Lisbon At a Glance

EuroGOOS conference 2014 1st AnnouncementLisbon is a city of contrasts where you can experience both the historic and cosmopolitan parts of this fascinating European capital. The most prestigious awards of Tourism worldwide chose Lisbon as best destination for a city break in Europe, a distinction that this metropolis achieved once again in 2013, the third time in the last five years in the World Travel Awards.

Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon offers all the delights you´d expect of Portugal´s star attraction, yet with half the fuss of other European capitals. Gothic cathedrals, majestic monasteries and quaint museums are all part of the colourful cityscape, but the real delights of discovery lie in wandering the narrow lanes of Lisbon´s lovely backstreets.

As bright yellow trams wind their way through curvy tree-lined streets, Lisboetas stroll through the old quarters, much as they´ve done for centuries. Village-life gossip in old Alfama is exchanged at the public baths or over fresh bread and wine at tiny patio restaurants as fadistas (proponents of fado, Portugal´s traditional melancholic singing) perform in the background.

Meanwhile, in other parts of town, visitors and locals chase the ghosts of Pessoa in warmly lit 1930s-era cafés or walk along the seaside that once saw the celebrated return of Vasco da Gama. Yet, while history is very much alive in centuries-old Lisbon, its spirit is undeniably youthful.

In the hilltop district of Bairro Alto, dozens of restaurants and bars line the narrow streets, with jazz, reggae, electronica and fado filling the air and revellers partying until dawn. Nightclubs scattered all over town make fine use of old spaces, whether on riverside docks or tucked away in 18th-century mansions.

The Lisbon experience encompasses so many things, from enjoying a fresh pastry and bica (espresso) on a petite leafy plaza to window-shopping in elegant Chiado. It´s mingling with Lisboetas at a neighbourhood festival or watching the sunset from the old Moorish castle.

Just outside Lisbon, there´s more to explore: the magical setting of Sintra, glorious beaches in Costa de Caparica and traditional fishing villages like Cascais.

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AVENIDAS NOVAS: Business; Shopping Malls; Museums (where the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is located) As Lisbon grew in the mid-20th century, it expanded north, away from the river. Residential and business districts were born around long, broad avenues, today collectively known as Avenidas Novas ("New Avenues"). Originally many palatial mansions lined these avenues, but the majority has sadly been torn down and replaced by dull office buildings. There are a few survivors, but overall this is not the most aesthetically-pleasing area of the city. However, most who visit Lisbon will go through it to reach some of the city´s best museums (the Gulbenkian is not to be missed), and many will also be making it their home, as a large number of the city´s hotels are located here.

Despite all the urban sprawl, there is some interesting architecture to admire, including many of the city´s most controversial buildings (such as the Amoreiras to the west).

In between it all there are some excellent restaurants to look for, as well as the city´s most popular shopping malls.

SANTOS: Design District; Riverfront; Night (were the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute is located) The formerly industrial neighborhood of Santos was turned into the "Santos Design District" in 2006 when a group of local businesses got together to revitalize the area. It had begun to attract design shops and several design and architecture schools to the abandoned warehouses and factory buildings, creating a cluster of innovation which eventually brought a number of new restaurants and bars.

At night, many of the bars are invaded by teenagers, but there are several other attractive options for maturer and more sophisticated crowds.

More renovation is seen to the west in the district of Alcântara, especially at LX Factory, with more warehouses turned into yet another cluster of creativity.

Moving uphill are the neighborhoods of Lapa, Estrela, and Campo de Ourique, mostly residential and with colorful mansions that are embassies and private residences (the most attractive are down Rua do Sacramento à Lapa).

Visit Turismo de Lisboa website.

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