Weekend Breaks in Lisbon – Holidays at the Costa Azul and at the Estoril Coast in Portugal

The Lisbon region with its sports and cultural diversity is an ideal holiday destination for va-

cationers seeking variety. Be it concerts, theatre, museums, nightlife, history, gastronomy

or outdoor leisure sports such as golf and surfing – the Lisbon region leaves no wish unfulfilled.

Located at the mouth of the Tagus River (“Rio Tejo”) and presumably founded by the

Phoenicians around 1200 B.C. as a trading post, Lisbon fascinates the visitor with its rich

cultural and historical heritage and is always worth a weekend city break. In its eventful

history it has witnessed many invaders such as the Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Alans,

Vandals, Suebi, Visigoths and Moors. In 1147, the 400 years long moorish domination of

Lisbon was ended when crusaders led by Alfonso I of Portugal reconquered Lisbon during

the Christian Reconquista.

All rulers left their cultural imprints on the city, thereby making Lisbon an exciting and

unique mixture of the most different cultural and architectural influences with Romanesque,

Gothic, Manueline, Baroque and Traditional Portuguese architecture. During the so-called

“Portuguese Age of Discovery” between the 15th and 17th century Lisbon became strategi-

cally important as starting point for the Portuguese exploration of Africa, India, the Far East

and Brazil. The legendary Portuguese seafarer Vasco da Gama left Lisbon in 1497 to disco-

ver the sea route to India.

Although Lisbon was largely destroyed by a disastrous earthquake in 1755 and entirely

rebuilt in contemporary architectural style afterwards, many historical monuments have

remained untouched by this nature catastrophe and are proof of the cultural and historical

diversity of this seaport. Among these historical sites of interest you find Lisbon Castle/

Castle of São Jorge (“Castelo de São Jorge”) built in a citadel-like style and Lisbon Cathe-

dral (“Santa Maria Maior de Lisboa” or “Sé de Lisboa”) built in the 12th and 13th century

in Late Romanesque style, just to mention a few. The Belém Tower (“Torre de Belém”)

with its Portuguese Late Gothic, Manueline and Renessaince Style and the Jerónimos

Monastery (“Mosteiro dos Jerónimos”) with its Manueline, Plateresco, Renaissance and

Gothic style were built in the 16th century and declared World Heritage Sites by the

UNESCO in 1983.

At the beginning of the 19th century Lisbon was invaded and pillaged by the army of Napoléon Bonaparte. In 1910 the first Portuguese Republic was declared. In 1998 Lisbon hosted the World Exhibition Expo ´98.

Art lovers will enjoy the various museums in Lisbon such as the “Museo do Azulejo” (Museum

of Portuguese-style Tile Mosaics), the “Oceanário de Lisboa” (Lisbon Oceanarium) and the

“Museo Nacional de Arte Antiga” (National Museum of Ancient Art). Opera lovers will appre-

ciate the rich cultural agenda at the “Teatro Nacional de São Carlos”. Tourists will also love

the various cafes and restaurants and the numerous shopping possibilities such as the Vasco

da Gama Shopping Mall and Amoreiras Shopping Mall. Don´t miss a fado music performance

in the Alfama, Lisbon´s oldest quarter.

The public transport system in Lisbon is very well-developed and allows easy and quick acces

to the surrounding Lisbon region with Sintra, the Estoril Coast and the Setúbal peninsula.

Sintra and the Estoril Coast are located in the Ribatejo region north of the Tagus estuary

(hence the name “Ribatejo” which means “riba do Tejo” (“on, or beyond, the banks of the

Tagus”)). The Estoril Coast with its beaches and holiday resorts offers a large variety of

leisure time activities such as tennis, wandering, swimming or sailing and is the best choice

for beach holidays. The high density of golf courses at the Estoril Coast also makes it a pa-

radise for golf players. Surfers will favour surfing hotspots such as Carcavelos and Ericeira.

Another daytrip destination easy to reach from Lisbon is Sintra. Its historic monuments such

as the 19th century Pena National Palace (Palácio Nacional de Pena), the 9th and 10th century

Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros) and the 15th and 16th century Sintra National Palace

(Palácio Nacional de Sintra) and the Sintra-Cascais National Park are always worth visiting.

Sintra was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1995.

The Setúbal peninsula (also called “Costa Azul” (“Blue Coast”)) is located in the Alentejo region

south of the Tagus estuary (hence the name “Alentejo” which means “além do Tejo” (“beyond

the Tagus”)). It is famous for the Arrábida National Park. The visitor will be impressed with its

unique Mediterranean vegetation untouched by touristic development and with the unspoilt

wildlife and can expect to see storks, flamingos and dolphins, flamingos. Dolphin watching

is a major tourist attraction. The nature protection area invites the traveller to various leisure

time activities such as river cruises, walking, mountain biking, horse riding, hot air ballooning,

diving and golf.

Leave a Reply