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Explorers' Lisbon is an intriguing mix of old and new

Article published
10.7.2015 at 06:00
A street in Lisbon.
You can reach the Portuguese capital via direct flight from Helsinki Airport.

The historical attractions of Lisbon tell the story of the city's golden era as the home port of explorers. Hieronymites Monastery shelters the tomb of Vasco da Gama, the discoverer of India, and the Belém Tower on the River Tejo, or Tagus, was built to honour him.

Another essential spot to visit in Lisbon is the Moorish São Jorge castle on top of the hill. While you climb up, remember to stop and admire the incredible views of the medieval Alfama district.

Lisbon is also renowned for museums and art exhibitions. Berardo Museum's vast modern art collections range from Picasso to Dali and Warhol. Entrance to the museum is free. Art is also present on the streets, as the walls of many buildings are covered by beautiful although at times somewhat decrepit decorative tiles.

Portuguese delicacies

One of the main features of Portuguese cuisine is its uncomplicated nature. Anything made of fresh fish or any seafood is always a great experience, but don't forget to try bacalhau, dried cod, as it's the country's national dish.

Lisbon is full of restaurants, from tiny corner cafés to fine dining establishments. For instance, the Belcanto has two Michelin Stars and is praised by many.

After dinner you could head to Bairro Alto district and enjoy its rambling streets and dozens of bars full of life. The trendiest club is probably Lux, situated a short distance from the city.

Music lovers can't miss the opportunity to experience fado in one of the city's many fado clubs. This melancholy or even mournful music somehow feels familiar to many Finns; after all, Portugal is in many ways similar to Finland, since both are small modest nations on the edge of Europe.

Colourful excursions

Lisbon's magnificent sea aquarium, Oceanarium, is located in Parque das Nacoes, a very popular weekend destination for the locals. As you walk on the waterfront boulevard, you can see the Vasco da Gama Bridge, which is Europe's longest bridge, at 17 km long.

Sintra, a small town on the slopes of the Serra mountains, is a great destination for a day trip. A return train trip will cost only a few euros. A train trip of under an hour can also take you to Cascais or Estoril, beaches that are popular among surfers.

The price levels in Portugal won't feel very steep. It's no wonder that many have decided to buy a second home or opted for a long-term rental home in the country. The climate is pleasant, since temperatures rarely drop below 10 degrees even in winter.

TAP Air Portugal, known for its good service, is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, and will fly you direct from Helsinki Airport to Lisbon six days a week. Lisbon offers good connections to Africa and South America, for example. The distance from the airport to the city is only 7 km.

Find flights and timetables from Helsinki Airport to Lisbon