lisboa.jpgLisbon, Portugal’s bright capital, spreads along the north bank of the River Tagus, which meets the ocean here.

One of the few European capitals with both a river and a coastline, Lisbon has Praça do Comércio square as its main meeting area. The city has always been ready to welcome new visitors and to bid a fond farewell to those departing, something that was never more true than when saying goodbye to sailors at the time of the great Portuguese maritime discoveries.

This is why there are many important Manueline monuments shining in the light of Lisbon and its surrounding region, such as the Torre de Belém and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. The modern leisure area of the Parque das Nações proves that Lisbon still maintains its close links with the river today. Here, for example, you will find the distinctive mark of Álvaro Siza Vieira on one of the buildings that hosted the last world exposition of the 20th century, dedicated to the theme of the oceans. In contrast to this, do not miss the picturesque mediaeval quarters of Alfama and Mouraria, above which stands the castle. This castle, matched by Bairro Alto on the other hill, leads down to the downtown city centre known as the Baixa pombalina.

Lisbon is also at the centre of a region rich in diversity. Just outside the city are the seaside resort of Estoril and the romantic hills of the Serra de Sintra, where the perfect bond between palaces and nature led to the area being classified as a world heritage site.

It is the sea, the climate and the stunning nature that give this region its peculiar energy. Its many parks and nature reserves encourage visitors to spend time in the open air, enjoying the peace and quiet of a round of golf or the adrenaline buzz of surfing.

Perhaps this is why Lisbon is a city that is full of life. Here people have an exuberant party spirit, doing things spontaneously for the sheer pleasure of spending time in the company of others.

To end your day you could experience the traditional and relaxed atmosphere of a Fado House. Or, if you’ve still got enough energy left, pop into the various discos along the banks of the river and dance until the early hours.

In fact why not stay up until dawn and take in the day-break on the banks of the River Tagus, before enjoying a well-earned sleep?

Sport in Estoril
Put all your energy into some outdoor activities and enjoy some unforgettable holidays.

This whole region offers you perfect conditions for enjoying a wide variety of different sports, in a constantly changing landscape where you’re guaranteed bright sunlight almost all year round.

When the choices range from water sports, such as water skiing in the calm water of the bay of Cascais, surfing at Praia Grande or windsurfing at Guincho, to more radical activities such as paragliding and hang-gliding, rock climbing, abseiling or aerial slides, without forgetting the possibility of country walks, mountain biking or horse riding, it is difficult to decide what to do.

Take advantage of your holidays to walk or ride through the countryside, enjoy one of your favourite sports or just simply observe the wonderful nature all around you.

Lisbon, capital of Portugal
Lisbon is the Atlantic capital, blessed with natural beauty and steeped in fascinating history. Lisbon is the only European capital with Atlantic beaches.

Take the train along the north bank of the Tagus estuary and you’ll discover mile after mile of golden sandy beaches. At the end of the line the beaches of Estoril and Cascais are home to a number of royal castles – a stunning legacy of the times when the kings of Portugal spent their summers here.

Continue further and the coast turns westwards – be sure not to miss the truly breath-taking Atlantic sunsets. Meanwhile Europe’s largest beach is on Lisbon’s doorstep.

South of the River Tagus and only half an hour from the city is the 30-kilometre long Costa de Caparica beach.

Finally, for those interested in history, Lisbon has a rich and colourful seafaring heritage. In the 16th century, ships set sail from the beaches of the River Tagus to chart a route to far-off India. And the city’s passion for the sea continues to this day. Visit the Parque das Nações and you’ll discover Europe’s largest aquarium.

Lisbon and its region
Covering an area that extends roughly from Leiria to Setúbal, and with its epicentre in the capital, the Lisbon Region has all kinds of attractions for those who want to relax.

The beaches are all excellent ones with a mild climate. If you enjoy a lie-in in the mornings, you can stay further to the north, where sometimes the various resorts are shrouded in early morning mist: São Pedro de Moel, São Martinho do Porto, with its beautiful bay, Foz do Arelho, or even Santa Cruz and Ericeira. Further south are the beautiful beaches of Azenhas do Mar, Praia das Maçãs, Praia Grande and Guincho, and all those along the Estoril coast. After this, you must cross over the River Tagus to the popular and lively beaches of Costa da Caparica, followed by the more graceful ones of Arrábida or the Tróia Peninsula.

The northern waves are greatly appreciated by fans of surfing, kitesurfing and other more active sports, whilst, to the south of Lisbon, you can visit the nudist beaches of Meco or swim with dolphins close to Setúbal.

Whether you decide to go north or south, the artistic and cultural heritage that you’ll find is so vast that we cannot even begin to list it. Suffice it to say that there are several monuments classified as world heritage.

But we can also tell you that you’ll find some most attractive pottery at Alcobaça and Caldas da Rainha, gastronomic festivals and wine routes all over the region, and fairs and pilgrimages, together with their accompanying festivities, in many places, especially in the summer.

Bathed in the bright light of the sun’s rays, the Lisbon region is waiting for your visit.

Lisbon past and present
On the right hand bank of the river Tagus, Lisbon is a city whose legendary history stretches back over twenty centuries.

The maritime Voyages of Discovery turned Lisbon into one of the world’s great ports and the centre of an empire that stretched from Brazil in the West to India in the East. On the banks of the river, great monuments testify to that history.

After the earthquake of 1755, the Baixa Pombalina downtown was rebuilt in the classical style while many of its adjoining medieval neighbourhoods survived and are now home to an amazing array of stores, restaurants and cafés.

Lisbon’s exceptional and highly individualistic light has charmed writers, photographers and filmmakers with the polychrome façade tiles serving to create a particular atmosphere.

On foot, by tram, boat or walking the banks of the Tagus, and even on the metro – an open underground museum of contemporary Portuguese art, any means serves to reveal the cultural diversity of the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.

Sea sports in Lisbon
Set on the waters of the Tagus estuary, Lisbon has many kilometres of fine beaches within easy reach.

In the immediate vicinity of Lisbon are some of its most popular beaches.

Carcavelos is the first one you’ll find, its waves and sea breezes attracting body boarders, surfers and kite-surfers alike.

Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Sintra and the Cascais Natural Park, is the wind swept beach of Guincho, regularly home to European championship windsurfing and surfing events. For those wishing to test the waters, boards are for hire with lessons also available. Hang-gliding off the cliff face is also popular.

The Sintra coastline has a great deal to offer. There is Praia Grande, another great centre for windsurfing and body boarding, with a track record of hosting world-class events. It also attracts fishermen and gourmets making weekend pilgrimages in search of the freshest fish and shellfish.

Make a stop at the impressive Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell), with its immense caverns carved by the sea, or visit Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of mainland Europe.

Following the coast round, you’ll come to Ericeira, in Mafra, a Mecca for Portuguese surfing. Its beaches include surfing favourites such as Praia dos Coxos and Ribeira D’Ilhas, with the latter already well established on the world surfing circuit.

Beyond Ericeira, the beaches keep on coming. Santa Cruz is considered by many to be the jewel of this coastline; while there is also Praia d’el Rei and Areia Branca, the latter popular with divers and water sports enthusiasts.

Finally, we come to the Óbidos Lagoon, noted for its clear waters and year round sunshine.

Lisbon to remember
Let us invite you to come and discover Lisbon. Perhaps start out on the river with a Tagus cruise. Or take Lisbon from a different perspective and wander its seven hills admiring its river-oriented layout.

After your river cruise, disembark in the city’s heart, the Baixa. Follow its symmetric, architecturally distinctive streets packed with traditional local commerce.

Head up any one of the city’s seven hills and discover a neighbourhood packed with its own history and charm. Visit the Chiado and draw in inspiration in one of the cafes frequented by the writers and artists that so enriched 19th century Portuguese culture.

Take the 28 tram to one of the city’s most characteristic neighbourhoods, the Alfama. Discover a little of Lisbon history and day to day life on each street corner, in each local church.

And head upwards to gain a different vantage point out over Lisbon. Given its rolling seven hills, there are numerous impressive viewpoints. Each opens up a different perspective over the city even while the waves of ochre roofs and the river beyond are common to all. Choose your favourite and let the beauty of the Lisbon light infuse your memories.

Romance in the Lisbon region
Routes that were specially made for romance, with delightful discoveries that you can share with your partner.

Travel up and down the hills of Lisbon, through Alfama and Mouraria, listening to the sound of guitar playing and the voices of Fado singers telling of their loves and their misunderstandings, wending your way through the narrow streets in a No. 28 tram, or admiring the monumental Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and the splendid River Tagus.

Savour the magic of Sintra, one of the most beautiful towns in the world, and certainly one of the most romantic. Or enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn carriage and discover the mysteries of the mountains and the Quinta da Regaleira, letting yourself be charmed by the town’s rich and unique architectural heritage, of which the Palácio da Pena has become one of the great hallmarks.

Drive through the natural park of the Serra da Arrábida, sensing the presence of poems in the air, strolling through the streets of Sesimbra, Palmela and Azeitão, exploring the mountains and the precious beaches that surround them, feasting your eyes on the region’s cliffs and crags and admiring the wonderful setting of the Convento da Arrábida, or perhaps tasting the delights of a cuisine produced by those who have studied the art for many years, and savouring some of the local quality wines.

In Óbidos, a town designed for regal lovers, travel back in time to a period when courting was a real art. You can still sense the presence of love in all its nooks and crannies, in the details of its rich architectural heritage and the purity of its many beautiful decorative tiles.

Estuaries of the Lisbon region
The capital city of Lisbon is fortunate enough to be on the banks of one of the finest estuaries in Europe where watching flamingoes and other birds can be a fascinating experience.

The Tagus Estuary is a nature reserve and is considered to be one of the ten most important wetlands in Europe for sea birds. If you enjoy direct contact with nature, don’t miss a boat trip through this large estuary, where you can observe many of the species that inhabit the area. Another way to catch sight of some of the 100,000 birds that spend the winter here is to take a stroll along the footpaths that surround the estuary. You are quite likely to surprise a flock of elegant pink flamingoes as they take flight.

If you want to go beyond the nature reserve but still stay in the Tagus Estuary, why not visit the tidal mills, such as the one at Corroios, which bring to life old bread-making traditions? The riverbanks have always been a meeting point for different peoples and cultures throughout the ages, and there are still signs of the various occupations that were performed here.

But if you’re passionate about bird-watching there are plenty of other nature reserves within a 50km radius that you should not miss. The Paul de Boquilobo Nature Reserve, also in the Tagus Estuary, hosts the largest colony of herons in the Iberian Peninsula, and has been classified by UNESCO in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The Sado Estuary Nature Reserve, which also has a huge variety of birds, boasts another attraction, the the dolphins that accompany your boat trip. You can also take a sailing trip in one of the Galeões do Sal, the traditional boats that go up and down the estuary and the coast of Arrábida. And don’t leave Setúbal without tasting the delicious grilled red mullet, the gastronomic speciality of this fishing port. The Berlenga Island Nature Reserve has ideal nesting conditions for a variety of sea birds that can be observed there. The Berlengas are a small group of deserted islands where the walls of an old fortress are a reminder of the legendary stories of pirates. Surrounded by green crystalline waters, take advantage of the low tide to enjoy a motor-boat trip around the hidden caves. You’re sure to be captivated! And in Peniche, don’t miss the chance to sample a succulent caldeirada (fish casserole) prepared using sea water.

Informations provided by ITP – Instituto de Turismo de Portugal – www.visitportugal.com