Ola Lisbon, I am hopelessly in love with you! Can I be yours forever?
There are two kinds of people in this world – those who have never been to Lisbon and those who are in love with Lisbon. I belong to the latter group.
My love affair with Lisbon started in August 2016, when I spent a few days being swept off my feet in this charming city. I am not a big fan of metropolitans but Lisbon will always hold a special place in my heart, and that’s why Expedia.com asked me to share my favorite things about the city
If you’ve been living in a cave and don’t know about Lisbon, then let me introduce this place to you. Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal. As per Condé Nast Traveler, Lisbon is the most underrated city in Europe because it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Anyway, here is why I fell in love with Lisbon, and you will too:
Here’s why you will fall in love with Lisbon, Portugal
01 | Everything is Beautiful, even the dustbins
Believe it or not, every spot in Lisbon is worth a picture. From metro stations to cobbled streets, everything is a delight to the eye. The city has a lot of history, which is evident in pretty much every corner here. Most of the buildings look very old, well kept and loved. Not just walls, but also ceilings are adorned with patterns of beautifully painted ceramic tiles called azulejos. Of course the city has many museums but in my opinion, the entire city of Lisbon is like one big museum in itself.
02 | Weather
No matter how beautiful a place is, but a visit when the weather is bad can limit your options. I have traveled to many places in Europe and there have been days when I couldn’t explore as much as I wanted because of too much rain. Lisbon is one of the very few destinations in Europe and the world where the weather is pleasant throughout the year. In fact, Visit Lisboa introduces this city as “where the sun shines 290 days a year”, which was an important factor for me to enjoy its beauty. After traveling around for a few months in Europe, I finally got a chance to comfortably wear flip-flops and shorts without a worry in Lisbon’s warm weather.
03 | Happiness is everywhere
There are many reasons why I love Lisbon but one of the first ones that hit me was how happy everyone around me was. It started at the airport where I met world’s most cheerful immigration officer who made us smile. As soon as we got out, a smiling local helped us with Metropolitano de Lisboa, the internal rail. Perhaps it’s the weather but Lisbon is where I met the happiest people in Europe, if not the world! Their smiles were contagious and I felt happier than I had felt in the last few months of traveling while I was here.
04 | Public Transport, especially Tram 28
It is very easy to get around in Lisbon because of its network of metro trains and trams. Yes, these metro trains and trams are beautiful but are very convenient too! My favorite is the iconic bright yellow Tram 28, which goes through Lisbon’s old towns of Alfama, Graça, and Baixa. You can use this tram as a cheap hop on, hop off alternative because it moves through the city’s famous and interesting sites. Even though this tram is usually very crowded with tourists, a ride on it is worth it.
05 | Pretty Streets and Street Art
Of course, I have mentioned how beautiful Lisbon is in the first point, but I feel the streets deserve an extra mention. Even if you don’t go to the famous landmarks in Lisbon, walking down its pretty streets is sure to win your heart. For me, the most enjoyable part of being in Lisbon was exploring these streets that were lined with pretty buildings and roadside cafes with chairs on the pavements.
A lot of streets in Lisbon are hilly because of which you can see the view of many other streets that are further up ahead. Also, Lisbon’s streets have a cobbled floor, which gives the city a very weathered down and old look. If things couldn’t get better, there’s street art everywhere! Some of the artwork and murals were so big that they stretched to the entire lengths of buildings.
06 | Old Town Alfama
No travel article about Lisbon is complete without mentioning Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama. With Tejo River on one side and São Jorge Castle on the other, Alfama is the icing on the cake of Lisbon’s beauty. You don’t really need a city guide for Lisbon or research about where to go, just visit Alfama. Here you will some of Lisbon’s most beautiful streets, museums and cathedrals. In earlier times, mostly the fishermen and Lisbon’s poorest families lived here, which is evident in the small houses here. Oh and also, Lisbon Cathedral, which is the city’s oldest church, is in Alfama.
07 | Many Viewpoints
Did you know that Lisbon is built on seven hills? The fact that Lisbon is a hilly city, adds another dimension to the beauty and charm of the city because these hills provide extraordinary viewpoints. I found many viewpoints here but my favorite one was on top of Cristo Rei, which overlooks Lisbon’s red-roofed houses, sea, and the famous Vasco de Gama Bridge. Another interesting viewpoint was from Castle of São Jorge, which overlooks the old town of Alfama.
08 | So much color!
I will be honest; Lisbon appeared to be mostly red and white at first glance because of the houses. However, as I explored the city further, it turned out to be one of the most vibrant European cities because of the brightly colored tiles, street art, and trams. Many houses and buildings are painted in pastel shades of yellow or blue and a few of them in pink. These pastel tones are soothing to the eye in Lisbon’s warm weather and accentuate the happy vibe of this city.
09 | Egg tarts or Pastel de nata
“If you go to Lisbon, do eat the egg tarts”.
As soon as we announced our Lisbon trip on social media, not one, but at least 10 different people suggested we try the famous egg tarts here. I’m glad they did because these little mildly sweet pastries are heavenly! These tarts are sold literally everywhere for usually €1 or €2 and are perfect for a light breakfast with coffee.
Little did I know that these egg tarts that are locally called Pastel de nata, have a little history of their own! Catholic Monks created them before the 18th century using the leftover egg yolks. While a lot of monasteries closed down after the Liberal Revolution in 1820, the monks for a little income sold these. A few years later, the secret recipe was sold to a sugar refinery, that in turn opened the famous Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém which still exists in Lisbon today.
10 | Amazing Nightlife
If things couldn’t get better, Lisbon has an amazing nightlife. During my visit here, I visited Bairro Alto district, where there was a nightclub after every few steps. It’s amazing meeting locals as well as other travelers in these clubs where there is a party every day. I may not have a picture of this, but it was enough to make me fall in love with Lisbon even more.
11 | Affordable
Traveling in Europe is expensive but Lisbon is an exception. In my experience, the accommodation was the most affordable in Europe, which is a big deal because that’s a huge chunk of traveling cost. We found a few bakeries and cafes where snacks were as low as 1 or 2 Euros.
This little burger styled chicken kebab sandwich was for 1.5 Euro. Moreover, we often found shops that were owned by Indian, Nepalese and Chinese families that were selling everyday things for as cheap as 1 Euro. I bought a pair of flip-flops, headlight and hand fan in one of these one Euro shops.
History, culture, food, art, beaches and nightlife – Lisbon has it all. The city has so much beauty, love, and happiness that I just did not want to leave.
Want to know more?
I will also share a guide with things to do in Lisbon, which will come in handy if you’re visiting my favorite European destination anytime soon.
So, are you ready to fall in love with Lisbon?