Lisbon is the great ideas for vacation

Those in the know have been quietly enjoying Lisbon’s charms for years, but the city is currently having a bit of a moment. In recent times, it’s seen the opening of a slew of modern museums, trendy clubs, smart boutique-style accommodation and the regeneration of some of its more run-down areas – all while retaining a traditional atmosphere and friendly vibe.

Add to this some of western Europe’s lowest prices for food and drink and a politically stable background, and you can understand why it’s so popular. Here, Matthew Hancock, co-author of the new Rough Guide to Portugal, runs down a few of the things that make Lisbon one of Europe’s hottest city breaks right now.


There are lots of new openings

Though endearingly traditional, Lisbon can do hip as well as any other European capital – the recently renovated Ribeira Market is currently the place to eat and drink, with the city’s iconic Pap’açorda restaurant giving it a seal of approval by moving there.

The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) is a sleek new addition to the riverside in Belém, while 2017 will see the opening of a new Jewish museum in the historic Alfama district and a new viewpoint on the Golden Gate-like 25 de Abril Bridge.


It’s one of Europe’s most affordable places

The bottom line for most people’s city break is the cost – and Lisbon is still remarkably affordable. A room in a central guesthouse can be had for under €80 even in high season, and a dorm in a hostel is under €20.

Choose carefully and you can eat well for around €10 while a travel card on the bus, trams and metro is just €6 for the day.

Even more refreshingly, an espresso is under €1, a small beer is just €1.20 and you can buy a quality bottle of wine in a supermarket for under €5.


There’s an endlessly enchanting city centre

Lisbon has always been a place to get lost in. Head to the centre, put the map away and just wander. It’s the sort of city where you stumble upon wonderful tile-fronted buildings, little-visited squares and stepped alleys leading to tiny welcoming cafés.

Not that the city lacks sites. No visit to Lisbon is complete without enjoying the view across the Tagus from the hilltop castle, or admiring the astonishing stonework of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém, or the amazingly diverse collections of art at the Gulbenkian Museum.