Lisbon & Lisbon Coast
Lisbon & the Lisbon Coast, beauty both past and present
Lisbon became the capital of Portugal in 1255. Centuries of turbulent times had resulted in different rulers like the Romans and then the Moors but finally it was wrestled back into Portuguese hands where it became and remains today the proud capital.
It was from Lisbon that most of the exploration caravels sailed and where most of the spices, mainly from India, were later sold to central Europe. So the city was always full of merchants from all over Europe, making it a cooking pot of races and cultures all bubbling together.
Lisbon was a very liberal city full with people of high intelligence and religious values and a place where there was very little racial and cultural prejudice. This cosmopolitan feel is still apparent today but over a much bigger expanse,with a few more people, a few more cars and a few less caravels.
The truth is that it is a big European city without being too big! The facts are that it’s about a quarter the size of London - a population of rising close to three million. Built on seven hills Lisbon is all but monotonous; it swerves, it turns, it goes up, its goes down – thankfully it’s famous yellow trams help with the steep parts! It’s not a city to try and capture within one weekend – that’s a waste.
Yes, come for a weekend but book up another before you leave. We like Lisbon, it has a little bit of everything including incredible historical monuments like “Castelo de São Jorge”, “Mosteiro dos Jeronimos” and “ Padrão dos Descobrimentos” which give tourists and the locals constant reminders of Lisbon’s beauty and past – indelibly linked to its river - the “Tejo” and its entrance to the oceans of exploration.
If it’s modern you want, visit the Expo area – Oceanarium, cable cars and a casino with the revolving bar! Safe, with so much to do and see – traditional and modern – appealing to young and old, Lisbon is highly underrated – but that’s going to change.
The Lisbon Coast (North)
This part of the Portuguese coast is considered to be the most appealing place to be in the whole of Portugal. This is said, if somewhat smugly, by the people who live there. It doesn’t take long to see if their claims are biased.
The great weather is here, the golden beaches are here, the architecture, the restaurants, the cobbled streets, the nightlife, historical monuments, the promenades and the shops. So yes it has all the ingredients of a great dish, but there is a magical sauce that somehow conjures up great images of the majestic times that this region once had with royalty and the wealthy landowners of the past.
To be here makes you feel important; whether you live here, own here, holiday here or are passing through - you just want to look (especially on the beach!) and act a little bit better!Just twenty minutes from the centre of Lisbon, it’s close to the airport and all that Lisbon has to offer. But their independent spirit keeps both Cascais and Estoril wanting to keep back the urban growth of Lisbon. They are right to protect themselves as this really is a place that stands head and shoulders above its competition. In Estoril, you will find one of Europe’s biggest casinos.
The ‘Casino Estoril’ is set just five minutes walk from the beach in a wonderful park. It was in this area that several World War II spies and ex-royals lived. It was also here that Ian Fleming was inspired to write his 007 novel “Casino Royal”.
Estoril and Cascais both started as small fishing villages and although there are still fishermen working the sea its much more of a play place now for the rich and famous. Latest fashions driving the latest cars. Men sailing their yachts and ladies being plucked, waxed and massaged for the gruelling day ahead. It’s a place to people watch, a place to indulge and a place to live life to the full.
Lisbon Coast (South - "Blue Coast")
As you leave Lisbon heading southwest across either bridge the scent soon changes as does the landscape. On the other side of the River Tejo – we find the sometimes called "Blue Coast" and some of the Lisbon Coasts closest beaches. There is a micro-climate here; the sea is warm and the sky sunny even when Lisbon is cloudy. The sea is a beautiful deep blue colour and it’s not uncommon to see dolphins enjoying the Portuguese waters.
It was the blue colour of the sea that brought about the name of the coast. The climate is partly due to the dramatic Arribida mountain range which hugs a great part of this coastline, protecting it from further development with its unique vegetation and wildlife.
The town of Palmela has one of the best kept castles in Portugal. Access is simple by car and the views are outstanding and panoramic. Sesimbra is the most popular tourist destination and has a wonderful beach, promenade, fort (which is a great focal point), fantastic fish restaurants and a recently opened spa adding a wonderful sparkle of sophistication.
Just a few minutes drive from Sesimbra is the small village of Meco. The beaches at Meco are fantastic and it’s the horse riders, dog walkers and surfers who make the most of them. Troia is a beautiful stretch of beach, on a peninsula, which is just half a mile wide at certain points. Its waters are warm and the whole place has a very tropical feel. A great deal of investment is transforming this to one of the most luxurious destinations in the area.