Lisbon is one of the coolest and most exciting capitals in Europe.
And there’s so much to see and do from monuments and museums to quirky places to eat and stay.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of a budget-friendly city break…
WHERE TO STAY
Casa do Barao, Bairro Alto
Snazzy: Pictured is one of the bedrooms at Casa do Barao in the Bairro Alto district
This 18th-century townhouse, pictured, has had a snazzy revamp, with retro furniture and modern art. When warm, the highlight is a pool in the oasis-like back garden. B&B doubles from £97; 84 Rua da Emenda (casadobarao.com)
Casa Amora, Amoreiras
What a lovely hideaway, beside a quiet square not far from the lively streets of the Bairro Alto district. Rooms are in 19th-century buildings with facades clad in eye-catching, caramel-coloured tiles. The 11 tasteful rooms feature art nouveau furniture. B&B doubles from £80; 13 Rua de Joao Penha (casaamora.com)
The Independente Hostel Suites, Bairro Alto
Take Lisbon’s oldest privately owned lift to reach the eclectic rooms at this local institution, which used to be Lisbon’s Socialist Party HQ. Modern art covers just about every wall. A visit to the hip rooftop bar/restaurant is a must. B&B doubles from £96, or with views from £106; 81 Rua se Sao Pedro de Alcantara (theindependente.pt)
Hotel Marques de Pombal, St Antonio
Prefer to keep things business-like? If so, make this ten-storey hotel by Marques de Pombal metro station your base. It’s convenient for the airport (about 25 minutes away) with designer furniture and a library-like bar. B&B doubles from £75; 243 Avenue da Liberdade (hotel-marquesdepombal.pt). All prices based on low- season stays (October to March), but may fluctuate.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Lisbon’s trams are a symbol of the city and one of the easiest ways to get around
Lisbon’s trams date from the Thirties and are a city symbol. They’re a great way to rest weary legs — Lisbon has seven hills — and get orientated. Route 28 is brilliant, weaving from Martim Moniz to Campo Ourique. Fares are £2.50; a 24-hour ticket from a metro station is £5.50.
Top of the hill
Wonderful views of the River Tagus are to be had from the terraces in Alfama, pictured: the perfect spot for a picnic. Afterwards, stroll through the labyrinthine alleyways of the old town to the river.
Visit the cathedral
Lisbon Cathedral dates from the 12th-century, though much has been rebuilt since an earthquake in 1755. Entry is free.
Bairro Alto district has buildings covered in colourful tiles, called azulejo. Get lost among the architecture, then learn more about the tiles at the National Tile Museum (museudoazulejo.gov.pt, entry £4.40).
Free culture fix
Some museums are free on Sundays, including the musical Museu do Fado (museudofado.pt) and Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, with artefacts and art (gulbenkian.pt/museu).
WHERE TO EAT
Loja das Conservas, Chiado
This fun, tiny restaurant is connected to a shop selling colourful cans of tinned fish. The mackerel pie (£9) is especially popular and the hearty fish soup (£2.60) is excellent. Two courses with a glass of wine, from £12; 6-8 Travessa do Cotoveto (lojadasconservas.com).
Miradouro da Senhora do Monte is one of the highest lookout points of Lisbon
A Nossa Casa, Bairro Alto
This brand-new eaterie is run by talented twentysomethings. The interior is quirky, with watering cans hanging above the bar and a bicycle ‘coat rack’. The food is a modern take on traditional Alentejo dishes: mussels with lime and shallots and lovely salt-cod with egg yolk. Two courses & wine from £16; 31 Rua da Atalaia (00 351 21 342 0484).
Leao d’Ouro, Bairro Alto
During World War II, when Portugal was neutral, spies from both sides gathered at Leao d’Ouro (Golden Lion). The blue-tiled walls are beautiful. Cod, lobster, seabass and sardines are offered, but cut costs with fish soup and bread (£7). Two courses from the main menu from £17.50; 105 Rue 1 de Dezembro (restauranteleaodouro.com.pt)
Mercado da Ribeira, Cais do Sodre
This is also known as the Time Out Market. Shop for pastel de nata (custard tarts) for less than £1, and sardinha fidalja (sardines on toast) and caldo verde (cabbage soup), both £2.60. 49 Avenue 24 de Julho (timeout.com/about/market)
Adriano Restaurant, Bairro Alto
Taberna/cafes nestle behind Estacio do Rossio, the main station. Beer and a salt-cod fritter is £3.50 at Adriano Restaurant. Calcada Carmo 39.
Wizz Air flies daily to Lisbon from Luton from £51 return (wizzair.com).