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Lisbon’s heart lies beside the river, even if the city has grown in all directions. Sit down at a pavement cafe on Rossio Square and you will see the Baiza, the flat city centre that dates from the 18th century, between yourself and the river bank. Look up in one direction and you will see the São Jorge on the top of a hill. Look in the other direction and you will see the ruin of the Carmo Church on another hill. Walk, or take a tram to one of them and you will discover the quarters of old Lisbon, most of them with a magnificent view of the rest of the city and the river. Wander north from Rossio, you will soon end up on a stately 19th century avenue, in the part of the city which is still called "Avenidas Novas". Further north, the buildings become really new, with the city’s two large football grounds, Luz and Alvalade, and, lastly, the airport which is twenty traffic-jam-free minutes in a car from Rossio. Most of the best sights, restaurants and nightlife are situated along the river. Shopping is good along the Avenidas Novas, but otherwise the rule is to keep close to the river to get the best out of your visit.
Most of the best sights, restaurants and nightlife are situated along the river. There are plenty of things to do and see in Lisbon. Below are a few suggestions on how to spend your time here:
In Lisbon, you can find both modern, sophisticated restaurants and simple, traditional ones. In general, you will find the strongest Portuguese ambience in the simple, traditional places. Small, unpretentious restaurants are all over the place and do not require booking. At most of the restaurants below however, it is safest to book a table. Many restaurants are closed on Sundays or Mondays.
After a day of sightseeing, a great place sit down is at a pavement café on Rossio Square. From there you will see the Baixa, the flat city centre that dates from the 18th century, between yourself and the river bank.
Lisbon is a city that takes its nightlife seriously. Shortly after midnight, it is best to move down towards the river and the larger clubs along the Avenida 24 de Julho, to the Docas area and Alcântara, where the coolest dance floors are never filled before two in the morning.
A lot of the shopping in Lisbon is now housed in enormous shopping centres such as Colombo and Amoreiras, or in smaller gallerias. The city’s old centre, Baixa, retains its identity as a traditional shopping district, where you walk on the streets (some of them traffic-free) and drop into the shops. Go in for cork designs, gourmet food, crafts, soaps, shoes and if your wallet allows, gold. Chiado is close to Baixa, and has the reputation of being the city’s finest shopping district. Chiado successfully manages to combine the gallery model with open shopping, blending the best of both worlds.
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