Ryanair and Easy Jet are known for their great prices, but Tap Portugal has opened the skies to a whole new level. Now with the TAP Portugal Stopover program, travellers can stop for free in Lisbon (or Porto) for one to three days on their way to, or back from, another destination. What’s better than two trips for the price of one?
Whether you like urban hiking through hilly roads, picnics in the park, surfing, lounging at an outdoor kiosk with friends, enjoying beautiful sunsets, or trekking through mountains, Lisbon is the city for you. There is plenty to do indoors too, but it seems designed to lure you outdoors, and the Mediterranean climate doesn’t hurt either. At the moment, spring seems to have arrived early and 15 – 17 degrees at the beginning of March is an attractive lure from cooler regions.
The business-minded are arriving from all over the world to realise their start-up dreams in Lisbon. For the last couple of years, Portugal’s capital has enjoyed a spotlight shining on its entrepreneurship and technological savvy. As a result, the internationally-recognised Web Summit changed locations from Dublin to Lisbon, where it will enjoy its second consecutive year in 2017.
There is no bad time to visit Lisbon, but summer is easily the best season, so book flights now to ensure a summertime vacation. Also, planning ahead of time lets you pick and choose which festivals and concerts to attend (and there are many). During the second weekend in June, Lisbon blocks off most of its streets to drivers, and pedestrians take over in celebration of the Popular Saints’ Festivals (in Lisbon, it’s St. Anthony). The city also hosts indie, rock, and popular music concerts from June through August.
Portugal’s cuisine is world-renowned and for very good reason. Not quite a Mediterranean style, the food is heavily focused on seafood, fish, cheese, meats, and potatoes. Spices include olive oil, garlic, and piri piri (a chilli pepper sauce). Then, there is the wine. While Vinho Verde and delicious Port come from the Porto region, Lisbon is close to Alentejo, where wonderful whites and reds are both produced. Recently, however, the city’s progressive side is taking a stronger hold and vegan/vegetarian restaurants are popping up beside traditional restaurants and tascas. Also, craft beers are becoming more popular, steering thirsty mouths away from Portugal’s two traditional beers (Sagres and Superbock) and towards speciality ales and IPAs.
And there are so many of them! Located on the Tejo River, a walk along the water is a popular pastime, but for those more interested in swimming, surfing or stand-up paddle boarding, there are other spots close by including resort-friendly Cascais and Estoril. Heading across the river to Costa da Caparica, or venturing north to Ericeira or Peniche will introduce more opportunities for water sports (and mouthwatering seafood). Since the weather is warming up (and was never too cold to begin with), head over for fun in the sun and sand.
Lisbon is one of Europe’s safest and quietest capitals. While there is still a lot to do, it’s possible to visit for a retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life – and who knows how long this will last, given its increasing popularity as a travel destination and the chosen getaway city for those looking to buy a second home somewhere warm. Catch its quaint side while you still can.