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A Lisbon travel guide – hilltop castles, alfresco dining and fado in Moorish Alfama

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A Lisbon city break is all about rattling tram rides, Bairro Alto street parties and strolls in labyrinthine Alfama. Choose a central Lisbon hotel to discover a youthful city with a rich history.

Atlantic-fresh flavours

Hungry visitors on a Lisbon city break begin with pastéis de nata, cinnamon-sprinkled custard tarts, in old-world patisseries. Alfama's family-run taverns lure diners with sardines hot off the grill and spontaneous bursts of fado song. Rossio and Baixa are peppered with restaurants dishing up Portuguese specialities - try salt cod with cream and açorda (bread-and-shellfish stew). Late-night diners hit Bairro Alto, where inviting tapas bars sidle up to intimite bistros. Fresh fish and sushi are presented with panache in the riverside Alcântara Docks, while design-driven restaurants north of the centre tempt with Michelin-starred cuisine.

Historic sights

Take in Lisbon’s must-see sighs with a jolting ride on tram 28 up to the medina-like Alfama, a higgledy-piggledy maze of Moorish alleyways. Looming above Alfama is St George's Castle, looking back on 1,500 years of turbulent history and treating visitors to panoramic views over Lisbon from its snaking ramparts. Look at the rose window illuminated at Romanesque Se Cathedral before crossing the street to explore the Roman Amphitheatre. Belém, Portugal’s historic heart and soul, catapults you back to the country's Golden Age of Discovery as you contemplate Manueline Jerónimos Monastery's glowing white cloisters and lace-fine stonework.

 

Vibrant nightlife

Come evening, locals spill out of tiny A Ginjinha to socialise over shots of ginjinha (cherry liqueur). The attitude-free Bairro Alto neighbourhood is crammed with pulsating cocktail bars and intimate pubs. Live music fans check out the gigs under the arches on Rua Nova do Carvahlo. Alfama's dimly lit fado clubs reverberate to the melancholic wail of Portuguese folk. Gravitate west to the regenerated Alcântara Docks for swish lounge bars overlooking the illuminated Ponte 25 de Abril bridge, where DJs play to a dressed-up crowd.