Planning Your Time

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Planning Your Time

It's best not to visit at the height of summer, when the city is hot and steamy and lodgings are expensive and crowded. Winters are generally mild and usually accompanied by bright blue skies, and there are plenty of bargains to be had at hotels. For optimum Lisbon weather, visit on either side of summer, in May or late September through October. The city's major festivals are in June; the so-called santos populares (popular saints) see days of riotous celebration dedicated to saints Anthony, John, and Peter.

You'll want to give yourself a day at least exploring the bairro of Alfama, climbing up to the Castelo de São Jorge (Saint's George's castle) for an overview of the city; another in the monumental downtown area, the Baixa, and in the neighboring fancy shopping district of Chiado, and perhaps also in the funkier shops of the Bairro Alto. Another again could be spent in historic Belém, with its many museums and monuments. Note that many are closed Monday, and that churches often close for a couple of hours at lunchtime.

There are other attractions dotted around the modern city, and families will appreciate the child-friendly attractions of the Parque das Nações, the former Expo site. All in all, there's enough to do and see to fill a week—though if you're staying that long you should think about visiting Sintra or other sights in the hinterland.

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