Lisbon

Once the city at the heart of an empire that stretched from Brazil to India, Lisbon has taken its traditional charms (the friendliness of its people, its buzzing nightlife, the splendour of its superb natural setting, spread across seven hills and hugging the banks of the wide River Tagus estuary) to the 21st century. It is a vibrant, lively, cosmopolitan and creative city that has managed to successfully marry the historic with the modern, the traditional with the cutting edge.
 
Its nucleus, an ancient fortress, is now circled by neighbourhoods drenched with medieval charm. Yellow electric wooden trams wind their way up and down the hills, past mosaic pavements, Art Noveau cafés, beautiful ochre and pastel houses and magnificent church towers and domes and the medieval quarter of Alfama, where the sounds of traditional Fado songs echo. The old quarters of Castelo and Mouraria lie next to the hill on which the impressive St. George's Castle sits. Bairro Alto is full of bohemian clubs, funky fashion, shops and bars. And the Chiado quarter is home of elegant theatres, bookshops, café society, art nouveau jewellery shops and designer boutiques.

Many of the city's grandest buildings, such as those along the waterfront in the posh suburb of Belém, are legacies of the glorious days of the Discoveries, when the Portuguese explorers set out to discover the world’s oceans. There are ample opportunities for seeing popular celebrations, for experiencing the magnificent art and culture, for shopping, and for enjoying the nightlife along the riverbank, bustling with steamy life. This is a city where enjoying life and taking time to appreciate it is still paramount.