With only 15 weeks till Christmas, many of us are locking in our end-of-year travel plans, and as per usual, Europe is a popular destination amongst a lot of Aussies.
Paris, Venice, Amsterdam and Budapest often quickly cross the minds of eager holiday lovers, but there’s another city that could make for a unique getaway up North, and that’s Lisbon.
As the capital of Portugal with a population of just over half a million, it’s a city free from overcrowding with a culture and history dating back centuries.
Whether it be Lisbon’s palaces, patisseries or the picturesque Tagus river that gives you instant Instagram bragging rights, tourists are promised something different to other European hot spots, and that means more than peri peri chicken.
The cuisine in Portugal is varied across the country, and during my recent trip to Lisbon with Qatar Airways, I learnt that the capital is known for its delectable cod fish.
The locals specialise in this flavoursome seafood dish, which can be found at most eateries across the city.
Many hotel restaurants tend to feature the dish on their menus, but if you’re looking for a feed on a budget while you sightsee, try popping by one of the onsite cafes at the palaces in Sintra.
We stopped by the Monserrate Palace in Sintra for a relaxing lunch after a morning on the go.
As for those with a sweet tooth, look no further than the famous Portuguese egg tarts.
The queues can be a bit long at popular cafe Pastéis de Belém, but the wait is worth it for their famous treat that literally melts in your mouth. Just team it with a classically thick European-style hot chocolate and your tastebuds will feel the magic mine did.
For nibbles and drinks by the pool, SUD Lisboa is a new hot spot that has recently opened.
As well as trying out their Mediterranean menu and extensive cocktail list, you can actually take a dip in their rooftop pool while enjoying breathtaking views of the river.
There is lots to see in Lisbon, so planning an itinerary in advance is a good idea depending on your time constraints.
For those keen to dip their toes into a pool of Portuguese culture, a good starting point is the National Palace and Gardens of Queluz.
Built in 1747, the palace and its surrounding gardens were the home of royals up until the early 19th century when they departed for Brazil as the French invasions struck.
There are options for self-guided audio tours or booking with an official tour guide to take you through each room, with a coffee shop at the exit to recharge before your next tourist attraction.
Just 25km from Lisbon’s city centre, Sintra is a resort town known for its beautiful parks and gardens.
The Monserrate Palace in Sintra is known for its spectacular monuments and the surrounding park that is listed as a Cultural Landscape World Heritage site by UNESCO.
While in the Sintra area, Cabo da Roca is another spot to check out as it’s a mere 25-minute drive from the resort town.
Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of mainland Europe, meaning this is one unique photo opportunity that cannot be captured anywhere else in the world.
If we steer back towards Lisbon’s central district, the Belém Discovery area boasts the Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém, which are two of the most visited sites in Lisbon.
If you are thinking of a holiday around Christmas time or New Year’s Eve, fear not as Portugal’s winter is still relatively mild. Bring on the pastries and glasses of port as you say goodbye to 2019 and hello to your new favourite European destination.
Yahoo Lifestyle was a guest of Qatar Airways and Visit Portugal.
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