It’s safe to say that 2016 was a pretty great year for Lisbon. From winning top awards in the travel industry, to re-introducing itself as one of the trendiest cities in Europe.
And 2017 looks set to be a stellar year for the Portuguese city too. With announcements of some impressive new tourist attractions and events, it’s the destination on everyone’s lips. And the best news yet? We can get you there with a number of our Thomson Cruises itineraries. Not quite sold yet? Here’s why you should make Lisbon your must-see cruise destination this year.
It’s award winning
Lisbon’s trophy cabinet must be bulging, as it’s been recognised for some huge accolades during the past year. Its famous museums, like historical Museu Calouste Gulbenkian and arty Museu Colecção Berardo, and tasty cuisine are just a few of the things that led to it being voted one of the world’s Top Ten Cities for Travel in 2018 by Lonely Planet. It also scooped the gong for Best City or Short Break Destination in the Travel Media Awards in 2016, and was chosen as Europe’s Leading Cruise Destination and Europe’s Leading Cruise Port in the World Travel Awards, which is a big nod to why Lisbon is the perfect place for a cruise holiday this year.
It has some exciting new attractions
Even if you’ve been to Lisbon before, it doesn’t mean you should discount it from your go-to list this year. Tonnes of new tourist attractions have been announced for 2017, one of which is the news that Lisbon’s most iconic landmark, the 25 de Abril bridge, is opening up a viewing platform. It means, for the first time, you’ll get some never-experienced-before views of the Tagus River and the Santo Amaro Docks – an out-of-use port filled with warehouses converted in to trendy eateries during the day, and lively cocktail bars and clubs after sunset.
Another newbie to the Lisbon cultural scene is a museum dedicated to the history and role of Judaism in Portugal, created by architect Grace Bachmann. It’s set to open in Alfama this year, with works hoping to be finished before summer.
The revamping of former monastery, Hospital do Desterro, is another exciting addition to Lisbon for 2017. The area, which was used by monks and pilgrims as a place to stay when visiting the monarchy, will now become a new experimental space for Lisbon, with a contemporary art centre, alternative therapies centre and a selection of bars and restaurants.
The food is one-of-a-kind
From trying chunks of chouriço, a spicy Portugese sausage, to tasting piri piri chicken in the country it first originated from, any self-confessed foodie won’t be disappointed with the culinary delights on offer here. There are food markets perfect for sampling some of Lisbon’s best dishes, like the Time Out Market on the Av. de Julho which displays fares from two local Michelin star chefs – Tarar-ia by Dieter Koschina, and Chicken All Around by Miguel Laffan. We recommend heading to Pasteis de Belem, a world-renowned bakery famous for creating the Portugese tart. They started making the tarts – known as pastel de nata – in 1837, and even to this day the recipe remains a secret, known only by master confectioners who hand-craft the desserts in a room hidden away from prying eyes.
And if you’re heading to Lisbon between 30th March and 9th April, you can’t miss the tenth edition of the Lisbon Fish and Flavours, a huge ten-day event devoted to Portugal’s tasty fish and seafood. Renowned chefs from all over Portugal will come together to showcase their best techniques and products with live cooking classes, tasting sessions and wine pairing. Plus, there will be a market with food stalls for so you can take some products home for yourself, too. We recommend hunting down the famed nature sardine, especially if you’re planning on taking part in one of Lisbon’s biggest annual events –the Feast of St Anthony on 13th June. The streets of Lisbon become sardine-crazed to honour Anthony of Padua when, in the 13th century, he became upset when none of the locals listened to his sermons. After exclaiming he’d be better off preaching to the fish, he visited the shores to find thousands of scaly friends popping their heads out of the water to listen to him. It clearly gave him the motivation he needed, as he then went on to be the patron saint a long list of things, including animals, fishermen and lost souls. To celebrate, every year the people in Lisbon feast on St Anthony’s earliest fans – grilled sardines.
There will be a new cruise ship terminal
As well as being voted Europe’s Leading Cruise Port, Lisbon is also set to receive a brand new cruise ship terminal, which will be the third cruise ship terminal in the city. The new 13,800 square metre building, which will be located next to the city’s main terminal, Santa Apolónia, will feature three floors with restaurants, a VIP lounge and a terrace with a 360-degree view over Lisbon.
Portugal has been getting lots of attention recently for being a great value destination, with the Algarve being voted number one in the top 12 cheapest destinations by The Post Office. Lisbon is no different, and while you might not find bargains as great as the Algarve’s 32p for a bottle of water, you will find pints of beer for £1.50 and a three course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two for £25.
Bairro Alto is the place to be
This central district in Lisbon is definitely worth a visit. By day, you’ll find charming cobbled streets lined with cosy bars, restaurants and luxury shops. But by night, this sleepy place comes alive with small clubs and bars filled with locals who know how to party, spilling out in to the streets to create a buzzing atmosphere. Head to BA Wine Bar, with over 200 bottles of Portugese wine on offer, where you’ll get a lesson in wine tasting from the professional sommeliers as well as trying some tasty Portugese tapas.
It’s notoriously hilly
Rome isn’t the only place known as the city built on seven hills, with Lisbon also joining the list. But don’t let this put you off, as hills don’t mean extra exercise – they mean great views and some special attractions to go with it, too. For just €2.80, you can take a ride in the intricately-crafted Elevador de Santa Justa, taking you from the Baixa district up to the ruins of the Igreja do Carmo church. Once you reach the top you’ll be rewarded with views overlooking central Lisbon from the viewing platform.
Another way to enjoy panoramic views out over the city without the walking is by hopping on the Ascensor da Bica – Portugal’s answer to San Francisco’s famous hill-climbing trams. The tram lines head up and down the city, which is great if you’re short for time.
Seeing the sights of Lisbon couldn’t be easier
With a Thomson Cruises holiday, you’ll tick off all of Lisbon’s best bits in one go. From strolling through the cobbled streets and Instagramming photos of the ancient castelo de São Jorge guarding Lisbon’s harbour, to heading to Alfama, the ancient Arab quarter, to pick up some hand-made souvenirs from the Thieves Market, you’ll see it all with one of our cruise itineraries that head to Lisbon.
The Magic of Spain is another popular itinerary, which is on board TUI Discovery which visits all of Spain’s gems – Palma, Cadiz, Malaga, Cartagena, with the added bonus of a visit to Gibraltar, too.
Fill up your itinerary with our Thomson Cruises shore excursions
Lisbon has plenty to keep you occupied, but if you need a hand deciding what to do, we can help. We offer six shore excursions in Lisbon, all varying in experiences. Zip around the streets of Lisbon on Eco Tuk Tuk, a small vehicle that will help get you to all the city’s best sights like the castelo de São Jorge we mentioned earlier, and plenty of cafes to try a bica – Lisbon’s answer to an espresso.
Or, if you’d prefer to see the highlights on two wheels instead of three, why not try Lisbon by Segway? Not only are they more fun to manoeuvre round, but they can also take a little off-roading, which means you can explore some of Lisbon’s less touristy parts. Take a tour around Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest district, where you can race along the cobbled streets with fado, a traditional Portugese style of music, sound tracking your adventure.