Lisbon is a joyful city, where locals love to while away afternoons in restaurants and bars, where ancient ruins sit next to designer boutiques, and the iconic seven hills are best viewed over an espresso or glass of vinho verde. The traditional and the modern merge seamlessly here, so a perfect day in Lisbon might include a world-class art museum, a traditional seafood lunch, browsing chic fashion by local designers and finishing up with wine and small plates at a gourmet food hall. The attractions in Lisbon are never-ending, and there’s always a new treasure to discover.

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Old and New

Possibly the most charming form of transport in Portugal, the brightly painted wooden tram that runs through Bairro Alto to Chiado and Graça is a nostalgic way to take in some of the most beautiful and historic streets in Lisbon. Hop on tram number 28 at Praca Luis de Camões and settle in for an old-style tour of the city. Change to tram number 15 and you can make your way to Torre de Belém, which is always top of the list of attractions in Lisbon. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, an imposing Gothic tower, guards the harbour and dates from the 16th century. Its stunning stonework competes with stellar views of the Atlantic for your attention.

One of the most iconic examples of Lisbon’s embrace of old and new is the National Coach Museum, which re-opened in 2015 in an modern concrete-and-glass cube designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Inside is one of the most unusual and striking things to see in Lisbon: a collection of ornate royal coaches that are centuries old, along with mail coaches and some designed for children. Exquisitely painted, adorned in velvet and silk, and beautifully baroque, the coaches are paired with an app and interactive stations that allow you to look inside.

If you’re wondering what to do in Lisbon when you’re pressed for time, the Gulbenkian Foundation offers a rich, one-stop cultural experience. This complex, which includes a spectacular classical art collection from around the world at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, also has wide lawns for lounging (and feeding the ducks that paddle by), a full calendar of live music performances, and a modern art centre where you’ll find work by Portuguese and British artists.

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