For the second year in a row Portugal is confirmed as the "Best Country in the world" for tourism. The Lusitanian country has in fact recently received this title at the World Travel Awards. The merit is a sum of factors ranging from landscapes that never bore, to excellent food; from the ability to manage the enormous flow of tourists in terms of hospitality to the friendliness of the people.

Every year 22 million visitors pass through that small strip of Iberian peninsula between the Atlantic and Spain and few come out unhappy. Lisbon, then, is experiencing a real boom, discovering a cosmopolitan city, but also with great respect for tradition and history with an eye to culture and another to technology.

If you think that Portugal raised the white flag in 2011 to ask for help from the European Union to get out of the crisis, you realize how extraordinary the rebirth that the country is experiencing is dragged above all by the tertiary sector. Right investments in the tourism sector have made it possible to attract a large number of visitors who, once they have arrived in Lusitanian lands, have had the opportunity to discover the magnificent climate, reduced costs, good food and the wealth of places and landscapes.

Lisbon, in particular, has become one of the coolest destinations in Europe: romantic and melancholy, colorful and kaleidoscopic, full of people but capable of giving corners in which to feel alone and in silence. The best way to appreciate it is to choose a low season period of the year to visit it, in such a way as not to encounter the mass of tourists who end up stressing the city and its people. Both in Portugal, thanks to the Atlantic kiss, the climate is always quite mild with mild winters and not too hot summers.

Once in the city the beauty is to discover it on foot crossing alley by alley entire neighborhoods starting from the Alfama area, the historical heart of Lisbon. Spread out in the sun, shops and taverns frame the suggestion of the narrow streets that climb (like the rest of the metropolis) through the 7 hills of the city.

Lisbon is a seaside city, but it is also crossed by the Tagus river, which slowly marks the rhythm of the day. Fishermen and sportsmen are those who live it most intensely, but a walk along the river is something worth doing during a trip to Lisbon.

Right on the banks of the Tagus, there are numerous restaurants where you can taste the cod, a true Lusitanian delicacy, but also the fresh fish, the fried foods and the heat, the fish or vegetable broth that is served before the meal. You can eat with very little money and then resume the tour of the city that cannot but touch the two symbols of Lisbon, namely the Torre del Bélem and the Castelo de São Jorge. Just below the castle you have to stop at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia from where no doubt the best photos of the whole vacation will be taken. The breathtaking view over the whole city is worth the effort of climbing up there.

The visit to the Cathedral and the visit to the Monastery of São Vicente de Fora with the majolica cloister are obligatory; not far from there, at the Campo de Santa Clara, the Feira da Ladra, the city's flea market, is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Who wants to discover the modern and European heart of the city must take a tour in the Baixa district. The wide boulevards that end on the banks of the Tagus are home to shops and street performers who perform every hour for the people. Then there is the Chiado district, Fernando Pessoa's favorite and the Barrio Alto, the chic area of ​​Lisbon that is worth visiting as a wonderful example of neoclassical architecture.

Crossing the city it is impossible not to come across the many gardens that are patches of green in the blue of the sky and the sea. Lisbon is a city that needs time and deserves all the calm of the world to be able to savor it for its indolent and melancholy atmosphere, for the Fado and the fishermen, for the colorful houses and the old trams that make believe that time has stopped.

It is an ideal place for a romantic weekend but also for a getaway with friends as discos and trendy nightclubs have also made the Lusitanian nightlife and not just that of its Spanish neighbors famous.

Barbara Massaro
Author: Barbara Massaro
Giornalista professionista, specializzata nella trattazione di argomenti di costume e società. Ha lavorato nella redazione di Studio Aperto di Mediaset. Nel 2012 il passaggio al web con la redazione digital di Panorama, Mondadori.