12 Reasons to Fall in Love with Lisbon

# 1. Food glorious food!

Food in Lisbon

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’.

Caldo Verde

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

Waterfront in Lisbon

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

dogs in lisbon

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:

Street art, graffiti, Lisbon

If you want to see more photos of street art in Lisbon, read my earlier post here.

Street art, graffiti, Lisbon

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

colourful buildings in Lisbon

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!

Brightly painted houses

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 in Lisbon

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)

tram, Lisbon

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

Panoramic view of Lisbon

Lisbon is set on seven hills so you’re spoilt for choice, you’ll always have a postcard-worthy view.

Bird's-eye view of Lisbon

Tip: Exercise your thighs by heading to Miradouro da Senhora do Monte in Alfama, Lisbon’s highest point.

 

#9. Sintra

Quinta Da Regaleira, Sintra

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.

Palacio Nacional de Sintra

Tip: Go to Rossio Station where the trains to Sintra depart and take approx. 45 minutes.

 

#10. The large Squares

Main square Lisbon

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

Coach Museum, Lisbon

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

Church, Lisbon

You don’t have to be religious to find these places a thing of beauty.

Mosterio dos Jeronimos, Belem

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.


 

 Have you been to Lisbon? What can you add to this to this list?

Comments

  1. Lizzie says

    Oh my, the food! And the museums! And the street art! I think I already love Lisbon and I haven’t even arrived yet! I’m a massive dog pervert, too, so I’ll definitely be doing some dog-watching whilst there :)

      • Ricardo says

        cool i hope you returns to eat in the restaurants and visit Porto , Aveiro , Nazaré, biggest wave of the world like a tsunami only in winter,and Algarve in the south .

        • admin says

          Hi Ricardo! I’m desperate to go to Porto, and everywhere else in Portugal. So in the famous words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, ‘I’ll be back’! ;-)

          The food alone is a reason to return, never mind the rest!

          • RICARDO says

            I LIVE IN FRANCE BUT MY VISIT VACATION ARE IN PORTUGAL…TO EAT HOW MUCH I CAN ..IN THE FRESH PASTRY,AND TRUE RESTAURANTS WHO GIVES YOU THE BEST OF KINGS TABLES HOWEVER SEAFOOD IS THE BEST OF THE WORLD AND SECOND IS JAPAN…I LOVE TO VISIT CITY’S THE NORTH TO THE SOUTH AND ALMOST STOP IN BEACH DESTINATION YOU WILL FIND IN WEST COAST OF EUROPE EVERY BEACH ARE UNIQUE AND SEA CAN BE BLUE,GREEN,AND SILVER…AND ALENTEJO HAVE THE BEST PRESERVED COSTLINE OF EUROPE…ITS A PARADISE AND NO BUILDINGS NO POLUTION AND YOU WILL FIND YOUR FAVOURITE BEACH WITH RIVER FINISH THE COURSE IN TO THE SEA SO NATURAL AND SO AMAZING …AND ITS IMPOSIBLE TO FIND A PLACE O RIVER ARE PRESERVED WHEN ARRIVES TO THE SEA AND NO HOUSES NO HOTELS ONLY TOURIST….IM SORRY ABOUT GRAMATICALY ERROR…TANKS Shing Yoong FOR VISIT PORTUGAL AND SHOW TO THE WORLD…GREAT JOB

    • admin says

      Hi Alberto, your comment means a lot coming from someone who lives in Lisbon. I still know there’s so much more to see and I can’t wait to go back in the future. Love your city! :)

      • Alberto Rouiller says

        I’ve included the post in my FB page, Facebook.com/bestinportugal and it was one of the most popular posts! Maybe next time you can also put the spotlight on the city of Porto, which also has its charms! But it wouldn’t be fair just to mention these two cities and not so many others that make part of the compact diversity and beauty of this country. Looking forward to more posts on Portugal! :-)

        • admin says

          Thanks for sharing! I completely agree, I certainly need to explore the rest of Portugal, and I’m excited at the prospect of doing so. I think my next stop will be Porto and Guimarães! :D

  2. Sean says

    Great post! We’re heading to Lisbon in August, and this just added to our excitement! I’m now adding grilled sea bass to our list of must eats (which is already obscenely long) . Love the pics, too.

    • admin says

      Hi Sean, you’ll both love Lisbon – it’s incredibly hard not to! Ooou yes, don’t forget to try the grilled sea bass and seafood risotto – they are sublime! I’ll look forward to reading your thoughts on the city!

  3. Heather says

    I fell madly in love with Lisbon and this just reminded me why! My husband’s never been and I can’t wait to go back and show him around!

    • admin says

      Take the husband Heather! I was surprised by how romantic Lisbon is, it’s such an underrated city. Everyone who visits falls in love with it. I’m itching to go back!

  4. Franca says

    I love Lisbon’s architecture and its street art and for these reasons alone I always wanted to visit it. You simply convinced me more :)

    • admin says

      Hi Franca, I’ve just visited your blog and I can see you guys LOVE street art so you’ll definitely love Lisbon, but for so many other reasons too! Thanks for stopping by :)

  5. Wesley Pechler says

    Absolutely loved visiting Lisbon in early March – weather was so good indeed compared to our countries freezing our butts off around the North Sea! Luckily I did most of the things listed here, and I would add visiting the Cristo Rei statue across the Rio Tejo in Almada. The views from there over Lisbon and the Ponte 25 de Abril can’t be beat! Missed Sintra though and also still have to visit Porto, so good enough reasons to go back to Portugal :)

    • admin says

      Ahhh can’t believe I missed the Cristo Rei statue – thanks for the tip Wesley!! We both must go back. Still so much to see and do there. Sintra is a must!

  6. Arzu says

    Your blog really has very useful information about Lisbon. I can’t wait to go to Lisbon!! I really enjoyed while reading it. Thank you!!

  7. Ruben Cardoso says

    It’s really conforting to see people like you enjoying our city, Shing, and especially write about it. I really appreciated reading your feedback, and hope to welcome you around again. Also, do not forget the rest of our wonderful country, regions like Alentejo, Douro and Algarve are really worth a visit. :)

  8. Lucia says

    Your text was great, and made me very homesick.

    I have to add even more reasons to fall in love with Lisbon, the traditional sweets, there’s so many (like the Pasteis de Belem), the Tagus river so beautiful and so broad, the mourish castle, the Oceanarium (fantastic to go in on a hot summer day), 30 minutes from Cascais and some great beaches, and just around the corner for the surfers you have Guincho….
    the public gardens, the small cobbled streets, the ‘Calcada Portuguesa’ (the mosaic of black and white stone that makes some of our sidewalks), the wonderful and varied cheeses and smoked chouricos that seldomly I find abroad….ah.. I could make a list of 100 more cool things about Lisbon and nearby areas… must return soon..

  9. lidia says

    hola amiga muchas gracias por gustar tanto de mi tierra yo que puedo decir de lisboa sitio donde soy esto en españa desde hace 40 años pero mi lisboa e sus alrededores estan en mi corazon esperando volver muy pronto. apenas decirles que no dejeis de vizitar troia, setubal, sezimbra arabida en la comida hay maravillas enfin gracias a todos pero españa tambien es muy linda .

  10. Margarida says

    Hi, it was amazing to hear so many nice things about my city, and i must tell you that the rest of the country is pretty much as charming, or even more. The best are the people, so humble and friendly. I just would like to add that if one goes to Lisbon you must see a sunset from a high spot- castle or cristo rei- because its magical and gives Lisbon a special photogenic light. I also must add to try to cross the river to the other side on an orange ferry called Cacilheiro: the view of Lisbon from the river is amazing. The famous sweets/pastries (pasteis de nata or de Belem) and the coffee are also a must! Finally, one must go one evening to Alfama and enter in any local Fado restaurant. Local people sing this typical Lisbon song spontaneously and when you hear this live, you can truly say you saw the Lisbon’s soul. Thank you for enjoying Lisbon.

  11. Escape Hunter says

    Lovely charming warm Lisbon is so diverse I got lost exploring it. And those azulejos… I couldn’t find two buildings with identical tiles!
    I’m still yearning, hankering for pasteis de nata :)

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