Lisbon is an ideal location for a vacation in Portugal. The city is steeped in history and provides many excellent restaurants, cafes and luxury accommodation. Lisbon also has one of the largest urban parks in Europe, the Parque Florestal de Monsanto. The surrounding areas provide many alternative activities and some breathtaking scenery.
Lisbon’s history dates back to pre-Roman times when the Phoenician traded with the Pre-Celtic tribes that lived in the city. Today the most important influences came from the Middle Ages when Lisbon was home to Berbers and Arabs from North Africa and the Middle East.
Lisbon’s oldest building is Lisbon Cathedral, (Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa) which is on the site of an old mosque. The first building on the site was started in 1147.
During the 15th to 17th centuries Lisbon developed as a hub for trade between Europe and Africa, India, the Far East and Brazil; this is known as Portugal’s golden era and the Manueline style in architecture developed in the city. The Alfama district is a great example of Lisbon’s Moorish past and has many great bars.
During the 18th century, gold from its colony in Brazil paid for a series of Baroque churches and theaters throughout the city. This diverse history gave rise to some of Lisbon’s most exquisite and awe-inspiring buildings, which every tourist should visit. The Museu de São Roque/Igreja de São Roque are the finest examples in the city.
The local area
While the city provides many excellent transport options, with trams, buses and a metro, to explore the surrounding areas a car is really needed. Rental cars are so much more convenient so we suggest that you arrange in advance to hire a car from the airport rather than wait until you have checked into the hotel: parking is available at the Inspira Santa Marta.
If you love the beach you must visit Ericeira. It is a small seaside resort and fishing community on the west coast about 35 km from Lisbon. It is also one of the most popular surfing destinations on the west coast of Portugal. The area has a rich musical culture and boasts the splendid late 15th century Chapel of Santa Marta Ericeira.
Feira de Barcelos
If you wish to experience a traditional, rural market town then visit Barcelos. A large town square, the Campo da Feira, which hosts a weekly market called the Feira de Barcelos, dominates its center. Here you will find hundreds of walled smallholdings with people selling a huge variety of produce including fruit and vegetables, cheeses, bread, clothes and household goods. One of the features of the market is the excellent local pottery and other handicrafts. The market is held every Thursday.
Lisbon and the surrounding areas have so much to offer. We urge you to explore that region and experience some of the magic of Portugal.