Up the romance stakes with a palatial suite within the walls of the São Jorge Castle
Enjoy a romantic meal for two in a grand 17th-century palace
Take sunset cruise on a sailing boat down the Tagus River
Published: 11:36 BST, 23 May 2018 | Updated: 14:08 BST, 23 May 2018
Grand baroque palaces, atmospheric cobbled streets and a rich bar and dining scene, Lisbon is an ideal destination for a romantic weekend getaway. From rumbling through the city on one of its classic trams, to enjoying a makeshift picnic in a secret miradouro and watching the sun set over the Torre de Belém, check out our top tips for planning a romantic Lisbon city break.
Lisbon is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway
There are plenty of flights available from UK hubs, with carriers like TAP Air Portugal, British Airways, easyJet and Lufthansa flying into the city daily. Lisbon International Airport is six miles from the city centre.
While you can get into the city via bus or taxi, it’s advisable to catch the metro – it’s easy, quick and cheap. The trains run from 0600–0100 daily and the journey takes around 25-30 minutes. If you're planning to explore the greater Lisbon area, then a hire car can be a good option. There are several hire car service desks in the main terminal, including Hertz, Enterprise and Goldcar.
When to go
Lisbon is a year-round destination and benefits from more sunshine than much of Europe. However, spring can be one of the nicest times to visit the city, when the summer crowds have yet to descend and the temperatures are often warm enough to dine al fresco.
Find a romantic hotel in Lisbon's historic centre
For a successful romantic minibreak, it's all in the planning. The city is blessed with a wealth of good accommodation, so you won’t go far wrong whatever your budget or taste.
If money is no object, consider the Bartolomeu Gusmao suite in the Palácio Belmonte, a romantic boutique hotel set within the ancient walls of the medieval São Jorge Castle. The stunning three-storey suite features an octagonal lounge with a vaulted ceiling, and has a private rooftop terrace and sweeping views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean.
Book the spectacular Altis Belém Hotel and Spa for an unforgettable stay in the Portuguese capital
For something a little more contemporary, head to Belém and the Altis Belém Hotel and Spa on the banks of the Tagus River. Promising far-reaching views over Torre de Belém, it also features a modern BSpa, a stylish rooftop pool, and the widely acclaimed Feitoria, a lavish Michelin-starred restaurant.
For a more authentic Lisbon stay, book a room at Palacio Ramalhete, a small boutique hotel in an 18th-century palace. It has three internal courtyards, a cosy bar which serves a limited menu, and a shaded pool and sun terrace.
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Explore the city on an iconic tram
One of Lisbon's must-do's is a ride on one of its banana-yellow iconic trams which have been rumbling up and down Lisbon's vertiginous hills since the 1930s. Tram 28 is the city's most famous route. It runs between Martim Moniz and Campo Ourique and takes in the sights of the Graça, Baixa, Bairro Alto and Alfama districts, as well as the magnificent São Jorge Castle.
Kick back and enjoy Lisbon's cafe society
After a late night, recover with coffee and a pastel de nata at one of the city's many bohemian cafes and coffee shops. Lisbon has a wealth of these scattered all across the city, with plenty of history behind them. Café A Brasileira is one of the oldest, and dates back to 1905 when it was the domain of Lisbon’s bohemian set. Elsewhere, one of the most famous cafes is Botequim in the Graça district, which opened in 1968 by acclaimed Portuguese author and poet, Natália Correia.
Metro: Martim Moniz
Mug up on the city's Moorish history
With some of the finest views in the city, the São Jorge Castle – perched on one of the city's highest hills – is well worth a visit. Crammed with authentic and atmospheric charm, the Moorish fortress dates back to the 11th century. Aside from exploring the ancient castle, visitors can spend an hour or so in the modern-built archaeological museum, which features exhibits unearthed from the Iron Age right through to the remains of a 15th century palace.
Metro: Martim Moniz
Feast on oysters and champagne
From pastéis de Nata – the city's magnificent Portuguese custard tarts – to the heavenly grilled fresh sardines, Lisbon is food lover's dream. There are hundreds of excellent restaurants in the city. If you want to really splash the cash, the city has a growing fine dining scene with several Michelin-starred restaurants, including the exquisite two-star Belcanto in the Chiado district.
If you're looking something a little more low-key, then venture into Lisbon's many food markets. The city's oldest and most famous is Mercado da Ribeira, which opened the trendy Time Out street food market in 2014. A vast covered food hall, it offers 30 different food stalls selling everything from classic Portuguese caldo verde to Michelin-starred plates. Mercado de Campo de Ourique, on Rua Coelho da Rocha, is another highlight, and features a wealth of artisanal Portuguese food stalls, plus sushi bars and fresh seafood stands.
Enjoy a picnic in a secret miradouro
The City of the Seven Hills is famous for its miradouros, a series of viewpoints and terraces with great panoramas of the city. The Miradouro de Santa Caterina is regarded as one of the most romantic spots. Tucked away in the back streets of Bairro Alto on Rua de Santa Caterina, this wide stone terrace and park is easily recognised by the giant statue of Adamastor, the famous mythological figure imagined by the country’s great poet Luís de Camões. It's the perfect place to throw down a blanket and enjoy a bottle of wine as the sun sets over the Tagus estuary.
Bus: Rua de São Paulo
Create magical memories with a boat cruise on Tagus River
Take a sunset cruise on Portugal's longest river
Like a silvery thread flowing through the city, the Tagus is the longest river in both Portugal and Spain. Book a romantic sailing boat cruise and see some of the city's top sights, including the Torre de Belém, São Jorge Castle and the famous Cristo Rei statue, Lisbon's homage to Rio's famous Christ the Redeemer. The two-hour cruise includes a running commentary from the captain.
Dine out in style in one of Lisbon's grand 17th century palaces
Lisbon has an abundance of palaces, many of which have been renovated into boutique hotels or upmarket restaurants, perfect for a romantic dinner for two. One of the most popular is Casa do Alentejo in Baixa, a beautiful fine dining restaurant housed in the elegant 17th-century Palácio Alverca. Diners are seated in two grand ballrooms, each crammed with baroque detailing and sparkling chandeliers, and the menu showcases dishes from the Alentejo region.
Embrace Lisbon's traditional fado music
After dinner, head to one of the late night fado bars, Lisbon's traditional folk music. Famed for its melancholic lyrics and haunting melodies, the city's love of fado can be traced back to the early 1800s and the genre is listed under Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage collection. One of the best places to experience it is at Clube de Fado, a charming and authentic fado bar in the historic Alfama district, which hosts nightly fado shows and performances.
Metro: Terreiro do Paço
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