Lisbon is a feast for the eyes, the stomach and the heart. At every turn, delight in the city's mix of azulejos (painted tiles), mosaic pavements, winding cobblestone lanes, tree-lined boulevards flanked with Art Nouveau buildings, and painterly vistas from strategic vantage points. A bounty of tempting pastelarias, tapas bars and restaurants provides fuel for hiking the hilly terrain, and Lisbon's rich light, mellifluous language and friendly ambiance make your heart sing.
Take a five-minute cab ride (about $5) from Cais da Rocha (the cruise terminal) to Belem, birthplace of Portugal's Age of Discoveries. Spend 90 minutes visiting the grandiose 16th-century Manueline-style Mosterior dos Jeronimos, a monastery entrusted to the Order of St. Jerome until 1834; and Torre de Belem, a fortress used as the starting point for navigators who set out to discover trade routes.
Before leaving Belem, stop at the National Coach Museum, a former riding school transformed into a final resting stop for Europe's finest collection of 17th to 19th-century coaches.
For a temporary respite from the hustle-bustle, walk or hail a cab west to Jardim Botanico, a fairyland garden of lofty palms, exotic trees and dense shady paths. This 10-acre jewel is a good place to linger with a book and gather steam for more city pleasures.
From the garden, thread your way along Rua Escola Politecnica to Bairro Alto, an historic, picturesque enclave of funky shops and family-run tascas (inexpensive restaurants). Along the route, stop at Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, a belvedere with a sweeping view of eastern Lisbon. The vista spans the battlements of the Castelo de Sao Jorge to the 18th-century Penha da Franca church. A tiled map on the balustrade helps you locate landmarks.
Although port is mostly an after-dinner drink, you may want to sample port while you're ashore. Choices range from vintage to full-bodied to aged tawny to less sweet. Ask your waiter for his recommendation.
Devote the rest of the day to Alfama. To gain some perspective of its height, start at the observation terrace at Castelo de Sao Jorge and snake your way down through the district -- a pastiche of small shops, restaurants with a handful of tables, churches and stone houses adorned with laundry flapping from windows. At the bottom of the steep hill, make a final pit stop at Santos Oficios Artesanatos at 87 Rua da Madalena. The lovely shop carries woolens made from sheep, pottery from the Alentejo region, corn dolls from the Douro Litoral region and other locally made crafts.
Chances are you'll feel a tug in your gut when it's time to catch a cab back to the dock. Lisbon casts a quick spell, and its intoxicating grip makes it hard to leave. Lisbon befriends you -- and you will promise yourself a return visit.