Things to do in Lisbon

The city stretches along the northern bank of the river Tejo as it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. As the terrain rises north away from the water, steep streets and stairways form the old tangled neighborhoods or give way to green parks in the western suburbs.

Lisbon lacks a defined "downtown", but the the vast Praça do Comércio, facing the river at the base of the pedestrianized grid of Baixa (lower town), occupies a central position. Further northwest from Baixa stretches Lisbon's "Main Street", Avenida da Liberdade, a broad boulevard resplendent in leafy trees, chic hotels and upscale shops, terminating at the circular Praça de Pombal. To the east are old neighborhoods of Mouraria and Alfama, both relatively spared during the Great Earthquake (as they are on a firmer rock) and therefore both retaining the charm of the winding alleys and azulejo-covered crumbling walls (further north lie relatively boring residential quarters). To the west the hill rises steeply into Bairro Alto (upper town; prepare to trek up, or take one of the elevadores, or funiculars); still further west are rapidly gentrifying former docks of Alcantara, dominated on the western end by the supports of the gigantic new bridge over the river, and the suburbs of Santo Amaro and Belém.