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The beautiful spectacle of Lisbon is perhaps best viewed from one of the seven hills the city is famous for. Climb to the top of one of these regal sentries and you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic perspective on one of the oldest cities in the world. Threaded with winding cobblestone alleys and walkways decorated with mosaic art, Portugal’s capital has accumulated layers of style over the years. You’ll find Gothic, Baroque, and postmodern architecture clustered here, among lush public gardens. One of Europe’s most important cities in terms of commerce and clout, it’s also a cultural powerhouse that boasts world-class museums such as the National Museum of Ancient Art. During the day the streets hum with the bustle of its vintage tram system, and sidewalk diners get their fill of fresh seafood hauled from the Atlantic. At night the city is popular with revelers who enjoy the view from the city’s many rooftop bars. As you make your way home at the end of a long, rewarding day, listen for the strains of fado music, a traditional genre of pretty, melancholic crooning set to lilting guitar.
Fly into Lisbon International Airport (LIS), located less than 5 miles from the city center. Once on the ground, you can avail yourself of public transportation, taxis, rideshares, and car rental services. A car is not necessary for seeing Lisbon, which has robust public transport. The Lisbon Metro, commuter rail lines, and a network of traditional trams will get you pretty much anywhere you want to go, including sightseeing locales outside of the city. The Lisboa Card, which can be purchased online, will get you unlimited rides on public transport and free entrance to many museums.
Lisbon enjoys a Mediterranean climate, and it rarely experiences extreme weather. The summer is hot and dry, winter is cool, and spring and fall are mostly sunny with mild weather. No matter the season, there is usually something happening in Lisbon. In February the city celebrates Carnival with street parades featuring music, dance, and elaborate costumes. In May, bibliophiles rejoice when the Lisbon Book Fair kicks off and stalls selling best-sellers and antique wonders fill the walkways of Edward VII Park. In the summer, the Rock in Rio Lisboa festival brings big-name music acts to the city.
As you wander the lush walkways of Edward VII Park, make sure to stop at the Estufa Fria, a large and beautiful glass and steel hothouse where palms, ferns, and colorful flowers thrive among ponds and burbling water features appointed with graceful statues. The bustle of the city fades away as you traverse this indoor jungle, where little turtles cluster on the rocks.
Prepare to be awed at this wonderfully specific and expansive museum which documents life before rideshares. This more-than-a-century-old museum showcases vehicles from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries — such as ornate horse-drawn coaches.
Visitors to Lisbon flock to this tram route for good reason: It traverses some of the city’s most scenic areas and makes stops at major sites along the way. Lisbon’s charming yellow and white electric trams began operation in 1901, and a ride on one is a must. Stops include Graça, often considered Lisbon’s prettiest hilltop lookout, and the Basilica da Estrela, one of the city’s most beautiful churches.