If an old-style wooden tram slides past your sidewalk café while you're served coffee and a warm cream pie sprinkled with cinnamon, you can only be in Lisbon, one of the sunniest cities in Europe and the place suitable for 2019 for a long and perfect. Weekend.
The Portuguese capital is a two and a half hour flight from the United Kingdom, it is in the same time zone and the airport is only six miles (and a taxi or bus ride) from the center of the city.
It is one of the oldest cities in the world, proudly ahead of Paris, London and even Rome, and its tourism game is increasing all the time. Watch the sun bounce on its gleaming marble streets and you'll soon see why. Here is how to make Lisbon the best city break of the year.
The Portuguese capital is a flight of two and a half hours from the United Kingdom.
MUST BE RETAINED: The big hotel chains are moving to serve the tourist boom of the city, and there are many options if you want an apartment, thanks to Airbnb. But for a perfect stay, try one of the new boutique hotels.
The elegant AlmaLusa (almalusahotels.com) is hidden in the corner of a sunny plaza (ask for a breakfast or a drink outdoors) and focuses on elegant local furniture in large and glamorous rooms.
Ascending to the top: the Santa Justa Elevator, above
YOU SHOULD SEE: Lisbon is built on seven hills (like Rome), so wear sensible shoes and get ready to enjoy fabulous views. Access to the best observation points with elevators and funiculars that dot the city.
The most beautiful is the Santa Justa Elevator in wrought iron, where up to 30 people climb 135 feet in wooden huts that have barely changed in 100 years. The walks cost € 5.30, and if there is a queue, spend time with an ice cream in the nearby Santinis (santini.pt).
At the top of the elevator there is an observation platform next to a ruined convent and a large set of cafes and bars.
Street art is another key attraction. Head to the multi-storey car park of Chao do Loureiro on the edge of the Baixa area: each level is dedicated to a different artist.
MUST MOUNT: The trams. The colorful carriages have been touring Lisbon since the 1930s, and the wooden seats and leather straps only add a vintage touch. The most famous line is Route 28, which is diverted through the most picturesque streets. The queues are long in the summer, so it's worth traveling early. You can buy individual tickets on board for € 3, but it is likely that a pass of € 6.40 per day has a better value, since it includes all other forms of urban transport. If Route 28 is too busy, Route 25 is almost as good.
Trams run through Lisbon since the 1930s. The most famous line is Route 28.
Once you have tried the tram, there are many other ways to get around. The cobblestone streets are full of people riding tuk-tuks and scooters. You can also go to the water (taguscruises.com) and navigate under the vast red suspension bridge of the city.
MUST DO: Learn about the extraordinary history of the city. The Lisbon Story Center (lisboastorycentre.pt – entrance, € 7) has GPS-activated audio tours and takes you from Roman times to the earthquake that almost destroyed the city in 1755 and to this day.
Outside, you can climb the Rua Augusta Arch (€ 3) to get more views of the city. The square in front of the arch is the starting point for most guided walks, including the espionage tour, which follows the secret steps of the spies who made Lisbon neutral home during World War II (lisbonwalker.com) .
For something slightly macabre, walk along Rua Augusta and enter the Church of Santo Domingo on the edge of Pedro IV Square. After a fire in the 1950s, the church was abandoned for almost 40 years. Now it has a new roof and is open for worship, but most of the stones and columns are still scorched, scratched and sooty.
The essential cream cakes in the city. Buy them at Time Out's new food market, says Neil Simpson
YOU MUST EAT: The cream cakes, or cream pie, are everywhere, and the new Time Out food market (timeoutmarket.com) in an old warehouse next to the water is an atmospheric place to buy them. As befits a city on the coast, there is seafood in abundance. Cod is one of the favorites and you can eat it on the wooden terraces at Monte Mar (mmlisboa.pt). For a quick meal, try Honorato, a Lisbon artisan that takes McDonald's. At night, take a table at the always busy Bairro do Avillez in the bustling Chiado (bairrodoavillez.pt).
YOU MUST DRINK: It is cherry liqueur, and a small kiosk, A Ginjinha, at the corner of Plaza Pedro IV, has been serving it since 1886. It comes with or without a pickled cherry.
MUST BUY: Sardines! The city has gone crazy for the decorated cans that are now kitsch memories. The stores are full of jazzy exhibits. Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa in Rua de Pedro V is one of the most brilliant stores. There is even a store at the Lisbon airport.
TAP Air Portugal has one-way flights to Lisbon from Manchester, Heathrow, City and Gatwick from £ 49 (flytap.com). BA flies from Heathrow, and Wizz, easyJet and Ryanair also offer direct flights from airports in the UK. The AlmaLusa Hotel offers double rooms from £ 95 per night (almalusahotels.com). Visit visitlisboa.com for more information, including the details of the € 20 Lisbon daily card covering transportation and admission to attractions.