Classic squares, winding boulevards and once-opulent palaces make Lisbon a striking European destination. The port city and capital of Portugal is situated on the Tagus River near the open ocean of the Atlantic. It is a compact city but covers hilly terrain. Many of the main attractions are located in close vicinity to the downtown area. The city boasts several monuments and museums, such as the Jeronimos Monastery, Tower of Belem and the Royal Coach Museum. The Gulbenkian Museum is a cultural center in Portugal, featuring a collection with Persian, Egyptian and modern art.
To glimpse Lisbon’s past, tourists can wander in the historic quarter, the Alfama. While much of the city had to be rebuilt after the destruction caused by the 1755 earthquake, some buildings in the Alfama pre-date the disaster. Cobblestone streets wind among open-air markets, taverns and houses crowded together. A stroll in the Alfama is an exercise in contrast as a humble fishmonger’s home may sit next to a baroque church.
Another area worth investigation is the Bairro Alto (Upper City), where visitors can find thriving nightlife and some of the finest fado cafes, where music mixes with excited chatter and continues late into the evening. It is possible to navigate the area on foot, through alleys, between ancient buildings and over cobblestones. The city’s old cafes are great for atmosphere and a quick bite. Natives and tourists alike enjoy a variety of pastries, including the popular pastel de nata, a kind of custard tart. Common dishes for lunch and dinner heavily feature fresh seafood, sausage and ham. Local wines make the meal complete.