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The pace of everyday life in Lisbon may be a slow one, but from beaches and historical sites to musical performances and short day trips, there’s no shortage of things to do in and around Portugal’s capital city. Here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the top five activities in sun-drenched Lisbon:
1. Catch a Fado performance: The origins of this melancholy musical form, which is marked by solo vocalists beautifully crooning songs of loss and longing, are widely disputed, but there’s no doubt that Fado is deeply woven into the culture of Lisbon. The Alfama district is home to some of the most traditional Fado performances, often held at restaurants or Fado houses in the area. Owned by renowned Fado singer Maria da Fé, Senhor Vinho in the Lapa district is another recommended spot offering great food along with excellent performances.
2. Visit the Tower of Belém: This iconic 16th-century structure on the Tagus River is one of two Lisbon UNESCO World Heritage Sites and, obviously, one of the top historical attractions in the city. After exploring the interior of this small fortress, be sure to climb to the top for breathaking panoramic views of the area.
3. Take a street-art tour of the city: The vibrant colors of Lisbon's buildings aren't the only thing of visual interest here. Works of street art from Poruguese and international artists pepper the landscape, so there's a hidden exhibition around virtually every corner. Tons of online resources have mapped out the best in show, and there's even an app or two to help you navigate to these clandestine treasures. At the top of our list? Bordalo II's large-scale mixed-media installations using reclaimed trash and Odeith's 3D graffiti.
4. Walk through Alfama: With its narrow, winding streets lined with steep staircases, and clothes lines stretching between beautifully tiled houses, there’s a distinctly Old-World feel to Alfama, which makes sense since it’s the oldest part of the city. This is yet another district in endlessly picturesque Lisbon where you’ll enjoy magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean.
5. Photograph Praça do Comércio: Located near the Tagus River in the heart of downtown, this stunning square was the location of Ribeira Palace until the earthquake of 1755 destroyed it. Today it’s home to the city’s triumphal arch and Rua Augusta, one of the city’s busiest pedestrian walkways.