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Lisbon, Portugal

Introduction, Page 2

From: Lisbon, Portugal travel guide

Lisbon photo LEFT: Castelo de São Jorge, Lisbon.

The sounds of Lisbon are as distinctive as its sights and scenery. You'll hear the rumble of cable-drawn ascensores rounding tight corners on steep hills, the trilling of canaries in cages hanging outside the windows of apartments, the flapping of sheets on overhead clotheslines, the screech of seagulls along the waterfront, and the haunting songs of fado singers in smoky nightclubs.

Best of all, Lisbon is affordable. It isn't cheap, the way it was 20 or 30 years ago, but your dollars, pounds, or euros will stretch farther in Portugal than in other major countries of Western Europe.

A launchpad for a Portuguese vacation

If you arrive during the warmer months, you can hop aboard a train to suburban coastal resorts like Estoril and Cascais for a day of swimming and sunbathing. For another change of pace, take the commuter train to nearby Sintra and its two national palaces.

Ready to go farther afield? No town in Portugal is more than a two-day drive from Lisbon, although I suggest allowing at least a week for the North or South if you're touring by car. Better yet, spend up to two weeks in either part of the country and save the other half for a later trip. Portugal is a country to be savored, not rushed.

Europe's most child-friendly destination

Portugal is more welcoming to children than any other country I've lived in or visited (including Spain and Italy, which tie for second place). Don't be surprised if your smaller children are patted on the head by strangers of both sexes or fawned over by children just a few years older. This is the Portuguese way, and the stranger who tells your little girl that she's pretty or offers candy to your son is unlikely to be a pervert. 

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