City Life: Singing, salt cod and cinnamon pastries
Once the stamping ground of Romans, Moors and Crusaders, this historic hillside city has culture, cobbles, cafés, cable cars and cod aplenty.
Discover Alfama's medieval Moorish charm, Baixa's bustle and chic Chiado; every district boasts character, calm and cool in abundance. By night, head to Bairro Alto, where the bars and restaurants throb with the mournful passion of Fado, Portugal's traditional music.
One-way roads and tiny streets mean that driving in Lisbon is a somewhat hair-raising experience, further complicated by challenging parking. It's best to avoid the stress and stick to taxis.
British Airways (www.britishairways.com) and TAP (www.flytap.com) both fly direct from London to Lisbon; TAP also operates direct flights from Newark in the US to the city.
The Portuguese national train service is Comboios de Portugal (www.cp.pt). There are two main stations in Lisbon: Santa Apolónia and Gare do Oriente. The recently renovated Lisbon Metro (www.metrolisboa.pt) is useful if you want to visit some of the parks on the further reaches of the city. Be prepared for a few changes during your journey; it's not the most user-friendly network around.
+351 for Portugal; 21 for Lisbon.
Dip into something by António Lobo Antunes, an award-winning novelist, practicing psychiatrist and Lisbon local. Try Fado Alexandrino or The Fat Man and Infinity: and Other Writings. Don't expect a light read though; Antunes is heavily influenced by William Faulkner and Louis-Ferdinand Céline.
Do go / Don't Go
The best time to visit Lisbon is late spring, when the city is sun-drenched and the sardines are in season, freshened up to perfection by the nearby sparkling cold waters. That said, there really isn't a bad time to visit Lisbon, due to its temperate climate and countless things to do, see and eat.
Early Portuguese sailors developed the country's national dish of bacalhau, when they dried and salted cod for their long exploratory voyages. Today, there are countless versions; look out for bacalhau á marinheiro, which has fried potato cubes nestled under the cod's crispy skin. For sweet-tooths, there's Portugal's legendary cinnamon-dusted custard tarts - Belém boasts the best ones, cooked to a secret recipe.
Lisbon has taxis in abundance and they are pretty good value; it's unlikely you'll spend more than €10 on a fare.
The standard European 10 per cent is fine.
Mrs Smiths should leave their stilettos at home and bring some rubber soled walking shoes to tackle the slippery mosaic-adorned streets. To familiarise yourselves with local listenings, bring Fado legend Amalia Rodrigues' album The Art of Amalia.
Admire some contemporary art in the Museu do Chiado or learn about Lisbon's early globetrotters - the explorers and sailors - at the Museu da Marinha. Head for the hilly heights of Castelo de São Jorge for cityscapes and Alfama's charms. Tick off a traditional tourist box by hopping on the Santa Justa Elevator, designed by one of Gustave Eiffel's apprentices, and visit Palacio de Belém. While you're there, remember to sample some of the area's legendary custard tarts.
Caffeine lovers must try a typical Lisbon coffee - or Galau. It's milky, sweet, served in a glass, and is the perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
In addition to marvellous markets, Lisbon has some amazing shops. Visit Tourist House (+351 213 151 558) on Avenida da Liberdade for regional and retro crafts, and A Vida Portuguesa (www.avidaportuguesa.com) on Rua Anchieta, which stocks gorgeous stationery, jewellery and toys. Fashionistas and fantasists will love Storytailors (www.storytailors.pt) on Calçada do Ferragial, which sells imaginative and colourful womenswear inspired by fairy tales. It also makes to order. Luvaria Ulisses (www.luvariaulisses.com/uk) is a beautiful glove shop on Rua do Carmo in Chiado that sells a range of leather gloves, traditionally made using the finest materials.
Unsurprisingly, given that it sprawls across seven hills, Lisbon has a wealth of vistas to choose from. The city overlooks the rippling River Tagus and the Atlantic Ocean, and ruins from the 1755 earthquake mean that many hollowed-out buildings offer dazzling glimpses of the city, framed by stone. Castelo de São Jorge has some unbeateable Lisbon look-out points. Alternatively, Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, a hilltop garden with Arabic-influenced details, boasts dazzling panoramas. It's also worth taking a ferry to Cacilhas and taking an elevator to the top of Cristo Rei.
Get some designer-decor inspiration by wandering through Lisbon's narrow streets, admiring the intricately patterned mosaic stone sidewalks and the rainbow range of colours and patterns in the city's distinctive hand-painted tiles (azulejos).
February Lisbon Carnival hits the city with a fiesta to rival that of Rio de Janeiro. March Moda Lisboa, Lisbon Fashion Week, brings a splash of style to the Portuguese capital, and returns again in October. April At Lisbon's Independent Film Festival, Indie Lisboa, hundreds of international movies are screened. It's one of the city's most popular cultural events. May The world's biggest musical entertainment event, Rock in Rio - Lisboa, moved from Rio de Janeiro to Lisbon in 2004. It takes place in Bela Vista Park every two years. June Festas de Lisboa involves street parties, Fado, grilled sardines and alcohol. September ExperimentaDesign is a biannual international event dedicated to design, architecture and contemporary culture.