Lisbon is a place I’d never really entertained visiting in the past. I mean, in my ignorance I never even clicked that it was in Portugal. But let’s not dwell on that… I simply never really thought about it as a location, which in retrospect is absolutely ridiculous!
For my birthday my boyfriend decided to take me on a surprise trip. And when I say surprise, I literally had no idea where we were heading until we were in the lounge at Manchester airport.
After this trip, I can safely say that Lisbon is by far one of the best places I have visited yet!
As soon as I knew we were going to Lisbon I had a sudden ‘eep’ that I hadn’t had a chance to research any locations first, but this was counteracted by the fact we were exploring somewhere completely new to us! I’m not even exaggerating when I say I knew nothing about Lisbon before this trip!
Why you need to visit Lisbon.
Lisbon is like every European country you’ve been to, without the commercialism.
There’s nothing worse than going to a new city and seeing the same McDonalds, the same Starbucks, the same chain shops on every. single. corner.
In Lisbon, you had to actively seek out anywhere like this.
One of my guilty pleasures when in a different country is going to the McDonalds and Burger King just to see what they do that we don’t have in the UK (I know, I know). When we FINALLY found them in Lisbon, it did not disappoint. Peanut butter sundaes, espresso and a dollop of ice cream, brie burgers – come at me, bro. And Burger King did a pretty good fondue burger. Even after eating so much we still had to squeeze all of these in on top of all the other authentic Portuguese food.
But, I digress…
Lisbon had a distinct lack of tourists (that we noticed), and a massive range of interesting things to do all in a small space. We didn’t stop walking for the four days that we were there. Despite the many, many hills, we didn’t stop exploring.
Top reasons to make Lisbon your next travel destination!
The food! So much food!
Lisbon is a food lovers paradise!!! Which made it the ideal city for me. Every corner, every alley, every nook and cranny there was a culinary delight for all.
Chapitô à Mesa was the more expensive of the two meals, but still came in at under £70 for two people dining, including wine. The main pull of the restaurant isn’t just the fantastic, authentic food though. Situated near Castelo de S. Jorge, the restaurant also provides you with an amazing hill top view of the city.
In contrast the Chapitô à Mesa, Oficina do Duque offers a menu that is packed full of affordable fine dining treats. I actually discovered it through several people on Instagram messaging it as a recommendation – and after experiencing it for myself I urge any travelling to Lisbon to go!
If only to try the ‘chicken, pasta and vegetables’ pictured below:
There are amazing places like the Time Out Market (where we had an amazing fish stew, a port experience and more!), Nata (Portuguese custard tarts) on every street and of course, seafood galore in so many locations dotted throughout the streets – All washed down with the local sour cherry liquor Ginjinha.
If you’re looking for more food inspiration then check out Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix. He goes everywhere in the series, including Lisbon.
Features and Attractions in Lisbon
Lisbon has a whole host of small and interesting things to see and do, without being distracted by one or two major landmarks like you would in other cities. I mean, for example, in Paris it’s the Eiffel Tower or in Berlin it’d be the Brandenburg gate and other bigger attractions. You could say that praça do comércio is the closest to this kind of sight you’d see, but its still quite far off the usual scale you’d expect from a major landmark.
In Lisbon, you have a plethora of smaller-scale areas and features to explore.
One of the first things you notice in Lisbon is the floor and decorative tiles across streets and buildings everywhere. It’s an absolutely beautiful sight to behold when you’ve come from a city full of a grey, boring aesthetic.
Read more about Lisbon’s beautiful tiles > here.
Alongside the beautiful buildings coated in tiles there are also a range of places such as the pink street, Castelo de S. Jorge, the Elevador de Santa Justa and so many other little places to walk and explore.
tip: if you want to see everything without walking up and down all the hills, hop on the number 28 tram.
Another really brilliant place we explored was Lx Factory. Instagram gold for those beautiful shots by graffiti. Alongside being an awesome location full of restaurants, bars, shops and other colourful things to occupy your eyes.
We found a really cool bookshop-cafe in LxFactory where we stopped for a swift glass of beer inbetween our walking adventures.
It’s super affordable
Not only were the flights to Lisbon just shy of £70 for a return, but our air BnB was only £30 a night! This makes it one of the most affordable places to travel to that I’ve been yet. Even Amsterdam, where you pick up the plane for around £50 ends up being relatively expensive for your hotels etc when you’re there.
In Lisbon, the food and drink came in as a snip. You could live on the nata for under 1 euro a pop, but if you do fancy a bit of food and drink you can expect to pay under £50 for a full meal with wine (and that’s in the fancy places!)
You get so used to the prices around the city that when you do go to the tourist attractions you think you’re being mugged off, but actually you’re still paying much less than in other major cities.
Another tip for Lisbon is to download Uber. It’s so cheap over there and when you’re tired from all the uphill walks, uber is a lifesaver!
Don’t forget the excursions beyond the city!
One of the best things we did when we were in Lisbon was a day trip to Sintra. Sintra is a beautiful location that is about an hour on the train from the centre of Lisbon.
A longtime royal sanctuary, Sintra is a forested terrain is studded with pastel-colored villas and palaces. The Moorish- and Manueline-style Sintra National Palace is distinguished by dramatic twin chimneys and elaborate tilework. The hilltop 19th-century Pena National Palace is known for a whimsical design and sweeping views.
Castelo dos Mouros (Sintra Castle) was like walking straight into a Game of Thrones set. But make sure that you get an uber up as it’ll take you over an hour of full uphill walking otherwise.
I could literally talk about our Lisbon adventure for hours. If I go back I really need to video more of the experience.
If your planning a trip to Lisbon and have any questions, or want to see more, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org