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The great escape


Sean Pavone / Getty

“Lisbon is a city where the little things capture your heart more than any grand municipal projects,” says The Sunday Telegraph. The sun on the terracotta rooftops and azulejo tiles, the aroma of grilled sardines and the sound of ancient yellow trams creaking up steep hills combine to create “an edge-of-the-Continent vibe where the whispers of Old Europe mingle and cavort with the briny sea air of the Atlantic”. Portugal is one of the few countries on the government’s green list; check the latest travel advice here.

Places of note The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology is one for fans of Tate Modern – it’s a striking conversion of a former power station. Head to the National Museum of Ancient Art if Old Masters are more your thing. The Jardim de Sao Pedro de Alcantara has views of the River Tagus, the cathedral, Sao Jorge castle and Parque Eduardo VII (named after the British king). For a day out, the hill town of Sintra has fairytale palaces, floral gardens and wild woodland. Leave time for an afternoon on the beach in the ancient fishing port of Cascais.

Weather Lisbon is one of the sunniest and warmest cities in Europe.

Famous faces Madonna bought a house near Lisbon in 2017 and John Malkovich says he plans to retire in the city, where he co-owns the Lux nightclub. Scarlett Johansson, Monica Bellucci, Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender have all owned apartments here.

To eat Lisbon’s food scene is booming. Try the ubiquitous salt cod at on the terrace at Pateo 13 or brunch at the Mill, which does Aussie-Portuguese toasties with chorizo, peppers and cheese. Mercado da Ribera is a gourmet food hall and Jose Avillez’s Mini Bar has an informal atmosphere and upmarket sharing plates at affordable prices. Lisbon is famous for its pasteis de nata (custard tarts) – try Cafe Pasteis de Belem, where they were invented in 1837. Another local speciality, bitoque (steak, fried egg and chips), is best sampled at O Bitoque.

1 To stay

Alfama is the city’s oldest neighbourhood and the best place to feel immersed in its history – traditional music echoes around the cobbled streets and church spires at night. Memmo Alfama is a stylish but relaxed hotel with splendid views from the roof terrace’s infinity pool and bar. Doubles from €110 a night.

2 To rent

The oddly named Stalagmite is a flat sleeping four in the smart Baixa area, between Alfama and buzzing Bairro Alto – think wide avenues, mansions with Portuguese tiles, theatres and grand squares. There’s a balcony and both bedrooms have king beds; one also has a freestanding bath. From £1,846 a week.

3 To Airbnb

This one-bedroom loft is in the Chiado area of the city, within walking distance of Bairro Alto. It has an open-plan living and dining area with a sofa bed for a third guest, a small kitchenette and a terrace with rooftop views. From £246 for two nights.

4 To buy

Join Lisbon’s smart set in the Principe Real neighbourhood, known for designer shops, galleries, antiques stores and a gorgeous public park. This six-bedroom, 10-bathroom villa has a pool and a smart garden linked to the open-plan living space by a covered terrace. €7.85m.