Lisbon is a calm, compact jewel of cobbled streets and tile-clad buildings on the Tagus estuary, just a short train ride from the sea. Until very recently it had a secretive, forgotten feel. Now, tourism is booming and there’s a confident buzz in the air, but the banalities of globalization are still less evident here than elsewhere. Lisbon is a place to wander the backstreets, climb the many hills, take in the views, and sample Portugal’s wildly underrated food, wine, and music.
Lisbon’s recent emergence as one of Europe’s most popular destinations has changed the face of the city. But the look and feel of pre-hype Lisbon lives on in some pockets, particularly the western waterfront neighborhood of Alcântara, sandwiched between the highbrow Lapa neighborhood, Lisbon’s diplomatic quarter, and the riverside visitor-magnet Belém.