Lisbon Skyline as seen from Almada, Portugal

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Portugal has always been popular as a holiday destination, due to the beautiful climate and stunning beaches. But Lisbon, the capital, is also a great place for city breaks and beach holidays in the nearby resorts of the Estoril Coast.

Why go?

The stunning 25 April Bridge, the Bairro Alto Quarter, and the Belém Tower are just a handful of Lisbon's fantastic attractions. Find out what else is on offer...

Lisbon is a relatively unexploited city and it's a bit of a well-kept secret. There is a great selection of boutique hotels, unusual and quirky shops in Chiado, a wide range of restaurants and some great sightseeing opportunities. Nightlife is lively and cosmopolitan in feel. The hills create a light breeze to keep you cool in the summer months, making sightseeing much more relaxing. The climate is as refreshing as the atmosphere.

It's useful to know that the locals commonly refer to specific historical neighbourhoods, or bairros, such as Bairro Alto, Baixa, Alfama, Chiado and Belém. Each has its own attractions. It's worth having a quick read of your Lisbon guide book in advance so you can focus on the sights you would most like to see and become acquainted with the city layout.

The city is easy to navigate by metro but you can also use the yellow trams, particularly the renowned Electrico 28 (Tram 28), which will take you all over the city and provides a cheaper alternative to city tours. The trams are a much-loved and historic feature of the city. They have been running since 1873 and even have a dedicated museum, called the Carris.

When you have tired of shopping or sitting in a café on the wide avenues in the Baxia (city centre), take a ride on Santa Justa's Elevator, which connects the lower streets of the Baxia with the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square). You can walk to the beautiful St Jorge's Castle (Castelo de São Jorge), which is situated on the highest of Lisbon's hills, via a picturesque route though the old bairro of Alfama, with its maze of street and alleys carved right into the hillside. Don't miss out on a view of the Ponte 25 de Abril (25 April Bridge), which is the sister bridge of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

Another high point, literally, is the famous statue of Christ the King, which is a version of the huge statue of Jesus overlooking Rio de Janeiro. If monuments are of interest, then be sure to visit the Belém area of Lisbon, which is filled with them. Don't miss the Discovery Monument, which is stunning. Look out for the Hieronymites Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimo), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Belém Tower (Torre de Belém). Put Se Cathedral and the Carmo convent and museum on your list of excursions if you enjoy religious sites. Sao Roque church is also well worth a visit. If you're still hungry for more then put Quelez Palace, the Aqueduct or the popular Oceanarium on your itinerary too. Don't forget that the historic city of Fatima is only 123 km from Lisbon. Why not make a day trip if you have a little longer?

How to get there

With a flight time of just two and a half hours from most airports in the UK, Lisbon flights couldn't be more convenient...

You can take flights to Lisbon from Bristol (BRI), Cork (ORK), Dublin (DUB), Edinburgh (EDI), Liverpool (LPL), Gatwick (LGW), Heathrow (LHR) and Luton (LTN) to Lisbon (LIS). As you fly into Lisbon (LIS) Portela International airport, look out for the river Targus and the seven hills around which the city is built.

Getting to and from the airport

On arrival, you'll want the most hassle-free way to get to your accommodation, so you can really get your holiday started. Here are some options...

Getting to Lisbon from the airport is straightforward as there is a new metro station. If you don't have much luggage you can also take the 44, 745 or 83 buses, which stop outside the airport and will take you to the old city centre. If you have more luggage, the simplest choice is to take an Aerobus or AeroShuttle bus service into the city centre for just €3.50. They run every 20 to 30 minutes and stop at all the key places. Helpfully, there is a screen on board to help you see where you need to get off.

Where to stay?

Beautiful Lisbon with its hilltop villages, historic quarters and nearby beaches is the ideal option for a holiday. But where should you stay?

Enchanting Lisbon has a variety of options for your stay, whether you want a cultural break exploring the wonders of Europe's second oldest capital, to make for the nearby beaches, or to discover fairy-tale castles and old world charm.

The city is spread over a series of hills and you may opt to stay near to the bustling Baixa which is full of shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. Accommodation near to this area would allow you to soak up the atmosphere of this buzzing city, get some retail therapy and people watch.

If being close to a great nightlife is high on your list of priorities, staying close to the hilltop district of Bairro Alto won't disappoint. Full of winding cobbled streets, restaurants and tiny bars, a lot of the revelry happens out on the streets, so get on your dancing shoes and join in the party!

Chic Chiado is another option, where you can find a variety of shops from large chain stores to small independent boutiques, whereas Belem is where you'll find a number of attractions such as the Jeronimos Monastery and the Torre de Belem.

The fantastic thing about Lisbon is its close proximity to beaches, meaning that you can combine a city break with a beach holiday. If you're craving sandy stretches and would prefer to stay slightly out of the city, you could consider areas such as Estoril or Cascais which are about 20 minutes from the centre.