I was in Lisbon, Portugal, recently for a long weekend with my husband and I can heartily recommend it as a short break from the UK. We stayed in the fab Baixa House serviced apartments and wandered about the city on foot, taking the odd tram, climbing up and down the hills, visiting a castle, a monastery, a market, drinking espressos and eating custard tarts, stumbling upon gorgeous indie shop A Vida Portuguesa and taking loads of pictures.
It was great to get so much visual input: the beautiful, majestic, crumbling buildings, the stunning tiles (seriously, if you like tiles you need to come here they are everywhere), the yellow trams against the blue sky, the crazy structure built by an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel. It felt way more fun than lazing on a beach; my brain felt satisfyingly sated by the end of it.
I wasn't joking, I went mad for tiles. Obviously the shapes and patterns appealed to me, as they would to anyone who is a fan of geometric prints, but it was the way they'd been incorporated into the fabric of the city, the way they were crumbling with it, and occasionally where they'd fallen off the wall and someone had drawn them back on - I loved that. And the graffiti, there's loads of it.
There is even a National Tile Museum which turned out to be way more interesting than it sounded (check out these positive reviews on Trip Advisor) and was one of the highlights of the trip. It was not what we were expecting at all (see below) and as it was a tiny bit off the beaten track there was hardly anyone there. I'd say Lisbon is probably just outside the top 10 European cities everyone wants to visit (I'm thinking Paris, Barcelona, Rome...) and is all the better for it. There's all the stunning architecture, but fewer crowds.