Sights, culture and delicious food. And yet Lisbon often falls behind destinations such as Rome or Barcelona. Wrongly so. The Portuguese capital has a lot to offer. From Egyptian artefacts in the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian to Pop Art in the Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon is almost overflowing with exciting museums. A leisurely ride on the nostalgic tram and a stroll through the picturesque old town are also a must. And for those who like 21st century architecture, a visit to the Parque das Naçoes including one of the world's largest aquariums is recommended.

When it comes to beauty, few cities can compete with this supermodel that stretches across seven well-formed hills on the banks of the Tagus River. But it's not just the baroque angels on the houses, the nostalgic Remodelado trams, or the post-industrial cool or red velvety atmosphere of Lisbon's many clubs - there's something else. Perhaps the artful way in which the smoothly chafed cobblestones of Alfama reflect the light, or the alleys illuminated by street lamps - the feeling of experiencing something unforgettable. From the futuristic Oceanário in the Parque das Nações to the Torre de Belém from the Age of Discovery, Lisbon has much to offer even the most discerning visitor. But a aimless walk through the streets can be more of an experience than ticking off the sights. In any case, this is how it has been for me. Start with a ride on the nostalgic rocking tram that has been climbing Lisbon's hills for over 100 years and squeezing its way through the narrow alleys of the old town. From 10 a.m. onwards, long queues often form at the stops; those who can set it up should leave earlier. With the line 28, it goes through the oldtown districts Graça and Alfama. It is not unusual for the wagons to be only a few centimetres away from the next house wall. Get out and stroll through the alleys. Again and again there are grandiose views over the roofs of Lisbon as for example at the Miradouro da Graça with terrace café. Try Lisbon's sweetest secret - a Pastéis de Nata.

The district Belem in the west of Portugal's metropolis has a lot to offer and you can also explore it by bike. Bikes are available at Bikeiberia. From the city centre you can follow the river and in 30 minutes you reach the Torre de Belém, an observation tower in the mouth of the river Tejo, where the arriving merchant ships from the New World used to be welcomed. Also visit Lisbon's newest architectural landmark, the Museu Arte Arquitetura Tecnologia, which vaults over the waterfront promenade to a shining white. Or the Hieronymus Monastery, a world cultural heritage site with a richly decorated late-Gothic limestone façade, in front of which there are always long queues. But Lisbon's longest of all queues is only a few hundred metres away from the monastery: under the blue awnings of the "Pastelaria de Belém". The bakery is considered the birthplace of the Pastéis de Nata, Portugal's world gourmet so to speak. The round dessert canapés made from puff pastry bowls filled with flamed vanilla cream can be found on every corner in Portugal - and in every Portuguese café somewhere else in the world. A national speciality that is served in the dignified restaurant as well as at the motorway service area. One orders a bica, thus an espresso, or a galão, the Portuguese variant of the milky coffee.

Modern Lisbon can be found on the Expo98 exhibition site in Parque das Naçoes. On 340 hectares you will find a marvel of modern architecture, underground tiled galleries, walking and cycling paths along the Tejo, the three-storey Vasco da Gama shopping centre, whose architecture is reminiscent of seafaring, as well as a gondola lift that floats 20 metres above the banks of the Tejo and ends at Ocenario - one of the largest aquariums in the world with a surprising presentation of the underwater world. A true marine paradise, a must for every Lisbon traveller, if only because of its unusual architectural concept. No attraction attracts more visitors; there are over a million every year.


This is how you get there:
Nonstop from Zurich with Swiss or TAP

This is how you get around:
By tram, metro, on foot and/or by bicycle

How long should I go:
3 - 4 days

Best travel time:
Spring to Autumn

Highlights:
Tram 28 and 12, Miradouros, districts Graça and Belem, Ocenario

Delicious food:
Solar dos Presuntos, where Benfica's footballers also stop for a bite to eat

Hotel tip:
Albergaria Senhora do Monte, central and not too expensive

More info:
www.visitlisboa.com


impressions

Realised by Michael Bachmann
Further travel pictures under www.kissed-by-nature.com