# 1. Food glorious food!
Every place I ate left me feeling extremely content, and without any significant damage to my bank balance. In Lisbon it’s very easy to find somewhere that feels like ‘Mamma’s little kitchen’.
Tip: Don’t go home without ordering seafood risotto and grilled seabass. Lisbon truly benefits from being by the sea. For something typically Portugese, try Caldo Verde, commonly made with potatoes, cabbage and onions, it’s simple yet extremely moreish.
#2. Take off your clothes
Lisbon has one of the mildest climates in Europe and one of the sunniest too. I went at the end of February and it was a warm respite from the formidable weather in England. If you suffer from the winter blues then Lisbon is only a 2-hour flight away from the UK, and with most budget airlines offering daily flights to Lisbon, you are sure to find yourself a good deal.
Tip: Although a lot sunnier, it can still be chilly during the winter so make sure you’ve packed enough warm clothing just in case.
#3. Lisboa loves dogs, and so do I
I saw quite a lot of macho-looking young men striding along with the tiniest little dogs, the kind of teeny-weeny fur balls you would expect to live inside Paris Hilton’s oversized handbag. Is it just me who finds this an amusing combination?
Tip: Head to Campo de Santa Clara on Saturday when it becomes a giant flea market, it’s great a place for dog-watching!
#4. Street art that looks like this:
If you want to see more photos of street art in Lisbon, read my earlier post here.
Tip: Get the Metro to Picoas Station where you’ll find wall murals created by the world’s most prominent street artists.
#5. Tiles and colour everywhere
Leading on from the street art, and you can find one of the first and arguably most distinct uses of colour in the tiles which decorate even small back-alleys. Conversely, you’ll also see buildings with a bare and run down exterior, a contrast which makes the streets appear even more interesting. A lot can be said about these walls!
Tip: For a true ‘tile experience’ head to the Tile Museum, trust me, it’s quirkier than it sounds and also has a cool café.
#6. The people
People can make or break your feelings towards a place, so I was extremely surprised and happy to learn that the folks here are super friendly and helpful. Every time my friend and I stopped to look at a map it felt like someone sprung from nowhere to offer a helping hand without even asking. There was even an occasion when we asked a train inspector for directions, and after we got off at our stop and left the platform he came running after us to say we were going in the wrong direction! (We actually knew where we were supposed to be going but just got side-tracked by one of the many beautiful buildings. However, we couldn’t believe how considerate his gesture was!).
Tip: Find any excuse to talk to people; you never know what might come of it…
#7. The transport is so efficient (and the subways look like a modern art gallery)
Lisbon is quite a sprawling city so hop on the buses, trams and metro. I absolutely love the undergrounds, many of them are filled with tiles (Gare do Oriente is one of them) and some of them look like you’ve walked into an exhibition at a modern art museum (Olaias metro station)
Tip: In spite of my love for Lisbon’s transportation, there is still nothing better than using your feet. Walk. Just walk everywhere.
#8. Epic panoramic views
Lisbon is set on seven hills so you’re spoilt for choice, you’ll always have a postcard-worthy view.
Tip: Exercise your thighs by heading to Miradouro da Senhora do Monte in Alfama, Lisbon’s highest point.
The crème de la crème of any visit to Lisbon is a trip to Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lord Byron once said that “the village of Sintra in Estramadura is the most beautiful, perhaps in the world”, that’s high praise for a leading figure of the Romantic Movement.
Sintra is much bigger than I anticipated it to be, so if you’re pressed for time I really suggest you do some research and highlight the places you definitely don’t want to miss. Two of these must-see places are National Palace of Pena and Quinta Da Regaleira, the latter has the most incredible gothic inspired garden, filled with grottos, tunnels and caves. However, the mansion itself does not evoke the same sense of mystery and magic from inside as it does from the outside so I wouldn’t bother going into it, you’ll only find an uninspiring museum. But oh, the garden is something to behold – dark, beautiful, mysterious and unusually creepy. Lastly, if you want to see rooms lavishly decorated head to toe in tiles then I suggest a visit to Palacio Nacional de Sintra.
Tip: Go to Rossio Station where the trains to Sintra depart and take approx. 45 minutes.
#10. The large Squares
London has Trafalgar, Venice has St.Mark’s, and Lisbon has Praça do Comércio. Large squares are usually filled with the city’s most iconic statues and buildings, and Lisbon is no different. If you want to feel like you have arrived in the capital, there is no greater place than Praça do Comércio, with its yellow and white 18-th century arcades and monumental arch, this is certainly the city at its most regal.
Tip: Take some snaps of the equestrian statue before wandering down to the waterfront, it’s the perfect place to soak up the sun and indulge in everyone’s favourite pastime: people watching.
#11. Museums, and more museums
If you’re a frequent visitor to my blog you will know that I enjoy museums, especially art museums and weird ones that pay homage to niche topics, just like the Tile Museum and the Coach Museum in Belem, the region of Lisbon with probably the highest percentage of architectural masterpieces. My favourite museum in Lisbon is also located in Belem, this is Berardo Museum of Modern Art, easily one of the greatest modern art museums in Europe.
Tip: Go to Belem on a Sunday because all the museums are free before 2:30pm.
#12. Churches, Chapels and Monasteries
You don’t have to be religious to find these places a thing of beauty.
Tip: Make sure you don’t miss Mosterio dos Jeronimos in Belem, it’s a jewel of a building, showcasing hand-carved sculptures all over the exterior walls with enough detail to make your eyes hurt.
Where should I stay? I stayed in Alfama which is the oldest part of the city. Due to its many historical and tiled buildings, and narrow, cobbled alleyways I would certainly recommend staying here.
Is the city easy to navigate? Yes, it’s super easy. Many attractions are within walking distance from each other, but I also recommend getting the metro or tram especially if you don’t have much time. If you’re staying in Alfama you’d need to get the tram to Belem as they’re quite far apart.