The President of ICAM2024 is an alfacinha, literally a little lettuce, the nickname Lisboans call themselves. Rui loves his city and its unique mix of ancient and contemporary, traditional and innovative, grand and unpretentious, dark and bright, soulful and animated. Here are his suggestions for someone coming to Lisbon for the first time and having little time to spare from an intense scientific conference:

I like to walk in cities. A nice long walk (whole morning or afternoon) is a good way to first get the feel of a city. Start from the top of the Eduardo VII park for a jaw-dropping viewpoint and a 360-degree view of the centre of the centre. Then walk down to Marquês de Pombal square and along Avenida da Liberdade, for stores, café-kiosks etc, (look at the pavement as you walk, it keeps changing). Then lovely Rossio square, followed by the pedestrianised Augusta street, all the way down to grand Terreiro do Paço (you can eat there al fresco, well you can eat al fresco in a lot of places). From Terreiro do Paço turn right along the riverfront until you reach a kiosk – my favourite one on the waterfront. At kiosk cafés you can have coffee, drinks and very basic snacks any time of day or night until around 1-2 am. Sometimes they have music, it's a very Lisbon experience.

Príncipe Real: if possible, come here at the weekend for the cool stores and restaurants and just the atmosphere. And you'll have one of the best viewpoints in Lisbon: São Pedro de Alcântara. Though central Lisbon has quite a few of those - if. If you have time try also Santa Luzia and Graça (viewpoints are called miradouros).

Bairro Alto is one of the mediaeval quarters with a lively nightlife. Alfama is another mediaeval neighbourhood on top of the hill where the St George castle is located. Santa Luzia viewpoint is on one of the slopes. You may want to take a yellow tram. The Alfama area is where you come for the flea market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, for the national pantheon, or to listen to live (and sometimes impromptu) fado performances. Fado is the national soulful song, it sort of lulls you along with a meal and a glass of something.

The older parts of central Lisbon are quite hilly. Be prepared!

Here's another nice way of spending time surrounded by history but on much flatter ground: the Belém neighbourhood on the waterfront to the west. Just walk along the bank, it's wonderful on a sunny day. In this area too: the Hyeronimites (Jerónimos) Monastery (very worth a visit inside) including the naval and the archaeology museums, a cool little planetarium next to it, and the Tropical Botanical Gardens across the road (if this is your thing there's another great smaller botanical gardens elsewhere in Eduardo VII park and a third one in Príncipe Real).

Still in Belém, you'll find the CCB modern art museum and, closer to the water, the maritime navigations stone ship (you won't miss it, go inside on to the top if you have time, it's fun). Walk 10 minutes westward from the stone ship until you find the famous Belém Tower and a discrete but super cool monument celebrating the first air crossing of the South Atlantic by Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral.

But there's still much more in the area. You can't miss the cutting-edge MAAT (technological art museum) at least from the outside Also unmissable, that which is possibly one of the best little known museum gems in the world: the Coach Museum.

All these things are spread out in what looks like a fairly big area but it's all walking distance really. To get to the Belém area from the main historical centre either Bolt/Uber/taxi across or take the metro from Chiado to Cais do Sodré then fast tram or train 10 min to Belém. Belém is very much still central.

By the way, other unique museums I love in other parts of town are Museu do Oriente and, of course, Museu do Azulejo (tiles). The Gulbenkian Museum has a very
eclectic and human-scale collection, great temporary exhibitions, and a great auditorium for top-notch concerts with a huge stage backdrop all made of glass
overlooking the lovely garden and its ponds. You can just go for a walk in the gardens, of course.

If you have time for the suburbs, I would pick one or two of the following on a first visit:

Sintra (some 45 min by train from Rossio) is kind of magical with its palaces and palazzos where royals would come to flee the heat of Lisbon in August - don't miss the Vila (late mediaeval), Regaleira (includes an amazing masonic initiation stone well you can actually step into), Seteais (19th c.), Pena (romantic folly) and Monserrate (arabesque folly) palaces. Hire a buggy. Eat a queijada (small local cheesecakes, but not cheesecakes). The Moorish castle is nice to look at from below but only go there if you really want to go for a hike for a couple of hours. It's all ramparts and beautiful woodlands and viewpoints.

Cascais and Estoril (some 45 min by train from Cais do Sodré): it's a riviera kind of neighbourhood. The cute town of Cascais is totally worth the detour with a permanent Summer holiday vibe, little in-the-middle-of-town beaches, a citadel and the uber modern Paula Rego museum. Hire a bicycle all the way to wild, windswept Guincho beach (eat some seafood on the way) – you'll never believe you're actually still within the perimeter of the Lisbon metropolitan area.

A final tip to do with one favourite aeronautical fatigue countermeasure – coffee. The coffee culture here goes way back and is extremely strong… for strong coffee. I'd struggle to find a street in Lisbon that doesn't have at least one café. They come in all shapes and vibes. A Brasileira and Nicola, for instance, are classic icons, but I love the little hipster or family run cafés you find everywhere around town. With coffee come… pastéis de nata. My favourite pastéis de nata are in a hole in the wall place in Camões square (up the street from Brasileira), though the more traditional Belém place, with its ancient secret recipe, is definitely worth a visit just for the experience.

So yes, the Portuguese are addicted to their coffee (especially espresso, sometimes called “bica” in Lisbon). It can get a bit confusing because, there's a lot of different ways to serve it. Abatanado is the Lisbon version of americano with a nuance. Or you can order something like this and no-one will bat an eyelid: “bica curta em chávena fria sem princípio” (short espresso in a cold cup, first drops discarded, or literally, without a beginning) – yes, it can be that crazy.

With or without coffee, enjoy Lisboa!