact that they’re relatively hidden, and are never too busy to enjoy. Immerse yourself in bright colours, as you stroll through gardens created by one of Portugal’s kings. There are trees that have been fused together, often with a tree of an entirely different species, creating an interesting and unique sight.
The city has a labyrinth of streets, all lined with quaint independent shops that could keep you occupied for hours. Most tourists stick to the Baixa and Rossio areas, as these include plenty of narrow roads that are free from cars. Most designer brands and luxury items can be found in the Chiado area and on Avenida de Liberdade, with the former also featuring a number of bookshops selling classic and antique books alongside modern favourites.
Lisbon’s shopping centres and department stores sell everything you could possibly need, and are worth a visit if you’re looking for something specific or would like to browse chain stores. Some shopping centres include their own cinemas, so that you can enjoy the latest movies as you take a break from shopping. Find bargains, antiques and collectables at the city’s flea markets, or shop for handcrafted ceramic and pottery items to take home as a souvenir. It’s worth noting that Portuguese shopkeepers observe a lengthy lunch time siesta, closing their shops for a majority of the afternoon.
Most meals in Lisbon begin with a small selection of fresh breads. Any starters that you begin to consume will be added to your bill, but you can leave them or ask for them to be taken away to avoid any chance of being charged. Seafood is a speciality, and you’ll find that most local restaurants list a wide selection of fish and crab dishes alongside meat, rice and pasta. Many of the city’s restaurants are intimate and cosy, in relatively small buildings that face out onto narrow alleyways. The further you get from the centre of the city, the more likely you are to find more spacious dining venues with outdoor seating.
Amongst the meals you might choose to sample you’ll find monkfish, squid and shark. In the Baixa area, meal deals are in place to tempt tourists. If you’re looking for more authentic Portuguese dishes of a higher standard, then you might want to make your way to other parts of the city. Many of these restaurants have music to accompany your meal, with the traditional music being fado. Often, restaurants with fado music will advertise this before you enter. Don’t hesitate to seek out these restaurants, for a more exciting dining experience.
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