Rome has its seven hills, Paris its wide boulevards and a tower built by Gustave Eiffel. And San Francisco features the Golden Gate Bridge and charming trolleys. But if you want to see them all, or at least a reasonable facsimile, try Lisbon, Portugal.
Nestled on the Tagus River, which flows into the Atlantic and can handle major cruise ships, Lisbon traces its roots to the ancient Phoenicians as well as a seafaring heritage: Famous navigators sailed from Lisbon to explore new worlds. Even better for the traveler, this westernmost European capital is one of the least expensive major cities on the continent.
Much of Lisbon is readily captivating, from the majestic Moorish stronghold of St. George's Castle to the elegant tree-lined magic of the 295-foot-wide Avenida da Liberdade, built in 1879. No matter where you turn, there is something of interest, including spacious squares and countless monuments such as the Padrao dos Descobrimentos, a contemporary monument dedicated to Portugal's Age of Discovery.
Take a day or two to explore the external delights of this ancient city and then begin to discover its hidden treasures. There are many, and you won't be disappointed.
Work your way down from St. George's Castle by taking a leisurely stroll through the maze of the Alfama - the oldest part of the city, which thrived under the Moors. Be sure to ride one of the little yellow "Toonerville Trolleys" that bump and grind their way through town. It's a great way to travel with the locals.
Much of the charm of Lisbon is hidden. It can be challenging to uncover its secrets. But if you do, you will be richly rewarded. The city is safe and easy to maneuver. There are sidewalk cafes everywhere, for when you start to suffer from the agony of the feet.
Be it monuments, museums, churches, architecture or anything in between - like Eiffel's Santa Justa lift: an elevator connecting two streets with different elevation - Lisbon is truly a treasure.