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Lisbon Bridge at sunset

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Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. Built on seven hills and located on the west coast of the country overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it is home to the Ponte Vasco de Gama, the longest bridge in Europe, and has many fascinating buildings, such as the Se Cathedral and Jeronimos Monastery.

Why go?

As Portugal's capital, Lisbon has many interesting places to visit and car hire will help you to see more of the city and its surroundings.

There are plenty of museums, galleries, parks and monuments in Lisbon to keep anyone busy for a few weeks. You can visit the Sao Roque Church, Quelez Palace and Carmo Convent and Museum. There is also the option to take advantage of Lisbon car hire and get out of the city to go south to the Algarve or north towards Oporto.

Flights to Lisbon are available year round and you can pick up your hire car at Lisbon Portela International Airport (LIS). However, when you are travelling within the city the public transport system is very useful. The metro is quick and clean and there are plenty of buses. Take one of the traditional yellow trams to see the city or use a funicular to get up into the hills for some scenic views.

Where to explore?

The city is well worth getting to know and once you have finished, head out of town for beaches and scenery.

Lisbon has some truly amazing architecture. The Ponte 25 de Abril Bridge crosses the Tagus River and it was originally called the Salazar Bridge until it was renamed after the date on which the Carnation Revolution ended the dictatorship. The Castelo de Sao Jorge is worth the walk up the hill and comes with views across the city. The Aqueduto das Aguas Livres is a fine example of Portuguese engineering from the 18th century. The district of Belem towards the west of the city is packed with interesting monuments such as the Belem Tower, which was originally a fortified lighthouse and the Monument to the Discoveries.

Museum lovers will not be disappointed on a visit to Lisbon. The Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga is filled with Portugal's national art collection, the Museu Coleccao Berado hosts modern art exhibitions and the Museu da Marinha is an important maritime museum that charts Portugal's history at sea. You can also take a stroll through one of the many parks and gardens in the city. The Parque das Nacoes was built for the 1998 World Expo and is home to the Oceanarium and the Ajuda Botanical Gardens are thought to be the earliest gardens created in Portugal.

Lisbon has many districts, each with its own character. Chiado is great for shopping, as is Principe Real, which is a few minutes' walk from the Bairro Alto Quarter with its great views across the city. The Alfama district is filled with Moorish remnants of irregular streets and closely packed buildings, making it the perfect place to stroll around and soak up the atmosphere.

If you are getting out of the city for a day then head to Sintra, with its mountains and 8th- and 9th-century castles, or visit Fatima and see the site of the Marian apparitions. Portugal is a great place for city breaks as well as longer beach holidays in the nearby resorts of the Estoril Coast such as Cascais, which was made popular by the royal family in the late 1800s.

Any visit to Portugal and Lisbon in particular would not be complete without a meal that is accompanied by authentic Fado music. The Cristo Rei, a statue of Christ, is also a must-see. At over 100 metres tall, it dominates the skyline on the banks of the river Tejo opposite downtown Lisbon and you can travel to the top for some fantastic views.