Though not situated on its banks or indeed close to it, Portugal’s capital is a common starting point for river cruises along the Douro, whereupon passengers will have a day to explore Lisbon before transferring to Porto and beginning their voyage along the picturesque River of Gold. One of the world’s oldest cities and indeed, the oldest in Europe, Lisbon can trace its history as far back as the Neolithic Period, though some historians believe the origins of the city itself lie in its earliest incarnation of a Phoenician trading post. Since then, it’s been under Roman, Muslim and Moorish rule, has enjoyed a reputation as one of the most important European trading centres in the world and has survived a major earthquake, after which most of it was rebuilt. Today, this long and varied history combined with its temperate climate and vibrant culture makes it a great city to explore and an enduring tourist destination with visitors the world over.
Another of the city’s most visited districts is Alfama, which offers the perfect way to get a taste of old Lisbon, with charming narrow streets revealing a blend of architectural styles at every turn. For a completely different kind of experience, you can immerse yourself in the contemporary side of the city by visiting the Chiado district, Lisbon's modern shopping hot-spot, which is home to all manner of chic boutiques and larger retail stores. With plenty of places to eat, it’s perfect to people-watch, pick up the perfect holiday gift or just sit with a snack and soak up the atmosphere.
If you have an overnight stay in Lisbon before you set sail, then it's the perfect time to indulge in a little retail therapy or pick up some souvenirs as a lot of the shops are open late, many until 10pm. If shopping in the day, be aware that the majority of stores are closed between 1pm and 3pm.
Suggested Read: Lisbon: A postcard-perfect river cruise destination