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Lisbon - Capital City of Portugal

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world. Even Julius Caesar recognised its importance in his era making it a municipium - the second-highest class of Roman cities.

In 1755 the city was struck by the Great Earthquake, killing an estimated 40,000 residents and destroying 85% of the city which was one of the world's largest at the time.

Today Lisbon is one of the major economic centres on the continent, with a growing financial centre and the largest container port in Europe's Atlantic coast.

The city boasts a picturesque look, hugging the banks of the River Tagus.

Within the city you'll find cosmopolitan lifestyles sitting side-by-side with local traditions in a marriage that works extremely well for both young and old.

See the city for yourself on the Lisbon Webcam.

Top 5 things to do in Lisbon

Castle of St Jorge

The Castle of São Jorge sits atop the highest hill in Lisbon's historical city centre commanding panoramic views over the city.

The castle is one of Lisbon's top tourist attractions and can get very busy in the high summer seasons.

The hilltop has seen a settlement dating back to the second century BC, however, the present castle building dates from medieval times.

Over the centuries it has served as a royal residence, a national archive, barracks, a prison and an observatory.

The castle was severely damaged in the great 1755 Lisbon earthquake and fell into disarray until the 1940's when an extensive renovation was undertaken.

Most of the older unused castle buildings in the compound were demolished and the complex was turned into a tourist attraction.

Open daily from 9am until 6pm in winter and extended to 9pm in summer.

Praca de Comercio

Praça do Comércio (Commercial Square) is also known as Terreiro do Paço (Palace's Square) and is a large waterfront square in Lisbon city centre.

The old royal palace once stood here until it was completely destroyed in 1755 by the Great Earthquake.

The royal family moved to another residence in the district of Belem, and the new arcaded buildings acted as the port of entry to the city.

The centre of the square has a memorial statute of King Jose I on horseback and on the north side is a triumphal arch with some great intricate stonework.

One of Lisbon's oldest (and legendary) cafes,  Café Martinho da Arcada , is located here and dates from 1782.

The main tourist office Lisboa Welcome Center occupies one of the buildings on the west side of the square.

Be careful to keep an eye out for unforgiving Vespa drivers when you walk around the square as it is not yet fully pedestrianised.

Belem Tower

Belém Tower is located about 6km due west of Lisbon city centre, along the coast, and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The tower was commissioned by King John II in the late 15th century to be both part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus River and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon.

The tower was originally built on a small island near the bank of the Tagus, however, as the shoreline has progressively moved forward over the years, the tower is now nearly on the riverbank itself.

The building is divided into two parts: the bastion and the four story tower.

The bastion is shaped like an irregular hexagon and sits just above the water. This area once housed the cannons which made up the 16-gun wall emplacement.

The towers first floor is called the Governor's room, the second floor is the King's room, the third is the Audience room and the fourth is the chapel.

Continuing up, a narrow spiral staircase leads to the roof terrace above the chapel and offers some lovely views of the surrounding landscape.


Lisbon Oceanarium can be found in the Park of the Nations (Parque das Nações) to the north west of the city centre.

As the aquarium is not located beside the coast, the building is built into a pier that sits on a man-made "internal sea".

There are over 16,000 individual marine mammals across 450 species over several different exhibits.

The main exhibit is a 1,000-square-metre see-through tank filled with both temperate and tropical fish from all over the world including sharks, rays, chimaeras, various species of tuna, barracudas, groupers, and moray eels.

Audio and walking tours are available and tickets can be purchased from the website to avoid queuing.

Jeronimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery is found in Belém near to the Tower of the same name.

This magnificent monastery is considered to be one of the most prominent monuments in Lisbon and was home for the Hieronymite monks in the early 16th century.

Construction of the monastery began in 1502 and took 50 years to complete.

It withstood the Great Earthquake of 1755 without too much damage, but when the building became vacant in 1833 by the abolition of the religious orders in Portugal, it began to deteriorate to the point of almost collapsing until restoration efforts started in 1850.

The south and west entrances are overly ornate and almost seem to depict the shape of a shrine.

The cloisters are magnificent, each column differently carved with coils of rope, sea monsters, coral, and other sea motifs evocative of that time of world exploration at sea.

The open central courtyard of the church has a garden consisting of hedges cut in the shape of various municipal coats of arms of Portugal. In the centre is a large fountain also decorated with coats of arms and often illuminated on special occasions.

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Other Places To Visit

If you have some extra time in the city, some other worthwhile places to visit are:

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Temperature & Rainfall Guide for Lisbon

Climate graph for Lisbon

More Lisbon details from Climate Charts

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Lisbon City Centre Map

View Larger Map of Lisbon

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Great Airfare Deals to Lisbon

Book your airplane ticket to Lisbon now. Use our list of airline providers to find discount flights to Lisbon.

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Travel Extras

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