There are lots of new openings
Though endearingly traditional, Lisbon can do hip as well as any other European capital – the recently renovated Ribeira Market is currently the place to eat and drink, with the city’s iconic Pap’açorda restaurant giving it a seal of approval by moving there.
The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) is a sleek new addition to the riverside in Belém, while 2017 will see the opening of a new Jewish museum in the historic Alfama district and a new viewpoint on the Golden Gate-like 25 de Abril Bridge.
Image by Paul Arps on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
It’s one of Europe’s most affordable places
The bottom line for most people’s city break is the cost – and Lisbon is still remarkably affordable. A room in a central guesthouse can be had for under €80 even in high season, and a dorm in a hostel is under €20.
Choose carefully and you can eat well for around €10 while a travel card on the bus, trams and metro is just €6 for the day.
Even more refreshingly, an espresso is under €1, a small beer is just €1.20 and you can buy a quality bottle of wine in a supermarket for under €5.
There’s an endlessly enchanting city centre
Lisbon has always been a place to get lost in. Head to the centre, put the map away and just wander. It’s the sort of city where you stumble upon wonderful tile-fronted buildings, little-visited squares and stepped alleys leading to tiny welcoming cafés.
Not that the city lacks sites. No visit to Lisbon is complete without enjoying the view across the Tagus from the hilltop castle, or admiring the astonishing stonework of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém, or the amazingly diverse collections of art at the Gulbenkian Museum.
In fact there is an eclectic array of museums that could keep you occupied for weeks, from the impressive Maritime Museum to the quaintly old-fashioned Carris tram museum.
But unless you hit one of those days when it decides to rain (and being on the Atlantic, it certainly can rain with a vengeance), you’ll probably spend most of your time admiring the city’s handsome profiles from the viewpoints dotted around its seven hills.
When the weather’s good, it’s great
This might not seem to matter hugely when you go on a city break, but it helps when there are more than 3000 hours of sunlight a year. Even in December, you can expect an average of five hours’ sun a day. And with so much to see and do outdoors, that is a real bonus.
If the heat gets a bit much, it’s also a short hop to some superb beaches. Estoril is where Ian Fleming gained inspiration for James Bond when it was a nest of spies during the WWII, and today it has one of the region’s best beaches.
Nearby Cascais, the next stop on the endearing coast-hugging rail line, has smaller beaches but is more attractive, with grand mansions and historic backstreets.