Short breaks in LisbonBehold Portugal's charming, sun-kissed capital
HomeAway travel expert
What do you look for in a short break? Well, first of all, let’s define what a short break entails. More often than not, this will be a long weekend - three or four days within which you hope to cram as much as possible into your small window. To make the most of your time, it is always a prudent idea to visit somewhere that offers plenty of activities and attractions, and although it may not be at the forefront of most holidaymakers’ minds, Lisbon undoubtedly fits into this category.
Visitors to Portugal will more often flock to one of the established coastal resorts like the Algarve in pursuit of sun, sea and sand. Nothing at all wrong with that, but if you’re looking for more in the way of substance, you really can’t go wrong with the capital city. Whether you’re travelling as a couple, with friends or family, or even solo, there are attractions aplenty to keep the entire group entertained for a few days. HomeAway boasts a wide selection of rental properties to choose from in the city, and to whet your appetite we’ve provided a snapshot of what to expect when you jet out.
Unmissable Lisbon highlights for a short stay
So rich is the heritage of the Portuguese capital, it seems criminal to offer a mere overview. Then again, if you take the time to explore, you can find testament to this on every corner. Marvel at the beautiful cloisters of Jeronimos Monastery as a starting point, by way of the UNESCO approved Belem Tower and the thousand-year-old battlements of St George’s Castle. Elsewhere, soak up the splendour of the gold-inlaid 16th century Sao Roque Church - the internal Chapel of St John the Baptist is the most expensive in the world due to its detailed mosaics and dazzling architecture. The Museum of Sacred Art that adjoins the church is also chock full of interesting works.
Named for the magnate who assembled the collection inside, the Berardo Museum resembles an inconspicuous grey stone factory from the exterior. Inside, however, a modern art lover’s paradise awaits. Incorporating works from esteemed painters such as Picasso, Warhol and Pollock, the museum is home to some 4,000 varied pieces. Another celebrated testament to Portugal’s cultural past is the National Gallery, where you will find works dating back to the 14th century. Admission to both of these galleries is absolutely free, so if you get up early enough, you can just about find the time to cram in everything they have to offer whilst preserving your Euros for other activities.
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Lisbon, and indeed Portugal as a whole, thrives on the surrounding coasts and waterways, so it comes as no surprise that the beaches in the area are fittingly effulgent. A distinctly Mediterranean aura is sharply contrasted by the roaring Atlantic Ocean that provides the setting, but this is what makes the region unique in that respect. Costa da Caparica is the most accessible from the city and therefore the most crowded, but the carnival atmosphere and bustling bars are irresistible. The popular hangout of Carcavelos is a little further afield, but with such an impressive public transport system in place, you can easily squeeze a few hours there into your trip.
If you have children in tow, or even if you’re just an oversized kid at heart, you will be delighted to know that Lisbon has plenty to offer for the young ones. The breathtaking Oceanarium us one of the world’s largest, with the uniquely designed central tank conveying the illusion that each of the 25,000 creatures of the deep are sharing the same living space. Land and sea animals come together at the highly-regarded zoo, or the more inquisitive visitor can enjoy a hands-on experience at the Interactive Science Museum. The bewitching fauna of the botanical gardens, meanwhile, will enchant kids and adults alike.
At the end of an exhausting day devouring everything the city has in its locker, what better way to unwind that to sample a taste of Lisbon’s laudable nightlife? In the early evening the city exudes a sultry and informal demeanour, with bars and restaurants presenting traditional fado music particularly fashionable amongst tourists. As the night progresses, the real party animals come out to indulge in the many fantastic clubs that populate the streets, especially the Bairro Alto neighbourhood where Majong reigns supreme. For a more relaxed experience, visit the rooftop balcony of Lux, the ideal place to enjoy the river view with a cocktail until the break of dawn.
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