Lisbon seems to live in a happy time warp, the 21st century in a Belle Époque setting of tree-lined promenades and pushcarts selling hot chestnuts. Creaky old wood-paneled trams warn Volvos off their tracks with persistent little bells, a Lisbon sound unchanged since the late 19th century.
Those restored trams and their modern counterparts are the visitor’s best friends, connecting the oldest and newest highlights with big windows revealing places that tempt stepping off to explore. Buy a day pass (about $5) to hop these and hill-climbing funiculars at will.
For a fast start, take a cab to Castelo de São Jorge, the hilltop fortress that forms Lisbon’s backdrop. From its lofty setting, look across the city and get your bearings. You’ll see Lisbon’s hills, bounded by the wide Tagus estuary that made Portugal rich during the golden age of exploration. First occupied by Phoenicians, the castle’s walls and square towers enclose the old Santa Cruz neighborhood, worth wandering. (...)