Lisbon’s heart lies beside the river, even if the city has grown in all directions. Sit down at a pavement cafe on Rossio Square and you will see the Baiza, the flat city centre that dates from the 18th century, between yourself and the river bank. Look up in one direction and you will see the São Jorge on the top of a hill. Look in the other direction and you will see the ruin of the Carmo Church on another hill. Walk, or take a tram to one of them and you will discover the quarters of old Lisbon, most of them with a magnificent view of the rest of the city and the river.
Wander north from Rossio, you will soon end up on a stately 19th century avenue, in the part of the city which is still called "Avenidas Novas". Further north, the buildings become really new, with the city’s two large football grounds, Luz and Alvalade, and, lastly, the airport which is twenty traffic-jam-free minutes in a car from Rossio. Most of the best sights, restaurants and nightlife are situated along the river. Shopping is good along the Avenidas Novas, but otherwise the rule is to keep close to the river to get the best out of your visit.
São Jorge Castle
São Jorge Castle is one of the oldest structures in Lisbon. This was once a fortress (taken from the Moors in 1147), and now a must-see landmark with a fantastic view of the city.
In Belém, situated west of the city along the river, lies Lisbon’s and possibly Portugal’s most important historical monument. Here you can see an opulent church and cloistered garden built in the elegant Manuelian style at the beginning of the 16th century when Portugal was a great seafaring power. There are several other sights close by.
Chafariz Do Vinho
This is still the best place to sample Portuguese wine, either at the small pavement café or in the cool interior - a monumental former water supply depot. A brief food menu complements the long wine list.
Good to know
Lisbon is well provided for with public transport, including buses, underground, local trains, ferries, trams and funiculars. The latter two are the least efficient but most entertaining. Tickets can be purchased both at ticket offices and on board with an extra charge. The fares range from 1.50 € to 3.00 € with the tram being more expensive. Funiculars can be even more expensive but are worth it nonetheless.
Buses and the underground stop running around 1 am, there are night buses but it is easiest to take a taxi for late night journeys.