14 Reasons to Love Lisbon, Portugal
I am such an advocate for visiting Portugal, you'd think the country was paying me. In all seriousness, I think that Portugal is one of the most underrated travel destinations in Europe.
Portugal's hilly, coastal capital city, Lisbon, has everything a traveller could want — and more. Lisbon has the food, culture, nightlife and sights at a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the crowds. In no particular order, here are 14 reasons why I think Lisbon deserves a lot of love.
1 | ALL TILE EVERYTHING
Am I the only one who's completely obsessed with tile? Portugal is tile heaven. Exterior walls, interior stairwells, door frames — everywhere you look, you will see beautiful, colorful Portuguese tile. I love how there are so many different designs. You'd think you would eventually see the same patterns being used in multiple places, but they are all different! It's really quite impressive.
2 | BOOZE IS CHEAP
This is not going to sound real, but my friends and I bought three bottles of Sagres beer for seven euro cents each. Yes — seven cents. Our jaws literally dropped when we saw the amount appear on the cash register. The beer shelf actually labeled these little guys as being 49 cents a piece, so maybe the seven cent price was a sale. Either way — a beer anywhere under 50 cents? I'll take it. Wine is also incredibly affordable. The "top-shelf" Portuguese wines run around ten euros.
3 | PORTUGAL CAN PARTY
The older I get, the less interested I am in the nightclub scene. The cool thing about Lisbon is that the nightlife is amazing and lively, without ever stepping foot into a nightclub. The Bairro Alto neighborhood is arguably Lisbon's most popular bar scene. The streets are the best place to party. Surrounding bars serve up drinks in plastic cups, so you are free to roam around outside — which is the best thing to do, especially in the summer when the bars are uncomfortably hot.
4 | SO MUCH SEAFOOD
Lisbon has to be one of the best European cities for seafood lovers. With its location on the Atlantic, you can find seafood dishes on every restaurant menu. The clams in Lisbon were one of my personal favorites. Like many Portuguese dishes, they are simply-prepared with olive oil and LOTS of garlic. You'll need a post-dinner breath mint, but that should be the least of your worries. When in Lisbon, eat like the Portuguese — garlic and olive oil for days.
5 | STREET ART IS EVERYWHERE
When I first arrived in Lisbon and took a cab from the airport, I was surprised to see such a high concentration of street art throughout the drive. I quickly learned, through observation and conversation, that Lisbon is one of the most famous street art cities in Europe. I had no idea. The street art scene here is pretty remarkable. If I had known in advance, I would have looked into joining a street art tour of some sort. If you're into art, keep this in mind when you're in Lisbon.
6 | THE CHARMING TRAM
Oh, how I love the tram. It's one of the many things in Lisbon that reminds me of San Francisco. The trams in Lisbon are historical and convenient. We got on the tram near our apartment and it took us all the way across the city. Lisbon is built on a hilly terrain, so this tram is more than just a charming street car — it's a lifesaver! Don't be afraid to take advantage of it, no one wants to climb steep hills in the summer heat. Plus, you'll feel really cool riding it.
7 | PERFECT PICNICS
Portugal loves cured meat and cheese — as do I! Along with the booze I mentioned, you can also buy snack foods for surprisingly low prices. I suggest going to the local supermarket to stock up on local cured meat, cheeses, bread and wine — an instant, affordable picnic! I just wish I could picnic this deliciously and affordably at home in California.
8 | HILLTOP VIEWS
Like I said, Lisbon is built on hills — seven giant hills. While these hills might be incredibly annoying when it comes to walking, they are amazing when it comes to views and photo ops. This particular view is from a hilltop cemetery in Lisbon. Sorry if that's morbid, but our tour guide insisted on bringing us here for the view. And an incredible view it was!
9 | FOR THE LOVE OF FLOORS
I love decorative floors just about as much as I love colorful doors. As if Lisbon's cobblestone streets weren't charming enough, the city shows off their fancy floors with intricate designs and patterns in many public areas. And I'm happy to know that I'm not the only one who has a thing for floors — I saw a group of five friends lay down on the ground to take a selfie with the floor in Rossio Square.
10 | UNDERRATED HISTORICAL SIGHTS
Like I said, I think that Lisbon is incredibly underrated as a travel destination. Many people I talk to are extremely interested in visiting Spain, but haven't even considered Portugal. I'm going to tell you now, you need to consider Portugal! Not only is the country budget-friendly, but Lisbon is home to a number of historical sights that aren't even on the radar of many travelers. If you want to take a break from the overly crowded, world-famous tourist sights, Lisbon offers the perfect balance of sights without the chaotic crowds. The Tower of Belem is one example of a Lisbon sight that blew me away, yet most people have never even heard of it.
11 | COLOR ON COLOR ON COLOR
I don't know if I've been to a city that has pleased my eyes (and my camera) as much as Lisbon. Color is everywhere! I'm a sucker for colorful buildings, and there is no shortage of them in Lisbon. Be sure to have your camera ready with extra batteries on hand, the photo ops are endless here. Just looking at these colorful photos makes me feel happy.
12 | GET LUCKY IN LISBON
To add to Lisbon's already-established theme of color and art, these painted roosters all over the place. More specifically known as the Barcelos Rooster, these guys are said to be good luck by some, and others say it represents the Portuguese's love for life. Whatever the sentiment may be, the vivid rooster comes in many forms and is an unofficial symbol of Portugal. They come in all sizes, making the perfect souvenir!
13 | SINTRA IS NEAR
I love traveling to cities that are surrounded by awesome, optional day trips. A day trip to Sintra should be a must-do when visiting Lisbon. The town is straight out of a fairytale. Protected by UNESCO, Sintra is home to a national park, castles, churches and royal retreats. It's the perfect place to spend a day away from the city.
14 | BEACHES ARE NEAR, TOO
When I say that beaches are near, what I mean is that beaches are in all directions. Lisbon is on the coast, with beautiful beaches north and south of the city. You can rent a car or take the train from Lisbon to reach a number of nearby beaches.
Have you ever visited Lisbon? What do you love about Portugal's capital city? I'd love to hear!