Escape to Lisbon for a sunny break as Portugal prepares to welcome Brits
PORTUGAL was taken off the Government’s travel ban list this week, opening the way for getaways to the Atlantic holiday hotspot later this year.
Returning travellers will now be able to quarantine at home, rather than in a hotel for £1,750 a head.
The earliest that people from England will be able to holiday overseas is May 17 — and Portugal plans to welcome vaccinated Brits, or those with a negative Covid-19 test, from the same date.
Following a spike in January, Covid rates in Portugal are now lower than for any other European beach destination — at just 40 per 100,000 in the past seven days — which makes it a great bet for a summer holiday.
And where better to spend your longed-for break than Portugal’s sunny capital city Lisbon.
Jacob Lewis has our Plan Now . . . Go Later guide to the city perched on seven hills.
Get your bearings by starting at Praca do Comercio, where explorers, traders and tourists arriving by boat would once have disembarked. The grand square is surrounded on three sides by distinctive, 18th-century pastel- lemon arcades and on the fourth by the Tejo Estuary.
Stroll past the statue of King Joseph I and through the imposing Rua Augusta Arch to explore the heart of this vibrant city.
Take in the views from the Castle of Sao Jorge, the highest point in Lisbon.
Take the tram or enjoy a 20-minute walk uphill through winding alleyways lined with independent shops, cafes and apartments.
For the best views, pay £8.50 to enter the ancient castle grounds.
The buildings in Lisbon are known for their facades covered in decorative tiles or azulejos.
You can discover more about their long history at the unique National Azulejo Museum.
Tickets are from £4.28 at museudoazulejo.gov.pt.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Portugal’s mighty Atlantic coast is known for its epic swells, with big waves at nearby Nazare breaking world records for the largest ever surfed.
Mercifully for beginners hoping to hang ten, Cova do Vapor beach, a 20-minute drive outside town, has perfect-sized waves for novices.
Old School Surf School will pick you up from central Lisbon, from £6.85 each way, and take you to this little-known spot for lessons from £14.40 per person.
Discover the fairytale palaces of Sintra, a Unesco World Heritage Site, a few miles outside the city.
They are perched on hilltops in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.
Take a trip including a stop at the beach, with Lisbon Native Tours from £51.50pp. See lisbonnativetours.com/tour.
It is temporarily closed owing to Covid, but the Time Out Food Market is a must-visit foodie spot when it opens again.
It has everything from gourmet hamburgers to fresh seafood and micro brewery bars under one roof. You could spend your entire holiday there and still find new flavours.
After dark the sound of live fado music bounces off the cobbled streets of the bohemian Bairro Alto neighbourhood.
Between old apartments decorated with street art are small, quirky bars with crowds drinking al-fresco in the streets. Try the bar at Alface Hall
Hostel for great live tunes and cheap cocktails.
WITH THE KIDS
Young or old, you cannot visit Lisbon without riding the little yellow Remodelado trams.
The best of these retro metal wagons is the No.28, early in the morning before rush hour.
This route rattles east to west and back again through the historic city centre, offering views of the Se Cathedral.
NEW FOR 2021
Expect Lisbon’s streets to be a haven for cyclists and pedestrians when holidaymakers return this year, as the city has just introduced an 18mph speed limit while doubling its 65-mile cycle network to 124 miles by September.
E-bikes — you will need the extra help up those hills — with a lock and helmet are from £24.83 a day from lisbonbikerentals.com.
ONE MORE TREAT
Atop a multi-storey car park on the edge of Bairro Alto is Park Bar. The hidden entrance to this hip hangout is well worth seeking out, for views over the terracotta rooftops and Golden Gate-style 25 de Abril Bridge beyond.
COVID: Portugal hopes open to Brits who have been vaccinated, or tested negative for Covid, from May 17.
GETTING/STAYING THERE: Three nights’ room only at the 3H Hotel Avenida Park is from £172pp based on two sharing, including flights departing Luton on September 5 with 23kg luggage each. See easyjetholiday.com.
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