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Lisbon is the largest city in Portugal, and its capital. The second oldest European city after Athens, it was probably settled in about 1200 B.C. Because of its extremely mild climate, this destination is very popular with people who go on last-minute holidays and get relief from the colder places on the continent. Lisbon's Vasco da Gama Bridge is notable not just because, at over 11 kilometres in length, it’s Europe’s longest, but because it set a world record for the longest dining table, which was placed along it to serve 15,000 people just before the structure opened.
Alfama is the oldest district in Lisbon, and the only neighbourhood to survive a devastating 1755 earthquake that forced a widespread rebuilding project to begin. Alfama is a particularly interesting place, not just because it was associated with humble sailors and fishermen, but also prized as a retreat for the wealthy from the 17th century, due to the area's public baths, which were thought to have medicinal properties. While in Alfama, wander through narrow streets and notice picturesque architecture, such as homes with reddish-brown roofs and cream-coloured bases. Many of the streets are heavily tree lined, making them good places to linger if you need shade during hot days. Consider going to Alfama’s Decorative Arts Museum, which has an impressive collection of antique furniture. Alternatively, check out the National Pantheon of Santa Engracia. Built in 1681, this majestic building has a baroque style, huge dome with a viewing platform that offers 360-degree scenery of the city, plus colourful marble carvings. Undoubtedly, Alfama presents numerous things to do when spending several hours away from your hotel.
You may think of Paris or Milan as notable places to shop, but Lisbon's streets offer plenty of places to participate in retail therapy, too. Some people start shopping before they begin exploring what this capital city has to offer, because the terminals at the airport feature many retail branches. From high fashion outfits to gourmet food, the merchandise is plentiful. Plan to spend time at one of Lisbon's outlet malls, such as Freeport Outlet Alcochete. Located in the eastern part of Lisbon, it's the largest outlet mall in Europe, and a place where you can find many familiar discount brands, especially those related to clothing, at extremely low prices. You might also want to venture to the Amoreiras Shopping Center. It was the first one in the capital, and has welcomed shoppers since 1985. During shopping excursions there, discover top-name attire from the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, or opt to splurge on a beautiful, locally made piece of art or jewellery.
Much of Lisbon's history is especially obvious in its long-standing sites. One of those is the Jerónimos Monastery, which opened in 1601 and features striking examples of Renaissance architecture. Many of the area's tourists flock from their hotels to this religious site and conclude it's one of the most decorative churches around. That's in large part due to details such as a two-level cloister and a 32-meter stone portal at one of the entrances that features ornate, carved depictions of saints. Explorer Vasco da Gama spent his last night here before embarking on a trip from Lisbon to the Far East. The São Jorge Castle is also worth seeing. Set on a hilltop, it overlooks the Tagus River and Lisbon's historic centre. Historians say there have been structures on the castle's site since as far back as the second century B.C., but the most recent building underwent major renovations in the 19th century. Its well-secured interior is similar to the way it was when Christianity was brought to Portugal during the second crusade.
This European capital is known for its seafood, but there are many other types of food to discover too. If ocean-themed cuisine is what you’re after, many of Lisbon’s well-established restaurants serve perfectly cooked clams and oysters. You can also treat your taste buds to something that may be unfamiliar: percebes, or barnacles. Some Lisbon restaurants serve starters such as bread garnished with oil, or olives paired with flavourful dips. Beyond seafood, other tasty options include lamb tagine, or tender steaks served with vegetable side dishes or fragrant rice. Portuguese tapas is also widely available, and many of the establishments that specialise in small plates have trendy atmospheres. If you’re just up for a snack, pop into one of the many cafes that provide uplifting cups of coffee paired with sweet pastries or tiny custard tarts. These menu items are just the things visitors need to give them energy boosts so they can see as much of the capital as possible while outside their hotels.